11:55 am - Wednesday October 18, 2017

“The General Manager’s Commitment is Applaudable”

Timothy Franklin Kiven, Communication and Advocacy Officer UNCHRD-CA

Question

What led to the Partnership between the UN and the CDC in the area of Business and Human Rights?

Answer

The United Nations Center for Human Rights and Democracy in Central Africa is running a project on Business and Human Rights which entails bringing companies and corporate bodies together to ensure integration of Human rights into their business practices. This project started in 2014 and we had worked with the Electricity Development Corporation and Group Hevea Cameroun (Hevecam). We have had relative success with these organizations and the experiences that we got from working with the Electricity Development Corporation and the Lom Pangar Project enabled us to engage with the Cameroon Development Corporation which is the second largest employer after the public service. We believe engaging with the CDC would help to show what responsible business can be in corporate settings. We engaged with the CDC in 2016 and followed a similar approach to that of the Electricity Development Corporation by training a group of Media Professionals on Business and Human Rights and the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. We also carried out a field visit to some sites and factories of the CDC notably the new housing scheme in Njonji and the Idenau Oil Mill in the West Coast. These visits gave us an idea on the CDC’s Corporate Social Responsibility and Human rights endeavours. The journalists made a couple of recommendations which led to more engagements with the CDC. These recommendations included amongst others the training of trainers in house who will be able to train others. This training took place in September 2016 and led to the creation of four teams of trainers after an evaluation. These teams of trainers are now the ones training their colleagues. So I think the partnership between the CDC and the UN in the area of Human Rights and Business was really incited by the fact that the UN is keen on ensuring that companies and corporate bodies entrench human rights into their development operations and processes.

What is your Appraisal of the recent Training?

So far the training has been wonderful. I have had pleasant surprises with the two teams that trained. That is, the team that trained in Tiko, led by Mr Otto Lyonga and the team that trained in Illoani led by Mr Nakeli Obase. You would bear with me that I had to intervene very little in what they were doing because they prepared well and delivered their presentations well. They also adopted the interactive approach which was thought to them during the training of trainers and they developed material that were adaptable to the remoteness of the area where we were working. I think this is a wonderful thing. We are beginning to think that at the end of these series of trainings, we would come up with one strong team made up of the best of those trainers to be able to do more comprehensive work in the field to have a specific, unique programme. I also saluted the efforts put in place by the CDC Management to ensure that this project goes on smoothly. The commitment of the General Manager was something very interesting and very applaudable. In most companies, management closes its doors making it difficult but the CDC is quite a leading example. I am also happy because the General Manager has instructed that everything should be done for the other trainings to be organized before the end of the year. So far, Tiko and Illoani really have good examples and we have recommended that the two teams that are still to train should have briefings with those that have already trained. This will make their trainings probably more enticing and more enriching. I think we are on the right footing. The journalists who are sitting in the follow up committee, CDC management and the UN center for Human rights and Demorcacy have insisted that Staff Representatives take part in the follow up committee as was initially decided so that we can have an embodiment of all the actors in this process and move forward.

 What is the way forward?

My recommendations are double fold. Those who are still to train have to pick up from the experience of those who have already trained, prepare their presentations and prepare their sessions in consequence. Next, the Staff representatives need to be sitting in the follow up committee. We are not concerned about always pointing out the wrongs but looking at what is not going well and learning from what has gone very well. This is the agreement we had with CDC and it actually makes us move even faster and get better results.

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