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RAID calls on govts. to rectify "serious problems" in UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights & Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights

Rights and Accountability in Development (RAID) released a briefing in March 2015 called "Principles without justice: The corporate takeover of human rights".  The briefing is the executive summary of a larger forthcoming report.  It alleges that companies are able to use the UN Guiding Principles and Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights to exonerate themselves when human rights violations occur that and these principles allow companies to privatise and control the implementation of human rights. 

The briefing draws on 2 case studies to illustrate its points: Glencore's operations in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Acacia Mining's (previously African Barrick Gold) operations in Tanzania.  We invited both companies to respond.  Acacia Mining's response is below.  Glencore have indicated that they will respond to the full report when it is released.

Professor John Ruggie, Former UN Special Representative on Business & Human Rights, and author of the UN Guiding Principles on Business & Human Rights also responds to the criticisms raised in the briefing.

 

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Item
1 April 2015

Acacia response to RAID rejoinder

Author: Acacia Mining

Thank you for the opportunity to clarify Acacia Mining’s (“Acacia”) relationship with Barrick Gold Corporation (“Barrick”). When Acacia (then African Barrick Gold) was spun-out of Barrick in 2010 and listed on the London Stock Exchange there was naturally a transitional period post the listing whereby Acacia adopted, for the sake of continuity of business, many of the Barrick operating policies and procedures. This is the situation in the case of any demerger. This was set out in the Relationship Agreement between the two companies within the IPO prospectus published at the time of the listing.

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Item
1 April 2015

Barrick Gold response to RAID rejoinder

Author: Barrick Gold

I would be happy to clarify Barrick’s relationship with Acacia Mining. We understand Acacia is also planning to respond. As you note, in 2010, Acacia Mining (formerly African Barrick Gold) was created as a separate publicly-listed company, 74%-owned by Barrick. Today we have a 64% stake in Acacia, having sold a further 10% in 2014. Since its initial public offering in 2010, Acacia has made the transition to operating as an independent entity. The company is listed on the London Stock Exchange, has its own policies, its own management team, and an independent board of directors.

Download the full document here

NGO rejoinder
27 March 2015

RAID requests clarification from Barrick Gold & Acacia over their corporate relationship

Author: Rights and Accountability in Development (RAID)

In their separate responses to RAID...both Acacia…and Barrick Gold...state: Acacia operates its own human rights programme, conducts its own assessments and engages in its own analysis and follow-up activities, entirely independent of Barrick...On the specific matter of Human Rights Impact Assessments...RAID relies upon comments made by Barrick in its 2013 Assessing Human Rights Risks & Impacts...If Acacia has an alternative summary HRA, or a more detailed or a more recent HRA, whether compiled under its own or Barrick’s HRA process, RAID would welcome its publication…On the wider questions of independence, Barrick's relationship to ABG (now Acacia) and the sharing or separation of policies relating to human rights, RAID has relied upon reports and statements made by both companies....

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Item
26 March 2015

Avanzar response to RAID

Author: Avanzar LLC

[I]n this letter, we would like to respond to the statements made regarding...Avanzar...and our work for....Barrick Gold...Firstly, we would like to briefly describe Avanzar's HRA tool....Secondly, we would like to clarify our human rights assessment work with Barrick specifically...Thirdly, we would like to respond to specific comments made in RAID's report....

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Company response
25 March 2015

Barrick Gold response

Author: Barrick Gold

Barrick welcomes the opportunity to clarify certain aspects of RAID’s “Executive Summary.” Acacia Mining plc is an independent company, operating with its own management team and an independent Board of Directors. As such, Acacia operates its own human rights program, conducts its own assessments, and engages in its own analysis and follow-up activities, entirely independent of Barrick. The Executive Summary released by RAID incorrectly suggests that Acacia’s program is part of Barrick’s program, and that Barrick’s annual summary report on its human rights assessments encompasses Acacia-related operations. This is not the case.

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Company response
23 March 2015

Acacia Mining response

Author: Acacia Mining

Acacia Mining plc (“Acacia”) notes the recent briefing published by RAID that includes reference to human rights at the North Mara Gold Mine (NMGM). We cannot provide a comprehensive comment without having seen the complete report, but we do have some preliminary reactions to the short summary of the report contained in the Executive Summary published by RAID...

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Item
22 March 2015

Professor John Ruggie's statement on RAID report

Author: Professor John Ruggie, Former UN Special Representative for Business & Human Rights

The paper draws some sweeping inferences and reaches encompassing conclusions about purported shortcomings of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs)...There is no need for me to respond to the various specific assertions by which the paper arrives at its views regarding the UNGPs. Their growing uptake and the many follow-on activities by all stakeholder groups speak for themselves...But I do want to correct certain foundational claims because I would not want my silence to be interpreted as implied evidence of their accuracy....

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Report
17 March 2015

Principles without justice: The corporate takeover of human rights

Author: Rights and Accountability in Development (RAID)

The purpose of this report is to critique the growing nexus between companies and recent human rights standards and codes: in order to apply human rights to the private sector, human rights are themselves being privatised. The ultimate consequence of this is to treat human rights as a risk to be managed in a total approach that begins with ‘authoritative’ standards, encompasses human rights impact assessments to assure on compliance, and ends with redress and grievance mechanisms, all under private control.

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Article
17 March 2015

Rethinking the UN Guiding Principles and company grievance mechanisms

Author: Rights and Accountability in Development (RAID)

new briefing released today by RAID calls on the UK and other governments to rectify serious problems in the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (GPs) and the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights (VPSHR)...While there are numerous examples of failures to adhere to these standards, little has been said about how companies, by carefully following the steps advocated in the Guidelines and Principles, can exonerate themselves when human rights violations occur. RAID’s briefing...demonstrates how the GPs and the VPSHR allow companies to privatise and control the implementation of human rights. This is particularly important when alleged human rights abuses come to light: a company deflects criticism – and, potentially, even legal liability – if it can demonstrate that it has undertaken human rights due diligence, assessed the risk of human rights impacts, sought to use its influence upon recalcitrant states, and offered redress under its own grievance mechanism, as specified in the relevant principles.

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