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Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights

Respecting human rights ought to occupy the highest levels of focus for any industry, particularly one with the impact and reach of ours.

A critical human rights risk for the industry is how it engages with and impacts Indigenous Peoples. Our work builds on long-standing commitments to ensure the respect for and enhancement of human rights, with particular focus on the rights and interests of Indigenous Peoples. We will be reviewing key aspects of our guidance and exploring opportunities to meaningfully contribute in other areas also, such as human rights defenders.


Issues at a Glance

Indigenous Peoples

  • Indigenous Peoples in many regions of the world have been historically disadvantaged and marginalised, and often still experience discrimination, high levels of poverty and other forms of political and social disadvantage.
  • ICMM members recognise that Indigenous Peoples often have distinguishable cultural characteristics, governance structures and ways of interacting and commit to respect their rights, interests, and perspectives by adopting processes that ensure for meaningful participation in decision-making.
  • Mineral deposits are often situated under land closely associated with Indigenous Peoples – through claim, custom or ownership. This association creates specific obligations, as well as unique challenges and opportunities that need sensitive engagement on project design, development and operation. Our Mining Principles commit members to respect the rights, interests, aspirations, culture and natural resource-based livelihoods of Indigenous Peoples; apply the mitigation hierarchy to address adverse impacts; and deliver sustainable benefits for Indigenous Peoples.
  • Indigenous Peoples have internationally recognised rights, including the right to self-determine their political, social, economic and cultural priorities. Free, prior and informed consent (FPIC) is a manifestation of this right and ICMM members commit to work to obtain the consent where significant adverse impacts are likely to occur, as a result of relocation, disturbance of lands and territories or of critical cultural heritage, and capture the outcomes of engagement and consent processes in agreements.
  • Current work being undertaken in this area includes reviewing existing member commitments to ensure they are in-line with current societal expectations and identifying gaps and opportunities for updates to ICMM commitments and new practical resources to aid stronger relationship building between Indigenous Peoples and the industry.

Human Rights

  • Every person around the world deserves to be treated with dignity and respect.
  • The mining industry operates in areas where human rights abuses do occur, and companies have a responsibility to act with due diligence to avoid infringing the rights of others; to leverage their activities to prevent against infringements; and, to address or take part in remediation where necessary.
  • Human rights due diligence involves integrating human rights into existing risk management approaches and conducting standalone impact assessments. This is key for the identifying and mitigating of potential adverse impacts and risks. Companies must demonstrate operations and the materials they source are not associated with human rights violations, conflict or corruption. To facilitate this integration, we are updating our existing Human Rights Due Diligence Guidance to ensure that it continues to represent leading practice.
  • Where human rights abuses occur, the ability to demonstrate accountability through effective grievance mechanisms is fundamental for the rebuilding of meaningful engagement with host communities. Our guidance on handling and resolving community concerns and grievances, which integrates the eight effectiveness criteria of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, offers good practice on how mining and metals companies should design effective mechanisms to systematically handle and resolve community concerns or grievances.
  • We actively engage in international forums on business and human rights to evolve our thinking on critical human rights issues, build partnership opportunities and further embed respect for human rights across the industry. This includes acting as a permanent observer to the Voluntary Principles on Business and Human Rights and as a delegate in the UN Annual Forum on Business and Human Rights.


Our Priorities

Reviewing Existing Member Commitments Related to Engaging With Indigenous Peoples

To ensure that member commitments are in line with current societal expectations, we will be assessing leading practice and existing industry commitments in relation to Indigenous Peoples (including position on free, prior and informed consent, FPIC) and assess against current ICMM commitments.

Building Relationships With Indigenous Peoples

Engagement with Indigenous Peoples in many regions remains challenging. To build stronger relationships between industry and Indigenous Peoples, we will identify gaps and opportunities for new practical resources on issues such as consultation and consent processes. We will also undertake dialogue with interested stakeholders to build trust and improve industry performance in engagement with, and the participation of, Indigenous Peoples.

Supporting the Integration of Human Rights Due Diligence Into Business Decision Making

To facilitate the integration of human rights due diligence into business decision making we will update ICMM’s human rights due diligence guidance to ensure it represents leading practice and responds to external policy developments.

Engaging With External Stakeholders and Influencing International Policy

We actively engage in international forums on business human rights to ensure ongoing focus and partnerships on critical business and human rights issues, and to support embedding respect for human rights across the industry. This includes participating as a permanent observer to the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights (VPs), and as a delegate in the UN Annual Forum on Business and Human Rights.

Demonstrating Improvement and Good Practice

To demonstrate performance improvement related to human rights we will continue to communicate member progress on integrating human rights due diligence into decision making in practice and progress on implementation of other human rights commitments.