The discourse on corporate accountability for human rights violations has been shaped to a great extent by the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs) (UNGPs), resulting from the work of John Ruggie, the UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Business and Human Rights. The UNGPs were endorsed by the UN Human Rights Council in June 2011 and rest on three pillars: the State duty to protect against human rights violations; the corporate responsibility to respect human rights in their operations; and greater access by victims to effective remedy, both judicial and non-judicial, for human rights violations. While the focus on the second pillar i.e. the corporate responsibility to respect human rights is increasingly scrutinized, it has mostly been done in Western academic contexts. A long overdue African perspective on what this second pillar means and entails, is starting to take shape given that the African continent continues to be the breeding ground for many human rights atrocities attributed to corporations. In this respect, Abe’s book is a meaningful welcome contribution from the legal perspective on these issues.
In the globalised world that we inhabit, replete with its complex private transnational institutions and multinational corporations, energy law is often far from “national”. That is to say, hard legal problems arising in relation to energy issues within a particular country will often have a remarkably international character that can substantially transcend the immediate jurisdictional confines of the country in question.
The foregoing analysis is analogous to the Nigerian situation where transnational litigation has been utilised by a plethora of stakeholders including local communities, civil society organisations (CSOs) and victims of environmental injustice arising from the activities of oil MNCs in the Niger Delta region of Nigeria. CSOs in Nigeria have adopted litigation as a deliberate strategy in influencing the activities of government and MNCs in the oil and gas sector.
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.
On July 1, 2021, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) secured the votes of 130 members out of 139 members of the Inclusive Framework, on a two-pillar plan to reform the global tax rules. Notably, two African countries—Kenya and Nigeria—, active members of the Inclusive Framework withheld their support for this plan, which has been described by many as “historic”. Nigeria is a major economic force in West Africa and the largest economy, by GDP, on the African continent. Kenya is East Africa’s gateway and the region’s largest economy. What must have influenced their decisions not to support a historic global tax reform, and what are the consequences of such action?
It is imperative that a strategy and approach be undertaken to address MNE business models and challenges regarding taxing the digitalized economy, and that legislative measures are enacted to preserve or expand Africa’s tax base. Overall, the potential gains from Digital Sales Tax are significant, as inclusion of digital services tax, may subsequently increase revenue that may be utilised for developing States, particularly at a time of high State expenditure to alleviate the economic and social impact of Covid-19. You could include some benefits from countries that have imposed unilateral taxation legislation highlighted above to showcase the potential gains.
As the author explains in the foreword, this book intends to explore the principles, policies and practice in international investment law across the world and to foster greater study interests of students in the field. Unlike other textbooks that focus solely on investment protection in international law, this book brings an under-explored perspective from developing countries, in particular from Nigeria.
The book (International Investment Law: National, Regional and Global Perspectives) examines the principles and practices of international investment law in the light of international law. The book is situated within the prevailing dynamics of international investment law and policy that are underpinned by competing interests of the host States and foreign investors.
Despite the increasing popularity of MSIs, it is clear that self-regulation through this governance model is not the answer to driving corporate accountability for matters of public concern such as human rights protection. In a report released in July 2020 by MSI Integrity, a non-profit originally dedicated to understanding the human rights impact and value of MSIs, it was found that MSIs are not effective tools for holding corporations accountable for abuses, protecting rights holders against human rights violations, or providing survivors and victims’ with access to remedy. The report showed that we need to rethink the role of MSIs and the presence of an MSI in an industry should not be a substitute for public regulation.
Most of DSTs significant propositions are based on several grounds, including the goal of having businesses and corporations, especially multinational corporations (MNCs) pay their due share on taxes, taxing profits derived from consumers activities in their territory, or adapting traditional regulations and systems of international taxation to guide and inform new forms of unsettling business models that can be conducted virtually. This is following the debate that digital firms are undertaxed.