21st BEN-Africa
Annual Conference
SOCIETY, RIGHTS AND BUSINESS ETHICS

3 – 4 NOVEMBER 2022
Kigali, Rwanda

The conference is an international platform for stakeholders from the private sector, public sector, non-profit organisations, and academia to come together and reflect on, discuss and respond to the opportunities and challenges related to conducting inclusive and principled business in Africa. BEN-Africa’s stated mission is to strengthen the commitment and competence of Africans to do business with moral integrity.

As we convene for our 21st annual conference in Kigali, Rwanda, we invite you to join us for a two-day event to explore business ethics and the society & rights interface with particular focus on the emerging field of business and human rights, featuring keynote speakers, panel discussions and track presentations.

Definitions of business ethics and concomitant foci abound. Nonetheless, fundamental to any conception of business ethics is a concern with how to demarcate the extent and scope of its responsibilities beyond mere profit maximisation. Even as Stakeholder theory allows us to assign these corporate responsibilities with more specificity, the notion of business’ social license to operate, marks these corporate responsibilities more broadly, towards society in general. If we grant these premises together with the acceptance that human rights should be upheld in society in general, then we can confidently claim that business cannot shirk its ethical responsibilities with regards to human rights. We should go further, and confirm that business has an ethical responsibility to respect and protect, identify human rights risks, address these risks and provide remedies when infringements on human rights occur (Equality and Human Rights Commission, 2016). While we also stand with a call for binding international treaty initiated by South Africa and Ecuador, the legally binding instrument to regulate, in international human rights law, the activities of transnational corporations and other business enterprises.

16 June 2021 saw the 10th anniversary of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs), endorsed unanimously by the UN Human Rights Council and based on the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights was a seminal moment for efforts to promote corporate respect for human rights and sustainable business. Research, advocacy and discussion around business and human rights has proliferated in the 21st century. More germane to our mission as an African business ethics network is the research and advocacy focusing on business ethics and human rights within developing countries and emerging markets. In calling to mind ‘developing countries and emerging markets’ we should not however burden researchers with having to “make wild claims that [their] local studies are in some way representative of ‘The Developing World”‘ as Professor Neil Eccles, Editor-in-Chief of the African Journal of Business Ethics, neatly puts it.

As we come together to grapple with this emerging field, the critical question we must ask ourselves is what does this mean to Africa? How is Africa, its views, epistemology, institutions and scholarships are represented and reflected in the emerging universe of business and human rights? We must question why despite a significant proportion of corporate caused human rights harms materialising in Africa, the Continent is absent from being part of the problem-solving process? With the increasing delocalisation of justice, what does the propagation of transnational quest for an “effective” remedy in venues of the Global North tells us? Are we, yet again, in another chapter of having our problem studied, articulated and “solved” by others and hence, in the performance of epistemic self-disrespect? These and many other related urgent issues are what necessitate the dedication of our 21st annual conference to the topic of human rights and business ethics.

Notwithstanding this timely caveat, it is worthwhile mentioning two publications in this regard in order to delineate what is at stake: Luciano Ciravegna and Federica Nieri (2021) give examples of human rights infringements (HRls) by business such as child labour, labour discrimination, union busting; violations of land rights to gain access to natural resources, or when business facilities contaminate freshwater sources and farmland. In their paper they note that while the “conceptual, ethical, legal, and normative dimensions of business infringements of human rights has been well mapped, “empirical research on the causes of business infringements of human rights is still incipient and mostly focuses on specific events or contexts” within emerging market firms.

CONFERENCE LANGUAGE

The conference languages are English and French.

SUBMISSIONS

Scholars and other experts from around the world are invited to submit industry and academic papers and posters that address the theme of ‘Society, Rights and Business Ethics’ (please see below for suggested sub-themes). However, any papers dealing with business or organisational ethics in Africa will be considered.

The conference will take a hybrid format – both virtual and face-to-face presentations will be conducted.

Submission of academic papers may be in abstract format for presentation at the conference only, or as a full paper. Only full paper will be considered for publication in the Conference Proceedings. Full paper authors may be selected and invited to submit their papers for publication in the African Journal of Business Ethics (English) or Ethique et Societe (French) – these would be subject to the respective journal’s publishing protocols.

Submissions may be in the conference languages of English and French.

a. Posters

Posters should be submitted in JPEG format with an abstract in Word of 500-1000 words. Posters accepted for the conference must be provided in physical format and be transported, at the author’s cost, to the conference. All Posters should be about AO in size. Authors are encouraged to be creative. Authors are expected to present (explain) their posters at the conference in person or virtually.

