The Centre for Human Rights, together with the Institute for Human Rights and Business' office in Kenya, hosted a consultation for East Africa on behalf of the African Commission Working Group on Extractive Industries, Environment and Human Rights violations in Nairobi, Kenya, from 19 - 21 January 2015. The consultation brought together representatives from civil society, national human rights institutions, affected communities and role players from the extractive sector in East Africa for a three day consultation focusing on challenges, best practices and the way forward in the sub-region. The Working Group was represented by Commissioners Pacifique Manirakiza and Lawrence Mute, and Expert Members Clement Voule, Sheila Keetharuth and Eric Kassongo.
The East Africa sub-regional consultation involved several panel presentations focusing on the different country contexts, and included views on Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, South Sudan, and Rwanda. Thematic issues that were discussed over the course of the sub-regional consultation included the role of national human rights institutions in promoting a human rights based approach to extractive industry governance, the accountability of state and non-state actors with regard to corporate human rights abuse, the experiences of human rights defenders working in the field, experiences of affected communities, benefit sharing practices, and the environmental impacts of extractive industries in East Africa.
The consultation brought together an excellent group of participants, and very insightful and interesting presentations were delivered. The consultation took place in an environment of constructive engagement, and the Working Group managed to engage with the participants throughout the process. The information gathered during the consultation will be contained in a sub-regional consultation report, currently in development and to be published as soon as possible.
It should be noted that invitations were extended to a number of interest groups, and the organisers were disappointed with the lack of participation from governments and the business community. The next sub-regional consultation is scheduled to take place in Lubumbashi, Democratic Republic of Congo, from 6 - 8 July 2015. This consultation will focus on Central Africa, and again hopes to bring together representatives from government, national human rights institutions, civil society, affected communities and the business sector.