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How to Uphold Human Rights and Public Participation in Development



By Dr. Kariuki Muigua, PhD (Leading Environmental Law Scholar, Policy Advisor, Natural Resources Lawyer and Dispute Resolution Expert from Kenya), Winner of Kenya’s ADR Practitioner of the Year 2021, ADR Publisher of the Year 2021 and CIArb (Kenya) Lifetime Achievement Award 2021.*

Kenya seeks to achieve economic and social development that positively impacts on its people while also seeking to achieve sustainable development, with the Kenya’s Vision 2030, the national development initiative, seeking to transform Kenya into an industrialized middle-income country by 2030. Fundamental rights of citizens are considered to be the bedrock for managing and mitigating conflict, spurring economic growth, and protecting human dignity where countries with democratic freedoms are more just, peaceful, and stable, and citizens can fulfill their potential. In addition, it has been opined that countries that are democratic, respect the rights of their citizens and observe the rule of law at home and abroad are also safer places to live, work and trade. The following are proposals for upholding human rights and public participation in development projects.

Addressing the Lack of Political Goodwill to enhance Public Participation

It has been suggested that in order to enhance effective public participation, the duty bearers should do the following: ensuring that as duty bearers (leaders) they are accessible to and represent citizens; ensuring existence of forums and opportunities for citizens to participate and engage in matters affecting their lives; providing civic education; developing effective communication channels with citizens; providing timely information to citizens on critical and emerging issues; and providing resources to facilitate public participation. There is a need for promoting effective and meaningful public participation of communities in development activities in order to ensure that their rights are not only protected but also ensure that they benefit from the targeted development projects in order to improve their livelihoods.88 Leaders should work closely with their constituents as a way of not only identifying their challenges but also ensuring that any investment projects within their localities are held accountable as per the law.

Eradicating Illiteracy for Community Empowerment

The World Declaration on Education for All, 1990 provides that ‘every person – child, youth and adult – shall be able to benefit from educational opportunities designed to meet their basic learning needs. The General Comment No. 13 on the Right to Education states that ‘as an empowerment right, education is the primary vehicle by which economically and socially marginalized adults and children can lift themselves out of poverty and obtain the means to participate fully in their communities. The International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) states that the ‘States Parties to the Covenant agree that education shall be directed to the full development of the human personality and the sense of its dignity, and shall strengthen the respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. They further agree that education shall enable all persons to participate effectively in a free society, promote understanding, tolerance, and friendship among all nations and all racial, ethnic or religious groups, and further the activities of the United Nations for the maintenance of peace’. By eradicating illiteracy amongst communities, it is possible to empower them to not only participate meaningfully in development projects and decision-making processes but also to be meaningfully employed in the projects.

Enhancing Corporate Social Responsibility for Human Rights Violations

The UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights were drafted and endorsed in recognition of: States’ existing obligations to respect, protect and fulfil human rights and fundamental freedoms; the role of business enterprises as specialized organs of society performing specialized functions, required to comply with all applicable laws and to respect human rights; and the need for rights and obligations to be matched to appropriate and effective remedies when breached. The 31 principles therein “seek to provide for the first time an authoritative global standard for preventing and addressing the risk of adverse human rights impacts linked to business activity”. Notably, the Principles obligate the States to protect against human rights abuse within their territory and/or jurisdiction by third parties, including business enterprises. This requires taking appropriate steps to prevent, investigate, punish and redress such abuse through effective policies, legislation, regulations and adjudication.

Regarding the corporate responsibility to respect human rights, the Principles require that Business enterprises should respect human rights. This means that they should avoid infringing on the human rights of others and should address adverse human rights impacts with which they are involved. Additionally, in order to gauge human rights risks, business enterprises should identify and assess any actual or potential adverse human rights impacts with which they may be involved either through their own activities or as a result of their business relationships. This process should: (a) Draw on internal and/or independent external human rights expertise;(b) Involve meaningful consultation (Emphasis added) with potentially affected groups and other relevant stakeholders, as appropriate to the size of the business enterprise and the nature and context of the operation. There is a need for the government of Kenya to effectively enforce the NAP in order to ensure that corporations observe and respect human rights especially those of communities living within the localities where their projects are situated.

