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Explor. Mining Geol., Vol. 12, Nos. 1-4, pp.

5-20, 2003
2004 Canadian Institute of Mining, Metallurgy and Petroleum.
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Human Rights and the Minerals Industry: Challenges for Geoscientists

University of British Columbia
Department of Mining Engineering
Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada V6T 1Z4

Received December 6, 2002; accepted December 8, 2003.

Abstract In many mining areas, potentially profitable mineral projects can be at risk because
local people do not trust their governments and mining companies on many issues, including human
rights. Projects will continue to be vulnerable to potential failure, delays, and higher costs. This
paper suggests that geoscientists need to be aware of the global challenges they face from issues of
corporate social responsibility, sustainable development, and human rights. These are not areas in
which geoscience education has traditionally focused.
This paper examines the types of conflict concerning human rights that are encountered by geo-
scientists involved in mineral exploration and development. It provides a background to human
rights issues and presents a classification of the types of issue encountered. It reports on a survey of
case studies that provide examples of the breadth, complexities, and consequences of such issues.
The paper then concludes by outlining the development of codes and standards to improve perfor-
mance, and suggests approaches for positive, practical engagement. 2004 Canadian Institute of
Mining, Metallurgy and Petroleum. All rights reserved.

Introduction guidelines for geoscientists for establishing and making

operational a human rights program that is sensitive to (1)
A decade ago, if you asked a geologist or mining engi- business and operational needs, (2) local communities, (3)
neer what would be necessary to establish and operate a host countries and their laws, and (4) evolving international
mine successfully, you would undoubtedly hear about norms of human rights.
proven reserves, ore grade, and myriad engineering necessi-
ties. Today if you asked that same question, the answer
would also emphasize such topics as sustainable develop- What Are Human Rights?
ment, environmental protection, and human rights. Many
potentially economic mining operations falter because of Human rights that impact peoples lives include a set of
social issues as much as geological or engineering chal- civil, political, economic, social, and cultural rights, as
lenges. There appear to be two principal reasons. First, local clearly articulated in the 1948 Universal Declaration of
communities are much more aware of their rights to deter- Human Rights (United Nations, 1948). These rights, along
mine their future, to enjoy their land, and to live without fear with two covenants one on civil and political rights, the
of violence and degradation. Second, technology now makes other on economic, social, and cultural rights (United
information available to local communities and connects Nations, 1966a, 1966b) have been accepted by most
even the most remote settlement to the wider world through national governments worldwide. There are also many Inter-
television and the Internet. In our world today, mining ven- national Labour Organisation (ILO) conventions that define
tures are not hidden but clearly visible to society. Even small human rights, such as those concerning forced labor (ILO,
operations can, and often do, appear prominently on the 1930, 1957a), freedom of association and protection of the
world wide web and on global television broadcasts. right to organize (ILO, 1948, 1949, 1971), health and safety
Because many geoscientists (those professionals (ILO, 1981, 1995), and indigenous and tribal peoples rights
involved in minerals exploration and development) have lit- (ILO, 1957b, 1989).
tle formal grounding in human rights, this paper attempts to Under international law, the Nation State has the prime
review the nature and evolution of the basic issues of this responsibility for human rights, although the Universal Dec-
important topic. It then focuses on case studies of mineral laration of Human Rights proclaims that every individual
developments that have dealt with human rights challenges and organ of society shall promote respect for human rights.
and issues. Finally, suggestions are made to set out practical However, the concept of human rights has many different

6 Explor. Mining Geol., Vol. 12, Nos. 1-4, 2003

connotations and implications for different countries, inter- Human rights, environmental, and development
national organizations, NGOs, and corporations. NGOs, as well as community-based organizations
Mining companies themselves have some specific (CBOs), are more concerned with economic, social, and
rights: for example, they require the right of freedom of cultural rights. Many issues involving indigenous peoples
association to function as a corporation, and property rights are related to violations of property and cultural rights
that allow them to develop their projects and accumulate that concern, for example, access to clean water and agri-
wealth. They also deserve the rights to non-discriminatory cultural land.
treatment, physical security, free speech, and participation in A core group of rights relevant to mining can be identi-
the political process, especially where fiscal and regulatory fied in proposals put forward by civil society organizations
issues are concerned. On the other hand, they are challenged and inter-governmental organizations. These proposals
in the field by the rights of unions to associate and engage in overlap in many areas, as shown in Table 1. In particular,
collective bargaining, ethnic and other forms of discrimina- Amnesty International suggested that those working for
tion, conflict between local communities and regions with mining companies have specific obligations to ensure that
the central government, entitlements to benefits, freedom of they do not condone or promote the infringement of rights
expression, security, and property. by other parties (Sullivan and Frankental, 2001).

Table 1. Human Rights Principles (after Handelsman, 2002)

Amnesty International (1998) Global Compact Principle/Number Confederation of Norwegian Fundamental Rights
(Annan, 1999)* Business and Industry (NHO, 1998) (Donaldson, 1989)
1. Company policy on human rights. 1. Support and respect protection of
international human rights within
sphere of influence.
2. Security: ensure security 2. Make sure not complicit in Freedom of physical
arrangements protect human rights. human rights abuses. movement.
3. Community engagement: avoid
negative impact on human rights in
the community; discuss role of
company in the community.
4. Freedom from discrimination 6. Uphold the elimination of Freedom from discrimination. Non-discrimination.
(ethnic origin, sex, color, language, discrimination in respect of Right of minorities and indigenous Basic education.
national or social origin, economic employment and occupation. peoples to protect their identity.
statue, religion political or other Right to education.
beliefs, birth or other status,
recruitment, promotion, remuneration,
working conditions, etc.).
5. Freedom from slavery: company 4. Uphold the elimination of all Ban on slavery. Freedom from torture.
and suppliers, partners and contractors forms of forced and compulsory labor. Ban on torture.
(forced labor, exploitative child labor, 5. Uphold the effective abolition of
coerced prison labor). child labour.
6. Health and safety: safe and healthy 7. Support a precautionary approach Right to personal safety and security. Physical security.
working conditions, (avoid corporal to environmental challenges.
punishment, mental or physical
coercion, or verbal abuse).
7. Freedom of association and the 3. Uphold freedom of association Freedom of opinion and expression. Freedom of speech and
right to collective bargaining with and the effective recognition of Freedom of peaceful assembly association.
company, suppliers, partners, the right to collective bargaining. and association. Political participation.
contractors (ensure these rights if Right to free participation in
not protected in local law). political life.
8. Fair working conditions Right to work. Subsistence.
(conditions of work, reasonable Right to rest and leisure.
job security, fair and adequate Right to adequate standard of living.
remuneration and benefits).
9. Monitor human rights: Establish Fair trial.
effective, independent verification
and monitoring mechanisms.
8. Undertake initiatives to promote Property ownership.
greater environmental responsibility.
9. Encourage the development and
diffusion of environmentally friendly
*The Global Compact includes environmental principles.
Human Rights and the Minerals Industry S.D. HANDELSMAN ET AL. 7

