Responsible Sourcing Guidance: Human Rights2021-04-21T17:31:13+00:00


Introduction to Human Rights

Human rights are inherent to all human beings, without discrimination, regardless of race, sex, nationality, ethnicity, language, religion, or any other status. They include the right to life and liberty, freedom from slavery and torture, freedom of opinion and expression, the right to work and education, and much more.  They cannot be taken away, except in very specific circumstances, such as the right to liberty when a person has committed a serious crime.

There are three overarching types of rights and freedoms. These are civil and political rights, social and economic rights and labour rights.They are interrelated, interdependent and indivisible. The improvement of one facilitates advancement of the others, and, likewise, the deprivation of one adversely affects the others.

When it comes to internationally recognized human rights, one usually refers to those covered by the:

UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (the Guiding Principles) is an instrument that was endorsed by the United Nations Human Rights Council in 2011. It consists of 31 principles and provides the first global standard for preventing and addressing the risk of adverse impacts on human rights linked to business activity. Today, the UN Guiding Principles continue to provide the internationally accepted framework for enhancing standards and practice regarding business and human rights. The framework is based on three pillars:

  • The state duty to protect human rights
  • The corporate responsibility to respect human rights
  • Access to remedy for victims of business-related abuses.

Obligations of Members of the Jewellery and Gemstone Industries with Respect to Human Rights

Members of the jewellery and gemstone industries should ensure that they and their suppliers respect Human Rights and observe the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights in ways appropriate to their size and circumstances

At a minimum, members of the industry should do the following:

  1. Formulate a company policy commitment to respect Human Rights as part of Responsible Sourcing
  2. Include measures in the company’s due diligence process that seek to identify, prevent, mitigate and account for how they address their impacts on Human Rights
  3. Where members identify that they have caused or contributed to adverse Human Rights impacts, they shall provide for or cooperate in legitimate processes to enable the remediation of those impacts.

Preparing a Human Rights Policy

A human rights policy formalises the business’s vision and commitment to respect human rights, both in the business itself and long the entirety of the supply chain.

The policy should outline the business’s expectation from its staff, contractors and suppliers. It should be signed by an executive or senior manager, and include the date when it became effective.

The company should communicate the policy to internal and external stakeholders. This can be done in many ways including posting the human rights policy on the company website, posting the policy prominently in the business premises, for example in hallways and notice boards, adding the commitment statement in the supplier contracts and invoices.

One approach of communicating the policy to internal stakeholders is to train workers. The training can be done in many ways, possibly through instructor-led classroom trainings or webinars. In this respect it is important to keep and maintain records. The training record should include information such as the date and time of training, what the workers were trained on, the name of the training instructor, names of the workers who attended the training and their signatures. The training records should be maintained for at least five years or as prescribed by the law. Training of employees should be done regularly; at minimum, upon hiring, and annually as a refresher.

At least one person within a business should be responsible for ensuring the company keeps up with all applicable human rights law (for example, labour rights law), and ensuring that the business is compliant. The person will be responsible for monitoring all applicable human rights laws and regulations and for reviewing relevant policies and procedures, to ensure that the company continues to comply with changing laws.


Preparing a Human Rights Due Diligence Procedure

Human rights due diligence refers to the set of ongoing processes through which the company identifies potential human rights impacts caused by the business or business relationships, prevents potential human rights impacts, and mitigates and accounts for how the business addresses its impacts on human rights, where such impacts are identified.

According to the UN Guiding Principles, human rights due diligence should include 4 key steps:

  1. Assessing actual and potential human rights impacts
  2. Acting to prevent or mitigate the impacts
  3. Tracking how effectively impacts are addressed, by collecting feedback, including from affected stakeholders, to better understand whether the activities designed during step II are effective for preventing and mitigating the assessed impacts
  4. Communicating how impacts are addressed, to help build trust and demonstrate accountability.

The Human Rights Due Diligence Procedure document should provide clear instructions and guidance to employees on how to carry out the activities needed to implement the company’s human rights policy.