Promoting Meaningful and Effective Impact Assessment Processes

It has been observed that the issues raised in the Lamu Port construction project could have been averted if due process had been followed from the project’s inception including: timely and adequate compensation to everyone affected by the project; proper and robust environmental and social impact assessments; considering qualified residents for employment opportunities; and addressing the perennial problems of land rights in Lamu, all aimed at ensuring that the Lamu residents are treated as direct stakeholders and partners to the project where their voices, concerns and aspirations are taken seriously. The government should continually establish efficient systems of Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA), Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), Strategic Environmental and Social Assessment (SESA) and Environmental Audit and Monitoring of the environment and Environmental Security Assessment (ESA) and ensure that the same are periodically reviewed to ensure that they remain effective. There is a need to ensure that these EIA processes are not only carried out as a formality but are also reflective of what is on the ground and there should also be a follow up mechanism to ensure that the companies engage the communities throughout and that they continually carry out their duties as per the law and the assessment reports.

Addressing Corruption

The various laws and regulations dealing with the investment and development regime in the country, if fully enforced, can be a useful tool in fighting corruption and tax evasion by the investors as they seek to promote accountability and transparency on the income and expenses incurred by these companies. These Regulations, alongside other transparency and accountability measures and practices are useful for developing countries such as Kenya, where non-declaration or under declaration of profits by the multinationals has been happening. They can however work even better where communities are actively and meaningfully involved in the various stages of the projects. It has been suggested that good institutional governance – specifically, a strong public voice with accountability, strong political stability, good regulations, and powerful anticorruption policies tend to conduce a positive relationship between natural resource richness and economic development.

Promoting Civil Education

In the High Court case of Mohamed Ali Baadi and others v Attorney General & 11 others [2018] eKLR, the Court rightly pointed out that access to information is a key pillar in the environmental governance scheme in our Constitution because effective Public Participation in decision-making depends on full, accurate and up-to-date information. With enhanced literacy levels, it is possible to carry out civic education regarding various challenges that arise from given projects and also for communities to fully appreciate the merits and demerits of certain projects and also appreciate the compromises that they need to make, if any.

Promoting Fair and Equitable International Trade and Investments Regimes

Previous studies on the role of citizens in trade and investment agreements processes have concluded that the declared objectives of the treaties for business freedom differ from their underlying and arguably, the nature, indeed if not clearly negative, of the socio-economic benefits that may be expected show that the objective of the free trade agreements is not growth and jobs, or even to protect investments or promote international trade. Their only objective and it is a fundamental one, is to guarantee the priority of the rights of multinationals to do business and make profits. Some commentators, while pointing out the lopsided North-South trade and investment rules, call for review of the current international investment rules to make them more just and equitable ones which will require cooperation between North and South.

Notably, SDG 17 targets require that states should: enhance North-South, South-South and triangular regional and international cooperation on and access to science, technology and innovation and enhance knowledge sharing on mutually agreed terms, including through improved coordination among existing mechanisms, in particular at the United Nations level, and through a global technology facilitation mechanism; Enhance international support for implementing effective and targeted capacitybuilding in developing countries to support national plans to implement all the sustainable development goals, including through North-South, South-South and triangular cooperation; and Promote a universal, rules-based, open, non-discriminatory and equitable multilateral trading system under the World Trade Organization, including through the conclusion of negotiations under its Doha Development Agenda, among others.

*This article is an extract from the Article “Upholding Human Rights and Meaningful Public Participation in Development Projects by Dr. Kariuki Muigua, PhD, Kenya’s ADR Practitioner of the Year 2021 (Nairobi Legal Awards), ADR Publisher of the Year 2021 and ADR Lifetime Achievement Award 2021 (CIArb Kenya). Dr. Kariuki Muigua is a foremost Environmental Law and Natural Resources Lawyer and Scholar, Sustainable Development Advocate and Conflict Management Expert in Kenya. Dr. Kariuki Muigua is a Senior Lecturer of Environmental Law and Dispute resolution at the University of Nairobi School of Law and The Center for Advanced Studies in Environmental Law and Policy (CASELAP). He has published numerous books and articles on Environmental Law, Environmental Justice Conflict Management, Alternative Dispute Resolution and Sustainable Development. Dr. Muigua is also a Chartered Arbitrator, an Accredited Mediator, the Africa Trustee of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators and the Managing Partner of Kariuki Muigua & Co. Advocates. Dr. Muigua is recognized among the top 5 leading lawyers and dispute resolution experts in Kenya by the Chambers Global Guide 2022.


Muigua, K., “Upholding Human Rights and Meaningful Public Participation in Development Projects,” Available at: (accessed 22 April 2022).

