Human rights

Human rights

Respecting human rights

Human rights are the basic rights and freedoms we are all entitled to enjoy as human beings, regardless of where we are from, our religion, gender, race or any other status.

To succeed in developed and developing countries, companies need to manage their human rights risks. Getting it right helps us build relationships with communities, employees and business partners. Getting it wrong, quite apart from negating our core values, poses real risks in the form of operational delays, legal challenges, reputational harm, investor concerns and employee disenchantment.

We respect and support all internationally recognised human rights consistent with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. As a company with operations spanning the globe, what we do (or are perceived to do) in one location may impact our activities elsewhere. We're not always legally required to meet international human rights standards. We work to meet them because we've chosen to respect human rights as a responsible company. This is not only the right thing to do, it is critical to maintaining trust and our licence to operate.

 

Community, Khanbogd, Mongolia Community, Khanbogd, Mongolia

How do we address human rights issues?

At Rio Tinto, we recognise that we may positively or negatively affect the human rights of a variety of stakeholders, including community members, our employees and contractors.

Our most salient human rights issues relate to: security; land access and resettlement; Indigenous people’s rights, including cultural heritage; the environment, including access to water; labour rights, including modern slavery and in-migration impacts on local communities.

We are committed to addressing these human rights issues by implementing world-class standards that at their core stipulate fair treatment for all.

Rio Tinto was one of the first companies to have a standalone human rights policy. We have also incorporated human rights considerations into core company processes and have made voluntary commitments to leading international standards and initiatives such as the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises, the UN Global Compact and the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights (VPSHR). Meeting these commitments is vital to meaningfully contributing to sustainable development, including working to meet the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

We undertake human rights due diligence and work in line with the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights to identify, prevent, mitigate and address any involvement we might have in adverse human rights impacts through our own operations and business relationships. Our human rights training programmes help our employees understand, identify and report human rights concerns.

A snapshot on security and human rights

Security is one of the highest human rights risk areas for Rio Tinto – where our host communities and employees may interface with private and public security providers who are in charge of local protection. To ensure we respect human rights in this space, we have a Security standard and assurance process consistent with the VPSHR. We provide training for security personnel and our business leaders and managers, and with other partners have helped design a VPSHR training package for private security personnel and public security forces for use by VPSHR participants and other interested companies, being finalised in 2018.

Collaboration and engagement

We engage with investors, industry associations, governments, civil society and community members to address human rights issues and improve industry standards.

This includes participating in the UN Annual Forum on Business and Human Rights and the Business for Social Responsibility human rights working group. We worked with the Danish Institute for Human Rights (DIHR) to co-create Human Rights and Business Country Guide, a tool for international business to better understand human rights risks in different operating contexts. And we contribute to key policy discussions, such as our 2017 submissions to consultations around a Modern Slavery Act in Australia, supporting mandatory reporting for business.

We're always looking for ways we can improve: this includes in how we measure our performance and explain it to others through our reporting; the tools and training we make available for our people; and how we engage with our many stakeholders including local community members and broader civil society groups.