This year brought some interesting developments for ACCA. As the Coalition’s first full-time coordinator, I quickly realised that I had big shoes to fill. The support from our colleagues both on the African continent and abroad is most promising, and interest in our work is steadily increasing. Indeed, the ACCA has the potential to become a truly continental coalition working towards corporate accountability in African, and an influential voice in the international arena.
During the second half of the year, ACCA managed to be present at several international business and human rights events, during which the work of its members was showcased, whilst linking it to other important role players in the business and human rights landscape. Noteworthy events include the ICAR annual conference, the Zimbabwe Alternative Mining Indaba (ZAMI), the ESCR-net Peoples’ Forum, and the UN Forum on Business and Human Rights. One of the distinguishing factors at the ZAMI, which took place in Bulawayo from 23rd – 24th September 2015, was the participation of concerned stakeholders with an interest in mineral governance in Zimbabwe which included the Deputy Minister of Mines and Mining development. The ZAMI reaffirmed its position as a legitimate platform for both affected communities and general citizens of Zimbabwe to engage with government, legislators and the private sector as an effective means to share and exchange ideas, experiences and strategies on how to promote the rights of communities affected by mining. The ESCR-net Peoples’ Forum on Business and Human Rights which took place in Nairobi, Kenya, from 26th October to 30th October 2015 brought together multiple stakeholders from across the global South. The year also ended off with the UN Forum on Business and Human Rights, which took place from 16 – 18 November 2015 in Geneva, during which ACCA members present drafted an ACCA statement based on the Forum in an attempt to improve African participation at such events. The ACCA statement in question may be accessed on the ACCA website and Facebook page.
An exciting landmark on the 2016 calendar is the ACCA General Assembly, which is scheduled to take place in the week of 04 April – 07 April 2016 in Pretoria, South Africa. I am pleased to announce that planning for the ACCA General Assembly is underway; amongst the items on next year’s General Assembly include the formation of working groups around the first focus area the ACCA Action Plan: Community Rights. The purpose behind the formation of the Working Groups is to develop discussion papers on the subject area across the different regions on the African continent. The idea is not to commence new research to begin with, but rather for members to share their documented work which will then be compiled and shared through the ACCA platform. We hope to engage in a series of dialogues with all the relevant stakeholders, to get a clear understanding of the challenges and needs associated with each of the sub-regions in Africa. If any members are interested in contributing towards the working groups on Community Rights, or need any further information on the working groups, they may contact me directly. We also hope to include a capacity building event in the programme of the general assembly, that could be of great benefit to the membership – watch this space! On a personal note, I look forward to meeting as many ACCA members as possible during this major event which will permit us to collectively set the ACCA agenda for the next few years.
I want to use this opportunity to appeal to ACCA members to contribute towards the Coalition. One of the ways in which ACCA members may positively contribute to the Coalition is through active knowledge sharing pertaining not only to their work, but through active information sharing on events they attended and/ or in which they participated which are of relevance to the raison d’être to the Coalition. In doing so, members will be aware of events taking place on the continent and assist in maximising opportunities for collaboration with members. In this light, we are very pleased to release the second edition of the newsletter, and welcome any feedback from interested parties.
In light of the progress made, and the future plans for the ACCA, members should take stock of our work accomplished on behalf of the Coalition, and seek to build on this momentum which will be crucial in helping us achieve our ambitious goals for 2016. I wish you all a well-deserved break and look forward to jump-starting the 2016 ACCA year with the Coalition in the spirit of African solidarity.