News & Analysis

The Roles of the Three Parts of the Permanent Court of Arbitration




H.E. Amb. Marcin Czepelak, the Fourteenth Secretary-General of the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA)

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News & Analysis

Brief History of the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA)




By Dr. Kariuki Muigua, PhD, C.Arb, Current Member of Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) Representing the Republic of Kenya.

The Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) is a 124 Years Old Intergovernmental Organization currently with 122 contracting states. It was established at the turn of 20th Century during the first Hague Peace Conference held between 18th May and 29th July 1899. The conference was an initiative of then Russian Czar Nicholas II to discuss peace and disarmament and specifically with the object of “seeking the most effective means of ensuring to all peoples the benefits of a real and lasting peace, and, above all, of limiting the progressive development of existing armaments.” The culmination of the conference was the adoption of a Convention on the Pacific Settlement of International Disputes, which dealt not only with arbitration but also with other methods of pacific settlement, such as good offices and mediation.

The aim of the conference was to “strengthen systems of international dispute resolution” especially international arbitration which in the last century had proven effective for the purpose with number of successful international arbitrations being concluded among Nations. The Alabama arbitration of 1871-1872 between the United Kingdom (UK) and the United States (US) under the Treaty of Washington of 1871 culminating in the arbitral tribunal’s award that the UK pay the US compensation for breach of neutrality during American Civil War which it did had demonstrated the effectiveness of arbitration in settling of international disputes and piqued interest of many practitioners in it as a mode of dispute resolution during the latter years of the nineteenth century.

The Institut de Droit International adopted a code of procedure for arbitration in 1875 to answer the need for a general law of arbitration governing for countries and parties wishing to have recourse to international arbitration. The growth of arbitration as a mode of international dispute resolution formed the background of the 1899 conference and informed its most enduring achievement, namely, the establishment of the PCA as the first global mechanism for the settlement of disputes between states. Article 16 of the 1899 Convention recognized that “in questions of a legal nature, and especially in the interpretation or application of International Conventions” arbitration is the “most effective, and at the same time the most equitable, means of settling disputes which diplomacy has failed to settle.”

In turn, the 1899 Convention provided for the creation of permanent machinery to enable the setting up of arbitral tribunals as necessary and to facilitate their work under the auspices of the institution it named as the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA). In particular, Article 20 of the 1899 Convention stated that “[w]ith the object of facilitating an immediate recourse to arbitration for international differences which it has not been possible to settle by diplomacy, the signatory Powers undertake to organize a Permanent Court of Arbitration, accessible at all times and operating, unless otherwise stipulated by the parties, in accordance with the rules of procedure inserted in the present Convention.” In effect, the Convention set up a permanent system of international arbitration and institutionalized the law and practice of arbitration in a definite and acceptable way.

As a result, the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) was established in 1900 and began operating in 1902. The PCA as established consisted of a panel of jurists designated by each country acceding to the Convention with each country being entitled to designate up to four from among whom the members of each arbitral tribunal might be chosen. In addition, the Convention created a permanent Bureau, located in The Hague, with functions similar to those of a court registry or secretariat. The 1899 Convention also laid down a set of rules of procedure to govern the conduct of arbitrations under the PCA framework.

The second Hague Peace Conference in 1907 saw a revision of the 1899 Convention and improvement of the rules governing arbitral proceedings. Today, the PCA has developed into a modern, multi-faceted arbitral institution perfectly situated to meet the evolving dispute resolution needs of the international community. The Permanent Court of Arbitration has also diversified its service offering alongside those contemplated by the Conventions. For instance, today the International Bureau of the Permanent Court of Arbitration serves as a registry in important international arbitrations. In 1993, the Permanent Court of Arbitration adopted new “Optional Rules for Arbitrating Disputes between Two Parties of Which Only One Is a State” and, in 2001, “Optional Rules for Arbitration of Disputes Relating to Natural Resources and/or the Environment”.


PCA Website: (accessed on 25th May 2023).

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News & Analysis

Former KCB Company Secretary Sues Over Unlawful Dismissal




Former KCB Group Company Secretary Joseph Kamau Kania who has sued the Bank for Unlawful Dismissal

Former KCB Group Company Secretary Joseph Kamau Kania has sued the lender seeking reinstatement or be compensated for illegal sacking almost three years ago. Lawyer Kania was the KCB Group company secretary until restructuring of the lender in 2021 that saw some senior executives dropped.

Through the firm of Senior Counsel Wilfred Nderitu, Kamau wants the court to order KCB Group to unconditionally reinstate him to employment without altering any of the contractual terms until his retirement in December 2025.

