Business and Human Rights
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Business and Human Rights

Edited by Wesley Cragg

Topics discussed include the debates leading to the creation of the ISO 26000 standard and the United Nations human rights framework for business entities, as well as the nature and limits of the human rights responsibilities of business, the roles and responsibilities of international trade bodies like the World Trade Organization in protecting human rights, and the implications of the current debate for international trade agreements and trade with China. The contributors also explore the effectiveness of voluntary human rights standards in the textile and clothing trade, mining, advertising and the pharmaceutical industries.
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Chapter 9: Mining, human rights and the socially responsible investment industry: considering community opposition to shareholder resolutions and implications of collaboration

Catherine Coumans

Extract

In 2008, a group of Socially Responsible Investment firms and pension funds (the SRI group) issued a press release praising Canadian mining company Goldcorp Inc. (Goldcorp) for agreeing to their request to conduct a Human Rights Impact Assessment (HRIA) at its conflictridden Marlin mine in Guatemala. Preceding this public announcement, a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) had been signed between the SRI group and Goldcorp setting out the terms of the proposed assessment. One year later, one of the members of the SRI group, the Public Service Alliance of Canada, withdrew its involvement in the HRIA noting that it had: become increasingly concerned with the HRIA process and its relationship with the local communities. We have been especially concerned about the lack of free and informed prior consent of the communities in regards to the HRIA, and that the interests of Goldcorp are being put before the interests of the local people. Shortly thereafter, Bill Law, a BBC Radio 4 reporter, interviewed a participant in the SRI group from the Ethical Funds Company who, he reports, acknowledged ‘that the HRIA had had the unintended consequence of “inflaming the situation” in Guatemala’ (Law, 2009). In spite of the withdrawal of the Public Service Alliance of Canada, which necessitated the withdrawal of SHARE as advisor to the Public Service Alliance of Canada’s staff pension fund, the three remaining members of the SRI group decided to continue with the controversial HRIA.

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