In an essay published in 2002, the late Kenyan scholar, Ali Mazrui, asked the critical question of who killed democracy in Africa. In his archetypal incisive take on African issues, Ali Mazrui delved into history to identify both internal and external forces that have conspired to commit the crime of “democra-cide”. Suffice to say that although the political dynamics of the continent has evolved, many of the culprits mentioned by Ali Mazrui are still busy at the slaughter slab, shredding democracy into bits.
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.
All in all, what should be kept in mind is that, as the wise Canadian thinker and diplomat Ivan Leigh Head once noted, an element of law (and of accountability), some measure of it, will be needed in the effort to realize the right to development. It is for this reason that the African example of establishing meaningful regional-level accountability mechanisms in the development field, undergirded by hard law, ought to be replicated at the UN level.
Local communities, for their part, consider investor responsibility a necessary part of the fabric of international law and politics. While the AU works towards framing business and human rights in Africa along with global developments regarding a treaty on business and human rights and treaties such as the Morocco/Nigeria BIT, African peoples and communities continue to adopt available mechanisms as avenues for communicating their positions on these important issues and exercising agency on a subject that is of utmost importance to their wellbeing.
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.
The centralisation of democratic practise in the implementation of AfCFTA will require serious commitment on the part of national and regional officials involved in negotiating the process. A key first step in this respect is the express inclusion of respect for democratic values in the Agreement.