Kakuzi PLC, a local agri-business firm has established an Independent Human Rights Advisory Committee (IHRAC) and appointed former Attorney General Prof. Githu Muigai as its Chairman.
The members of the IHRAC’s who have been appointed to the firm’s board, will advise and review Kakuzi’s action points to ensure that the firm remains at the leading edge of this accountability programme.
The appointment of the committee has made the firm to become the first corporate organization in Sub Sahara Africa to constitute and establish an independent advisory panel benchmarked against the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights
Other members of the committee include former Independent Policing Oversight Authority (IPOA) Board, Member Grace Madoka, former Finlay’s Kenya Legal and HR Director Dr. Brenda Achieng, and Kakuzi Plc Non-Executive Independent Director Andrew Ndegwa with another member set to be announced soon.
Both Ms Madoka and Dr. Achieng are Advocates of the High Court of Kenya and have extensive corporate governance experience, while Mr Ndegwa is a Chartered Accountant
In a press statement sent to newsrooms, Kakuzi PLC Managing Director Chris Flowers said the committee was crucial as it will provide the company with independent technical advisory to the firm’s Board of Directors, and to ensure the company adheres to human rights issues.
“The technical advisory and expertise would guarantee sustainable compliance with global human rights matters across the Nairobi Securities Exchange (NSE) listed firm’s operations,” added Mr Flowers.
In his remarks, Prof Githu lauded Kakuzi PLC for pioneering a public accountability programme, which he said has depicted the company’s commitment to respecting human rights within its operating and supply chain environment.
Prof. Githu said, “Human rights standards are fundamental standards that lead to better business accountability. Adoption of IHRAC is an idea whose time has come and one that I would strongly recommend.”
He commended IHRAC for establishing the committee and urged other local companies to emulate it, as such committees will help to advance human rights in corporate environments.
The former AG said such a committee is advantageous to all stakeholders, government, business, civil society and employees of enterprises, as it contributes to a better organization with a motivated workforce, where stakeholders’ human rights are upheld.
The UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights recently released an assessment of the first ten years of UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights implementation by States and businesses, showing a significant progress over the first decade.
The assessment indicated that most companies had shown their commitment to respect human rights while legislation in Europe made respect for human rights and the environment a mandatory requirement for businesses.
The UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights is calling on all States to implement the Guiding Principles as a top governance and policy priority by ensuring that all businesses, including small and medium-sized enterprises respect human rights and make it part of their corporate culture.
In December this year, the Working Group will launch a roadmap for implementation over the next decade.
Some of the institutions’ that have adopted the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights are FIFA, Global Chemicals manufacturer BASF SE and Adidas among others.
Kakuzi PLC is a listed Kenyan agricultural company trading on both the Nairobi and London Stock Exchange engaging in the cultivation, processing and marketing of avocados, blueberries, macadamia, tea, livestock and commercial forestry.
In Kenya the company operates in Makuyu, Murang’a County and in Nandi Hills, Nandi County.
By Bernadette Khaduli