Human Rights, Mineral Rights and Corporate Social Responsibility in Ghana: Legal and Policy Analyses
The worth or success of a business company is conventionally defined or measured in terms of its business performance; that is, whether the company is operating as a financially viable going concern by making expected returns. But in addition to its business performance, the efficiency of a company is measured based on its alignment of business operations with human rights and other non-financial concerns. This view of the company is often described under the concept of corporate social responsibility. This Paper assesses the nature of corporate social responsibility in Ghana primarily focusing on the mining industry. The Paper outlines the various human rights and mineral rights in Ghana and the effects of mining on human rights. It establishes that although the Constitution of Ghana guarantees social, economic, cultural and other human rights, mining operations continue to affect human rights as if these laws did not exist. The Paper attributes this, in part, to incoherent institutional and legal frameworks in the mining and environmental sectors and the lack of a comprehensive corporate social responsibility policy in Ghana. The Paper suggests that to resolve this dilemma there is the need for a corporate social responsibility policy and legal framework peculiar to the mining industry. It is also asserted that it is the primary role of the State to ensure that human rights as guaranteed are truly enjoyed. But the Paper also recognises that business and human rights challenges require direct participation of businesses and, therefore, suggests that businesses should incorporate and integrate specific human rights challenges in their business operations prior to commencement of operations and that the grant of mineral rights should be conditioned upon satisfactory evidence of companies’ actual commitment to respect and uphold human rights. The Paper suggests that since mining operations are inherently risky in view of associated risks such as environmental degradation, chemical pollution and human rights violations, mining companies in Ghana must be held absolutely liable for inherent risks associated with their operations.