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There are, of course, CSR-initiatives arising from indigenous companies and other actors within Africa. As in other places, these initiatives currently have overlapping responsibilities and spheres of influence. Clearly there is an arena of indigenous enterprises and other actors who start CSR initiatives. But if we want to better understand the development and future of CSR in Africa on a large scale, we need to look at the big transnational or, even better, transcontinental companies TNCs operating in Africa.

Their CSR initiatives, in so far as they exist, have a much bigger impact than the average projects of smaller companies in one country. Only the cumulative numbers of German investment for the whole continent are included in this analysis. After a decline in due to the global financial crisis, FDI worldwide is increasing again and totalled 17,, billion US dollars last year.

This is close to ten times more than in The overall picture for German FDI is a little bit different. On the one hand, German investment in the rest of the world has also risen rapidly since — by a factor of 8. But investment to Africa only increased by a factor of 2. This means that while absolute investment by German companies in Africa is increasing, African countries are growing less important compared to other regions of the world. The data indicates that FDI is becoming increasingly important for African countries.

But where TNCs do business in Africa, they are powerful actors with enormous influence on political decision making cf. Johnson, Labour market policy is one of the most important policy fields relevant to economic development, return on investment and human development. For three reasons labour-related issues are a part of most voluntary codes and almost all CSR strategies formulated by companies that also invest in Africa:.

Before exploring the reality of global governance, one should ask for some normative ground rules on how FDI in Africa should work and the moral grounds underpinning these ethical demands. Even if generally not explicitly stated, every CSR concept has an underlying understanding of the human being and a certain world view. This is why they also define rights for humans who work in their sphere of influence. But what are these rights? Do they differ in different cultures or countries?

Is a company from a developed nation required to apply the same rules and standards at their affiliate company in a developing country? The moral rights of all individuals on the basis of their human dignity are spelled out in the different definitions of human rights. These include the right to liberty and security, political participation rights as well as economic, social and cultural rights.

Economic and social human rights also include rights relating to the quality of gainful employment. The rights of workers are elements of the moral call for decent work. In addition to these universal moral claims to decent work, there are also other legitimate ethical claims for how employment is organised. Firstly, minimum standards of fair work, which in each case entails obligations for all employers in a certain society that may not apply in other societies, and secondly good work targets, i.

Senghaas-Knobloch, , p. When exploring the obligations incumbent on investors and employers, one must bear in mind that we may make a distinction between a minimum standard founded on human rights requiring the omission of certain actions, and those that may impose a positive obligation to act.

Obligations to omit build on various ILO agreements that require ratifying states to agree under international law not to take actions that would limit the freedom of association and the prohibition of forced labour, discrimination, starvation wages or health risks International Labour Organization, Obligations to act for investors and employers include guaranteeing worker representation, the termination of exploitative child labour, equality of the sexes and of social minorities, providing a minimum income and sufficient health protection for all their workers.

On another level one can use the term "fair work" to describe minimum ethical standards that must to be adhered to or brought about for the employment of a specific society. These refer to standards that express the ideals of a good social order shared by the citizens of a country, or at least a majority thereof. They are therefore binding for all in this society.

They can and may differ between different African countries, for example. When it comes to the design of employment, ethics do not have to be restricted to determining and justifying universal and society-specific minimum standards, however. Here statements may also be made on how the working conditions in an enterprise can be improved even if they already meet the minimum requirements for fair work. Particularly significant is the mandate to design employment relationships so that they meet the vital needs and wishes of workers and their family members.

Most CSR codes of conduct do not go that far and restrict themselves to the basic rights of the worker decent work at best. Over and above the minimum standards of fair work, these may include opportunities to personally develop through a job, along with family and partner-friendly working hours or the ability to take leave from work. The ILO is the most important actor dealing with labour issues from a global perspective.

It is the oldest specialized agency of the United Nations and sets up labour and social standards through declarations and recommendations Jetzlsperger, The eight core labour standards have achieved the status of international human rights.

Since the ILO has expressed its overall aim of creating opportunities for "decent work for all men and women worldwide" in the ideas contained in the "Decent Work Agenda" International Labour Organization, Its four pillars are the creation of productive employment, the strengthening of social protection systems, the promotion of the core labour standards and social dialogue.

These main objectives of the agenda are broad in nature. International Labour Office, In keeping with the "Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers" from the World Bank, the ILO and its partners try to highlight some areas that are especially important for achieving decent work opportunities in each respective country.

