The Network of African National Human Rights Institutions (NANHRI) is holding its 14th Biennial Conference in Accra, Ghana, from October 18 to 20, 2023. The event is being organised in collaboration with the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ), currently the Chair of NANHRI, under the theme “Nurturing Responsible Business Conduct and Respect for Human Rights in Africa: The Role of African National Human Rights Institutions in Centering Human and People’s Rights in the Context Of Business Operations, and the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement.”
Building on the successes of earlier conferences on Business and Human Rights (BHR)-related initiatives, such as sub-regional National Action Plan (NAP) dialogues in East, West, and Southern Africa, the Africa Business and Human Rights Forum, and National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs) peer learning initiatives, the 14th NANHRI Biennial Conference aims to provide a unique platform for NHRIs to engage with one another and interact with other key stakeholders to shape the future steps in advancing BHR across the African continent as well as generate practical recommendations to overcome the challenges NHRIs face in this field.
The Special Guest of Honour and Vice President of the Republic of Ghana, Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia who officially opened the conference, stated that the conference comes at a crucial time when the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement (AfCFTA), is gaining momentum and therefore, urged businesses to be mindful of the human rights obligations.
In his remarks, the Vice President commended NANHRI for the groundbreaking roles they are playing in ensuring that responsible business conduct and respect for human rights remain at the forefront of Africa’s ambitious regional economic integration initiative.
The Chairperson of NANHRI, Mr. Joseph Whittal on his part, said the critical role of NHRIs in monitoring and reporting on human rights at the national and regional levels has become increasingly indispensable in the dynamic discourse surrounding business and human rights in Africa. He therefore urged NHRIs to ensure that States protect human rights, businesses respect human rights as well and institute accessible remediation mechanisms for human rights violations.
Mr. Whittal also emphasized that CHRAJ is committed to fulfilling its mandates of promoting and protecting human rights which include human rights violations as a result of the business operations. Hence he assured delegates that Ghana would soon join Kenya, Uganda, and Nigeria in having a National Action Plan to deal with issues of Business and Human Rights (BHR).
The anticipated outcomes of this conference are the promotion of an NHRI-centered, multi-stakeholder approach to addressing business and human rights issues, strengthening trust among stakeholders and partners, and fostering a long-term common vision for the BHR agenda in Africa. Overall, the event also aims to develop practical and actionable next steps (Action Plan) on moving forward the work of BHR as well as adopt the Accra Declaration of NANHRI on the role of African National Human Rights Institutions in centering human and people’s rights in the context of business operations, and the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement.
The 14th NANHRI Biennial Conference is a landmark event, bringing together key stakeholders to shape the future of responsible business conduct and human rights protection in Africa. As discussions unfold, the outcomes of this conference are expected to resonate across the continent, driving positive change and promoting a more sustainable and rights-based approach to business practices in Africa.