Key Human Rights Issues Indonesia, for example, under the COW system, the owner-
ship of mineral resources rests with the state, as does any
Examples of the focal points of conflict concerning equipment brought in by the mining company for the opera-
human rights and mineral exploration and development tion. Freeports Indonesian mine, for example, is further cat-
activities include (Handelsman, 2002): egorized as a strategic project whereby the government
the use of security companies to protect operations asserts its rights to protect the project (a state asset) using the
(US/UK, 2000); police or military in whatever way it deems appropriate
the rights of indigenous peoples in the areas of mining (regardless even of what the company is doing or wishes), as
operations (ICME, 1999); it did in the example discussed later.
issues of conflict relating to labor rights, especially the In many countries, mining companies are allowed to
right to organize (Sullivan and Frankental, 2001); use private security forces (in some countries armed, in oth-
issues of pariah (or failing) states, such as Burma, ers not), and in some circumstances companies may invite
which have a record of human rights abuses (Jungk, state security forces to assist. Companies bear obvious
2001a, 2001b); and responsibility for the behavior of their own or contracted
issues of conflict between sub-jurisdictions and private security forces, but they are also held responsible for
national jurisdiction, and the extent to which a mining complicity in any abusive behavior by public security forces
company is subject to one or the other when the two that they have asked for protection. Although they do not
are in conflict. have control over how police or military forces behave, it is
essential that geoscientists are aware of the local culture and
The principal reasons why human rights and the min- history of security force behavior.
erals industry merit attention on the part of geoscientists One reason mining companies have had to focus on
follows. human rights is because of security issues and associated
abuses of human rights caused by the use of police and secu-
rity forces, private security companies, and mercenaries in
Points of Conflict countries as geographically diverse as Colombia, Indonesia,
Papua New Guinea, Democratic Republic of Congo, Sene-
There are, as mentioned above, five main focal points of gal, and Angola. Because these abuses are believed to occur
conflict between mineral exploration and development in direct consequence of the presence of the mining com-
activities and human rights issues. pany, the company is held accountable for preventing such
abuses. The use of natural resources to fund conflicts has also
drawn adverse public attention to the mining industry, as in
Use of Security Forces the case of conflict diamonds in Angola, Sierra Leone, etc.
It is therefore essential to make sure the company has in
Security and human rights abuses relating to state or place as many positive programs and safeguards as possible
private security forces are among the most clearly defined to avoid human rights abuses, because it may have little or
issues. Because of national sovereignty, mining companies no control over the local public security forces (Lilly, 2000).
cannot exert direct control over the behavior of security
forces when they belong to the state. When a company asks
or expects a government to provide reasonable protection Indigenous People
for its assets and employees, the company may have expec-
tations of behavior that conform to the norms of its home Some countries, such as Bolivia, Colombia, Peru, and
country, or those expected by their shareholders. However, Venezuela, acknowledge that indigenous people should be
the host government may in fact care less about the human engaged in prior consultations about whether resources
rights of its vulnerable populations than does the company. should be developed. However, there are concerns whether
In most countries, surface and subsurface minerals are the constitutional provisions that established collective
owned by the state, and various legal and regulatory frame- rights of indigenous people for consultation about develop-
works (e.g., contracts of work (COW), concessions, licenses, ments of non-renewable resources are effective, or merely a
permits, and claims systems) control how mining companies courtesy (Amnesty International, 2002). Only in industrial
may extract resources and build facilities. The mining com- nations with indigenous populations (Australia, Canada,
pany will also have to come to terms with private or public Norway, and the United States) can it be asserted that
owners of surface rights. There is also a range of conditions indigenous people enjoy an effective right to prior consulta-
relating to sovereignty, ranging from complete retention of tion about natural resource developments on their traditional
ownership and control of resources by governments, through lands (ICME, 1999).
partial ownership arrangements between mining companies The rights of indigenous people in the areas of mining
and governments, to complete private control of resources operations raise issues concerning ownership of land, power
where companies are expected to pay royalties and taxes. In to make decisions about their future, the entitlement to ben-
8 Explor. Mining Geol., Vol. 12, Nos. 1-4, 2003

efits from development, the appropriate form of community other mining companies and financial institutions) are seen
development, and relationships with government and non- to reflect on a mining companys own performance (Sulli-
indigenous small-scale and artisanal miners. van and Frankental, 2001). Although major mining compa-
Indigenous people might be regarded as being in a dis- nies do not employ child labor in their operations, they are
tinct category, different from other stakeholders. Business challenged to protect vulnerable groups when the indirect
stakeholders are considered to include employees, contrac- supply chain that sustains or services their operations
tors, trade unions, consultants, joint-venture partners, sup- causes concern; examples could include mine camps, pros-
pliers, customers, other companies, and investors. In con- titution, food services, or using children or the use of child
trast, non-business stakeholders normally include local labor in upstream activities, such as diamond polishing
communities, local non-governmental organizations (Danailov, 1998).
(NGOs), churches and other community service organiza- The rights of labor are seen by some as a fundamental
tions (CSOs), local government, national government, component of sustainable development. The lack of respect
national NGOs and other CSOs, international NGOs, host for the rights of labor can be used by radical groups to
country governments, and multilateral organizations, as well mount global attacks on multinational corporations and the
as indigenous people (Cooney, 2001). However, indigenous international structures that support them, such as the World
communities, people, and nations were defined by the Trade Organisation.
United Nations as those which, having a historical continu-
ity with pre-invasion and pre-colonial societies, [and who]
consider themselves distinct from other sectors of societies Pariah or Failing States
now prevailing in those territories or parts of them. They
form at present non-dominant sectors of society and are Mining companies working in pariah or failing
determined to preserve, develop and transmit to future gen- states (such as Burma and Sudan) that may be regarded as
erations, their ancestral territories, and their ethnic identity, human rights abusers attract attention because any industrial
as the basis of their continued existence as peoples in accor- activity can be interpreted as support for a repressive
dance with their own cultural patterns, social institutions, regime. In this situation, there is a clear point of conflict
and legal systems (United Nations, 1987, para. 379). They with civil society on human rights issues. Questions are
thus have a uniquely important status among stakeholders. raised by critics of such countries about the legitimacy of the
regime and its right to allow foreign companies to develop
the states resources. However, there are also gradations of
Labor Rights acceptability in the case of certain states with varying lev-
els of human rights abuses.
The degree of respect for labor rights within the mining
corporation itself is an important test of its overall respect for
human rights. Labor rights are human rights that encompass National and Regional Jurisdiction Conflict
the freedom of association and the right to collective bargain-
ing, in connection with all other rights. ILO conventions Projects are challenged by a growing realization that in
define such rights as those relating to forced labor, child labor, countries with weak or undemocratic governments, the taxes
health and safety, etc. Labor rights can generate specific and revenues from mining operations are not benefiting the
points of conflict: for example, six trade unionists per month local communities, and may not even be providing benefits
are killed in Colombia, and the right to collective bargaining to the economic and social development of the country
is weak in China (Kovalik, 2001; ICFTU, 2003). Trade unions (Hodges, 2001). A human rights approach to development
have occasionally negotiated clauses in their labor contracts and poverty elimination includes a focus on the needs iden-
involving employee monitoring of human rights abuses. tified by poor people, and encourages their participation at
The mining industry has a reputation in some quarters all stages (Husermann, 1998).
for using workers only for hard labor. A perception is that Some governments are making changes in the way min-
they are not paid to think, and if they do, they are punished. ing royalties are distributed, and even how decisions about
With an average of eighteen years of service per worker in mining projects are decided. They are making provisions to
the United States coal mining industry, labor believes that it involve people from affected communities in the decision-
has a lot of good ideas to offer, but believes that it is blocked making process, and for mining royalties/taxes to be shared
because if management accepts this then it would in effect between the central, regional, and local governments. How-
have to give up some of its powers to the worker. Although ever, devolution of authority from a federal government to
the potential benefits are huge, the conflict culture often held the district and provincial level, especially in countries with
by front line managers may be hard to change because they weak institutions, requires the strengthening of local techni-
feel threatened. cal and decision-making capacity to deal with problems in a
Abuses by contractors, suppliers, and partners of min- credible way, although this may be difficult to establish.
ing companies (including governments and their agencies,
Human Rights and the Minerals Industry S.D. HANDELSMAN ET AL. 9

