Natural resources fuel economic growth but also can spark conflict. Treating communities fairly and ensuring their safety is a core business responsibility for companies that extract and refine these resources.
Companies that extract and refine natural resources like petroleum, minerals, precious stones, and metals face major challenges when it comes to safety, the environment, and human rights. These are some of the largest companies in the world, performing dangerous operations in the farthest corners of the planet. Companies must make significant investments over a long time horizon to extract natural resources, often engaging with weak or corrupt governments that offer few protections for human rights. In managing their investments in volatile regions, companies frequently employ state security forces and private contractors to provide security operations.
Some companies have begun to come together through initiatives such as the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights and the International Code of Conduct for Private Security Providers to set industry-wide standards for human rights. Just as they are doing for job safety and environmental impact, the next challenge is for companies to effectively assess and measure their human rights performance.