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Expert seeks enforcement of mandatory human rights disclosure 

By Adeyemi Adepetun
04 August 2022   |   3:44 am
To address the adverse environmental, social and governance impacts of business operations on human rights across Africa, United Nations experts and African member of the UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights, Prof. Damilola Olawuyi, has called for urgent emphasis on mandatory non-financial reporting on human rights performance of business enterprises.

To address the adverse environmental, social and governance impacts of business operations on human rights across Africa, United Nations experts and African member of the UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights, Prof. Damilola Olawuyi, has called for urgent emphasis on mandatory non-financial reporting on human rights performance of business enterprises.
   
Olawuyi made this recommendation during a courtesy visit to the National Human Rights Commission of Nigeria (NHRC) in Abuja, at the weekend, where he was received by the Executive Secretary of NHRC, Anthony Ojukwu, as well as key members of the Nigerian business and human rights community.
   
It will be recalled that Olawuyi was recently appointed by the President of the UN Human Rights Council as Africa’s representative on the UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights, a position most recently occupied by Former Attorney General of Kenya, Githu Muigai.
 


The expert body has a mandate to promote the effective and comprehensive dissemination and implementation of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights through country visits, capacity building and dialogue with governments and all relevant actors, especially business enterprises.
 
While commending the NHRC for its innovative programmes and efforts aimed at spearheading awareness and empowerment on business and human rights in Nigeria, Olawuyi emphasised that the courtesy visit to the NHRC, his very first visit since appointed to the Working Group, was a clear statement on how much the global community expects from Nigeria in terms of pioneering legal innovations that will advance the business and human rights agenda.
   
The expert pledged to work collaboratively with the NHRC to deepen a culture of human rights in business activities and investments in Nigeria and across Africa.
   
He also emphasised that implementing the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights will require more efforts to monitor and track the level of compliance by business enterprises in key sectors.

“Global transparency requirements have moved beyond financial reporting alone. It now includes transparency in non-financial disclosures relating to the social, environmental and human rights aspects of corporate performance.
   
“We want to know how a company is addressing human rights risks across their entire business value chain, especially in advancing labour rights, child rights, gender equality and how they are integrating climate change into business planning through green procurements, green jobs, capacity development and supporting clean technology innovation,” Olawuyi said.
 


He also called on education institutions across Africa to increase training, education and capacity development on business and human rights by introducing specialised courses that can help administrators, planners and policy makers to steps that will guide the country towards advancing business and human rights agenda.
   
In response, the Executive Secretary of the NHRC, Ojukwu congratulated Olawuyi on his well-deserved appointment and emphasised the Commission’s readiness and commitment to collaborate with the working group in accelerating the implementation of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights in Nigeria.
   
He said preparations are already in top gear to organise training and capacity development programmes aimed at promoting greater awareness on the responsibilities of businesses in Nigeria to comply with national and international human rights standards and instruments.
   
The Executive Secretary assured Olawuyi of the NHRC’s support in fulfilling his mandate as Africa’s representative on the working group.