Human Rights in the Minerals Industry
Mining companies have been criticized for their complicity in the human rights abuses of people and indigenous populations at risk. This report provides a background and examines issues related to specific points of conflict concerning human rights where mining companies find themselves involved, specifically: the use of security companies to protect operations; the rights of indigenous people in the areas of mining operations; issues of conflict revolving around labor rights, especially the rights to organize; issues of pariah (or failing) states, such as Burma which are human rights abusers; and issues of conflict between sub-jurisdictions and national jurisdiction, and to what extent the mining company is subject to one or another when the two are in conflict.
The principal reasons why the issue of human rights and the minerals industry is important were identified. The discussion points were organized into four major topics that define the issues and examine trends: (i) the role and responsibilities of a
corporation for human rights; (ii) formal codes of practice, existing guidelines, voluntary initiatives, monitoring and reporting practices, regulatory framework, and information related to human rights issues; (iii) role and responsibilities of others; and (iv) trends and emerging issues. Several case histories were examined to see what rights issues were involved. As the issues were closely examined, the more complex they seemed, and the less pristine the parties appeared. It is unreasonable to expect simple conclusions. The importance lies in the very complexity of the issues. Looking at a variety of real cases confirmed the intricacy of the issues.
These issues are so difficult and important to both the minerals industry and society that they merit an assessment of potential long-range strategies to develop meaningful and attainable methodologies to satisfy the demands of all segments of society and the interests of the broad range of stakeholders.