ABHR Forum 2023
African Business and Human Rights Forum
The African Business and Human Rights Forum is an annual event convening stakeholders across Africa for constructive dialogue and peer-learning on how to strengthen responsible business and corporate accountability in the region.
The Forum aims to facilitate a robust and multi-stakeholder dialogue based on the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs) that will foster joint action to prevent, mitigate and remediate business-related human rights and environmental abuses. Participants include governments, civil society organizations, communities human rights defenders, trade unions, business enterprises, industry associations, employers’ organizations, international organizations, national and regional human rights institutions, journalists, lawyers, activists and campaigners, and academia.
Bringing together all actors with a role and an interest in advancing the business and human rights agenda in Africa, the Forum will be designed to achieve the following outcomes:
Promote policy coherence at the national and regional level, including the adoption of the AU policy on business and human rights
Assess progress made in implementing the UNGPs
Exchange and learn from positive practices and challenges
For Africa, from Africa
The theme of this year's forum is For Africa, From Africa, which reflects the importance of local perspectives and solutions in the collective effort to implement the UNGPs in relation to operationalizing the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA). Given that “accelerating the implementation of the AfCFTA" is the AU theme of 2023, the Forum will first focus on the linkages between the implementation of the UNGPs and the operationalization of the AfCFTA.
In addition, the Forum will focus on African experiences and challenges related to business and human rights. It will seek to generate innovative solutions tailored to the continent's unique context. By highlighting African voices and perspectives, the Forum will emphasize the African way of delivering the UNGPs. Unanimously endorsed by the UN Human Rights Council in 2011, the UNGPs are directed at States and companies and clarify their respective duties and responsibilities to protect and respect human rights in the context of business activities and the need to ensure access to an effective remedy for those whose rights have been adversely affected by such activities.
The Inaugural ABHR Forum
The 2022 ABHR Forum was the first continental gathering on Business and Human Rights in almost a decade. The Forum was convened by the African Union and co-organized together with UNDP, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), the Working Group on Business and Human Rights (the Working Group) and Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeiten (GIZ) in close collaboration with local and regional, continental and international actors, such as the African Coalition for Corporate Accountability (ACCA), the Network of African National Human Rights Institutions (NANHRI), the Danish Institute for Human Rights, the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung, the UN Global Compact, the Global Business Initiative, with support from the Governments of Japan, Sweden and Switzerland.
The 2022 Forum brought together over 300 in-person and about 500 online participants from more than 96 countries (over 40 African nations were represented online or in-person), including practitioners, experts and representatives of civil society organisations (CSOs), businesses, academia, indigenous communities, media, trade unions, NHRIs and governments. Civil society representatives accounted for almost 40% of the attendees. The three-day event was an opportunity to exchange and hold dialogues, engage in peer-to-peer learning, network and exchange information and positive practices to position business respect for human rights as a priority in Africa. The African Union and the United Nations committed to taking forward a continental platform of peer learning in the years to come, reaffirming its commitment to establishing an annual African Business and Human Rights Forum.