Rights-related conflicts that impact projects revolve communities, inter-generation rights, and the right to deter-
around sub-jurisdictions versus national jurisdiction, and the mine whether resources should be developed.
extent to which mining companies are subject to one or the
other when the two are in conflict, e.g., central government
versus local government and community, as in Indonesia Mine Life Cycle Issues
and Papua New Guinea. There are many arguments about
sharing the economic rent from mineral resources. In the The earliest impact of the minerals cycle on human
past the argument was principally between the mining com- rights in a country occurs at the exploration stage. During
pany and the host government. The responsibility of the initial prospecting, geoscientists and others require access to
state to distribute the benefits in whatever way it determined the land to make preliminary technical assessments. Human
was a matter of national sovereignty. Often the benefits were rights concerns at this stage relate to the question of ade-
not distributed to the community. There may be a competing quate compensation for access and any damage caused.
set of priorities for governments to decide between the min- Compensation to landowners for their losses of property
ing community, the local community, indigenous people, or rights may need to take into account the right to a similar
to support poorer people in other parts of the country. standard of living as that which the land had previously pro-
In order to ensure their projects evolve responsibly with vided. Communities may also have unrealistic expectations
the optimum chances of success, geoscientists should be about the potential benefits they could receive from a pro-
mindful that communities may claim development rights that ject, and exploration personnel may be tempted to exagger-
do not have clear boundaries, and which are seen to depend ate the potential benefits to local communities in order to
on the relationship of the community to the land and the area, facilitate access. The traditional view of the prospector
how long the community has been there, and the fragility of might be someone who is used to working alone in remote
its culture. Do such rights mean that communities have to be areas, and such people may not have experience in engaging
involved with decisions, or should be required to give with communities to build good public relations.
informed prior consent? A challenge posed by the develop- In the past, local community rights to lands and
ment rights of communities is whether trade-offs, e.g., resources were frequently ignored by industry. Some were
between social benefits to local communities and govern- accused of taking advantage of local conflicts to deflect local
ment revenues against the environmental degradation and dissension, and others of engagement in bribery and corrup-
social costs, are acceptable when determining whether tion to gain favor with community leaders or influential indi-
resources should be developed (Veiga et al., 2001). However, viduals in order to bypass legitimate procedures to obtain
because there are fundamental conflicts between rights and title. Throughout the mine life cycle, some local politicians,
well-being, conflicts between an individuals rights versus private land owners, wealthy and powerful business people,
community rights, and conflicts between community rights and church and other leaders may be exerting improper influ-
versus national rights, it is not clear that a rights calculus will ence or intimidation. Human rights, conflict, and corruption
produce the maximum well-being. It is a social issue, not an issues intersect and overlap. The consequences of corruption
engineering area, but because the projects are the catalyst for (as a means to obtain resources) are conflicts that lead to
the problems, geoscientists must become engaged in a posi- human rights abuses. A detailed examination of conflicts and
tive way. Nevertheless, the final responsibility for resolving corruption over natural resources merits separate studies.
the issues lies with the leaders of the stakeholder groups. At the development stage, there are increased impacts on
the local community including environmental issues, reloca-
tion, and increased business activities supporting the project
Rights and Sustainable Development that distort the local economy. Legislation is evolving that
recognizes public participation rights in decision-making
The relationship of rights (civil and political rights, as about natural resource projects (United Nations, 2001).
well as economic, social and cultural rights) to sustainable During mining operations, new issues such as workers
community development in the vicinity (impact zone) of rights, community development, the share of economic rent,
mines is cause for concern for geoscientists. Conceptually, and the use of security forces become important. Major
mining activities in the context of sustainable development issues during mine closure include addressing post-closure
raise a number of questions about human rights, such as the expectations, the impact on the community, and the sustain-
rights of stakeholders to be engaged in not only the recogni- ability of the economy.
tion of community rights but also in decisions related to
mine development, operations, and closure, and the right to
benefit from mine developments in their local area. This Case Studies of Human Rights Issues
encompasses issues of a countrys capacity to exercise its
rights, of local community rights versus those of a broader An examination of 93 cases (60 in the past three years;
group of stakeholders, the economic development rights of 81 in the last decade) in some 51 countries where there were
allegations of human rights abuses involving mineral explo-
10 Explor. Mining Geol., Vol. 12, Nos. 1-4, 2003

ration and development shows that they may be broadly char- owned by a Canadian junior mining company, and a violent
acterized according to the type of conflict. The most serious confrontation ensued involving the police and military in
abuses of human rights arise from public and private security which nine people were killed and 32 wounded (IACHR,
activities around mining exploration and development sites. 1997). Although the junior company had limited financial
Other cases involve the rights of indigenous peoples, child capacity, it had a board of prominent, capable, experienced
labor and other labor issues, health and safety, property own- directors who might have provided appropriate leadership to
ership, access to justice, life and liberty, or cruel and unusual avoid the conflict. The company maintains it was not
punishment. Conflicts also arise that encompass local com- responsible for the tragedy, and its annual reports have not
munity input, land issues, benefits, and revenue allocation addressed any need to change its approach to the underlying
stemming from corruption. The following summaries, cover- issues (Handelsman, 2003).
ing some of the more prominent characteristics, illustrate the
breadth of issues that need to be confronted.
Forced Labor

