Among the notable features of the NCPs decision is the reference it makes to the recent report of the UN SRSG on the issue of Business and Human Rights (SRSG Report), about which Naomi Norberg and I have previously blogged here and here. The decision uses the report as an indicator of the kinds of due diligence Afrimex might undertake in order to include human rights concerns in its policies and operations. This is important in two respects. First, and obviously, because it is another example of the spaces in which the Report is having an influence. Perhaps more important is the attention the combined punch of the Report and the Afrimex decision will bring to NCPs as access points for communities aggrieved by corporations that are failing to respect human rights.
NCPs have been used more than might be known. According to an October OECD document (available here), since NCPs were established by a June 2000 OECD Council Decision, well over 100 “Specific Instances” (complaints) have been considered by NCPs in 28 countries. The decisions – or Final Statements – of the NCPs are similarly under-reported and relatively unknown. The SRSG Report has identified the potential of NCPs, if they are made more robust (and, presumably, if their work is better known), to serve as non-judicial or quasi-judicial points of access to remedies. Through the Afrimex case, Global Witness (which has advised various aspects of the SRSG’s work) has demonstrated how NCP Specific Instances and Final Statements might be used as another source of light for illuminating the misdeeds of companies like Afrimex.