Proponents of market-based solutions to social injustice argue that environmental, social, and governance integrated investing (‘ESG investing’) has been able to achieve what courts and legislatures worldwide have not: catalyse the rapid disinvestment from extractive industries infamous for human rights abuses. Critiques of ESG investing primarily make predictions about its impact on corporate conducts in the future. Little research exists linking ESG investing to contemporary community struggles for justice over past and continuing harms. Drawing on my work as a paralegal for the South African social movement Mining Affected Communities United in Action (MACUA), and specifically my efforts supporting the Phola Community in its claims against multinational mining giant South32, I argue that ESG investing may decrease the likelihood that communities who have suffered due to corporate misconduct will have their livelihoods and homes restored or receive comparable redress.
Using the question of justice in the digital space to assess current liability regimes, we interrogate the conventional liability regime based on liberal political theory, identify its shortcomings for dealing with the questions of justice raised by the digital space, and propose an alternative to address the identified shortcomings through an alternate perspective of responsibility inspired by the African ethics of duty. This perspective can contribute to the improvement of access to justice and re-center the African ethics of duty in the conversation around quest for justice.
The transnational pursuit of redress for corporate human rights violations in Africa has been partly premised on Western courts providing such redress. Their perceived failures to do so are thus susceptible to being understood as judicial and legal inaction, as may be observed in early responses to the UK Court of Appeal decision last year in Kalma v African Minerals Ltd (Kalma). That decision unanimously upheld the judgment of Mr Justice Turner of the High Court, which dismissed a civil action brought by 142 Sierra Leonean claimants for human rights violations in the vicinity of the UK-domiciled defendant’s iron ore mine in Sierra Leone.
While multinational companies at times play a notable role in conflicts and mass atrocity events, there is an ongoing debate on how and where to acknowledge their involvement when countries seek to come to terms with past wars or human rights violations. Should economic crimes and other types of corporate complicity be addressed within the Transitional Justice (‘TJ’) process? And considering that corporate involvement in conflicts is often transnational, what States and (domestic or international) judicial bodies should be involved in providing justice?
There is the potential to create regional or sub-regional frameworks, which through agreements can handle claims against companies within their territories. This may strengthen local regional capacity, alleviate the allegations of complicity of the state and exemplify the cooperative spirit embodied in more recent collaborative African action. It would demonstrate an attempt at African solutions which are not dependent on home states. Nevertheless, it may not be enough to counter the lack of legally binding responsibility grounded in international law, as it would not be able to bring parent companies, who reside outside the African jurisdiction, within its scope.
L'accès à la justice et à un recours effectif est un principe important reconnu par les systèmes juridiques nationaux, régionaux et internationaux. En Afrique du Sud, par exemple, ce principe est consacré par l’article 34 de la Constitution qui affirme le droit de toute personne à ce que sa cause soit entendue publiquement et équitablement devant une cour ou tout autre tribunal ou forum indépendant et impartial. Au plan régional, les différents instruments de protection des droits de l’homme contiennent tous, une disposition relative au droit d’accès à la justice. Dans ce sens, l’article 7 de la charte africaine des droits de l’homme et des peuples affirme le droit pour chaque personne à ce que sa cause soit entendue (Voir aussi l’article 6 CEDH et l’article 8 CADH). Ce principe a aussi été repris par certains textes internationaux récents tels que les Principes directeurs relatifs aux entreprises et aux droits de l’homme (p. 31) ou encore les Objectifs de développent durable (objectif n°16)
Notre propos entend déconstruire le narratif sur la responsabilité des entreprises multinationales porté par les vainqueurs de l’ordre international économique établi depuis la fin de la Seconde Guerre mondiale. Nous entendons ainsi mettre en lumière les rapports dominants/dominés, pour ne pas dire les nouveaux rapports coloniaux, déterminant la distribution de la justice dans cet ordre. Il va s’agir plus précisément d’identifier les logiques sous-tendant la justice pour les victimes des multinationales françaises dans les États d’Afrique noire francophone à l’aune du Point de contact national de la France pour les Principes directeurs de l’OCDE à l’intention des entreprises multinationales (ci-après PCN)
This symposium aims to encourage a more systematic and critical scholarly engagement with the delocalization of justice in BHR cases involving harms suffered in African states, and the Global South more broadly. It is our contention that until now, with some notable exceptions, scholarly debates in the BHR sphere have insufficiently focused on the justification for, effectiveness of, and alternatives to this uprooting strategy. Yet, this delocalization lies at the heart of many legal processes and regulatory mechanisms aimed at delivering justice (or corporate accountability) in the Global North for harms that occurred in the Global South. Interrogating this delocalization, and imagining alternative strategies that would enable local populations to gain greater agency through local political and legal processes, should be at the core of scholarship and activism in the BHR field.
Enforcement of intellectual property rights in Africa is not always a straightforward task. Plans crafted with reference only to enforcement in developed countries will not be a perfect fit to the African situation. Still, there are possible solutions to the issue of counterfeiting and piracy in Africa. Protective mechanisms are a reality. Passionate professionals both within the government and among law practitioners are eager to learn and for the current system to evolve into one which is efficient, and which adequately protect the African consumer from the dangers of counterfeiting. Our final word of advice to right holders would therefore be to surround yourself with professionals who know the continent and who will be able to craft the best possible strategy aligned with expectations and budget.
Intellectual Property Rights (IPRs) enforcement in Africa holds the power to influence the extent to which foreign and local entities and individuals will register IPRs within and across African borders. Therefore, the book entitled Enforcement of Intellectual Property Rights in Africa (Oxford University Press, 2020), is a timely publication which provides key insights pertaining to IPRs enforcement.