MAC: Mines and Communities

Human rights impacts of extractive companies in Francophone Africa

Published by MAC on 2015-10-27
Source: Statement (2015-10-27)

The Business & Human Rights Resource Centre has released an analysis of 10 of approaches to companies on allegations of human rights abuses in Francophone Africa, with extractive industries taking the major share of those complaints.

The full briefing is available here -

New analysis spotlights human rights impacts of extractive companies in Francophone Africa

27 October 2015

London/Dakar – Francophone countries, and La Francophonie itself, have an enormous opportunity to shape future investment and economic growth in Francophone Africa for better respect for human rights, says Business & Human Rights Resource Centre.

As the Organisation Internationale de La Francophonie holds its second annual economic forum, Business & Human Rights Resource Centre has released analysis of 10 years of approaches to companies on allegations of human rights abuses in Francophone Africa.

Almost half of these approaches (42%) have related to human rights concerns regarding extractive companies. While these companies tend to respond publicly to concerns when asked to (90% responded), this sector continues as a major concern for civil society: There has been no decline in the proportion or number of approaches the Resource Centre has made to extractive companies regarding Francophone Africa over the last 10 years.

The greatest risks are in conflict or weak governance zones. Four of the top five countries and territories in Francophone Africa where human rights concerns were raised about companies’ operations, were in countries of current or recent conflicts and instability (Democratic Republic of Congo, Niger, Western Sahara, and Côte d’Ivoire). This shows the importance of measures in multinationals’ home countries and at the international level to improve accountability for companies operating in weak governance zones.

From pollution and displacement in Niger, to violence against protestors in Guinea, case studies in the briefing show that extractive industry development in Francophone Africa has come at a high cost for people and the environment.

European Francophone countries and Canada continue to be major investors in Francophone Africa, but this investment has a dark side – 44% of concerns about corporate abuses in Francophone Africa implicated companies from Francophone countries. This narrative can be changed, starting now, by La Francophonie and its member states.

Some companies are taking positives steps, including by redeveloping mining sites that are closing to provide economic opportunities, and by undertaking meaningful consultation with communities. However, when it comes to remedying impacts, this analysis suggests that companies are failing to take adequate steps; in none of the responses to Business & Human Rights Resource Centre did extractive companies commit to providing remedy.

Francophone countries have made promising policy developments, including the proposed bill on mandatory due diligence in France, and Canada’s steps to condition trade and investment support on companies’ participation in a government mechanism to hear disputes with affected communities. Whilst these developments should be applauded, Francophone countries, and La Francophonie, should take immediate further action to improve extractive companies’ respect for human rights.

“This year’s forum is a perfect opportunity for La Francophonie to integrate the important principles of human rights into its emerging work on economic and business issues. It must do so if this work is to promote growth that benefits the poorest in Africa and respects the rights of all stakeholders”

Aliou Diouf, Francophone Africa Researcher and Representative, Business & Human Rights Resource Centre.


Notes to editors

The full briefing is available here -

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