IRMA Standard for Responsible Mining (Draft 2.0)
Chapter 2.4 Human Rights Due Diligence and Compliance

Background

In 1948, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which for the first time in human history, enumerated the fundamental civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights that all human beings should enjoy. Since that time, a series of core international human rights conventions and treaties, along with other instruments, have established the international legal framework for individual and collective human rights. [1] For example, United Nations instruments have elaborated on the rights of indigenous peoples; women; national or ethnic, religious and linguistic minorities; children; persons with disabilities; and migrant workers and their families. [2]

In 2011, the “UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights” (the ‘Guiding Principles’), which were unanimously endorsed by the United Nations’ Human Rights Council, clarified the corporate responsibility to respect human rights, stating that all corporations “should avoid infringing on the human rights of others.”[3]

Objectives/Intent of this Chapter

To identify, prevent, mitigate and remedy infringements of human rights.

Scope of Application

Chapter Relevance:  This chapter applies to any mine that has the potential to affect the human rights of individuals or communities.

New vs. Existing Mines:  Prior to the development of a new mine or certification of an existing mine, companies are expected to demonstrate that they have assessed the human rights risks and impacts related to the mining operation. At new mines, this may not require a human rights impact assessment, but such a formal assessment is expected for new mines. Additionally, the assessment of human rights impacts shall be updated at new and existing mines: prior to significant changes to mining-related activities and periodically throughout the life of an activity or relationship.

NOTES TO READERS ON MAJOR CHANGES TO THIS CHAPTER:

  • Removed corporate-level requirements.
  • Added clarification in 2.4.3 on the expected actions required of companies depending on whether they “caused”, “contributed to” or were “linked to” human rights impacts. And whether there were “actual” or “potential” impacts.
  • Added more detail into the table at the end of the chapter that outlines “cross-references with other chapters”, as there is quite a bit of overlap between this chapter and several others, and to make it clear that we are not expecting a company to duplicate work already done elsewhere.
  • Removed specific criteria related to Grievance Mechanism, but included as a requirement (2.4.4.1), and cross-referenced the Grievance Mechanism chapter (i.e., 2.13) to reduce duplication with that chapter.
  • Added a criterion related to Reporting (2.4.5). These requirements were previously in with the Monitoring criterion (2.4.4).
  • 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.
     

Human Rights Due Diligence and Compliance Requirements

2.4.1. Policy Commitment

2.4.1.1. The operating company shall adopt a policy commitment that includes an acknowledgement of its responsibility to respect human rights.[4]

2.4.1.2. The policy shall:

a.   Be approved at the most senior level of the company;

b.   Be informed by relevant internal and/or external expertise;

c.    Stipulate the operating company’s human rights expectations of personnel, business partners and other parties directly linked to its mining operation;

d.   Be publicly available and communicated internally and externally to all personnel, business partners, other relevant parties and stakeholders;

e.   Be reflected in operational policies and procedures.

2.4.2.  Human Rights Impact Assessment

2.4.2.1.  The operating company shall establish an ongoing process to identify and assess potential and actual human rights impacts from its activities and relevant business relationships:

a.   Prior to the development of a new mine the operating company shall conduct a human rights impact assessment (HRIA).

b.   At existing mines, the operating company shall demonstrate that is has identified and assessed its actual or potential adverse human rights impacts prior to applying for IRMA certification.

c.    At all mines, assessments of human rights impacts shall be updated periodically, including, at minimum:  prior to a new activity or significant changes to mining-related activities; prior to new relationships; and in response to changes in the operating environment.

2.4.2.2.  HRIAs shall follow a recognized impact assessment methodology,[5] but may be scaled to the size of the company and severity of potential human rights impacts.

2.4.2.3.  The operating company shall ensure that HRIAs are conducted by teams or individuals with relevant professional human rights expertise or background.

2.4.2.4.  As part of the HRIA process, the operating company shall draw on internal and/or external human rights expertise, and consult with potentially affected rights holders and other relevant stakeholders regarding the potential human rights impacts associated with the mining project

2.4.2.5.  A draft HRIA report shall be prepared that includes, at minimum: 

a.   Assessment methodology;

b.   The current human rights context in the country and project area;

c.    Identification of relevant human rights laws, standards and issues;

d.   Identification of those whose human rights may be affected, including disadvantaged and vulnerable rights holders;

e.   Identification of potential and actual human rights impacts (disaggregated according to potential severity of the impacts, and by rights holder groups) related to the activities of the operating company and relevant business relationships; and

f.    Recommendations for preventing and mitigating potential impacts and remediating existing impacts.

2.4.2.6.  At minimum, stakeholders who participated in the assessment shall have the opportunity to review the key issues and findings identified in the draft HRIA that are relevant to them, and shall be consulted to provide feedback on those findings.

