Members in DRC Issue Priorities for UN Treaty
CSOs COMMITMENT TO SUPPORT INITIATIVE FOR THE ADOPTION OF A BINDING TREATY
Following the presentations by Petrus Yav and Emmanuel Umpula on the UN Guiding principles on Business and Human rights and the Intergovernmental Working group entrusted to prepare a binding treaty on corporations and human rights, 16 participants have decided to support the Working group by contributing with priorities on this matter.
Participants at the BUKAVU workshop adopted the following 4 main priorities that should complete an existing list of others that were already identified at the Nairobi consultations held by ESCR-net and FIDH from 23 to 25 October 2015:
- Creation of a fund for the reparation of victims
Reparation of abuses caused by multinational firms and state-owned companies remains a crucial problem in some countries such as the DRC. The treaty should consider the possibility of putting in place a fund for reparation.
Due to time constraints, participants postponed discussions related to the management of the fund.
- Possibility of filing a collective complaint
This priority is justified by the following 2 reasons:
- Victims are financially poor, therefore cannot afford to file an individual complaint;
- Some entities such villages lacking legal status are not allowed to file a complaint when their rights are violated by firms or the State
To get around this difficulty, NGOs believe that the treaty should enable victims to file a collective complaint. In other words, a complaint can be filed on behalf of the victims who are presents (or not) at the hearing.
- Enabling communities to have access to information
Access to information constitutes a serious concern in the sector of natural resources. In most African states, populations do not have access to information pertaining to signed contracts, environmental impact studies, financial statements, companies’ annual reports, etc. To get around this and enable populations to have access to information and participate to discussions on governance, the treaty should compel states to make public the information.
- Integrating the FPIC principle
The “Free Prior and informed consent” principle should be one of the treaty’s priorities.
NB: In order to improve this list of priorities, NGOs will hold a workshop in October gathering more participants to work on the topic.