From a human rights perspective, ‘a new normal’ like COVID-19 should generate tremendous change. It is important that, in the midst of this crisis, we keep an eye on the future and begin to forge a better Nigeria that works for our vulnerable and marginalised citizens. Although we are uncertain of how the post- COVID-19 world will look like, our aim is to come out of it stronger and united.
Social and Cultural Rights
The Global Initiative for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (Gl-ESCR) is a non- governmental organisation that believes transformative change to end endemic problems of social and economic injustice is possible through a human rights lens.
The shortcomings of the current legal and policy framework does not mean that responses to COVID19 should be lacking. Instead, there is adequate room for responses as we learn lessons and take notes to do better. The best way to move policy and law is to ensure that it is constantly reviewed to make sure they serve their purpose.
This commentary considers the access to food component of the draft UNIDROIT/FAO/IFAD Legal Guide on Agricultural Land Investment Contracts (Guide) and voices its silence on intellectual property rights (IPRs). In the past decade, foreign investors have increased the number of investments in the long-term lease of arable land, especially in Africa, and in the Global South, generally. The reasons for the choice of these locations include the availability of large portions of inexpensive agricultural land, inexpensive local labour and favourable climatic conditions for crop production. The Guide proposes more responsible investments in agriculture from public and private sector investors as a way to achieve, inter alia ‘No Poverty’ and ‘Zero Hunger’ (Sustainable Development Goals 1 and 2).
Attracting foreign investment while holding transnational corporations to account for any human rights transgressions is by no means an easy feat. It will require that a careful balance be struck between the interests of the host State and its people, and that of private actors expecting good risk-return ratios in pursuit of the bottom line. Although international mechanisms such as the United Nations Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights have long endorsed accountability for transnational corporations, a zero draft international convention to regulate this issue has only recently been developed.