2.4.2.7. Feedback on the draft HRIA shall be integrated into a final report, which shall be made publicly available.

2.4.2.8. The operating company shall integrate the HRIA findings across relevant internal functions and processes.

2.4.3. Prevention, Mitigation and Remediation of Human Rights Risks and Impacts

2.4.3.1. Stakeholders shall have access to and be informed about a rights-compatible grievance mechanism to raise and seek recourse for concerns or grievances related to human rights. [6]

2.4.3.2.  Responding to potential human rights impacts: 

a.   If the operating company determines that adverse human rights impacts may be caused by its mining-related activities, it shall prioritize preventing impacts from occurring, and if this is not possible, design strategies to mitigate the potential impacts. Mitigation plans shall be developed in consultation with potentially affected rights holder(s).

b.   If the operating company determines that it may contribute to adverse human rights impacts, it shall take action to prevent or mitigate its contribution, and use its leverage to influence other contributing parties to prevent or mitigate their potential impacts.

c.    If the operating company determines that it may be linked to potential human rights impacts through its business relationships, it shall use its leverage to influence responsible parties to prevent or mitigate their potential impacts.

2.4.3.3.  Responding to actual human rights impacts:

a.   If the operating company determines that it has caused an actual human rights impact, the company shall:

            i. Cease the activity responsible for the impact;

ii. In a timely manner, develop mitigation strategies and remedies in collaboration with affected rights holders. If mutually acceptable remedies cannot be found through dialogue, the operating company shall attempt to reach agreement through an independent, third-party mediator or another means mutually acceptable to affected rights holders; and

iii. If relevant, cooperate with other legitimate processes such as judicial or State-based proceedings.

b.   If the operating company determines that it has contributed to, but another entity has caused, an actual adverse human rights impact, the operating company shall cease its contribution, use its leverage to mitigate any remaining impact, and cooperate in remediation processes.

c.    If the operating company determines that it is linked to an adverse impact has been linked to the company through its business relationships, the company shall use its leverage to prevent or mitigate the impacts from continuing or recurring.

2.4.4.  Monitoring

2.4.4.1.  The operating company shall monitor whether adverse human rights impacts are being effectively addressed. Monitoring shall include qualitative and quantitative indicators, and draw on feedback from internal and external sources, including affected rights holders.

2.4.4.2.  External monitoring of an operating company’s human rights due diligence shall occur if the company’s due diligence efforts repeatedly fail to prevent, mitigate or remediate adverse human rights impacts; or if its due diligence activities failed to prevent the company from unknowingly or unintentionally causing, contributing to or being linked to any serious human rights abuse.[7]

a.   The company shall fund the external monitoring. The form of such monitoring, and selection of external monitors, shall be determined in collaboration with affected rights holders.

b.   An external monitoring report that includes findings and recommendations on how to improve the operating company’s human rights due diligence shall be produced and made publicly available.

2.4.5. Reporting

2.4.5.1.  The operating company shall periodically report on the effectiveness of its due diligence activities. Reports shall include information on the potential and actual human rights impacts that have been identified, and account for how the operating company has prevented, mitigated and/or remediated those impacts.

2.4.5.2.  Publicly available reports referred to in 2.4.2.7 and 2.4.4.2.b. may exclude information that is culturally inappropriate, politically sensitive, compromise the safety of any individual, or is legitimate confidential business information. Justification shall be provided for information that is omitted.

2.4.5.3.  If relevant, the operating company shall report to stakeholders and rights holders on its plans to improve its due diligence activities as a result of external monitoring recommendations.

Notes

This chapter is based on the framework for corporate responsibility established in the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, but contains additional best practice requirements to increase transparency regarding human rights risks and impacts, and the ability of rights holders to participate, in a meaningful way, in decisions that affect their lives.

This chapter does not specifically address cases where operating companies knowingly contribute to serious human rights abuses. However, IRMA has created a draft Policy on Association to provide a means for IRMA to exclude companies from IRMA participation if those companies are directly or indirectly involved in activities that violate IRMA’s core principles and values. It is likely that knowingly or intentionally causing or contributing to serious human rights abuses would be grounds for IRMA to exclude a company from participating, or terminate a relationship with a company that has an IRMA certified mine. In the current draft policy, the decision of whether or not to deny or withdraw IRMA certification, and any terms and conditions that might allow a company to re-associate with IRMA, will be made by the IRMA Steering Committee. IRMA's draft Policy on Association can be accessed here. IRMA welcomes comments on the draft policy.

