In this collaboration between Asser Institute’s Doing Business Right project and AfronomicsLaw, we welcome contributions from scholars working on African international law, African perspectives of international/transnational law, as well as scholars working on business and human rights more generally.
I am proud to present this book symposium on my book titled, Energy Poverty and Access Challenges in Sub-Saharan Africa: The role of Regionalism (Palgrave, 2019). With the increasing role of regionalism and globalism, this book discusses the various energy challenges in Africa, and how these can be addressed through regional cooperation.
Overall, research suggests that, for various reasons, it remains difficult to hold multinational parent companies responsible for their subsidiaries’ wrongs. The question remains whether there are indeed justifiable reasons for holding parent companies liable for their subsidiaries’ wrongs. This question must be answered affirmatively.
This contribution focuses on the inequalities that result within countries as a result of the activities of the oil and gas industry and which endure in spite of the local content policies that are adopted. Without endorsing local content as a legal/policy option that captures the position of local communities regarding the oil and gas industry, it argues that it is necessary to clarify the definition of local content because if the scope of local content is unknown, there is a likelihood that it will remain difficult to determine whether goals are being met especially with regard to host and impacted communities.
In short, the SDGs and its interesting set of targets are a fertile ground not only to reimagine past UN led decade themed goals and their implications for (sustainable) development, but, to also situate them in contemporary discourse of the activities of nations, transnational corporations and other non-state actors. As part of the 2019 Purdy Crawford Workshop, the contributions to the symposium on “Sustainable Development Goals, Trade, Investment, and Inequality” critically examine these goals from the vantage point of each contributor’s scholarly expertise.
This short piece argues that while these arguments may hold sway, host African states continue to have primary responsibility and should rise to their obligation to protect human rights of impacted communities against the harmful effects of TNCs’ activities. Moreover, the controversies surrounding the extraterritorial jurisdiction of states and the silence of international law regarding enforceable obligation on TNCs demonstrate the difficulty in embracing the newer approaches regarding the roles of home states and TNCs.
The huge investments in the extractive sector should, in principle, be a catalyst for economic growth, job opportunities, and development. Often, these investments have been a source of environmental degradation, socio-economic malaise and despair. Equatorial Guinea, for instance, is a classic example of the ‘resource curse mystery in Africa. To leverage extractive resources for development, African countries are faced with legal, fiscal, implementation, infrastructure, regulatory and institutional challenges. This contribution addresses state and investor responsibility in the sustainable development of Africa’s extractive sector. It highlights four responsibility indices that will guide states and investors in fostering a shared value approach to an inclusive and sustainable development of Africa’s extractive sector.
This symposium includes contributions that analyze state and investor responsibility for wrongful acts, and responsibility for the development of sustainable extractive regimes, in African countries. The contributions are timely interventions at a time when Africa’s regional institutions and states are developing mechanisms for responding to challenges presented by the extractive industries.