- Local agri-business firm Kakuzi PLC has announced the appointment of an Independent Human Rights Advisory Committee (IHRAC) to be chaired by former Attorney General Prof Githu Muigai.
- The firm joins a growing list of globally focused institutions that have adopted the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, alongside FIFA, BASF SE, Adidas among others.
Local agri-business firm Kakuzi PLC has announced the appointment of an Independent Human Rights Advisory Committee (IHRAC) to be chaired by former Attorney General Prof Githu Muigai.
With the appointment of the committee to its Board, Kakuzi becomes the first corporate organization in Sub-Sahara Africa to establish such an independent advisory panel benchmarked against the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.
The firm joins a growing list of globally focused institutions that have adopted the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, alongside FIFA, BASF SE, Adidas among others.
Speaking on the appointment of the IHRAC, Kakuzi PLC Managing Director Chris Flowers said the committee would provide independent technical advisory to the firm’s Board of Directors.
Flowers said such technical advisory would guarantee sustainable compliance with global human rights matters across the Nairobi Securities Exchange (NSE) listed firm’s operations.
He said Kakuzi had also enacted an Operational-level Grievance Mechanism, which was also benchmarked against the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.
Members of the Prof Githu led committee include former Independent Policing Oversight Authority (IPOA) Board Member Grace Madoka, former Finlays Kenya Legal and HR Director Dr Brenda Achieng, and Kakuzi PLC non-executive independent director Andrew Ndegwa.
Another member of the committee is expected to be named soon.
Both Madoka and Dr Achieng are Advocates of the High Court of Kenya and have extensive corporate governance experience, while Ndegwa is a Chartered Accountant.
“As part of our core values, the Board of Kakuzi PLC is sincerely committed and desirous of strengthening end to end efforts to ensure that human rights are respected in all our operations. The appointment of this IHRAC committee underscores this commitment to voluntarily protect, respect and remedy any human rights grievances as responsible business practices,” Flowers said.
On his part, Prof Muigai said, “Kakuzi is pioneering a public accountability programme demonstrating its commitment to respecting human rights within its operating and supply chain environment. The members of the IHRAC are meant to autonomously advise and review Kakuzi’s action points to ensure that the firm remains at the leading edge of this accountability programme.”
He added, “Above all else, adopting an IHRAC is advantageous to all stakeholders. Human rights standards are fundamental standards that lead to better business accountability. Adoption of IHRAC is an idea whose time has come and one that I would strongly recommend.”
Prof Githu recommended the adoption of IHRAC by other local companies to advance Human Rights in the corporate world as well as government, business as well as the civil society.
The UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights recently released an assessment of the first 10 years of UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights implementation by States and businesses.
It noted that, “There has been significant progress over the first decade, as witnessed by a growing number of companies committing to respect human rights and a recent surge of legislation in Europe making respect for human rights and the environment a mandatory requirement for businesses.”
The Group said these critical developments, though slow, demonstrated emerging awareness around the human rights responsibilities of business that did not exist a decade earlier.
The Guiding Principles have also provided unions, affected communities and civil society with a framework for demanding accountability for business-related harm to people and the planet.
“All States must make implementation of the Guiding Principles a top governance and policy priority. All businesses – including small and medium-sized enterprises – need to make respect for human rights part of their corporate culture. We call on States and businesses to step up and all stakeholders to take part in the movement to make the next ten years a decade of action on the Guiding Principles,” said the UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights.
In December, the Working Group is set to launch a roadmap for implementation over the next decade.