Rule of Law, mining taxation and economic and social rights in Zambia examined by IBAHRI delegation

A high-level delegation of human rights experts and tax specialists, convened under the auspices of the International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI), has just concluded a fact-finding mission in Zambia examining the extent to which tax policies, regulations and practices by mining companies affect the progressive realisation of the economic and social rights of its people.

Explaining the reasoning behind the IBAHRI fact-finding mission, IBAHRI Director Phillip Tahmindjis said: ‘Zambia as a country is resource-rich, yet the majority of its people continue to be deprived of their most basic economic and social rights. For this reason, we chose to assess where to draw a line between the interests of multinational corporations and the host state’s public interest.’ She added: ‘With the continued expansion of the global economy, financial flows have become increasingly difficult to regulate, making it increasingly important to understand the relationship between taxation and human rights and the real impact that tax abuses can have on the poorest people.’

Zambia is ranked 141st (out of 187) on the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)’s Human Development Index. Sixty per cent of its population lives in poverty and the average life expectancy is 49 years (source: UNDP). It is also the fourth largest copper producing nation in the world, holding 6 per cent of the world’s copper reserves (source: UNDP). In 2012, Deputy Finance Minister Miles Sampa said Zambia is losing as much as $2billion annually to tax avoidance, with the mining industry being responsible for a large proportion of the loss.

The recent fact-finding mission to Zambia is the most recent initiative following the publication of the IBAHRI’s 2013 landmark report Tax Abuses, Poverty and Human Rights,which examined the relationship between illicit financial flows, tax abuses and human rights.

The IBAHRI delegation was comprised of the following members:

  • Shirley Pouget Senior Programme Lawyer and delegation leader, IBAHRI, United Kingdom
  • Professor Allison Christians H Heward Stikeman Chair in Tax Law, Faculty of Lay, McGill University, Canada
  • Nicholas Lusiani Director, Human Rights in Economic Policy, Center for Economic and Social Rights (CESR), United States
  • Krishen Mehta Former partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers, currently serving on the Advisory Board of Aspen Institute’s Business and Society Program and as Senior Global Justice Fellow at Yale University, United States
  • Dr Attiya Waris Senior Lecturer, Commercial Law Department, School of Law, University of Nairobi, Kenya

The findings of the mission will be published in a report due for release later this year.


Notes to the Editor

  1. In October 2013, the IBAHRI published a report titled Tax Abuses, Poverty and Human Rights. The report addressed global taxation from the perspective of human rights law and policy. Based on extensive consultation from diverse perspectives, the expert report offered unique insight into the links between tax abuses, poverty and human rights. It analysed the responsibilities and remedies to counter tax abuse and delivered recommendations for states, businesses and the legal profession. Click here for more info.
  2. To request a hardcopy of Tax Abuses, Poverty and Human Rightssend an email to
  3. The fact-finding mission was carried out in accordance with the International Human Rights Fact-Finding Guidelines (the ‘Lund-London Guidelines’) developed by the IBAHRI and the Raoul Wallenberg Institute in 2009. Click here for more information on the International Human Rights Fact-Finding Guidelines. The forthcoming report will be written in accordance with the Guidelines.
  4. The International Bar Association (IBA), established in 1947, is the world’s leading organisation of international legal practitioners, bar associations and law societies. Through its global membership of individual lawyers, law firms, bar associations and law societies it influences the development of international law reform and shapes the future of the legal profession throughout the world.

    The IBA’s administrative office is in London. Regional offices are located in: São Paulo, Brazil; Seoul, South Korea; and Washington DC, US.

    The International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI) works to promote, protect and enforce human rights under a just rule of law, and to preserve the independence of the judiciary and the legal profession worldwide.
  5. Twitter handle: @IBAHRI

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