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Kenya National Commission on Human Rights hosts the UN Working Group on business and human rights

KNCHR Commissioner Jedidah Waruhiu (3rd from left) flanked by Ms. Anita Ramasastry ( 3rd from right)  listens to meeting briefings during a familiarisation tour of the UN Working Group on Business and Human Right to the Commission. The KNCHR CEO (extreme left) and other UN experts were also present during the meeting

The United Nations Working Group on business and human rights paid a courtesy call on Monday, July 2, 2018 to the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights as part of their country visit. Leading the team to the Commission was Anita Ramasastry, who is the chairperson of the Working Group and visiting experts Ulrick Halsten and Michael Addo.

The team from Geneva was received at the Commission by Commissioner Jedidah Wakonyo flanked by the Commission’s Chief executive officer and deputy CEO, Dr. Bernard Mogesa and Wambui Gathathi respectively. Also at hand to receive the visitors was the economic, social and cultural department team led by Mr. Maina Mutuaruhiu and the head of Redress, Senior Counsel Victor Kamau. Ms. Marcella Favretto, the senior human rights adviser at the Nairobi based Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights was also present.

The KNCHR team had a robust engagement with the UN team on business and human rights. The Commission shared with the UN Working Group its concept papers on business and human rights and other related position papers such as the National Action Plan on business. Mr. Victor Kamau made presentations on mediation.

Ms Ramasastry said that they welcome the commitment of the Commission and other stakeholders in Government to develop a National Action Plan (NAP) on Business and Human Rights to address gaps and shortcomings in the current practice. “We hope that our preliminary observations will help this process,” she concluded.

 The UN team noted that Kenya has the advantage of a solid legal framework for action, and the Government must first of all step up efforts to ‘walk the talk’ to translate existing legislation into practice. During the visit, the experts met representatives of Government, business, and civil society to discuss opportunities and challenges presented by the State’s commitment to the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. 

At the end of their 10-day visit to Kenya and the Commission, the UN experts held a press conference in Nairobi on Wednesday 11th July where they noted that the challenges ahead in business and human rights would require concrete action by both national and county governments, including steps to ensure meaningful consultation and transparency in the assessment of environmental and social impacts of business projects. Equally, they urged the authorities and duty bearers in Kenya to turn ideals set out in the 2010 national constitution into action that ensures businesses respect human rights. The experts also encouraged the government to move forward with regulations relating to registration of community land and other efforts to provide clarity on land rights and certainty for communities and the private sector.  

The Working Group’s final report, including findings and key recommendations, will be presented to the UN Human Rights Council in June 2019. Click here to download the Statement at the end of visit to Kenya by the United Nations Working Group on Business and Human Rights

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