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PROGRESS AND PENDING CHALLENGES OF THE OPERATIONAL MECHANISMS FOR COMPLAINTS AND GRIEVANCE HANDLING IN THE MINING SECTOR IN BOL

Por: Sonia Balcázar, consultora en Gestión Social en Minería y Cristina Muñoz Fernández, asesora técnica, programa MinSus, GIZ Cooperación Alemana.


Abstract

Operational mine-level grievance and complaint mechanisms (MQR) are formal processes that companies make available to allow individuals or groups to raise concerns and seek remediation and redress for real or perceived impacts of their activities. They are an important tool in the social management of mining to prevent, address, remedy and repair the potential impacts and violations generated by the business activity on human rights and, therefore, are a key component in building trust with communities and key stakeholders and therefore in the prevention of conflicts and their escalation.

In order to promote the development and strengthening of MQRs in the mining sector in the Andean region, between August 2021 and January 2022, the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) financed a study to analyze and compare the operational mechanisms for handling mining claims in Bolivia, Ecuador, Chile, Colombia and Peru, which serves as the basis for this technical paper.

The study entitled "Leading Practices, Progress and Remaining Challenges of Mining Operational Mechanisms in the Andean Region" (Prácticas líderes, avances y desafíos pendientes de los mecanismos operacionales mineros en la región andina) was published and presented in 2022. It sought to identify the challenges and critical factors that persist in the effectiveness of MQRs with a view to improving them by developing recommendations for mining companies, governments and civil society in the Andean region.

It also identified 18 leading practices of mining companies that were included in a catalog called "Catalogue of Leading Practices of Mining Operational Grievance Mechanisms in the Andean Region". These leading practices are understood as those that are more complete and comprehensive than the average of their peers in the countries analyzed, where a company excels in one or more of the effectiveness or internal management criteria used as the evaluation framework for the study. The catalog seeks to contribute to peer-to-peer learning by showing field examples of the operationalization of the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights in mining social management.

The conceptual framework of the study was based on the criteria for the effectiveness of these mechanisms established in the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. These criteria, set out in Principle 31, establish that the mechanisms must be legitimate, accessible, predictable, equitable, transparent, compatible with human rights, a source of continuous learning, and based on participation and dialogue with stakeholders. In addition, internal management of the MQR is included as another key criterion for its effectiveness.

The study established that most mining operations in the Andean countries have developed and implemented an MQR with varying degrees of complexity and integration into their business strategies. Of the 185 companies evaluated, 94 have an MQR and 91 do not have a mechanism or public information in this regard.

In a region with a high level of mining-related conflicts, it is urgent to consolidate the MQRs already established by mining companies, aligning them more closely with efficiency criteria in order to become an effective remediation channel.

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