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June 24, 2021

The Role of the Private Sector in Transitional Justice Processes in Africa

Wolframite and Casserite mining in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in 2007.

Wolframite and Casserite mining in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in 2007.

Julien Harneis

The present report is the product of a 2021 GITJR consortium project led by the International Coalition of Sites of Conscience (ICSC), which sought to examine past and present transitional justice processes involving private actors, with a focus on accountability for grave human rights violations and grassroots interventions in Africa and Latin America. The primary aim of the project was to learn from past experiences while seeking to inform the design of future formal and informal processes that consider private sector actors’ roles and responsibilities in transitional justice.

Central to the project has been the preparation of regional reports for Africa and Latin America, respectively, that examine the private sector’s role in transitional justice, notably grassroots interventions focused on private sector accountability. ABA ROLI led the regional study on the Role and Responsibilities of Private Sector Actors in Transitional Justice Processes in Africa. The findings and recommendations in the report were further informed by an online consultation in April 2021 with experts and practitioners across both regions who have been involved in transitional justice initiatives that include private sector actors or have examined the roles and responsibilities of private sector actors.

The Africa region in particular has witnessed multiple transitional justice processes over the past two decades; meanwhile, it is also one of the most resource-rich continents that has attracted considerable interest by the private sector leading to its involvement in egregious violations of human rights, economic and environmental crimes with devastating effects on already struggling societies. Attempts to identify and address the role of private sector actors in human rights violations have occurred in some settings, yet there has been a general lack of information and research done to fully interrogate the challenges and opportunities for holding private sector actors accountable for their actions. Gaining a better understanding of the role of these actors and looking at the attempts to hold private sector actors accountable for their actions is a principal objective of this study and can help in identifying the challenges, strategies, lessons learned and best practices in addressing the private sector role in the context of conflict and post-conflict justice initiatives. The report therefore seeks to fill a notable gap in understanding the how and why of private sector involvement in the commission of human rights violations in the context of conflict and to make proposals for institutional and legal measures to pursue accountability and enhance prevention of these practices.


Dr. Tarisai Mutangi
Dr. Ashwanee Budoo
Dr. Japhet Biegon
Dr. Evelyne Asaala

Ismene Zarifis

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