While corporate social responsibility has its place, going forward, it will be critical for civil society organisations working on human rights to focus more on corporate accountability as captured in the letter and spirit of the United Nations Guiding Principles of Business and Human Rights ( hereinafter UNGP) as opposed to corporate social responsibility
Commercial interests of extractive companies, especially those operating on large scale projects, more often than not harm the social, economic and environmental wellbeing of affected communities. Moreover, despite the fact that it is very difficult for state actors to regulate corporate behavior in the era of globalization, Kenya seems to lack the minimum regulations, such as a Code of Conduct for Mining Companies, a formal Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) framework or standardized local content provisions, that could enhance corporate accountability and responsibility in the sector.
Needless to say, to ensure that the discovery of natural resources in Kenya leads to growth and development and does not become a resource curse, there is the need for increased transparency and accountability in the management of extractive industries. The government, including both the legislature and executive, play a crucial role in shaping and enforcing sound management systems for the country’s newly discovered extractives resources.
Article 35 of the 2010 Constitution of Kenya provides for “access to information”. More specifically, Art 35 (1) stipulates that “every citizen has the right to access to (a) information held by the State”. Further, Art. 35 (3) states that “the State shall publish and publicize any important information affecting the nation”. There is also the Access to Information Act, 2016 whose object and purpose is to give effect to Art 35 of the Constitution of Kenya.
Against this constitutional background, HMK seeks to support local communities affected by extractive projects as well as the wider public to get access to information about signed mining concessions (licenses & contracts), revenues created (royalties and taxes) as well as revenue distribution and management by the government (national and county level). Further, HMK is committed to support local communities to demand for minimum regulations, monitor activities of extractive companies and hold them accountable for human rights’ violations (incl. social and economic rights) as well as environmental harms.