Exploration Stage Issues As recently as the mid-1900s, convicts were essential

for profitable coal mining in the United States (Podobnik,
Lack of human relationship skills and sensitivity to the 1998); for example, Alabama supplied convicts to work in
concerns of others can lead to confrontation, such as that mines up to 1928 (Blackmon, 2001). The convicts were
experienced by CRA Exploration on Bougainville Island in cheap and were also used when workers went on strike.
1964 when villagers told the company We dont want any Globally, prisoners have frequently been forced to work as
prospectors in this area (Denoon, 2000, p. 62). There was miners in labor camps during periods of war, and there are
opposition to mining on Bougainville from the very begin- recent reports that prisoners have been forced to mine
ning. Bougainvilleans felt that their permission had not been asbestos without protective clothing in China, and to work at
sought Negotiations had been made according to the prin- gold mines in Tibet (Marshall, 1999).
ciples of Australian law, whereby anything below the surface,
such as minerals, belonged to the government rather than the
land titleholders. This ruling was at odds with traditional Child Labor
ownership laws (Australia, 1999, p.18). The Bougainvil-
leans were not thought seriously to threaten the Panguna Children comprised as much as 25% of the coal mining
mine until a bloody rebellion resulted in the destruction of labor force in Nova Scotia, Canada, until 1923, when legis-
both the islands infrastructure and its administration and lation ended the practice (McIntosh, 2000). The large num-
closed the mine in 1989 (Sillitoe, 2000, p. 133). ber of women and children currently working in small-scale
mining operations in developing countries results in work-
place fatality rates up to 90 times higher than in industrial-
Development Stage Issues ized countries (ILO, 1999). Artisinal mining, particularly
alluvial sluice mining, provides examples of social degrada-
Local opposition at Tambogrande, Peru, to a new gold tion involving children and their families.
mining project that requires moving the town has caused sig-
nificant costs and ongoing delays to the project (Moran, 2001).
A similar case currently exists at Esquel, Argentina, Labor
where a striking lack of consistent and comprehensive
engagement with the local community to hear concerns The mining industry in the United States experienced
and address them, and an attitude of disregard for the labor and capital conflicts with the Molly Maguires in the
Esquel community in the actions and attitudes of some 1860s and 1870s, and in the United Kingdom the army was
key MED [Minera El Desquite] personnel (BSR, 2003, used against coal miners in the early 20th century. Labor
p. 6) led to a vote by 75% of eligible voters in the commu- unrest continues to be an issue in the industry. The Aus-
nity with 80% against the project in March 2003. This has tralian Council of Trade Unions complained about Rio
jeopardized a US$310.1 million acquisition investment Tintos violation of fundamental workers rights in Aus-
made by Meridian Gold in 2002 (Meridian Gold, 2003). tralia, specifically the right to collective bargaining
(Maitland, 1999). Other countries continue to experience
strikes and labor disputes. Union officials are being killed at
Mining Stage Issues an unprecedented rate in Colombia; for example, two lead-
ers of the mineworkers union were shot dead after leaving
At Amayapampa in Bolivia, an underlying internal negotiations with Drummond Coal Company (Kovalik,
workforce/mine management conflict escalated into 2001). When a Colombian labor union went on strike
hostage-taking in 1996. Workers seized the operations against a coal mine, the president of the country called in the
Human Rights and the Minerals Industry S.D. HANDELSMAN ET AL. 11

military to crush the workers rights to freedom of associa- (HRW, 1994), and even after the area was declared off lim-
tion. Eventually, however, the workers achieved what they its to outsiders, thousands of illegal gold miners still entered
wanted because of external support and pressure brought to the area leading to the deaths of more Yanomami in 1998
bear on the government, a co-owner of the mine. (United Nations, 1999).

Health and Safety Illegal Mining Issues

Mining conditions in many countries became safer with Again in Brazil, violence, intimidation, and corruption
the adoption of standards for health and safety practices, yet by illegal gold miners prevented any effective legal action
in some jurisdictions archaic conditions still prevail, by the Macuxi Indians in 1998 (United Nations, 1999).
although this is no longer the case in the industrialized coun- There is no doubt that there have been abuses of human
tries. In other countries there are still reports of many rights and indigenous peoples rights by illegal miners in
mining-related deaths which indicates health and safety Indonesia. Some NGOs focus on the major mining corpora-
problems. For example, during a single week there were tions but say little about the extensive illegal gold mining.
reports from China that 200 miners may have died in a Rich national business interests exist in the background to
flooded tin mine in Guangxi (BBC, 2001), while 92 miners these illegal activities, which conflict with legal mining
were killed in a coal mine explosion in eastern Jiangsu (McBeth, 1999). Some NGOs want to cease all new mining
(Bangkok Post, 2001). There were 5300 coal mine deaths in activities in Indonesia and to urge the government to revoke
China reported in 2000, and many thousands more said to be all mining licenses/permits given to all mining companies
unreported (Eckholm, 2001). South Africa and Russia are (JATAM, 1999, p. 1). Illegal coal mining is taking place on a
other countries where safety statistics raise questions about major scale, supported by provincial and military officials
mine worker safety. as well as local businessmen (McBeth, 1999). For example,
4 Mt of the total annual production of 22 Mt of coal in South
Kalamantan is estimated to have been mined illegally. It was
Security Force Issues reported that the South Kalamantan governor was convinced
that masterminds just use local people as a shield to safe-
An example of concerns about the interaction between guard their illegal businesses, and he suggested that a sim-
mining companies and private security providers is the plified procedure was required for providing mining permits
Sandline affair in 1997, when the Papua New Guinea gov- to local people (MiningIndo, 2001).
ernment contracted mercenaries to recapture Bougainville Illegal and illegitimate activities employed to obtain
Island following the uprising of 1989, attracting worldwide access to natural resources lead to human rights abuses in
attention (Correy, 1997). However, before the mercenaries many of the categories enumerated herein.
arrived, the army arrested Sandline officials and the Prime
Minister resigned (Australia, 1999).
The activities of Executive Outcomes and its relation- Freeport McMoRan1
ship with Branch Energy in Sierra Leone, other African
countries, and elsewhere also gained the focus of public Freeport McMoRan operates the giant Grasberg mine,
attention (Correy, 1996; Mail & Guardian, 1997). one of the largest and lowest cost copper and gold mines in
the world, in West Papua province, Indonesia. In this region,
the Amungume and other indigenous people are Melane-
Indigenous Peoples Issues sians, and are ethnically and culturally distinct from other
people in Indonesia. There have been periodic and widely
A major concern is the removal and relocation of spaced clashes between Indonesian security forces and free-
indigenous people. For example, phosphate mining on dom fighters representing these indigenous groups (OPM
Nauru reportedly left over 80% of the island uninhabitable the Free Papua Movement).
(Pukrop, 1997). In 1994 and 1995, a series of human rights abuses in the
Illustrations of points of conflict with indigenous peo- area of Timika, Irian Jaya, included summary executions,
ple are found in the Amazon regions of Brazil, Venezuela, arbitrary arrest and detention, torture, disappearances,
Ecuador, and Peru. In Brazil, there are efforts to prevent the aggressive surveillance, and destruction of property
Brazilian government from taking more Indian land for min- (Munninghoff, 1995). There were several incidents where
ing, logging, agricultural, and other uses. Nevertheless, unarmed civilians (including women and children) who
Brazilian Indians still complain that the rainforest is increas-
ingly threatened by mining companies (Reuters, 2001). In 1
This section is a summary from Handelsman, S.D., 2003. Mining in
the early 1990s, intrusion by Brazilian garimpeiros (gold Conflict Zones. In Business and Human Rights: Dilemmas and Solu-
tions. Edited by R. Sullivan. Greenleaf Publishing Ltd., Sheffield,
miners) into Yanomami lands led to thousands of deaths United Kingdom.
12 Explor. Mining Geol., Vol. 12, Nos. 1-4, 2003