This means the focus of decent work programs varies from country to country, reflecting different national priorities and conditions. By May , eight countries in Africa had compiled such a program through the cooperation of governments, trade unions and employer associations International labour Organisation, Kenya International Labour Organization, In the Decent Work Country Programmes and also in the Decent Work Agenda as a whole, there is a clear interaction between the demand for legally binding regulations for employment and desirable voluntary standards.

Nonetheless the ILO's position is clear; It feels voluntary codes of conduct "can complement, but do not replace, enforcement of national legislation and international standards" International Labour Organization, The ILO recognises the increase in the number of codes of conduct, but doubts that a thorough control mechanism is always in place. The ILO aims at eradicating poverty, creating labour market institutions and promoting employment. It has therefore stipulated that as many countries as possible should ratify the international conventions negotiated and agreed upon inside the ILO.

This implies that voluntary standards are not considered effective in fighting poverty and protecting the working poor. The ILO tries to solve this dichotomy of binding standards on the one hand and voluntary action on the other in two ways: 1 Research on how voluntary mechanisms can support national laws and the ILO standards system and 2 by promoting the paradigm of the "sustainable enterprise". Here the ILO is trying to convince employers to live up to the ideal of corporate responsibility in different spheres of their firms and in politics and civil society International Labour Office, The ILO argues that voluntary standards are financially advantageous to the companies involved.

However, none of these arguments have been verified by any study whatsoever. The ILO should therefore keep pursuing the political fight for binding regulations instead of such soft-law approaches, since regulations would provide the needed foundation for the development architecture of Africa. As we noted when exploring FDI in Africa, TNCs have huge economic power, giving them enormous influence on labour standards in the formal economy.

A look at the normative roots of human rights showed that certain standards are universally viewed as necessary to preserve human dignity and are inalienable. Beyond that we have standards of fair work and of good work. CSR has not proved effective in guaranteeing any of these standards, not even the fundamental standards of decent work. Voluntary standards have not and cannot deliver on the effective implementation of labour standards, and they are even less effective when it comes to standards of fair and good work.

In fact there is no empirical evidence, besides a few case studies, that they have any effect at all. CSR is therefore often not an intermediate step, but a complete sidestep to avoid the necessary binding regulations. It is does not work as a trailblazer nor a bridgehead in preparing the ground for national legislation Dombois, , p. Instead CSR tends to suggest that labour laws won't be necessary in the near future because companies already appear to live up to higher standards today.

Standards of decent, and even of fair and good work should not depend on the voluntarily generosity of employers. They are the rights of working people. This is why binding regulations for international investments and their influence on labour conditions are needed.

The ILO is the international institution with the best expertise for finding and enforcing these regulations in the long run. German companies are probably even more afraid to do business in Africa than other countries. Main Menue.

What is the significance? Labour standards are often disregarded in countries with a poor legislation and enforcement structures. On an international level, we have no broad, legally binding system of labour standards.

Nevertheless it is common sense — at least as lip service - that all human beings are endowed with personal dignity. This entails certain standards concerning gainful employment involving the quality and quantity of work the employee has to deliver to the employer. Socio-ethical considerations of FDI in Africa Even if generally not explicitly stated, every CSR concept has an underlying understanding of the human being and a certain world view.

Decent work via legal labour standards or CSR The ILO is the most important actor dealing with labour issues from a global perspective.

The ILO and voluntary standards In the Decent Work Country Programmes and also in the Decent Work Agenda as a whole, there is a clear interaction between the demand for legally binding regulations for employment and desirable voluntary standards. Conclusions As we noted when exploring FDI in Africa, TNCs have huge economic power, giving them enormous influence on labour standards in the formal economy. Reference List Asiedu, E. World Development, 30 1 , — Demele, M.

Frankfurter Arbeitspapiere zur gesellschaftsethischen und sozialwissenschaftlichen Forschung: Vol. Frankfurt M. Dombois, R. Becke, P. Bleses, W. Schmidt eds. Wiesbaden: VS Verl. Extending Service Delivery Project


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Dhaka, Bangladesh: A boy producing bricks. Yet the global competition for markets and investors is tough. To gain a short-term competitive edge some developing countries flout social standards, which means violating workers' basic rights. They are a tool for establishing acceptable relations between employers and employees. Its goal is to introduce globally applicable minimum social standards. These are designed to prevent individual countries or businesses gaining competitive advantages by flouting employees' rights. They are, however, only legally binding once the member states have ratified them.


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Corporate Social Responsibility and Labour Standards in Africa


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