Social and ecological aspects

Human Rights in the mining sector

Working conditions in Serra Pelada, Brasil

Mining has always had a considerable impact on people’s lives – whether this is because they live in the vicinity of mining areas, because they work there, or because they are affected by the environmental impact from further afield. With its links to various economic, environmental and social issues, mining is often associated with considerable human rights risks. However, it also presents great potential for sustainable development and thus the realisation of human rights. The approach of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) to human rights is to systematically apply the principles of human rights to all German development cooperation activities, including and in particular those in the extractive sector.

The Extractives and Development sector programme supports the implementation of the human rights-based approach across the entire portfolio of German development cooperation activities in the extractive sector and helps projects outside Germany to plan their activities accordingly. This includes carrying out a thorough risk analysis of the extractive sector at the local level and maintaining an overview of the orientation of individual development projects. The Extractives and Development sector programme has developed standardised processes for this purpose that were used most recently in Colombia and Mauretania. The aim of this support is to encourage the systematic promotion of human rights both in and by the extractive sector.

Work on the development of standard procedures for human rights risk analysis got under way in 2015 with support from the Max Planck Foundation for International Peace and the Rule of Law. The resulting study Human Rights Risks in Mining, analyses technical processes in the extractive sector from the perspective of human rights risks. The study is intended to serve as a reference work. A User’s Guide is also available.

The Guidelines on Incorporating the Human Rights-Based Approach into Resource Governance Projects in the Context of Technical Cooperation compiled by the sector programme outline options for incorporating technical advisory services on the cross-cutting issue of human rights into German development cooperation projects on resource governance. In addition to the baseline study, the guidelines provide implementing organisations with specific advice on carrying out risk analyses.

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