IRMA Standard for Responsible Mining (Draft 2.0)
Chapter 2.13 Grievance Mechanism and Access to Other Remedies

Background

Mining and other large development projects inevitably raise concerns and complaints from community members and stakeholders affected by these projects. It is now expected practice for mining companies to have an operational-level grievance mechanism in place for systematically receiving, tracking, resolving and communicating with local communities and stakeholders, including workers, about their grievances. Grievance mechanisms should not be considered a substitute for meaningful community and stakeholder engagement processes. The two are complementary and should be mutually reinforcing.[1]

Operational-level grievance mechanisms are just one option for individuals to seek justice or remediation for damages that they believe have occurred as a result of company activities. For example, traditional authorities may have conflict or dispute resolution systems in place; countries may have legal frameworks that provide recourse for aggrieved parties; workers may have access to corporate-level whistle-blower procedures; and remedies may be sought through national or international human rights bodies, labor tribunals or other non-judicial mechanisms. Operational-level grievance mechanisms should neither be used to undermine the role of legitimate trade unions in addressing labor-related disputes, nor preclude any stakeholder from accessing judicial or other non-judicial grievance mechanisms.[2]

Objectives/Intent of this Chapter

To provide accessible and effective means for affected communities and individuals to raise and resolve mine-related grievances, while not limiting their ability to seek remedy through other mechanisms.

Scope of Application

Chapter Relevance:  This chapter is relevant for all mine sites, as all sites have workers and most have external stakeholders who must be provided with an effective means of raising grievances with the company, and if the grievances are not adequately addressed through the operational-level mechanism, who have the right to access other remedies.

NOTES TO READERS ON MAJOR CHANGES TO THIS CHAPTER:

  • Provided more clarity on the development of publicly available procedures that address concerns such as confidentiality, ability to file anonymous complaints, etc. (see 2.13.2).
  • The means of verification (MOV) have been removed from this version of the draft IRMA Standard. If you would prefer to review and comment on a version of the draft Standard that has the means of verification, you can download a pdf version of the Standard with MOV.
     

Grievance Mechanism and Access to Other Remedies Requirements

2.13.1.  Access to Operational-Level Grievance Mechanism

2.13.1.1.  The operating company shall ensure that stakeholders, including affected community members and rights holders (hereafter referred to collectively as “stakeholders”) have access to an operational-level grievance mechanism for raising and seeking remedy for grievances related to the company and its mining-related activities.[3]

2.13.1.2.  Operational-level grievance mechanisms shall meet the effectiveness criteria outlined in Principle 31 of the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights,[4]  which include the need for the mechanism to be: (a) Legitimate, (b) Accessible, (c) Predictable, (d) Equitable, (e) Transparent, (f) Rights-compatible, (g) A source of continuous learning, and (h) Based on engagement and dialogue.

2.13.2.  Development of Grievance Mechanism and Procedures

2.13.2.1.  The operating company shall consult with stakeholders to design culturally appropriate mechanisms and procedures that address, at minimum:

a. How complaints will be filed, acknowledged, investigated, and resolved, including general timeframes for each phase;

b. How confidentiality of a complainant’s identity will be respected, if requested;

c. The ability to file anonymous complaints, if deemed necessary by stakeholders;

d. The provision of assistance for those who may face barriers to using the operational-level grievance mechanism;

e. Options for recourse if an initial process does not result in satisfactory resolution or if the mechanism is inadequate or inappropriate for handling serious human rights grievances; and

f. How complaints and resolutions will be tracked and recorded.

2.13.2.2.  The operating company shall ensure that all procedures are documented and made publicly available.

2.13.3.  Access to Other Remedy Mechanisms

2.13.3.1. No remedy provided by an operational-level grievance mechanism shall require aggrieved parties to waive their right to seek recourse from the company for the same complaint through other available mechanisms, including administrative, non-judicial or judicial remedies.

2.13.4.  Monitoring and Evaluation

2.13.4.1.  The operating company shall monitor and evaluate the performance of the operational-level grievance mechanism over time.

2.13.4.2.  Stakeholders shall be provided with clearly communicated opportunities to submit feedback on the performance of the operational-level grievance mechanism.

2.13.4.3.  The operating company shall evaluate the outcomes and remedies provided through the operational-level grievance mechanisms to ensure that they accord with internationally recognized human rights.

