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Human Rights


2017 Human Rights Report

As a fundamental operating principle, we strive to respect human rights wherever we do business and recognize the equality and dignity of the people with whom we interact every day. Respect for our employees, local community members, and local governments is part of our core values, which guide us in all we do.

Carrying out that respect every day, in every situation, everywhere we operate, poses challenges for a global company like ours. We have interests in mining operations on five continents, employ more than 11,000 workers, have some 11,000 contractors, and work with some 10,000 vendors each year. Our mines operate in highly diverse social, economic and political environments, including locations where human rights may not be fully recognized or protected. Each location has a different cultural context, faces different risks of negative human rights impacts, and encounters different expectations from their respective host communities, governments and key stakeholders.

Barrick’s human rights compliance program is designed to help embed ethical behavior and a respect for our employees and partners throughout our diverse operations. On a philosophical level, the compliance program is not a risk mitigation effort for the company. Rather, it is a reflection of the company’s values, and an outgrowth of our commitment to respect human rights and avoid negative human rights impacts for rights holders.


  • Barrick did not cause or contribute to, and was not directly linked to, any severe human rights incidents in 2016 at any mine it operates.
  • In 2016, as part of our global human rights compliance program, Avanzar, an independent consulting organization, conducted human rights assessments at three mine sites: the Pierina and Lagunas Norte mines in Peru, and the Lumwana mine in Zambia. The assessments identified a number of risk areas and actual or potential negative human rights impacts, including some repeat findings from prior assessments. Details on these findings are available here. In addition, in 2016, all of our sites underwent internal and external audits that bear some relation to human rights considerations.
  • Approximately 5,000 employees received human rights training in some format in 2016, including all Security employees and contractors, and all Community Relations personnel. In total, this comprised more than 8,000 hours of human rights training across the Company. Training included:
    • Over 850 security personnel (100% of security employees) received dedicated, in-person human rights training, including use of force training, comprising more than 3,000 hours of total instruction.
    • More than 1,000 employees were onboarded in 2016 and received human rights training.
    • Approximately 3,000 employees received e-training that included specific material regarding child labor and modern slavery and trafficking, including how to identify them on-site and in local communities, and where to report concerns where suspicions of child labor and modern slavery and trafficking may exist.
  • In response to growing concerns about global harassment, we introduced a new harassment standard, to help provide greater workplace protections.
  • In March 2016, Barrick helped lead a workshop with the Government of Canada related to implementation of the VPs. The company also organized, with UNICEF Canada and the Government of Canada, a multi-sector working group to create a checklist related to the Voluntary Principles on Business and Human Rights (VPs) and children’s rights. The checklist was launched in March 2017.


  • To not cause, contribute to, or be directly linked to any severe human rights incidents at any mine we operate.
  • In 2017, Barrick will continue to implement its human rights assessment program and will include an enhanced assessment of trafficking.
  • Barrick will tie aspects of our Human Rights Compliance Program to executive compensation, as reflected in our annual Proxy Circular. The company will also tie compensation to our global bonus scorecard, which can impact employees across the company. In 2017, the bonus scorecard will include key performance indicators related to messaging, employee onboarding, vendor due diligence and implementation of the VPs.
  • In 2017, the company will also emphasize our Harassment Standard, which was recently introduced, along with the modern slavery segment. We also expect to emphasize our security training content related to children’s rights and those of other vulnerable populations.

Human Rights Compliance Program

Barrick’s Human Rights Compliance Program is a systematic global approach to help all employees, contractors, and business partners respect the human rights of all internal and external stakeholders impacted by our operations.

We know that no program can eliminate all negative impacts that we may cause, contribute to, or be linked to through our operations. We believe, however, that through a logical and embedded program, we can mitigate those risks, and provide appropriate remedies when breaches take place.

We have defined five core principles that underpin our human rights compliance program and six systematic elements that help us implement the program effectively. The compliance program, in turn, assists us in preventing or mitigating risks to rights-holders in six salient risk areas.

Core Principles of Barrick’s Human Rights Program

Through the five principles of the human rights compliance program, we strive to meet the responsibilities identified for companies in the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs), and maintain a structure that puts our human rights aspirations into practice. We accept, as we must, that even with the program, we still may cause, contribute to, or be directly linked to negative human rights impacts. Nor will the program always provide ready solutions to the dilemmas and challenges that we continually face. What the program does is to compel us to take a coherent and holistic approach, driven by clear guidelines and requirements, and with the necessary tools to operationalize it across our organization. And when we get this right, we move closer to fulfilling the simple commitment we set for ourselves: to respect human rights wherever we do business and to recognize the equality and dignity of the people with whom we interact every day.

