65% of respondents confirmed that they are working towards compliance with the 31 Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights officially adopted by the United Nations Human Rights Commission in June 2011.
The UN’s Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights were officially adopted one year ago, but mining and resources companies must keep up the momentum in order to maintain public confidence in their efforts.
The survey, carried out by audit and advisory firm Mazars, collated the responses of mining companies listed on the London, Johannesburg, Toronto, and the Australian stock exchanges. It revealed that 94% of respondents agreed that mining firms should take responsibility for compliance with human rights within their own organisations and those of their subcontractors. Encouragingly, it also found that 65% of respondents were actively working towards compliance with the Principles.
However, comparatively fewer respondents (55%) said they were planning to implement their own human rights policies and procedures as a priority over the next two years. Smaller proportions of those questioned confirmed they were documenting their compliance in accordance with UN guidelines (40%) or seeking external evaluation of their compliance with the agenda (37%).
Richard Karmel, who leads Mazars’ human rights advisory practice in the UK, said “Human rights compliance should appear on the corporate governance agenda for all international corporations as a matter of course. By correctly addressing the human rights agenda, a corporation demonstrates that it is listening to its work force, and creates a dialogue to enable an understanding of the issues workers face”.
Since setting up its award winning Human Rights Audit practice, Mazars has observed that many corporations in the mining industry need help to move from principles to processes that actively address human rights issues. Mr Karmel added “However, for all that good intention, we find that many mining firms still require our help to turn good principles into good business practice”.