NGOs pledge to defend rights of mining communities
A consortium of nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) have expressed deep concern about the negative effects of the operations of multinational mining companies and has pledged to support the struggles of local communities to assert their human rights.
The OECD Watch, a network of over 50 NGOs from 30 countries working to demand corporate accountability and on OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises, has expertise in environment, labour and human rights.
In a declaration issued at the end of 93OECD Watch International / Inter-Regional Seminar on OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises=94 in Accra it affirmed its commitment to develop campaigns and work in solidarity to uphold the rights of local communities and support their struggles.
The seminar discussed topics including; 94Globalization, National Policy and Multinational Investment in Developing Countries, the case of Ghana=94; 93The OECD Guidelines for Multinationals in the African Context, Examples from OECD Watch Database=94; 93UN Convention=94 and other instruments for advocacy.
The participants noted that the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises was one of the instruments available to encourage and promote corporate social and environmental responsibility and should be used as effectively as possible, notwithstanding, certain limitations. They noted that corporate business practices resulted in widespread lack of corporate accountability and transparency in developing countries leading to unacceptably high rate of human rights violations and environmental degradation.
The participants drew the attention of governments to their obligation to ensure that all State actors and multinational enterprises respected human rights, since they were signatories to the UN Declaration on human Rights; International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.
They stressed the need for governments to strengthen national laws to regulate activities of multinational companies and to ensure that they had both the will and capacity to strengthen and implement them. Governments must uphold international treaties and conventions and to find ways to encourage companies to meet their responsibilities and to put into operation the standards and principles contained in the OECD Guidelines; United Nations Conventions and International Labour Organization Conventions.
The participants urged governments to ensure that bilateral trade agreements were developed giving consideration to the protection of human rights. The seminar was organised by IRENE/OECD Watch and Wassa Association of Communities Affected by Mining (WACAM), an advocacy NGO committed to raising awareness on the impact of mining in Ghana and the adverse effect that lack of corporate accountability by foreign enterprises is having on the livelihoods of local communities and the environment. The participants were drawn from Australia; Brazil; Burkina Faso; Democratic Republic of Congo; France; Germany; Ghana; India; Indonesia; Liberia, Malawi; Netherlands; Nigeria; Norway; Senegal and USA.