PALU attended the 2nd Forum of the African Business & Human Rights Forum, on 5-7 September 2023, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, convened by the African Union and co-organized by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNOHCR), the UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), in close collaboration with local, regional, continental and international actors.
This year's theme was For Africa, From Africa. Discussions were centred around reflecting the importance of local perspectives and solutions in the collective effort to implement the UN Guiding Principles (UNGPs) in relation to operationalizing the African Continental Free Trade Agreement AfCFTA. The forum also focused on African experiences and challenges related to business and human rights, with the intention of generating innovative solutions tailored to the continent’s unique context.
PALU was represented by its Program Officer – Human and Peoples’ Rights, Ms. Neema Jaji, who participated in a panel session on the theme Breaking Down Barriers: Advancing Access to Justice and Effective Remedies. The discussions centred around available mechanisms in the region, opportunities and challenges in strategic litigation towards business and human rights, as well as the gaps that still exist. She emphasized the opportunity to impact the law, change policies and create significant jurisprudence through strategic litigation geared towards improvements to access to justice.
Regarding the reflection on the challenges to effective remedies, we can note the following:
- Lack of knowledge and access to information for victims on their rights.
- Fear of reprisal for the exercise of their rights, and for CSOs working with them.
Hence, for barriers to be broken lawyers and CSOs should increase awareness and access to information on access to justice and effective remedies through both judicial and non-judicial mechanisms that are available. On its part, PALU has developed Manuals for Litigating before Regional Courts such as the East African Court of Justice and the ECOWAS Community Court of Justice. All are available online on our website.