Submissions should be submitted via email to info@benafrica.org. Timelines are the same as abstract submissions.

The best conference poster will be awarded the Arum Lily prize. Posters may be selected for inclusion in the Conference Proceedings.

b. Abstracts

The abstract of the papers will be reviewed for relevance and rigour. The word count for abstracts should be between 500-1000 words. Accepted abstracts will allow for a paper presentation of a paper during the conference track sessions but will NOT allow for full paper publication. Should you wish to submit a full paper, please see section b. below.

Abstract submissions should be submitted via email to info@benafrica.org. Submissions should be in Word format and contain a version with author/s’ details and a second version without author/s’ details suitable for double blind peer review.

c. Full Papers

Full paper submissions (5000-8000 words) for possible inclusion in the Conference Proceedings or the African Journal of Business Ethics (English) or Ethique et Societe (French) will be reviewed by at least three reviewers following a double-blind peer review process.

Full paper authors may be selected and invited to submit their papers for publication in the African Journal of Business Ethics (English) or Ethique et Societe (French) – these would be subject to the respective journal’s review and publishing protocols.

By submitting a full paper you agree to blind peer reviewing three other full paper submission and being on the Conference Editorial Board. Papers should be anonymised prior to submission.

Conference Proceedings ISBN Title: BEN-Africa’s 21st Annual Conference: Conference Proceedings 2022

Conference Proceedings ISBN Number. 978-0-620-98157-6 (e-book)

Please follow the author guidelines for the African Journal of Business Ethics for both Conference Proceedings and for African Journal of Business Ethics submissions:

https://ajobe.journals.ac.za/index.php/pub/about/submissions#authorGuidelines

South African authors: Please note that while the Conference Proceedings are published in accordance with the South African DHET requirements for subsidy purposes, BEN-Africa and the Conference organisers do NOT provide any undertaking or guarantee that the Conference Proceedings will qualify for DHET subsidy purposes.

Only unpublished papers, not submitted elsewhere, will be considered. All accepted papers must be presented in person or virtually at the conference. A maximum of two papers may be submitted by an author.

Full paper submission should be submitted via email to info@benafrica.org. Submissions should be in Word format and contain a version with author/s’ details and a second version without author/s’ details suitable for double blind peer review.

Timeline

• August 15, 2022: Deadline for abstract submissions (500-1,000 words) and for full papers for potential publication in the Conference Proceedings and the African Journal of Business Ethics (English) or Ethique et Societe (French)*.
• September 15, 2022: Confirmation of acceptance to present at the Conference.
• September 30, 2022: Submission of final papers after review.
• November 3-4, 2022: Conference.
• 31 January 2023. Publication of Conference proceedings.

For papers selected for the African Journal of Business Ethics (English) or Ethique et Societe (French) (these are selected and invited to submit to the journal at the Editor-in chief’s discretion):

• September to December 2022: Authors will be invited to submit their papers in the journal’s submission portal. Papers will undergo a further review process to determine acceptance for the journal. Unsuccessful articles will be published in the Conference Proceedings.
• January 31, 2023: Completion of external review, and feedback to authors.
• 2023: Publication of papers.

* Please note that abstract submissions are adequate if you only intend on presenting at the conference. If, however, you are interested in publishing your paper in the Conference Proceedings or the African Journal of Business Ethics (English) or Ethique et Societe (French), the above deadlines must please be adhered to.

Aloe Award

We are also pleased to announce the Aloe award for the best conference paper. The winner will be announced at the conference. To be eligible for this award, your FULL paper must be submitted by 15 August 2022. BEN-Africa reserves the right not to make the award should an insufficient amount of full papers be received by the deadline.

Registration and registration fees

Presenters are required to register and pay for the conference, as below and to make their own way to the conference.

• Early Bird special (registration and payment by 1 August 2022): USD 200 / R3000
• BEN-Africa paid member, TEI or USB-ED member: USD 235 / R3500

• Standard Registration: USD275 / R4000

Sub-themes

The conference theme is ‘Society, Rights and Business Ethics’. Any paper that addresses this theme, or the wider theme of business ethics in Africa, will be considered.
Suggested sub-themes include:

•TBA

Wider themes

• Developments in business ethics teaching and practic
• Defining the business ethics agenda for Africa: Contextual challenges and opportunities
• Managing ethics in African companies and organisations
• Poverty and sustainability: defining the challenges and the way forward

References

Ciravegna, L. and Nieri, F. (2021). Business and Human Rights: a new paper. REMARC. Accessed from https://remarc.ec.unipi.it/new-paper-4/

Equality and Human Rights Commission. (2016). Business and Human Rights: A five-step guide for company boards. Accessed from