Companies operating in complex environments around the world routinely experience significant challenges while trying to balance the protection of corporate assets and also protect the human rights of its workers and local communities. The VPs were created with these challenges in mind, and are the most widely adopted and respected set of security and human rights standards in the world. Over the past few years, we realized that many companies still struggle with understanding how to assess the extent to which they are implementing the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights. After engaging with governments, civil society organizations, and other companies, we came to the conclusion that further guidance would be helpful in this respect. In 2015, Barrick chaired a working group in the Global Compact Network Canada to create a Guidance Document on the Assurance of the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights. The Guidance Document, which includes a foreword by Professor John G. Ruggie, former UN Special Representative for Business and Human Rights, aims to facilitate companies in implementing the VPs, and thereby identify areas of improvement and reduce negative human rights impacts.

Principle 1: Grounded in Global Standards

Our human rights program is grounded in international human rights norms, including the International Bill of Human Rights and the eight core conventions of the International Labor Organization, and guided by the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, the 10 Principles of the UN Global Compact, and similar standards. Internally, we treat human rights norms as obligatory and non-optional, like the laws we are subject to, wherever we operate. We believe that only through a globally integrated human rights compliance program can we meet our responsibility to respect the human rights of all our stakeholders.

Principle in practice: As a member of the International Council on Mining and Metals (ICMM), we are committed to conducting business in accordance with the ICMM’s Sustainable Development Principles, which include a commitment to upholding fundamental human rights and respecting culture, customs, and values in dealing with employees and others affected by our activities.

Principle 2: Leadership from the Top

We believe that every employee in every functional unit plays a role in respecting the human rights of our employees, contractors and community members. At the same time, leadership from the top is essential to the program’s success, including emphasizing the importance of the Program and the values that underlie it, and reflecting those values in practice.

Principle in practice: The Board of Directors approved our Human Rights Policy and Code of Business Conduct and Ethics. The Corporate Responsibility Committee of the Board oversees our Human Rights Program, receiving quarterly briefings. Executive Management seeks to reinforce the importance of respecting human rights by championing the Program and ethical behavior more generally, and there is frequent internal messaging regarding the values associated with the program, including through our weekly global Business Program Review (BPR) meetings. In 2012, we also established a Corporate Social Responsibility Advisory Board to provide Barrick’s senior executives with external advice and guidance, and we tie human rights to executive compensation and our global bonus scorecard.

Principle 3: Embedded Throughout the Organization

Respecting human rights is a shared global responsibility. We have worked hard to integrate human rights considerations into Barrick’s values, governance frameworks and the corporate management systems of different functional units. From Supply Chain and Human Resources to Security and Community Relations, when human rights elements are entrenched within day-to-day job performance to the point that they are indistinguishable from other aspects of work activities, they are truly operationalized and sustainable.

Principle in practice: In our hiring practices and vendor onboarding, we have embedded pre-screening questions for prospective employees and vendors, essentially treating human rights concerns as a basic qualification. Our security procedures related to use of force, investigations, and detention, our environmental procedures related to water and pollution, and our safety procedures related to occupational health all have been reviewed to account for potential human rights risks and impacts. One major improvement has also been strengthening of grievance mechanisms to include a category of human rights; greater responsiveness, corporate accountability and analysis of trends result in procedural changes.

Principle 4: Shared Learnings

To improve our own practices and to advance business respect for human rights, we are committed to sharing our successes, failures, and program features. We have formed, joined, and led initiatives and working groups focused on dialogue and mutual learning, such as the BSR Human Rights Working Group and the UN Global Compact, actively trying to advance human rights in the business community and offering examples of how it can be done and pitfalls to be avoided.

Principle in practice: Barrick serves on the Steering Committee for the UN Global Compact’s Business for Peace Initiative and participates in the Global Compact Human Rights and Labor Working Group, as well as the UN Global Compact Supply Chain and Sustainability Working Group. In 2013, after recognizing that Canada lacked a local Global Compact network, we helped inaugurate the Global Compact Network Canada (GCNC), and have been on its Board of Directors since that time. We have led GCNC working groups to create a security and human rights assurance guide, a supply chain sustainability report, an ongoing podcast series on the Global Compact’s ten principles, and an e-book on anti-corruption compliance.

Principle 5: Partnership and Collaboration

We continue to face human rights dilemmas that defy easy answers. Addressing them is only possible in partnership and collaboration with our peers, business partners, and other stakeholders. While we may not always agree with our critics, we are committed to listening to their concerns and learning from their ideas. Through global multi-stakeholder initiatives such as the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights (VPs), and through our community engagement at the local level, we work to advance respect for human rights both in our own operations and among the broader business community.

Principle in practice: Barrick has played an active role in the VPs, the leading multi-stakeholder initiative for security and human rights, including serving on its Steering Committee (2012-13, 2016-18), and chairing the Corporate Pillar (2013). In 2012, we volunteered to lead a working group to create a series of key performance indicators that are now followed by a number of companies, including us, in their reporting within the initiative. More recently, recognizing a lack of uniformity among companies and governments in their security support agreements, we participated in a VPs working group to create model clauses to use in support agreements between companies and governments.