were not resisting or endangering security, were murdered 5. Introduction of human rights training for Freeports
by the Indonesian military. unarmed security personnel (also open to government secu-
In November 1994, one Freeport employee was shot rity personnel), and provision of support for the government
and killed and several wounded. Freeport requested suffi- in establishing the rule of law and a legal system for all par-
cient protection to allow the mine to continue operating and ties in the area.
its employees to be able to live and work safely. The gov- Nevertheless, human rights violations continue in the
ernment doubled the number of security forces in the area, area. In August 2002, three people were killed (two Ameri-
and they took many local people into custody. Some of these can teachers and an Indonesian) and eleven were seriously
people were never seen again and are presumed dead, while wounded. Reports in the press implicated Indonesias mili-
others, including women, were locked in shipping boxes tary in the ambush (denied by the Indonesian army) and the
under inhumane conditions; the freedom fighters escaped FBI was sent to investigate.
from the area. Further protests against the Indonesian gov- Freeports management did not acknowledge any role
ernment led to an incident on Christmas morning when the in the protection of human rights of the local population
Papuan flag was raised in Freeports town of Tembagapura; until after the accumulation of events in 199496, despite
five Papuans were arrested, and one was shot and killed earlier incidents in the area in 1977 and 1984. Freeport did
while they were being transported by security forces. not have adequate human rights safeguards in place during
Although government security forces committed the the events that transpired in 1994 and 1996. While this could
direct violations, some say the vehicle used by the security be viewed as a serious mistake, it is uncertain whether
forces to transport the body of the man killed at the flag rais- Freeport could have prevented these events because the gov-
ing was a Freeport vehicle (denied by Freeport and the secu- ernment was asserting its rights to protect a strategic state
rity forces). Security forces commandeered a Freeport bus at asset, although had the company made preparations for such
gunpoint to transport the five people arrested, and the shipping eventualities, this would have better served both the local
container used to hold them for questioning was given to the people and itself.
security forces by Freeport for storage 12 years previously. Previously, Freeport was a company that did not engage
Some assert that these factors, together with the companys in discussions on such problems as the environment and
request for additional security force protection, constituted human rights. However, it has now changed, and is very
complicity in human rights violations; Freeport disagreed. much involved and concerned with these issues.
Local people initiated three other events. In January
1996, several World Wide Fund for Nature researchers were
kidnapped from an area about 160 km east of Freeports Roles and Responsibilities
mine (all were freed in a security raid in late April 1996,
except two Indonesian hostages who were killed and muti- Corporations
lated by their abductors; Start, 1997). Next, in March 1996,
there were riots in Freeports town of Tembagapura and in Corporations have a major problem with human rights
the nearby town of Timika. Then, in April 1996, a lawsuit issues because these rights are easy to assert, but can be dif-
was filed in US Federal Court, and later again in Louisiana ficult to demonstrate. Human rights have thus become a key
state court, alleging that Freeport supported Indonesian legal issue, and cover a broader scope of issues than corpo-
security forces in committing human rights abuses, polluted rate responsibility, broader even than the question of how
traditional lands with mine tailings, and attempted cultural mining can contribute to sustainable development
genocide on the local people. Both cases were eventually (Warhurst, 1998). The typical view in the past, that the pro-
dismissed by the courts. tection of human rights should be the role of government
This combination of events and public pressure influ- and that geoscientists should not be involved because human
enced Freeport to make changes in its policies and ways of rights issues were outside the range of their expertise, is no
relating to the local people, resulting in five specific actions longer an adequate defense.
(some of which were controversial, but so far appear to have Geoscientists and their management should have to
been successful): consider, with appropriate community involvement, what
1. Establishment of the Freeport Fund for Irian Jaya their companies could do to contribute toward bringing
Development. about positive social and economic benefits, instead of only
2. Hiring of a high-level employee to act as a liaison with seeking to avoid negative social, economic, and environ-
security forces. mental impacts. Companies should consider being seen as
3. Building of living and recreational facilities for govern- contributing to the well-being of local communities, and
ment security forces. thus need to decide to what extent the promotion of human
4. Establishment of a corporate social, employment, and rights should be included in that objective.
human rights policy.
Human Rights and the Minerals Industry S.D. HANDELSMAN ET AL. 13

Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) state as it relies on corporate programs and abdicates its
responsibility. It is important that when a company gets
Geoscientists have to be aware that there are many dif- involved with local services, it builds local capacity rather
ferent types of NGOs, not only with diverse political than replaces it.
approaches but also with disparate agendas, ranging from Often governments lack capacity in their institutions
those who support project development to those who are due to inadequate staffing or training to perform tasks such
actively opposed to all mining activities (no matter how as clear and uniform enforcement of regulations at the field
responsibly run). NGOs often gather information about level. Where central governments are devolving power, the
human rights situations in a given country, and corporations resulting new legal and regulatory frameworks put stress on
should make use of such resources. NGOs can link environ- the system to disperse power adequately between the fed-
mental issues, human rights, the community, the workforce, eral, provincial, regional, and community administrations. A
wealth distribution, indigenous peoples, and other stake- lack of enforcement of local laws and regulations has led to
holders concerns. human rights violations.
In large part, NGOs have defined the issues, and have Regulatory frameworks are required to implement a
challenged the view that corporate objectives and interests countrys laws and manage local development initiatives
should focus solely on the economic bottom line. The tradi- and relations with investors and communities. The
tional relationship between NGOs and corporations was one absence of strong institutional frameworks makes the
of critic/adversary, but corporations are now looking for acquisition of permits and licenses to operate a confus-
external monitoring to validate their efforts, and are seeking ing process, and there are problems if the systems are
ways to cooperate with NGOs. The current debate concerns not transparent.
the changing role of NGOs and their relationship with com- It is difficult for staff to operate a mining operation
panies, who want NGOs to take responsibility and put their overseas to the same standards that it would face in the
reputation on the line (Elliott, 2001). NGOs value their home country without knowledgeable regulators and inspec-
imprimatur, and many do not want to be seen as too sup- tors to ensure that the standards and conditions are being
portive of corporations. met. This is an essential condition found in developed coun-
In Brazil, the mining company Companhia Vale do Rio tries such as Canada, Australia, and the United States, and
Doce uses NGOs that specialize in work with indigenous while there is always the problem that inspectors may be
communities to build capacity for the preservation of their paid to ignore infractions, this is generally harder to do in
culture. In addition, they work to create opportunities for developed countries.
agricultural production, forest management, and the produc- Some developing countries have well-established legal
tion and sale of local graphics, as well as projects with other and regulatory frameworks, and a vigilant press that moni-
local communities for services such as health, citizenship, tors and reports any issues. However, despite generally good
education, culture, art, and sports (CVRD, 2000). CVRD rec- attention to working conditions, enforcement at small-scale,
ognizes that it should be pragmatic, and establishes contracts remote operations may be deficient.
with NGOs that include targets and performance indicators.

Home Governments
Host Governments
A major question is whether the business unit is held
Challenges to host governments include the impact accountable to local/host country legal standards or to home
of globalization and trade, a new criticism of national country standards. Where there is comprehensive home
sovereignty, the balance of power between nation states country legislation (for example, Denmark is cited as having
and non-state entities, the privatization of functions for- the most formal rights in environmental and energy legisla-
merly the exclusive domain of governments, deregulation tion; Rnne, 2002), some consider it could provide a uni-
to attract investment, and competition between countries versal standard for national companies that can be applied
to attract mineral exploration and development around the world to protect human rights, especially in those
(Danailov, 1998). countries where host country laws are considered inade-
Government policies tend to respond to public concern, quate to meet recognized international good practice (Stein-
but the rapid pace of change of public expectations, espe- hardt, 2001). However, home country legislation may con-
cially relating to demands for local community input, chal- flict with the legislation in other countries where the
lenge government capacity to be responsive. Local, regional, corporation does business. For example, it is a violation of
and national governments are involved in conflicts about the Canadian law for a Canadian company that does business in
benefits from projects and how revenues are allocated. There the United States to follow U.S. government legislation or
is a risk that corporate philanthropy will decapacitize the directives against operating in Cuba.
14 Explor. Mining Geol., Vol. 12, Nos. 1-4, 2003

Shareholders, Financial, and Multilateral Organizations tions where not all members of the community agree on
development issues; for example, there may be conflicts
Shareholders and other stakeholders now demand more between those who perceive minerals industry developments
transparency and accountability, and some financial institu- as having a negative impact on their vested interests, whereas
tions will not deal with mining companies that do not act others may be more interested in the possibilities of employ-
responsibly. Multilateral and funding organizations are ment and economic benefits. It is helpful to develop a policy
developing guidelines, standards and codes of conduct to cover social involvement that includes some guidelines on
whereby companies with bad reputations will not be able to engaging with local authorities and other groups.
access finance as easily. For example, the Equator Principles Because economic, social, and cultural rights within
are voluntary guidelines for banks (United Nations, 2003; and outside the corporation are considered by many to be as
Equator, 2003). important as civil and political rights, it is not useful for a
Pressures to be more socially responsible come from company to consider particular rights in isolation (UK For-
mining company employees and their shareholders (NGOs eign & Commonwealth Office, 2001). This suggests that,
may buy shares so that they can raise issues and question the when discussing human rights and the companys behavior,
companys management at annual general meetings). it is necessary for geoscientists and their colleagues to take
Adverse publicity associated with these pressures can lead a holistic approach. The current approach to planning pro-
to increased costs and difficulties recruiting the most capa- jects and assessing their impacts appears to be mostly reac-
ble and best qualified people. tive, placing only modest emphasis on integrating the many
soft disciplines and viewpoints. Procedures for reconcil-
ing many different viewpoints do not seem to be well-estab-
Role of Geoscientists lished in the decision-making process. The implication of
supporting human rights is that geologists and engineers
Professional and technical associations have recognized will have to engage in measures and behavior beyond the
that their members need to understand the increased public labor and environmental issues with which they normally
attention since the 1990s to issues of the environment, deal. Demands for this from business and community lead-
human rights, food security, poverty alleviation, and devel- ers may hasten this change.
opment. For example, in March 2003, the Prospectors and Whereas geoscientists traditionally focus their attention
Developers Association of Canada (PDAC) released an on- on their projects and the immediate areas around them, there
line reference, Environmental Excellence in Exploration are national implications and a national role that has been
(E3), which was developed to support environmental stew- less widely discussed. Mining companies that have good
ardship at the exploration stage of global mineral develop- human rights policies have tended to focus only on that
ment (PDAC, 2003). PDAC encourages sound environmen- small corner of the country where they operate, not on
tal management practices by the exploration community, its national or regional issues. A major consideration for the
contractors, and subcontractors, and promotes an awareness future is the role of mining companies on national stages.
of all stakeholders. Engaging with the community to make
conditions better is more likely to reduce the propensity for
conflict and avoid human rights abuses. Approaches to Solutions
Professional engineers and geoscientists are regulated
to ensure public safety, health, and welfare (e.g., APEGBC, Responding to Expectations
2002), and several associations have issued human rights
guidelines for their members that reflect societys expecta- The hierarchy of options for responding to civil soci-
tions, principally in employer/employee and workplace sit- etys expectations is as follows:
uations (Professional Engineers of Ontario, 2000). Such voluntary initiatives;
guidelines are written to ensure that engineers are meeting engaging in dialog;
their ethical obligations. existing guidelines;
Today, geoscientists working for mining companies are codes of conduct; and
making more effort to inform and consult local communities regulatory requirements.
(Denoon, 2000). However, the desirability of disclosure and The wide variety of codes causes difficulties for com-
consultation may conflict with the need for secrecy and con- panies in determining which to adopt. Some codes only have
fidentiality. It is also often difficult to determine who really general principles, whereas others have detailed implemen-
speaks for the community. tation procedures. Some are intended to provide a general
Remote areas that have not experienced any prior devel- toolbox that can be adapted to deal with the specific condi-
opment have different issues to those experienced in areas tions encountered in different countries. Although many of
that have previously been exposed to mining. Geologists and these codes are not legally binding, there is pressure from
engineers need to examine non-technical issues including many NGOs to make corporations directly responsible for
human rights and indigenous concerns. They may face situa- human rights abuses. In any event, the codes and principles
Human Rights and the Minerals Industry S.D. HANDELSMAN ET AL. 15

