Second in our series of whitepaper extracts, this article is taken from the 2015 Responsible Extractives Report

The below is an extract from the 2015 Responsible Business Summit post-conference report. It highlights key points and discussions from the Summit, including input from BP, GoldCorp, IHRB, ICMM and more.


Migrant workers are found in the supply chains of nearly all companies, no matter which sector or where in the world they operate. Neill Wilkins, from the Institute for Human Rights and Business (IHRB), talked of the importance of ethical recruitment.

The IHRB has produced the Dhaka principles, a set of human-rightsbased principles for migrant workers. This is a holistic approach, said Wilkins. You must ensure, for example, that a migrant worker is not already effectively bonded after paying recruitment fees before they join your company. Bold leadership is needed, he said. “Business does have a unique ability to make change happen,” said Jason Perks from DNV GL. 

The company undertook research that showed high awareness levels of human rights among World Business Council for Sustainable Development members, but also that the extractives industry was lagging behind other sectors.

This issue isn’t going away, said Perks. Companies need to know what they don’t know; the aim has to be understanding of your human
rights impacts in every area in which you operate. The frameworks help, he said, but they are generic.

You’d think that with all the standards and tools available, the extractives industry would be ahead of the game, said Bennett Freeman from Calvert Investments. Yet, despite hundreds of millions of dollars invested, not only by those participants in the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights, we don’t have any real metrics, he said.

There’s a dearth of company reporting and we can’t demonstrate the efficacy of the Voluntary Principles initiative. No company in its right mind would disclose the full text of its human rights impact assessment, which often involves very sensitive information. But we need some degree of disclosure and some empirical work.

Promote Human Rights within your supply chain

Barbara Bijelic, legal expert with the OECD’s Responsible Business Conduct Unit, explained the OECD’s five-step due diligence framework, which has been developed through a multi-stakeholder process. “Due diligence is an expectation of process, not results,” said Bijelic. It’s about having the right system in place and making the effort to implement it.

The process is progressive. OECD doesn’t expect complete overhauls overnight, but to improve conduct over time. It tries to create complementary due diligence practices, with recommendations for both upstream and downstream suppliers.

Aberdeen Asset Management’s Cindy Rose talked of the need to understand how a company works, how it behaves and what its culture is, from the risk perspective. There’s a lot of transparency that fund managers are now required to produce, she said. When Aberdeen Asset Management reports now, it includes the investment rationale with ESG considerations. It encourages a bottom-up risk assessment.

“Corporate peacemaking” is the political, diplomatic, relational aspects of peacemaking, said author Natalie Ralph. “Human rights cannot be enjoyed amidst violence,” said Ralph. Companies could find that supporting peace processes might be the most immediate way they can demonstrate responsible action to prevent human rights abuses.

Integrate Human Rights into operational management 

GoldCorp’s Brent Bergeron talked about the company’s relationship with the Cree Nation in Quebec. GoldCorp took a proactive approach to making sure a relationship was in place before going for the permitting and production process.

Initially, the Cree welcomed traditional mining operations in their territories, but were not prepared to have it disrupt their traditional way of life – it took several years to finalise negotiations. GoldCorp then decided it needed to embed these sort of policies and strategies within itsown operations, so it implemented its Sustainability Excellence Management System.

While interstate and civil wars still exist, criminal violence and extremism mean the nature of violence and what it means for companies is changing, said Roper Cleland from International Alert, a peacebuilding organisation.

Human rights impact assessments are there to ensure rights are respected, while conflict analysis ensures that conflict drivers are not exacerbated and that businesses are not destabilising the environment they are working in, she explained. Cleland said current thinking is that causal factors are interlocking and that human rights impact assessments need to be both company-led and community-led.

The impact of human rights violations on children can be very distinct and separate from those of adults, explained Amelia Knott from consultancy twentyfifty. Why should an extractives company think about children?

First, the long-term business case. Today’s children are the future communities that will grant you the social licence to operate; they are the future labour force; they are future leaders. Children can also be real change agents in their communities, she explained.

For BP, operationalising human rights issues started with the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights, said Nili Safavi. BP has an integrated approach to how it does business. The three key themes are multi-disciplinary collaboration, engagement and governance. It commissioned three external human rights experts to assess areas for improvement, the results of which turned into its human rights implementation plan.

Safavi describes this as a multi-disciplinary, cross-cutting approach. Awareness building and training should never stop, she said. You also need to enable people – give people the tools to implement their training.

You can’t really address human rights if you don’t use a long-term approach, said ERM’s Shahila Perumalpillai. You can integrate management of human rights issues into companies, as many of the necessary functions and elements are already there, but it needs to be an ongoing process that is constantly revisited.

This can raise uncomfortable issues when dealing with clients, said Perumalpillai, but the point is to be driven by what is appropriate. Engagement and multi-stakeholder approaches are vital. 

Failure to respect human rights and subsequent involvement in any allegations can have huge negative impacts on your reputation and business, said Claire White from ICMM. She believes integration of human rights strategies is essential, as is constant reassessment.

Incorporate human rights into your ongoing engagement activities – share knowledge in order to track human rights impacts successfully. Question your measurement methods – how do you measure successful management of human rights issues? 


The above is taken from the 2015 Responsible Extractives Summit post-conference report. The 25-page report highlights some of the key ideas and points shared at the two-day Summit. Access to the whitepaper reports is just one of the new benefits that Subscribers enjoy on a daily basis. Other benefits include; unlimited access to the fully searchable EC player featuring full length video and audio conference sessions, access to the monthly magazine (dating back to 2001), discounts on all EC events and reports plus much more. Visit here to find out more about the benefits of Subscribing to Ethical Corporation.

mining  Oil  gas  extractives  Human rights  Goldcorp  BP  icmm  ihrb 

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