UN Guiding Principles in Zimbabwe's Mining Sector

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UN Guiding Principles in Zimbabwe's Mining Sector

The 'Pillars in Practice' Program convened stakeholders in the Zimbabwean mining sector to focus on how to implement the Guiding Principles
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Wednesday, July 24, 2013 - 9:15am
In the week of June 17, 2013, SAI convened a 'training of trainers' (ToT) and multi-stakeholder advisory consultation (MAC) in Harare, Zimbabwe with the Danish Institute for Human Rights and the Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association (ZELA) for its joint Pillars in Practice Program.

The ToT segment focused on building the capacity of ZELA staff to advance understanding of the UN Guiding Principles for Business and Human Rights, and training the group on its implementation. Then, the MAC segment provided a forum for stakeholders to identify human rights issues in the mining sector and provide specific targeted recommendations on how to address them.

SAI Sr. Manager of Research and Stakeholder Relations, Alex Katz, participated in the meeting along with PIP Program partners - Paloma Munoz Quick, DiHR Human Rights & Business Advisor; Mike Baab, DiHR Senior Advisor Human Rights and Business Country Portal; and Mutuso Dhliwayo, Director of ZELA.
During the MAC, several key topics were raised about working conditions in Zimbabwe's mines, specifically health and safety awareness and contract employees. Additionally, displacement of communities as a result of mine operations was another major challenge cited. "One of the repeated issues is that there is a lack of a system for moving people from mining areas, which results in unfair and unbalanced displacement," said Mr. Katz. "The rationale has seemed to be 'every mine for themselves.'" In such displacements, the most vulnerable groups have been women, children, and those living below the poverty line. As the meeting included strong representation from women's rights groups, women's rights were also discussed at length in connection with mining.
The MAC included the active participation of 75 people from diverse background, including: 
  • Trade Unions: Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU), Zimbabwe Banks & Allied Workers' Union (ZIBAWU), Zimbabwe Diamonds and Allied Workers Union (ZDAWU)
  • Zimbabwe Government Agencies: Human Rights Commission, Ministry of Labour, Ministry of Justice and Legal Affairs, Parliament, Ministry of Mines
  • Mining Companies/Industry Associations: Zimplats, Black Crystal
  • NGOs/Civil Society Organizations: Natural Justice, CRD, Women in Mining, Zimbabwe Artisanal and Small Scale for Sustainability Mining Council (ZASMC), OXFAM
  • International Government Agencies: US Embassy
Zimbabwe's mining sector has many workers' rights issues, including freedom of association, the right to collective bargaining, occupational safety and health, and child labor. Workers' freedom of association and right to collective bargaining is limited by the government's power to veto agreements deemed 'harmful to the economy'. In addition, according to the international watchdog organization Freedom House, "although strikes are allowed in all but essential industries, they require onerous notification and arbitration procedures and are often declared illegal."
Next steps include: 1) additional training for multi-stakeholder organizations on the UN Guiding Principles for Business and Human Right; 2) facilitated initiatives undertaken by businesses, the government, and civil society organizations to implement the UN Guiding Principles for Business and Human Rights; and 3) a concluding MAC in Spring 2014 to follow up on understanding and implementation of the UN GPs for Business and Human Rights.
About the Pillars in Practice Program:

The Pillars in Practice (PiP) Program of SAI and the Danish Institute for Human Rights (DIHR) works to build the capacity of civil society organizations (CSOs) in Bangladesh, Nicaragua and Zimbabwe, to engage with and train on the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. The program aims to activate a strategic alliance by establishing the training capacity of CSO partners in each of the three countries to sustainably promote and assist in the implementation of the GPs by local and multi-national companies, government agencies and other local CSOs.

Learn more @sa-intl.org/pillarsinpractice and follow on Facebook @facebook.com/pillarsinpractice.


Joleen Ong
Social Accountability International
Keywords: Business & Trade | Events, Conferences & Webinars | Human Rights | Mining | csr | extractives | guiding principles | pillars in practice | ruggie principles | supply chain | zimbabwe