With arguably, an increase in investments by both foreign and local business enterprises in Uganda, there is growing concern among the larger public about the efficacy and institutional competence to regulate and monitor corporations in Uganda. Questions consistently asked revolve around whether the text of our labour policies and regulation is comprehensive enough to address emerging issues arising from the interaction between labour and investment. Similarly, whether in case of any breaches by the corporations, the available institutional framework is with the requisite capacity to bring wrong doers to book. This report is premised on a research study, which sought to review the labour policies in Uganda, the laws in force and the institutions there under. This subject is of critical importance in the context of Uganda now— as it is keenly focused on private sector led growth and is in preparations to go into full scale oil exploration and extraction.
The overall objective of the research was to identify and document deficiencies (if any) in the policy, regulatory and institutional frameworks, and suggest appropriate remedial actions and where necessary, appropriate legal and institutional reforms to meet minimum international standards especially in the context of the International Covenant on Economic Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR). The research also highlights some best practices key to enhancing corporate accountability and respect for human rights generally, and in particular, labour rights in Uganda.
Similarly, there is also growing concerns arising from externalisation of labour and in particular, what mechanisms Uganda has put in place to ensure the safety of its working citizens abroad. Although this latter question was not originally part of the research question, it was found necessary— owing to the worrying trends and reports around externalization of labour, including issues of torture and sexual abuse especially of young women working in the Middle East. In both these two broad questions, international consensus appears to be that the state retains the primary obligation to protect and promote human rights and that non-state actors including business enterprises must respect human rights—to ensure that business is not done at the expense of human rights and their enjoyment. Corporations must remain subordinate and subject of the law at least, in the area of human rights. One such area is labour rights in its broader sense. The study also covers the now recognised responsibility of corporations to respect human rights.