Human rights, ethics and corporate social responsibility – the past present and future

Following Canadian Parliamentary sub‐committee hearings in 2005 that heard evidence about the activities of Canadian mining companies overseas and numerous allegations of complicity in human rights abuses, recommendations were made for policies and guidelines to improve conditions on the ground. The government appointed a CSR counsellor and established the Canadian International Institute for Extractive Industries and Development to improve the capacity of developing country governments. Industry organizations developed initiatives; companies adopted statements of ethical principles, human rights policies and corporate social responsibility. To address negative public perceptions mining companies have publicly agreed to adopt human rights standards articulated in voluntary initiatives although some of them have failed to actively put these into practice. Nevertheless, ongoing reports and allegations of complicity in human rights abuses by Canadian and other mining companies operating in developing countries indicates that much needs to be done to improve conditions on the ground. This paper examines the situation and proposes some ways forward.
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