In his court documents filed before Employment and Labour Relations Court, the career law banker seeks the court to declare the reorganization of the company structure a nullity and amounted to a violation of his fundamental right to fair labour practices as guaranteed in Article 41(1) of the Constitution. He further wants the court to declare that the position of Group Company Secretary did not at any time cease to exist within the KCB Group structure.

He further urged the Employment Court to declare that the recruitment and appointment of Bonnie Okumu, his former assistant, as the Group Company Secretary, in relation to the contemporaneous termination of his employment, was unprocedural, insufficient and inappropriate to infer a lawful termination of his employment.

“A declaration that the factual and legal circumstances of the Petitioner’s termination of employment were insufficient and inappropriate to infer a redundancy against him, and that any redundancy declared by the KCB Group in relation to him was therefore null, void and of no legal effect and amounted to a violation of his fundamental right to fair labour practices as guaranteed in Article 41(1) of the Constitution,” seeks lawyer Kamau.

Kamau says he was subjected to discriminatory practices by the KCB Bank Group in violation of his fundamental right to equality and freedom from discrimination as guaranteed in Article 27 of the Constitution and the termination of his employment was unfair, unjustified, illegal, null and void.

Lawyer Kamau further seeks the court to declare that the Non-Compete Clause in the 2016 Contract is unenforceable by the KCB Group as against him and is voidable by him as against the Bank ab initio, byreason of the termination of the Petitioner’s employment having been a violation of Articles 41(1) and 47(1) and (2) of the Constitution, and of the Employment Act.

He also wants the Employment Court to find that finding that KCB’s group legal representation by Messrs of Mohammed Muigai LLP Advocates law firm in respect of his claim for unlawful termination of employment resulted in a clear conflict of interest by reason of the fact that a Founding and Senior Partner at the said firm lawyer Mohammed Nyaoga is also the Chairman of the CBK’s Board of Directors.

“A Declaration that the circumstances of KCB’s legal representation by Messrs. Mohammed Muigai LLP Advocates resulted in a violation of the Petitioner’s fundamental right to have the employment dispute decided independently and impartially, as guaranteed in Article 50(1) of the Constitution,” seeks lawyer Kamau.

Kamau is seeking damages against both KCB Group and Central Bank of Kenya jointly and severally for the violation of his constitutional and fundamental right to fair labour practices.

He wants  further wants court to declare that CBK is liable to petitioner on account of its breach of statutory duty to effectively regulate KCB Group to ensure that KCB complied with the Central Bank of Kenya Prudential Guidelines and all other Laws, Rules, Codes and Standards, and that, as an issuer of securities, it complied with capital markets legislation.

Kamau through his lawyer Nderitu told the court that he was involved in Shareholder engagement in introducing the Group aide-mémoire that significantly improved the management of the Annual General Meetings, including obtaining approval without voting through the Memorandum and Articles of Association of Kenya Commercial Bank Limited among others.

He said that during his employment at KCB Bank Kenya and with the KCB Group, he initially worked well with former KCB CEO Joseph Oigara until 2016 when the CEO allegedly started sidelining him by removing the legal function from his reporting line.

He further claims he was transferred from the Group’s offices at Kencom House to its offices Upper Hill under the guise that the Petitioner was merely to support the KCB Group Board.

He adds that at that point his roles were given to Okumu for reasons that were not related to work demands.  He stated that Oigara at one time proposed that he should leave his role in the KCB Group and go and serve as the Company Secretary of the National Bank of Kenya Limited, a subsidiary of the Group, a suggestion which he disagreed with to Oigara’s utter annoyance.

Kamau stated that his work was thenceforth unfairly discredited, leading to his being taken through a disciplinary process whose intended outcome failed miserably, and the Petitioner was vindicated.

“More specifically, the Petitioner contends that the purported creation of a new organizational structure towards the end of 2020 was in fact Oigara’s orchestration targeted to remove certain individuals by requiring them to undergo interviews in the pretext that new roles were created, and amounted to a further violation of the Petitioner’s fundamental right to fair labour practices under Article 41(1) of the Constitution,” said in his court documents.

He further adds that this sham reorganization demonstrates how the role of the KCB Group Company Secretary purportedly ceased to be and was then very briefly replaced with a new role of the KCB Group General Counsel. The role of KCB Group Company Secretary then ‘resurfaced’ immediately thereafter, in total violation of legal and regulatory requirements.

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