Putting the Guiding Principles into Action: Human Rights at Barrick Gold (A)
In 2010, Human Rights Watch, a well-regarded international NGO, approached Barrick Gold asserting that members of the company's security force at the Porgera Gold Mine in Papua New Guinea had on multiple occasions raped women who were trespassing onto the mine's waste dumps in search of gold. Subsequent investigations identified significant evidence to support the allegations, and the revelations led to broad ranging change at both Porgera and at Barrick more generally. Drawing heavily on the United Nation's Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (GPs), Barrick not only moved to make efforts to provide restitution to the women involved, but also designed and rolled out a comprehensive set of policies designed to embed the protection of human rights into the entire company. Barrick also played a central role in leading the development of an auditing and verification framework for the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights (the VPs), a set of commitments embraced by most of the world's largest extractive companies. The case provides students with an opportunity to analyze the challenges that arise from operating in environments with weak state institutions; to examine the challenges of implementing voluntary frameworks, such as the GPs or VPs, and their potential as alternatives to state institutions; to learn about the field of business and human rights; and to develop an analytic framework for evaluating the responsibilities of business leaders to society, especially from the perspective of human rights.
- 2015 HBS
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