Tuesday, May 22, 2012

The African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights's Resolution on a Human Rights-Based Approach to Natural Resources Governance

By "Own the EDGE" - Rio + 20 NGO Major Group Newsletter

The African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights (the African Commission) held its 51st Ordinary Session in Banjul, Republic of The Gambia, from 18 April to 2 May 2012.

Altogether four hundred and seventeen (417) delegates participated at the 51st Ordinary Session. Of these, one hundred and two (102) represented twenty-three (23) States Parties, forty five (45) represented National Human Rights Institutions, four (4) represented International and Inter-Governmental Organizations, two hundred and fifty-six (256) represented African and International NGOs, and ten (10) represented African Union Organs.

The 51st Ordinary Session was preceded by a three-day meeting of the NGO Forum, organized by the African Centre for Democracy and Human Rights Studies, which was held from 14 to 16 April 2012. Two hundred and twenty (220) participants attended the NGO Forum – 204 from Africa, 4 from the Americas, 1 from Asia and 11 from Europe. The NGO Forum examined the human rights situation in many countries in Africa, and expressed concern over specific issues, such as election-related crises, freedom of expression, armed conflicts, environmental degradation, failure in constitutional obligations, the continuing inequalities and challenges faced by women in most countries, the situation and conditions of people living with HIV/AIDS, and the situation of human rights defenders on the African continent. For a full report of this conference please visit here.

Considering its mandate to promote human and peoples’ rights in Africa under the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (the African Charter), The African Commission has made an Human Rights-Based Approach to Natural Resources Governance, the resolution ACHPR/Res.224 (LI) 2012 that calls upon States Parties to:

i. Reaffirm that, in accordance with the Rio Declaration and African Charter principle of State sovereignty over natural resources, the State has the main responsibility for ensuring natural resources stewardship with, and for the interest of, the population and must fulfill its mission in conformity with international human rights law and standards;

ii. Confirm that all necessary measures must be taken by the State to ensure participation, including the free, prior and informed consent of communities, in decision making related to natural resources governance;

iii. Recommit themselves to vigorously fighting corruption at all levels of decision making by strengthening and enforcing criminalization of corruption, decisively ending impunity and ensuring asset recovery and repatriation for illicitly expatriated capital;

iv. Ensure that respect for human rights in all matters of natural resources exploration, extraction, toxic waste management, development, management and governance, in international cooperation, investment agreements and trade regulation prevails, and in particular:

- Establish a clear legal framework for sustainable development as it impacts on natural resources, in particular water, that would make the realization of human rights a prerequisite for sustainability;

- Strengthen regional efforts, such as the 2009 ECOWAS Directive on Mining and the African Commission’s Working Group on Extractive Industries and Human Rights, to promote natural resources legislation that respect human rights of all and require transparent, maximum and effective community participation in a) decision-making about, b) prioritisation and scale of, and c) benefits from any development on their land or other resources. or that affects them in any substantial way;

- Set up independent monitoring and accountability mechanisms that ensure that human rights are justiciable and extractive industries and investors legally accountable in the country hosting their activities and in the country of legal domicile;

- Ensure independent social and human rights impact assessments that guarantee free prior informed consent; effective remedies; fair compensation; women, indigenous and customary people’s rights; environmental impact assessments; impact on community existence including livelihoods, local governance structures and culture, and ensuring public participation; protection of the individuals in the informal sector; and economic, cultural and social rights.


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