SERAP Drags Coca-Cola, NBC To UN Over Harmful Drinks, Abuse Of Right To Health

Channels Television  
Updated February 26, 2014

Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has dragged Coca-Cola Limited and the Nigerian Bottling Company Limited to the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights over “serious breaches of corporate responsibility to respect the right to health of Nigerians and the failure to provide effective remedies to victims.”

In a statement signed by its executive director, Adetokunbo Mumuni, the organisation said that “this failure of due diligence has implications for the enjoyment of the economic and social rights guaranteed under the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.”

SERAP’s petition followed last week’s disclosure by the Nigerian Consumer Protection Council (CPC) of cases of harmful drinks including two half-empty cans of Sprite, a product manufactured by the NBC under the license and authority of Coca-Cola Limited, and rusty bottle crown corks, rusty cans and foreign particles in products. The CPC also said that these companies have failed to put in place a Shelf Life Policy for their products in the country to facilitate the removal of expired products from the market.

According to SERAP, “both Coca-Cola and NBC have failed and or neglected to subject their manufacturing process to inspection by appropriate authorities, contrary to national laws and international standards, in particular, the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights: Implementing the United Nations Protect, Respect and Remedy Framework. The Guiding Principles were endorsed by the UN Human Rights Council in June 2011.”

The organisation also argued that, “Coca-Cola and NBC are required to ensure that their activities do not directly or indirectly cause human rights abuses, and to provide effective remedies to victims in cases of abuses of human rights. They must seek to prevent or mitigate adverse human rights impacts that are directly linked to their operations, products or services by their business relationships, even if they have not contributed to those impacts.”

“The human rights abuses by Coca-Cola and NBC illustrate the lack of explicit human rights policies by several companies operating in Nigeria and which have continued to contribute to the violations and abuses of the economic and social rights of millions of Nigerians. Even companies with human rights policies have failed and or neglected to effectively implement these policies for the sake of profit,” the organisation added.

The organisation also said:  “We believe that the human rights abuses by Coca-Cola and NBC cannot be justified in the light of the letter and spirit of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the UN Guiding Principles as well as the Committee’s own jurisprudence.”

The organisation therefore requested the Committee “being the principal body established to monitor compliance with the Covenant, to act urgently not only to ensure that corporate bodies like Coca-Cola and NBC are not directly or indirectly abusing the economic and social rights of Nigerians under the Covenant and the Guiding Principles, but also to protect the sanctity, credibility, efficacy, and authority of the Covenant and the Guiding Principles and the Committee’s role in ensuring that corporate practices do not directly or indirectly lead to abuses of human rights.”

“The Committee should work with the Working Group on the issues of human rights and transnational corporations and other business enterprises to put pressure on Coca-Cola and NBC to respect their social responsibility to promote human rights and to afford remedies to the victims involved in this case,” the organisation also stated.