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NATIONAL ACTION PLANS ON BUSINESS AND HUMAN RIGHTS SHOULD INLCUDE WOMEN AND PEACE

Takeaways from stakeholder engagements in Liberia and Sierra Leone

Women have a crucial role to play in efforts to resolve conflict and sustain peace, but the link between women, business and human rights and peace is often overlooked. A new policy brief from Swedwatch, based on stakeholder engagements in Liberia and Sierra Leone, highlights the importance of the inclusion of women and peace in current developments of National Action Plans on Business and Human Rights.

In a one-year project, Swedwatch, Green Advocates International (GAI), and Sierra Leone Network on the Right to Food (SiLNoRF) have worked on increasing awareness and engagement of women in decision-making around business and human rights and efforts to sustain peace, with focus on ongoing developments of National Action Plans on Business and Human Rights (NAP BHR). 

In recent years, the number of countries adopting a NAP BHR has increased and Liberia and Sierra Leone are two of the first countries in West Africa to initiate such processes. Liberia is in the final stages of drafting their plan and Sierra Leone has developed a draft National Policy on BHR (a precursor to a formal NAP). Including women to align these processes with the sustaining peace agenda, is essential. 

Focusing on women and peace is particularly important as both countries share a history of business-related conflict, tensions around land and natural resources, and exclusion of women in decision-making and ownership of such resources”, says Jessica Johansson, Programme Officer at Swedwatch and project lead of the NAP BHR-project work. 

In 2023, Liberia and Sierra Leone conducted democratic elections – marking the 20th anniversary of the signing of the Accra Peace Agreement, which marked the end of the Second Liberian Civil War. The elections in Sierra Leone, also marked more than 20 years of peace. Liberia also concluded its first election since the United Nations Peacekeeping Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) left the country. But despite 20 years of peace, many challenges remain, including weak governance structures, land disputes, corruption, concession-related tensions, and the exclusion of women from decision-making. Addressing the interlinkages between business and human rights, women and peace in development of the action plans can help avoid the recurrence of past business-related human rights violations and conflict, and instead contribute to sustaining peace.

A new policy brief by Swedwatch summarises key takeaways and recommendations👇🏼 from the various stakeholder engagements that have taken place during the one-year project. N.B. that the lessons learned, as outlined in the brief, are relevant beyond this context.

Key recommendations for state actors involved in a NAP BHR process
✔️Include clauses on conflict- and gender-sensitive human rights due diligence in the NAP BHR in line with the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.
✔️Ensure an inclusive and transparent NAP BHR process, in line with the United Nations Working Group on Business and Human Rights (UNWGs) recommendations in their Guidance on NAPs BHR, by:
1. Including relevant civil society organisation (CSO) networks and women that are directly impacted by business operations in different stages of the development of the NAP BHR, in consultations, validations, and update/review processes,
2 publicly disclosing information about the NAP BHR content, procedural steps and actors involved.

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Some of the 49 participants taking part in the regional multistakeholder dialogue around the development of National Action Plans on Business and Human Rights, taking place in Freetown, Sierra Leone. 

Read the full policy brief:
About the one-year project

In the context of Liberia and Sierra Leone’s National Action Plan (NAP) developments, Swedwatch and partner organisations Green Advocates International (Liberia) and SiLNoRF (Sierra Leone) carried out the one-year project “Engagement of women in business and human rights for sustaining peace in Liberia and Sierra Leone”. The project, funded by the Folke Bernadotte Academy, took place March 2023 to April 2024 and aimed to contribute to the awareness and engagement of women in local communities in business and human rights issues, with focus on the peace aspect and linked to development of the NAPs. Project activities included capacity-development trainings, radio shows and multistakeholder dialogues with CSOs, government- and UN officials, and more.

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Esther Kandeh, Founder and Director of Women in Mining, key note speaker at multistakeholder dialogues on national action plans, providing input on the inclusion of women and natural resource governance. The multistakeholder dialogues were organised by GAI, SiLNoRF and Swedwatch and held in in Freetown 5-6 March 2024. To learn more, read the multistakeholder report summary 👇🏼. Photo: Aminata Fofanah SiLNoRF


Cover summary

 

Contact

thumbnail_Bild JJ Swedwatch hemsidacropped

Jessica Johansson, Programme Officer
+46 (0)73 376 397 323
jessica@swedwatch.org