2.13.4.4.  The operating company shall demonstrate that monitoring results and stakeholder feedback have been taken into account to improve the effectiveness and performance of the grievance mechanism and to determine if changes in company activities can be implemented to prevent or mitigate similar grievances in the future.

2.13.5.  Communications

2.13.5.1.  The operating company shall take reasonable steps to inform all stakeholders of:

a. The existence of the operational-level grievance mechanism, its scope, and its procedures; and

b. Their rights to utilize alternative mechanisms for addressing complaints or grievances, such as administrative, judicial or other non-judicial remedies.

2.13.5.2. The operating company shall inform relevant personnel who interact with stakeholders of the proper procedures for handling stakeholder complaints, and ensure that personnel directly involved in the operational-level grievance mechanism receive instruction on the respectful handling of all complaints, including those that may appear frivolous.

2.13.6.  Reporting

2.13.6.1.  Periodically, the operating company shall report to stakeholders on grievances received and responses provided. This shall be done in a manner that protects the confidentiality and safety of those filing grievances.

Notes

This chapter uses as its basis the effectiveness criteria UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, i.e., that a grievance mechanism be: (a) Legitimate, (b) Accessible, (c) Predictable, (d) Equitable, (e) Transparent, (f) Rights-compatible, (g) A source of continuous learning, and (h) Based on engagement and dialogue.[5]

This chapter does not pertain to grievances related to IRMA certification. IRMA is in the process of developing its own grievance mechanism, which will enable stakeholders to raise concerns about issues pertaining to IRMA certification of a particular mining projects, as well as the IRMA certification process more generally.

Cross References to Other Chapters

 Chapter

 Issues

2.8—Community and Stakeholder Engagement Engagement with stakeholders in the design and monitoring of the grievance mechanism shall conform to the requirements in Chapter 2.8 Community and Stakeholder Engagement. In particular, during the design of the mechanism (requirement 2.13.2.1.) attention should be paid to conforming with Chapter 2.8, Criterion 2.8.3. Strengthening Capacity (i.e., ensuring those participating have the capacity to do so in a meaningful way); and during any communications with stakeholders, including reporting, the company shall adhere to the communications requirements of Chapter 2.8.
Multiple chapters that mention grievance mechanisms Grievance mechanisms are explicitly stated as requirements with regard to workers (Chapter 2.1), human rights due diligence (Chapter 2.4), security (Chapter 2.6), stakeholder engagement (Chapter 2.8) and resettlement (Chapter 2.12). However, even when not explicitly stated in a chapter, it is expected that access to the operational-level grievance mechanism and other remedies will be provided throughout the project’s life to grievances related to any issues of stakeholder concern with the mining operation. It is possible that one grievance mechanism may be suitable to address all types of grievances raised in relation to the mining operation, including workers,[6]  although typically labor grievances are dealt with through a separate mechanism established through collective bargaining agreements or human resources policies. If, however, a company decides to create multiple grievance mechanisms, all of them shall meet the requirements of this chapter.

 

Endnotes

1.  IFC. 2009. Good Practice Note: Addressing Grievances from Project-Affected Communities. p. 6.

2. Ruggie, J. 2011. Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. A/HRC/17/31. Commentary for Principle 29.

3. More than one mechanism or approach to addressing grievances may be deemed necessary to meet the needs of communities and stakeholders. See IRMA Guidance for more details.

4. The Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights have identified that access to remedy for grievances is fundamental to ensuring respect and protection of human rights. (Ruggie, J. 2011. Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. A/HRC/17/31.

5. Ibid. See Principle 31.

6. The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) has elaborated that, “As discussed in the context of Guiding Principle 22, it is fairly usual to have separate grievance mechanisms for direct employees and for external affected stakeholders, though it is not always necessary to separate the two. It may also be important to have tailored grievance mechanisms for particular situations, such as community resettlement, or for particular groups, such as indigenous peoples. However, the more streamlined the mechanisms, the more easily their effectiveness can be monitored, and the more successful they can be at identifying generalized patterns and trends in how the enterprise is addressing its human rights impact.” (OHCHR. 2012. The Corporate Responsibility to Respect Human Rights: An Interpretive Guide. pp. 69, 70).

 

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