More than twenty years ago nine local activists from the Ogoni region
of Nigeria were executed by the then military dictatorship. The story
of the Ogoni Nine does not stop in Nigeria; the tale of the nine men,
the many lives lost, and the environmental degradation linked to the
extraction of oil in the region by Shell has quite literally travelled
the world. What is often commonly referred to as the Kiobel case—after
the application lodged by Esther Kiobel, the widow of Dr. Barinem
Kiobel—originated in Nigeria, has been heard by courts in the USA, and
is currently before Dutch courts. The Kiobel case, as well as a flurry
of other cases (e.g. the Bralima case before the Dutch NCP, the Nevsun
case before the Canadian courts, the Vedanta case before the UK courts,
or the Total case before the French courts, among others), embodies the
flight of corporate accountability cases out of their original African
This transnational quest for an effective remedy by those who’s human
and/or environmental rights have been violated is understandable, but
it also raises serious questions about the consequences of the
delocalisation of access to remedies in such cases. This conference aims
to provide a forum for critical discussions of the justifications for,
and consequences of, using various delocalised ‘sites of justice’ for
human and environmental rights violations associated with ‘doing
business’ in Africa. The aim is not to focus on Kiobel or Nigeria in
particular, although contributions on this case are welcome, but to
generally engage in a critical examination of cases that ‘migrate’
between different sites of justice, and the associated benefits and
drawbacks of the displacement of corporate accountability out of African
courts to courts or non-judicial mechanisms (such as OECD National
Contact Points) based in the so-called Global North. In doing so, we
strongly encourage applicants to consider a variety of (critical)
theoretical perspectives in the analysis of this phenomenon.
In this collaboration between Asser Institute’s Doing Business Right project and AfronomicsLaw,
we welcome contributions from scholars working on African international
law, African perspectives of international/transnational law, as well
as scholars working on business and human rights more generally. The aim
is to bring a plurality of voices into conversation with each other,
and to generate original (and critical) engagements with the operation
of transnational justice in the business and human rights space. With
important developments taking place at the international level, such as
the drafting of a binding Treaty on Business and Human Rights, the
preparation of European legislation on mandatory human rights due
diligence, as well as the emergence of the African Continental Free
Trade Area (AfCFTA), which is set to foster business across African
borders, such discussions are not only timely, they are also necessary.
Deadlines and requirements:
In order to increase engagement from a broader range of actors from
the continent, the conference will be bilingual, English and French. The
conference presentations and outputs will also be accepted in either
language (2,000 word
blog post as part of a special symposium on AfronomicsLaw, as well as a
full-length paper for a special issue with a journal (journal tbd)).
Overview of deadlines:
- Deadline for abstract submission: 15 January 2021
- Draft papers due: 1 March 2021
- Digital conference: 24-26 March 2021
- Final contribution to blog symposium on AfronomicsLaw: 30 April 2021
- Final papers due for special issue with journal: 1 July 2021
Please submit abstracts in English or French (250 words) accompanied by a short CV (max. 5 pages) to firstname.lastname@example.org by 23:59 CET on 15 January 2021.
Editor’s note: Constance Kwant is an experienced international lawyer who has worked as in-house senior legal counsel for a top tier international financial institution in both Hong Kong and the Netherlands. She has a specific interest in sustainable business and human rights, including responsible finance.
This post aims to outline, briefly analyse and to provide a critical comment in relation to striking a balance between confidentiality and transparency in the procedure followed by the Dutch National Contact Point (‘NCP’) in the Specific instance procedure filed in December 2015 by three former employees (‘Representatives’) on behalf of a group of 168 former employees of Heineken’s subsidiary Bralima SA (‘Bralima’) in Bakavu, located in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo (‘DRC’).
The case, finalised in August 2017, concerns alleged violations of labour and human rights by Bralima in the period 1999-2003, a period during which the DRC was a highly volatile and conflict-affected country, where the eastern part of the DRC was effectively under control of rebel movement DRC-Goma.The complaint also alleged that Bralima had cooperated with DRC-Goma in a number of ways throughout this period. On the basis of the alleged violations, the Representatives sought financial compensation by filing its notification with the NCP.
Since the allegations were brought forward to the NCP under the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises, this post will first provide short background information on the OECD Guidelines and the workings of the Dutch NCP, subsequently moving through the proceedings, its outcome, and a brief analysis with a critical note. More...