A project to raise awareness among university students and business professionals about the rights and obligations employers owe their employees under international and local human right laws has been launched.
The project titled ‘Promoting Human Rights Awareness in Business’ was launched at the Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration (GIMPA), where the business curriculum would be updated to inculcate human right in business studies.
The two-year project, which spans June 2018 to May 2020, is being implemented by the Legal Resources Centre sponsored by the State of the Netherlands with GIMPA and the Grotius Centre for International Legal Studies in Netherlands being partners in the implementation.
Speaking at the launch of the project, Ms Daphne Lariba Nabila, the Executive Director of the Legal Resources Centre said although Ghana had signed and ratified most international human rights treaties and conventions, not a single industry could be immune to human rights abuses.
She said Ghana is signatory to the “International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR, 1996), the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR, 1996), and the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC)”.
Ms Nabila said as a member of the International Labour Organisation (ILO), Ghana had ratified 46 ILO Conventions including Conventions on the abolition of forced labour, the hours of work and minimum wage fixing.
She said her Centre had observed that most workers were unaware of the existing laws that safeguard their fundamental human rights in the workplace because most educational institutions in the country did not have comprehensive and well-integrated human rights in business curricula to prepare students for the workforce.
She said the project would assist in reviewing six existing undergraduate courses and one post-graduate, and also incorporate Human Rights in Business modules starting from the 2018/2019 academic year.
Ms Nabila said the project would also create three short courses on Human Right in Business to be implemented for the 2018/2019 academic year as well as a seminar on Human Right in Business, organised during the same academic year.
In his address, Mr Ron Striker, the Netherlands Ambassador to Ghana said the country was committed to ensuring that human rights were upheld in all facets of life, including the corporate world.
He said the Netherlands was supporting the project because the protection of human rights had been very keen on the country’s foreign policy, adding that, strengthening the rule of law in business development was very necessary.
Professor Martin Morgan Tuuli, the Dean of Business School at GIMPA, said the school was committed to fulfilling its obligation towards the overall achievement of the project objectives.
Justice Dennis Dominic Adjei, a Justice of the Court of Appeal, said there was the need for every citizen to play their role as prescribed by the law.
He said the understanding and application of the duties and obligations, either as employers or employees, must be inculcated in the citizenry to ensure that law and order were maintained, in order to promote fairness.
Justice Adjei said a number of laws on human rights had been codified in the 1992 constitution of the Republic, such as economic rights, children’s rights, right of disabilities and many others, spelled out in the Labour Act.
He called on students, faculty and stakeholders to ensure that the project was sustained even after the stipulated duration of two years.
Prof Philip Ebow Bondzi-Simpson, the Rector of GIMPA, commended the LRC, the Business School at GIMPA, the Grotius Centre for International Legal Studies in the Netherlands and the Netherlands Embassy for ensuring the commencement of the project, saying that, the Institute was committed to it.
He said before the project would go mainstream after the pilot at the Institute, the stakeholders must consider the whole realm of engagement of children in business practices.
He said the connection between environment and business must also be looked at because some business practices were detrimental to society, rendering them non-sustainable business practices.
Prof Bondzi-Simpson said the suitability of space and facilities for all manner of people in the business operations must be looked at, as well as fora for redress in a corporate setting.