Okail: Multinational corporations violate children's rights in Africa
Judeh: The relationship between multinational corporations and African countries must be based on mutual benefit
On the sidelines of its participation in the 68th session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights, Maat for Peace, Development and Human Rights issued a new study entitled "Multinational Corporations & their Impact on Human Rights in Africa", which highlighted the major human rights violations committed by leading multinational corporations in Africa, as well as the deficiencies in their legal framework, which is considered an infringement on the rights of African countries to development and their right to life, health and water, as well as the rights of children and indigenous peoples.
The study uncovered the dark side of some of the world's largest foodstuff companies like Nestle and Marsh, and the biggest tech companies such as Dell, Apple, Microsoft and Tesla, which all use child labor in the Ivory Coast and the Congo. The study has also shed light on the multinational corporations that violate the rights of the Egyptian and Sudanese peoples to water, through the establishment of megaprojects, ignoring the various studies cautioning against the negative consequences they do have on neighbouring countries, and violating the international and regional legal rules that regulate the construction of these projects on international rivers.
For his part, Ayman Okeil, head of Maat for Peace, Development and Human Rights, argued that instead of helping African peoples to grow and develop, multinational corporations exacerbate their suffering. By using child labor, these major companies violate Article 32 (a) of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, providing for the protection of children from economic exploitation, as well as the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, which stipulates in Article 15 thereof that children shall be protected from performing any work that is likely to be hazardous. It is shameful that such companies are making more profit from the sweat and unceasing toil of children and are getting wealthier at the expense of their right to decent life. These horrible facts are sounding the alarm bells about the phenomenon of child labor at a time when the world seeks to eliminate it, Okeil stressed.
On his part, Abdul Latif Judeh, a researcher at the African Affairs and Sustainable Development Unit at Maat, said that multinational corporations in Africa are depleting the resources and riches of African countries, creating one-way profit. Indeed, Africa, the rich in resources yet still poor, has long been a coveted trophy for all European countries. These corporations, whose budgets exceed those of many African countries, have given themselves the right to obtain preferential benefits in these countries, which is considered an encroachment on the sovereignty of these States. Judeh also called on these African countries to take a decisive stand against such companies that deplete their resources, and to work to develop a comprehensive legal framework to regulate the work of these companies in African countries.
Maat for Peace, Development and Human Rights is currently participating as an observer member in the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights in its 68th session. Besides, it carries out a series of awareness-raising seminars and publishes a number of studies and human rights publications on the sidelines of the session's work.