Reflections on how to address the violations of human rights by extractive industries in Africa : a comparative analysis of Nigeria and South Africa
Kamga, Serges Djoyou
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Transnational companies (TNCs) in general and those operating in the extractive industry sector in particular have an impact on the realisation of human rights. Yet under international human rights law, instruments regulating TNCs’ obligations in terms of human rights are non-binding. Consequently, the state in which TNCs operate remains the only duty bearer of human rights and should ensure that companies under its jurisdiction comply with human rights. The aim of this article is to examine the extent to which Nigeria and South Africa comply with their obligations to ensure that TNCs in extractive industries operating within their borders promote and respect human rights. Ultimately it is argued that the legal architecture in the countries under study does not satisfactorily shield people from the actions of TNCs. In an attempt to remedy the situation, it is suggested that a way forward could be constructed on the following pillars: inserting human rights clauses into international trade and investment agreements; raising awareness of and sensitization on the importance of corporate social responsibility as a "profit maximising mechanism"; turning corporate social responsibility into binding human rights obligations; and using international human rights monitoring mechanisms. Though the points made in this article generally engage the human rights impacts of extractive industries in Nigeria and South African, the proposed solutions are generalisable to other societies in which these industries operate.