"The exclusive focus on the state-centric paradigm of IHRL fails to address the increasing number of an array of private (non-state) actors who may come into play in terms of violations of human rights. Therefore while this study proceeds from the premise that the state is the primary focus of IHRL, it will be argued that the state cannot certainly be deemed the sole bearer of responsibility for human rights violations in view of the increase in the number of potential violators.
Consequently, the study aims to address three issues. Firstly, it seeks to investigate the increase in the number of violators of human rights to include non-state actors (particularly transnational (multinational) corporations TNCs) and the effect of this increase on the violations of ESCRs. While the discussion will focus on the accountability of private actors vis-à-vis the protection of ESCRs, the area of civil and political rights is considered no less important. The discussion takes cognisance of the indivisibility and inter-dependence of all human rights in the sense that no precise contours separating all human rights can be said to exist.
Secondly, the study seeks to review the dominant approach to human rights including human rights treaties and other relevant instruments to assess their potential in asserting the human rights obligations (including, ESCRs obligations)) of non-state actors.
Thirdly and with specific reference to the TNC as a non-state actor in the African context, the study seeks to investigate the challenges to the problem of implementing the accountability of TNCs through the IHRL framework and suggest ways of addressing these challenges.
Central focus will be placed on the accountability of TNCs for human rights violations, particularly ESCRs. The choice of TNCs in this study is justified on account of the immense economic power wielded by these entities vis a vis the changing notion of state sovereignty as will be emphasized in chapter 2.
At a more specific level, the case study on the problem of accountability of TNCs is narrowed down to an African context particularly for two reasons. Firstly, the problem of control of TNCs is highlighted more in the case of the weaker state in the African context. Secondly, the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights’ recent decision in the SERAC case that forms the basis of the case study in chapter 4 brings into light within a human rights treaty monitoring framework, the challenges of TNC- accountability within the context of Africa." -- Chapter 1.
Prepared under the supervision of Professor Tobias van Reenen at the Faculty of Law, University of the Western Cape, Cape Town, South Africa
Thesis (LLM (Human Rights and Democratisation in Africa)) -- University of Pretoria, 2002.