Background / Information The Central African Republic (CAR) does not take the issue of corporate human rights abuse lightly. However, as a LEDC, CAR has great difficulty striking a healthy balance between enforcing laws that minimise corporate human rights abuse and protecting corporations that contribute significantly to the country’s economy in view of the country’s priority of embarking on an economic reconstruction.Problem / Key IssuesCAR has been plagued by years of armed confrontation, decades of political instability and underdevelopment.
Under President Faustin-Archange Touadéra’s leadership, a Special Criminal Court (SSC) has been operationalized. However, the US$5 million1 have fallen short of the US$7 million required, highlighting the few commitments to funding the SCC beyond its initial phase. Given the limited resources and country’s gloomy economic climate, investigations and arrests of corporations which abuse their workers are made especially challenging. Furthermore, the Kimberley Process, a commitment to remove diamonds used to insurgencies from the supply chain, allows diamonds mined or traded in circumstances infringing human rights abuses to go unchecked, essentially absolving corporations of any responsibility to investigate their own supply chains. SolutionsAcknowledging the pressing need to address the issue of corporate human rights abuse, the Central African Republic appeals to all MEDCs as well as the UN for more financial aid to increase enforcement of labour laws, since CAR recognises that as most of the country’s state reserves are channelled to economic reconstruction, monetary aid is required to establish institutions and employ trained personnel to investigate supply chains and corporations that are linked to human rights abuses.
The overreliance on MNCs and FDIs to support the country’s economy translates to the fact that CAR is unable to completely divorce itself from these corporations that contribute significantly, lest risk the collapse of the country’s economy. Ergo, CAR believes that it is able to reduce dependence on such corporations through setting up local businesses with the technical assistance of the UN in coaching Central Africans in business management as well as financial aid to fund these startups in their early stages. Enhanced partnership with neighbouring and trading countries and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) is of paramount importance as well. Any supply chain initiative is only as effective as the system of controls at each point in the chain. Greater cooperation between neighbouring and trading countries improves communication of the results of checks conducted at each point of the supply chain, thereby minimising the corporate human rights abuses.
Through joining the OECD as a member country, a country’s economic performance and political economic reforms can be improved. CAR proposes to SOCHUM for the OECD to launch a consultation process with diamond producing countries as part of the Implementation Programme for its Due Diligence Guidance for Responsible Supply Chains of Minerals from Conflict-Affected and High-Risk Areas. CAR believes that this will enable and encourage corporations to identify, manage and publicly disclose the risks in their supply chain, particularly so as to enable an assessment of the impact of these measures in preventing conflict financing and human rights abuse.CAR believes that with the provision of more monetary aid and greater cooperation with the UN and organisations such as the OECD, economic reconstruction can occur in tandem with the reduction of corporate human rights abuses.