Voluntary Memberships, Codes, Initiatives & Partnerships

  • UN Global Compact (2005)
  • International Cyanide Management Code for the Manufacture, Transport and Use of Cyanide in the Production of Gold (2005)
  • Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (2006)
  • International Council on Mining & Metals – Sustainable Development Principles (2006)
  • Transparency International – Canada (2006)
  • BSR Human Rights Working Group (2012) (founding member)
  • UN Global Compact Human Rights and Labor Working Group (2013)
  • UN Global Compact Supply Chain and Sustainability Working Group (2014)
  • International Code of Conduct Association for Private Security Providers (formal observers, 2015)

Board/Steering Committee Member

  • Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights Initiative (2012-13, 2016)
  • Global Compact Network Canada (2013)
  • UN Global Compact Business For Peace Initiative (2013)
  • ABA Advisory Committee on Human Rights (2015)
  • Expert participant in the Centre for Excellence for Anti-Corruption (2015)
  • External Stakeholder Advisory Board, United States National Contact Point (2015)
  • Business Advisory Counsel, American Society for International Law (2017)

The Six Systematic Elements of the Human Rights Compliance Program

Barrick’s Human Rights Compliance Program is a systematic global approach to help all employees, contractors, and business partners respect the human rights of all internal and external stakeholders impacted by our operations. We know, of course, that no program can eliminate all negative impacts that we may cause, contribute to, or be linked to through our operations. But we also believe that through a logical and embedded program, we can mitigate those risks, and provide appropriate remedies when breaches take place.

Our Human Rights Compliance Program tries to maintain consistency with the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs) and other international norms. It also attempts to maximize efficiencies with other company compliance programs and activities wherever possible, enabling a coherent company approach composed of a culture of compliance, clear human rights guidelines and requirements, and effective global operationalization.

To meet our objectives, there are six systematic elements that help define the program:

Salient Human Rights Risks

As an extractive company with global operations, we know there are many ways our activities may directly or indirectly, and positively or negatively, impact human rights. Our human rights program, and our engagement with internal and external experts and stakeholders, provides many of the important inputs and processes to help us identify these potential impacts. In identifying our salient risks, we undertook three sets of activities:

  • Analyzing the past results of our internal processes. These include results from third-party human rights assessments, internal and external audits and assessments, hotline reports and investigations, grievances and our enterprise risk management process.
  • Analyzing sectoral risks and the risks in the countries and communities where we operate. Our participation in multi-stakeholder initiatives like the Voluntary Principles, in cross-sector working groups like BSR’s Human Rights Working Group, and in industry associations like the Mining Association of Canada and the International Council on Mining and Metals (ICMM) are important sources of information. These and other forums help broaden our understanding of where the risk of adverse human rights impacts is most significant for mining companies.
  • Formal and informal consultation with external experts and civil society organizations, and ongoing engagement with internal and external stakeholders, at our mine sites, in our host countries and communities, at the corporate level, and through workshops and meetings as well as one-on-one conversations.

As a result of that analysis, we have identified six key areas that may pose risks to rights-holders:

Human Rights Assessments at Barrick

A cornerstone of our human rights program is a stand-alone, independent human rights assessment program for Barrick-operated properties. Started in 2011, the program has assessed all high- and medium-risk sites operated by Barrick at least once and the highest-risk operations more than once. The assessments are conducted by Avanzar, a highly respected independent consulting organization that focuses on human rights–related assessments. Avanzar assesses the actual, potential, and perceived human rights risks and impacts at every high-risk Barrick operation and advanced project. In 2015, an assessment was conducted at the Pueblo Viejo mine in the Dominican Republic. In 2016, impact assessments were conducted at the Lagunas Norte and Pierina mines in Peru and the Lumwana mine in Zambia.

Fund for Peace, a well-regarded NGO that works to prevent conflict and human rights abuses, has served as an external and independent advisor to the company in this project. Their role has included reviewing and editing the assessment tool used by Avanzar, providing guidance on the assessment plan, reviewing the reports, and discussing follow-up priorities. Professor John Ruggie, former UN Secretary General Special Representative for Business and Human Rights, may also provide advice and guidance on discrete issues associated with the assessments. Finally, several years ago, we developed a partnership with the Danish Institute for Human Rights, from which we received detailed assessments of applicable country-level laws and the extent to which those laws are implemented, which has further informed our assessment approach.

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Barrick explores and operates in diverse locations around the world where security contexts vary greatly. We also produce a precious commodity – gold – and our mine sites house valuable equipment, vehicles, commodities and materials that must also be safeguarded. In light of this, we recognize the need for an effective security program to protect people, products, assets and reputation.

Often that means having to rely on public and private security. As a result, we may have little choice but to enter relationships with security forces that have questionable human rights records, over which we have no control. That need may arise because of violence in local communities, threats to the site and employees, or because the government insists on public security to protect an important national resource.

Barrick’s security approach is deeply influenced by a respect for people and human rights, and is guided by the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights (Voluntary Principles). These Principles are integrated into our Security Policy and operationalized by our Security Management System, which consists of six elements: Security Risk Assessment Process and Reviews, Information Gathering and Analysis, Alignment with International Norms, Control Frameworks, Critical Incident Management and Investigations.

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