OHCHR Launches Business, H’ Rights Initiatives

-Warns Against Corruption And Bad Labor Practices

MONROVIA-The office of High Commission for Human Rights in Liberia (OHCHR) has officially launched the implementation of a six-Month Business and Human Rights Africa project with seeding funds granted by the Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), commissioned by the Government of Germany.

Among other things, the project focuses on promoting business and human rights in Africa, while the implementation of the project activities in Liberia is funded under a grant agreement between OHCHR and GIZ.

As part of the Liberia’s office implementation of the project, two activities have been earmarked and completed- namely, two days capacity building meeting for the Independent National Commission on Human Rights (INCHR) Business and Human Rights unit, selected INCHR County Human Rights monitors, and stakeholders  on the NAP and UNGPs held in Ganta Nimba County on 28 and 29 April 2022; and also a Two-day technical working session, from May 3 and 4, 2022, for the development of a draft, Business and Human Rights National Action Plan held in Monrovia at the Lutheran Compound.

The program was organized by the Ministry of Justice, chair of the National Steering Committee for the elaboration of a Business and Human Rights National Action Plan, a state obligation enumerated in the PAPD as a National priority.

Other activities under the six Months project include the second phase of the Independent National Commission on Human Rights (INCHR) Business and Human Rights (BHR) unit capacity building and a media awareness on issues and concerns of Business and Human Rights in Liberia.

At the same time, media awareness is part of capacity-building activities to promote a better understanding and uptake of the BHR standards by key stakeholders in the public, the general citizenry and private sectors.

While the second phase of the Independent National Commission on Human Rights (INCHR) Business and Human Rights unit capacity building will include visits to businesses and concession areas for physical interaction and engagement with businesses owners, workers, community dwellers, concessions, and workers unions on challenges and Business and Human Rights concerns in Liberia.

Over the period, it has been observed that Civil society organizations inclusive of rights groups have one way or the other pay little attention to business-related human rights abuses in the country while State institutions with statutory authority to certify investments, often allegedly request kick-backs and as such their ability to negotiate a transparent, equitable and human rights sensitive deal has always been comprised.

As a consequence, business entities often get away with bad Corporate Social Responsibility Agreements (CSRA) making it easier for them to grab lands from communities, renege on their social development responsibilities and abuse the rights of communities and employees.

However, the old age situation which has been identified is now reaching a stage to be work on especially with knowledge sharing among the direct victims and stakeholders.

At the various working sessions, participants mainly activists were trained on how to monitor and advocate for timely redress to emerging human rights issues in the business community and support the ongoing activities, among others.

It can be record that a National Steering Committee was on November 28, 2019 appointed to help coordinate the Business and Human Strategies that was expected to draft a national action plan which came to a halt due to the ongoing Corona Pandemic.

Well, speaking at the close of the workshop was the Officer on Business and Human Right Of the United Nation High Commission for Human Right Martin Toe who thanked the organizers for said key program and warned business and companies’ owners to refrain from bad labor practices.

Additionally, he cautioned alleged and corrupt Government officials to abstain from corruption, something he said, his institution will not take likely, if caught in a troubling act.

Also speaking at the Workshop was Darran Y. Waylor of the Independent National Commission on Human Right (INCHR) who encourages the participants to take serious actions on those found violating the labor law.

This, he pointed out, once enforced, will help mitigate bad labor practices across the Country.

Meanwhile, The strengthen capacity will also put the unit in a better position to advocate for government to exercise its responsibility to protect human rights, business community to respect the rights of those in its employ and affected communities, and access to remedy for victims of abuse.

The capacity Building session held in Ganta Nimba County, brought together Twenty-two (22) participants including staff of the Business and Human Rights Unit of the INCHR, INCHR HR monitors from selected counties, relevant staffs of oversight department, and partners, was to help bridge the gap created by low technical expertise at the unit and enhance the work of the INCHR to fight injustice in the Business sector and ensure accountability in general.

The strengthen capacity will also put the unit in a better position to advocate for government to exercise its responsibility to protect human rights, business community to respect the rights of those in its employ and affected communities, and access to remedy for victims of abuse.

The capacity Building session held in Ganta Nimba County, brought together Twenty-two (22) participants including staff of the Business and Human Rights Unit of the INCHR, INCHR HR monitors from selected counties, relevant staffs of oversight department, and partners, was to help bridge the gap created by low technical expertise at the unit and enhance the work of the INCHR to fight injustice in the Business sector and ensure accountability in general.

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