are considered ineffective unless there is provision for effec- inter alia Freeport McMoRan and Rio Tinto, have devel-
tive independent monitoring and verification of compliance. oped their own human rights policies.
Industry initiatives include guidelines and codes of con-
duct for human rights that define the ethical behavior
expected of professionals. Sectors other than mining have Benchmarks, Monitoring, and Verification of
already developed comprehensive codes of conduct, and Human Rights Performance
have established standards and implementation methods,
although some NGOs are critical of progress. For example, There is a need to define reporting systems to monitor
after the World Tourism Organization (WTO) held consulta- and report on human rights performance, particularly with
tions with representatives of the industry, workers, and var- respect to vulnerable groups and indigenous populations,
ious NGOs interested in the process, it approved a Global and in jurisdictions where human rights are a matter of con-
Code of Ethics for Tourism that includes principles promot- cern. However, measuring such performance in a meaning-
ing human rights (particularly those of vulnerable groups, ful way is inherently difficult, and is much harder than mea-
such as children, the elderly, ethnic minorities, and indige- suring environmental performance where there are defined
nous peoples). This code defines stakeholders obligations, scientific standards and engineering guidelines. A new field
the need for cultural awareness and sensitivity, and sustain- to measure human rights performance is being developed by
able development, and addresses the rights of workers and academics, auditing firms, human rights NGOs, and others.
entrepreneurs in the industry (WTO, 1999a). The inclusion Responding to pressure, seven major oil and gas com-
of an article concerning redress of grievances marked the panies, two mining companies, nine NGOs, and two gov-
first time that a code of this type included a mechanism for ernments developed and wrote voluntary principles on secu-
enforcement based on conciliation, through the creation of a rity and human rights. The objective of the code was to
World Committee on Tourism Ethics. This committee crystallize the best emerging practices and good policy and
includes representatives of each region of the world and rep- meld them together with human rights NGOs recommenda-
resentatives of each group of stakeholders in the tourism tions, to develop a framework that balanced the companies
sector governments, the private sector, labor, and non- need to deal with serious security threats in dangerous
governmental organizations (WTO, 1999b). places, with the NGOs insistence on avoiding abuses and
The WTO model could be used by the mining industry. having a respect for human rights (US/UK, 2000). The prin-
NGOs have proposed principles for codes of conduct for min- ciples were organized around three categories: (1) criteria
ing companies (Boas et al., 1998), and the industry should fol- companies use to assess the risk to human rights in their
low the example of some mining companies in engaging with security operations; (2) company relations with state secu-
human rights NGOs to develop effective codes of conduct for rity forces (military and police); and (3) company relations
human rights with independent monitoring and verification of with private security forces.
performance. Draft norms for corporations in the area of Although standards exist under existing codes and volun-
human rights, approved by the UN Commission on Human tary principles (e.g., the UN Global Compact and the US-UK
Rights, are being considered by the UN despite significant Voluntary Principles), the question is how to make them applic-
opposition from business interests (United Nations, 2003). able globally. There are no GAAP (generally accepted account-
A recent development that may make options for ing principles the financial accounting standards) for social
responding to civil societys expectations more effective is audits, and there are no established benchmarks, although some
the establishment of private-public partnerships involving standards protect vulnerable groups, such as children.
governments, multilateral organizations, corporations, and There is also a need for adequate independent monitor-
NGOs. In any case, there is a need to build trust and credi- ing and verification. The Social Accountability 8000 stan-
bility with the various stakeholders groups. dard (set by the New York-based Social Accountability
A major question is where should mining companies International) does not yet specifically deal with human
and NGOs be going? Some NGOs only want to become rights and the mineral sector, although a pilot audit project
involved if it leads to legislation and stricter government proposed for mining is being considered (Social Account-
regulation of corporations, whereas corporations want part- ability International, 2001).
nerships to achieve better human rights results through the In order to assure transparency, monitoring could be car-
voluntary exercise of corporate responsibility. There is a ried out by engaging stakeholders, local or international
view that if the NGOs and corporations could agree on the groups such as NGOs, and multilateral, bilateral, and
dimensions of the problem, then they could constructively national agencies that have competing interests. In order to
explore ways to solve it (Fund for Peace, 2000). Corpora- be successful, the parties need to work together, i.e., they
tions and NGOs are now participating in a number of initia- must engage in private-public partnerships as mentioned ear-
tives together, such as the US-UK Voluntary Principles on lier. However, monitoring behavior in the extractive indus-
Security and Human Rights, and the UN Global Compact tries sector has not been a major focus of current monitoring
(Annan, 1999; US/UK, 2000). Some mining companies, groups, whose involvement has primarily been with the
16 Explor. Mining Geol., Vol. 12, Nos. 1-4, 2003

apparel and footwear industries. There is a need for external seen from case studies that poor performance by not engag-
monitoring of the use and selection of external security ing positively with stakeholders can be very costly for the
forces. Labor groups already monitor health and safety and company and lead to abuses of vulnerable people. In order to
this could be extended to human rights as in the collective ensure the effectiveness of voluntary, non-binding
agreement with Statoil (Statoil, 2001). The process is evolv- approaches, geoscientists also need to receive training and
ing gradually as all parties try to establish and meet initial guidance in management practices to implement these codes.
targets for improvement, coupled with an increased aware- Some companies are offering training to their own secu-
ness through education and training. A few companies also rity forces and local military units in how to deal with secu-
now provide statements of compliance with human rights rity problems without causing human rights abuses
guidelines within their annual reports (e.g., Shell, 2000). (Freeport McMoRan, 2001).