In requirement 2.4.6.3, the decision to initiate external monitoring may be made by an operating company that has recognized (e.g., through its human rights due diligence processes, complaints filed through its operational-level grievance mechanism, observations made by a third party, or some other means) its repeated failure to prevent, mitigate or remediate human rights impacts, or that its due diligence has failed to prevent it from causing, contributing to, or being linked to serious human rights abuses.  External monitoring may also be suggested as a corrective action, if an IRMA auditor discovers during a certification audit that the operating company’s due diligence has failed to prevent any of the situations listed above; or it may be suggested as a remedy through an IRMA Grievance Mechanism process (e.g., if stakeholders claim, on the basis of their own observations or those of third parties, that a company with a mine in the IRMA program has contributed to serious human rights abuses, or repeated human rights infringements). The IRMA Grievance Mechanism (under development) will afford IRMA stakeholders and the operating company involved in such a scenario due hearing as part of the grievance process, and will attempt to resolve grievances through agreed-upon remedies.

Cross Reference to Other Chapters

 Chapter

    Issues

2.5—Mining in Conflict-Affected or High-Risk Areas There is often a high risk for infringement of human rights at mines operating in conflict-affected or high-risk areas. If risks are identified during the conflict screening or risk assessment, the information may feed into the human rights impact assessment. Strategies developed to mitigate potential or actual human rights impacts identified in the conflict risk assessment must conform with relevant human rights due diligence requirements in Criteria 2.4.3.
2.6—Security Arrangements Information from security risk assessments may feed into an HRIA. Strategies developed to mitigate potential or actual human rights impacts related to security arrangements must conform with the relevant human rights due diligence requirements in Criteria 2.4.3.
2.8—Community and Stakeholder Engagement Engagement with stakeholders and rights holders in Chapter 2.4 must conform with the requirements of Chapter 2.8. In particular, criterion 2.8.3 is important to ensure that affected rights holders have the capacity to fully understand their rights and participate effectively in the assessment and development of prevention/mitigation plans, monitoring, and remedies for impacts on their human rights. And 2.8.4 ensures that communications and information are in culturally appropriate formats and languages that are accessible and understandable to affected communities and stakeholders, and are provided in a timely manner.
2.10—Free, Prior and Informed Consent Indigenous peoples are rights holders, and mining developments pose risks to their individual and collective human rights. The requirements in 2.10 are meant to facilitate a rights-compatible relationship between indigenous peoples and mining companies. See requirement 2.10.1.1 on the company’s policy commitment to respect indigenous peoples rights; and requirements 2.10.3.2.a, b and c, related to engagement with indigenous peoples in the assessment of potential impacts on indigenous peoples’ right from mining-related activities.
2.13—Grievance Mechanism and Access to Other Remedies As mentioned in 2.4.3.1, the operating company shall ensure that stakeholders have access to a mechanism for raising human rights concerns. Any operational-level grievance mechanism developed as per Chapter 2.13 is required to be “rights-compatible,” and should be appropriate for raising human-rights-related complaints. It may be deemed necessary, however, to create a separate mechanism for determining appropriate remedies for human rights abuses. If a separate mechanism is created, it is expected to adhere to the requirements of Chapter 2.13. 
4.1—Environmental and Social Impact Assessment As long as a Human Rights Impact Assessment meets the requirements in Criterion 2.4.4, it may be conducted as stand-alone assessment or integrated into a larger impact assessment process (e.g., the Environmental and Social Impact Assessment mentioned in Chapter 4.1).

 

Endnotes

1. For more information, see the United Nations (UN) web site and UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights web site.

2. The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) lists a number of United Nations human rights instruments that enumerate the rights of persons belonging to particular groups or populations.  See: OHCHR. 2012. The Corporate Responsibility to Respect – An Interpretive Guide. p. 38.

3. See: Ruggie, J. 2011. Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights: Implementing the United Nations “Protect, Respect and Remedy” Framework. March 21, 2011. A/HRC/17/31.

4. IRMA recognizes that for larger companies, a policy commitment may be made at the corporate level. In these cases, we do not expect operating companies to have their own policies, but they will be expected to demonstrate that they are operating in compliance with the corporate policy (e.g., site-level management understand the policy, and have integrated it into the site's procedures and dealings with business partners, contractors, etc.).

5. Guidance will cover this more extensively, but impact assessments typically include:  Scoping, to determine the relevant issues to assess; Stakeholder Consultations; Data Collection; Assessment of Significant Impacts; Development of Mitigation measures; and Monitoring (Mitigation and Monitoring are covered in more detail in 2.4.3. and 2.4.4., respectively).

6. The operational-level grievance mechanism developed as per Chapter 2.13 may be used as the mechanism to receive all types of complaints, including those related to human rights, or a separate mechanism may be created to handle only human rights complaints and grievances. If a separate mechanism is developed, it shall be done in a manner that is consistent with IRMA Chapter 2.13.

7. This requirement does not apply if a company has knowingly or intentionally caused, contributed to or been linked to serious human rights abuses. (See Notes section, below, on serious human rights abuses). If such a case comes to light, the company may not receive or may lose its IRMA certification. The decision of whether or not to deny or revoke IRMA certification shall be made through a process outlined in the draft IRMA Association Policy (draft v.1.0 can be viewed here).

 

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