Tanzania devises National Action Plan on business & human rights

Friday, 1 August, 2014

Great news for human rights fans in Tanzania: the country has just decided to adopt a National Action Plan on business & human rights.

Published yesterday, a document entitled "United Republic of Tanzania Human Rights Action Plan 2013-2017,” which you can download via the Business and Human Rights Resource Centre website by clicking on this link, explains what Tanzania is going to do about protecting human rights of local communities in the context of the growth of industry linked to its great resource wealth. Concerns include misappropriation of land and inadequate monitoring of the environmental impacts of mining and industrial sites on surrounding communities.

The document includes plans to: 

- “Implement research activities to establish issues in human rights and business in the Tanzanian context and use results for human rights education”
- “Conduct training on human rights, trade, and business for various stakeholders [and establish] a Plan of Action that promotes meaningful participation and consensus of all stakeholders”
- “[Develop] formal mechanisms to ensure compliance with human rights obligations, provide information to companies about their obligations, ensure companies make public statements about their human rights plans, and undertake periodic reviews to promote accountability.”

We’ve reproduced the document’s Executive Summary for you in full - so you don’t have to read all 156 pages. Thank us at a meeting one day, and have a good weekend.

Executive Summary

The United Republic of Tanzania’s National Human Rights Action Plan (NHRAP) reflects the Government’s commitment to the protection and promotion of human rights. The NHRAP responds to the recommendation of the 1993 Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action, which urged on all states to consider the development of a national action plan to promote and protect human rights. Its goals are to strengthen the respect, protection, promotion and fulfilment of inalienable human rights provided by the Constitution of the United Republic of Tanzania and the Constitution of Zanzibar, and to guarantee human rights according to international agreements entered into by the state.

The NHRAP was developed through a consultative process that began in October 2008. The Ministry of Constitutional and Legal Affairs, along with a Coordination Committee comprised of representatives of the Government, the Commission for Human Rights and Good Governance, the United Nations, academia and civil society from Tanzania Mainland and Zanzibar, led the drafting process.   To produce the draft NHRAP, the Coordination Committee conducted a comprehensive evaluation of human rights in Tanzania through extensive document review, public consultations, and field research.  The evaluation provided the basis for the Background Report which is a baseline assessment of human rights situation in Tanzania. The findings and recommendations of the Background Report served as the basis for the NHRAP. To promote public support for the document and to solicit public input, the draft NHRAP was shared with stakeholders for their review and comments. These comments were incorporated into the draft before its submission to the Cabinet for approval.

The NHRAP recognizes that the protection and promotion of human rights is not limited to a single topic, sector, or government ministries, departments or agency. The plan identifies twenty-three human rights issues, arranged in four thematic headings, as priorities for improving coordination and protection through Tanzania. Within civil and political rights, the NHRAP addresses the right to life; access to justice, fair trial and equality before the law; freedom of opinion, expression, and information; freedom of assembly; and the right to liberty and security of person. Within economic, social and cultural rights, the NHRAP addresses the right to property and access to land; the right to education; the right to an adequate standard of living, including the right to food; the right to clean and safe water; the right to work; the right to the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health; the right to live in a safe and clean environment; and the right to social security. The NHRAP also provides protections for groups with special needs, including women, children, children in conflict with the law, persons with disabilities, the elderly, and persons living with HIV, refugees, asylum-seekers and stateless persons. Finally, the NHRAP addresses institutional strengthening and emerging issues, including the institutional strengthening of CHRAGG and AGC and the promotion and protection of human rights in business.

The NHRAP strengthens a Human Rights Based Approach (HRBA) in existing national policies and strategies, including MKUKUTA, MKUZA, the MDGs, Vision 2025, Five Year Development Plan spanning from 2011/12 to 2015/2016, and existing action plans of other Ministerial Departments and Agencies (MDAs). The NHRAP should inform activities and implementation efforts under these plans in order to maximize the impact of their efforts in promoting human rights. In addition, the present plan has identified additional and specific normative, legislative, institutional, and educational measures, which should be costed by concerned MDAs and included in national budget processes. The NHRAP calls upon Development Partners to support implementation efforts.  

Furthermore, the Plan establishes a comprehensive system for implementation, monitoring and evaluation. This system would facilitate not only implementation of the present Plan, but reporting obligations to Human Rights Treaty Bodies, the Universal Periodic Review, and other international and regional systems.  Along this plan, there will be a Monitoring and Evaluation Framework. 

To coordinate and monitor these efforts, the NHRAP vests responsibility to the Commission for Human Rights and Good Governance (CHRAGG). It also envisaged that CHRAGG will establish a Monitoring and Evaluation Committee to help the Commission in managing activities relating to the Action Plan.  Among other things, the Committee will prepare progress reports   on the implementation process after three years and a final report after five years. To encourage transparency and objectivity in evaluating the implementation of the NHRAP, Civil Society will be highly engaged in the monitoring process. 

To promote uninterrupted implementation, the NHRAP establishes guiding principles to overcome potential problems and challenges. These principles include effective partnership between the Government and Civil Society; sufficient coordination and mutual support among relevant actors; high-level political support; an adequate commitment of resources; effective dissemination of the NHRAP as a public document; and long-term efforts in the areas of education, training and awareness raising, institutional strengthening, and institution capacity building; and regular monitoring of progress and mechanisms for evaluation of the Plan’s achievement.