Upholding Human Rights in the Aluminium Value Chain through the ASI Performance Standard
In today’s world of interconnected supply chains, the pursuit of sustainability extends far beyond a company’s gates and goes further than environmental considerations. ASI’s commitment to the pursuit of respecting and protecting individuals’ rights provides guidance and a roadmap for how businesses can contribute to a more just and equitable world through responsible practices.
15 August 2023
In today’s world of interconnected supply chains, the pursuit of sustainability extends far beyond a company’s gates and goes further than environmental considerations. Ethical business practices that encompass the protection of human rights have become a cornerstone of responsible corporate behaviour. As companies increasingly recognise their role in shaping a just and equitable global community, the inclusion of human rights protection criteria in sustainability standards has emerged as a vital step forward. To this end, ASI has included comprehensive human rights protection criteria within its Performance Standard V3 (2022).
The aluminium value chain has seen instances of human rights concerns that cast a shadow on the industry’s sustainability progress. These include labour practices including instances of modern slavery, the displacement of indigenous communities due to resource extraction activities, negative impacts on community livelihoods stemming from production processes and related activities of actors in the aluminium value chain. A wide range of human rights violations can equally occur in developed as well as developing countries, meaning that each actor in the sector has a potential role to play in identifying and addressing human rights issues.
It is within this context that ASI has included comprehensive human rights protection criteria within its Performance Standard. Principles 9 (Human Rights) 10 (Labour Rights), and 11 (Occupational Health and Safety) aim to ensure fair and ethical treatment, as well as the protection of the well-being of all stakeholders across the industry and beyond. These principles require Entities within the aluminium sector to respect and support individual and collective human rights affected by their operations. Broad stroke requirements include assessing, preventing, and remedying potential adverse impacts on human rights, in alignment with international instruments on human rights. The principles are underpinned by specific criteria that emphasise various aspects of human rights protection. Examples of these criteria from Principle 9 (Human Rights) of the Performance Standard include:
– Human Rights Due Diligence: ASI’s standard requires entities to observe the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights through gender-responsive policies, continuous reviews, and public disclosure of commitments. A gender-inclusive approach ensures fair treatment, non-discrimination, and consistent evaluations to address any control gaps.
– Respect for Indigenous Peoples rights: ASI mandates the respect of Indigenous Peoples’ rights and interests, following international standards such as ILO Convention 169 and the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The entity must develop processes to identify Indigenous Peoples based on characteristics beyond state recognition, demonstrating its commitment through meaningful stakeholder engagement.
– Free, Prior, and Informed Consent (FPIC): Recognising the significance of Indigenous Peoples’ rights, ASI necessitates consultation and cooperation in obtaining FPIC for new projects or major changes affecting their lands and territories. This requirement ensures that affected communities have a say in decisions that impact their way of life.
– Gender Equity and Women’s Empowerment: The commitment to gender equity is a pivotal component of ASI’s approach. Entities are expected to implement programs promoting gender equity and women’s empowerment across employment practices, training, contracting, and engagement processes.
– Cultural and Sacred Heritage: Entities must take appropriate measures to identify, avoid, or remedy impacts on cultural and sacred heritage sites and values within their area of influence. The principle ensures that essential aspects of identity and heritage are preserved, particularly for Indigenous Peoples.
– Displacement: ASI mandates responsible project designs to minimise displacement and, when unavoidable, requires entities to develop and review comprehensive Resettlement Action Plans that meet IFC Performance Standard 5 and Applicable Law requirements. Indigenous Peoples’ Free, Prior, and Informed Consent is sought in cases of displacement involving them.
– Security Practices: Recognising the importance of security providers’ role in upholding human rights, ASI mandates adherence to recognised standards and good practices in interactions with private and public security providers.
Through the 2022 Performance Standard updates, ASI aims to safeguard human rights in the aluminium value chain. Working towards ASI Certification and conformance against these criteria provides a roadmap for how businesses can contribute to a more just and equitable world through responsible practices.
Find out more about ASI’s work to positively influence and impact on the human rights of impacted communities and groups within and outside the aluminium sector in the following pages, webinars, learning modules, and articles:
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