Training Requirements Challenges for Solutions

The typical North American approach to corporate A major issue is to achieve a balance between the
social responsibility and human rights issues has been to expectations of NGOs regarding corporate power over gov-
consult with stakeholders only to the extent of explaining ernments in countries where there are problems, and the
projects and the associated benefits to the community, such reality of how much influence corporations actually have,
as the training that will be available (to attain skills neces- and where to draw the line, i.e., how much responsibility
sary for employment) and the provision of schools and other should companies take for social development issues, and
facilities seen as desirable. However, faltering steps are where does government responsibility begin and end? Cor-
being taken by a few mining companies to engage in a more porate intervention with governments on issues such as
meaningful way with local communities from the earliest investment and taxation is considered acceptable, but many
stages of a project, not only to provide explanations, but also companies consider intervention to effect change on behalf
to establish a dialogue with the community and other stake- of social and political issues (such as human rights) unac-
holders that will resolve issues of concern, and establish an ceptable. Nevertheless, corporate intervention could indeed
internal reporting system for any instances of abuse. lead to improved human rights conditions.
Geoscientists should avoid a paternalistic approach, be Some mining companies, aware of the limited budget
aware that there may be deeply held differences in values, and capacity of governments, realize that it is good for their
and bear in mind that whenever mining developments come business to increase the quality of life of people in the com-
into a community there will be a major impact on human munities where they have operations, to reduce conflict and
rights at all stages of the mining cycle (Sillitoe, 2000). Risk differences between those who work for the mine and oth-
assessment and communication are essential parts of the ers, and to provide health and education services to the local
first step in identifying the issues, and are no less important communities. Local people can be integrated into the opera-
than technical, environmental, economic, market, and other tion as third-party contractors, and can develop the capacity
commercial factors. The problems are now more widely rec- to be productive if provided with training, basic health care,
ognized by industry, which is responding by advising and education. These companies understand that improving
approaches to mitigate poor performance (PDAC, 2003). local capacity is a mechanism to make the community self-
There are challenges of social and political skills in all sustainable economically and socially, and their main goal is
aspects of human rights. While geoscientists and miners to improve the quality of life by improving incomes. They
receive training mostly in engineering and science, they may work with a wide range of NGOs and provide services in
also study economics and business. However, it is not com- partnership with the local government to make it clear that
mon to receive training in social sciences, psychology, or they do not want to decapacitize it.
anthropology. Because societys needs and demands are Mining projects are at risk in countries such as Peru
evolving, geoscientists need to understand and become aware where 54% of the country still lives in poverty. Although
of new requirements and assess the social impacts before many locals are employed by a major mining operation, the
embarking on a new assignment or project (Warhurst, 1998). benefits are limited and unevenly shared because only 1.7%
Similar sensitivities are now required at all stages of the mine of the royalty returns to the local community (Padgett and
life cycle. Geoscientists need education, training, and moti- Chauvin, 2003). Whereas in the past, how government rev-
vation in codes of conduct on various issues including enues from mining were spent was solely the concern of the
respect for human rights, rules about discrimination and sex- government, civil society now demands that companies
ual harassment, conditions of work and wages, and develop- should also be held accountable for the social investment of
ment opportunities. Education and training in conflict man- mining revenues.
agement could lead to more positive engagement, both in the In a sphere where firm and detailed definitions of cor-
work place and dealing with other stakeholders. We have porate policy and procedures are almost impossible to
Human Rights and the Minerals Industry S.D. HANDELSMAN ET AL. 17

achieve, the difficulty lies in framing an acceptable template To accomplish this, the geoscientist needs input from
with which corporations could modify or crystallize their knowledgeable and responsible individuals and groups that
policies toward human rights, and against which their per- have concern for those rights that should be respected. It is
formance could be independently monitored. This also essential to engage with other stakeholders to understand the
raises a question whether such a template should be issues of concern in any specific situation, and to effect pos-
enshrined in legislation or should be voluntarily operated by itive change.
the corporations themselves, even if it were agreed to make In order to achieve improved performance by the min-
them subject to outside monitoring. If legislated, there are ing industry, appropriate training of geoscientists is
questions about acceptability, enforcement, etc. It is already required that will enable them to understand the difference
clear that most NGOs would be opposed to anything less between merely explaining the benefits of a project, and
than full-scale legislation. engaging in a meaningful dialogue to address issues of
concern to all stakeholders. Supporting human rights
necessitates taking responsibility for learning how to
Conclusions engage in measures and behavior beyond the labor and
environmental issues traditionally dealt with in the course
Abuse of human rights in its broadest sense (covering of operations. Some companies have adopted this approach
political, economic, social, cultural, and other facets of and are experimenting with public-private partnerships.
human existence) is the major external, non-technical prob- The cases described in this paper showed that because a
lem facing the mineral exploration and development indus- company may have no control over security forces, it is
try today. Mineral exploration companies often operate in essential to put in place adequate positive programs and
remote locations where there may be weak and corrupt insti- safeguards to avoid human rights abuses. Mining company
tutions, and where the rule of law is not well established. codes of conduct should provide for both specificity and
Interest groups may resist the replacement of authoritarian- accountability in relation to security and human rights.
ism, and the countries themselves may lack a tradition of Requiring staff, employees, and contractors to certify that
public participation. Governmental bodies and the judiciary they had not been part of any human rights violations and
may be distrusted and there may be widespread corruption, that they had not witnessed any is one practical measure
leading to further abuses. Although the rule of law has that has been adopted.
begun in many countries, local conditions vary significantly, This paper has examined the roles and responsibilities
providing genuine issues for activist groups to campaign of the various stakeholders, and it is evident that through
against continuing human rights abuses. proactive engagement it is possible for geoscientists to avoid
Protection of human rights involves not abusing people or reduce the propensity for conflict and human rights
working for the corporation, not abusing contractors, not abuses, while developing profitable projects and improving
employing contractors who use slavery or child workers, the social, economic, and political conditions where they
and not abusing the rights of the local community. operate. The alternative is that projects will fail, or be sub-
Examples of abuse have been found to include poor ject to delays and additional costs, which affect not just the
working conditions, the employment of children (although investors but also the potential for economic development
usually not as direct employees of the mineral exploration and poverty alleviation in the region in question. There is
and development companies), excessive military interven- emerging consensus about what not to do the challenge
tion to quell disturbances and protests, disruption or is determining what to do.
destruction of local livelihoods, pollution (including dam-
age to land or water creating shortages of land for subsis-
tence farming, damage to fisheries, and adverse health Acknowledgments
effects), and corrupt or inappropriate use of mining rev-
enues by governments. Acknowledgment is due to all those interviewed and
In order to ensure that mineral exploration and develop- providing feedback in developing the ideas and providing
ment projects contribute to improving economic, social, and examples included in this paper. The perspective of some of
environmental conditions for the local community and other those actively concerned with the issues of human rights in
stakeholders, there is a pressing need for corporate leader- NGOs, corporations, and multilateral agencies was essen-
ship, guidelines, benchmarks, monitoring, and verification tial. Particular thanks are expressed to Prof. Richards for his
of human rights performance. The cases discussed above encouragement and guidance in preparing this paper and to
have shown that it is imperative to understand and respect others who took time to read the manuscript and make help-
these rights, and to determine their boundaries. This is an ful suggestions during its preparation. The views expressed
essential precondition in order to understand what is in this paper represent solely those of the authors, and any
required to avoid conflicts that can result in halting projects. errors or omissions remain with the authors.
18 Explor. Mining Geol., Vol. 12, Nos. 1-4, 2003

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