In 2012, Barrick Gold launched a grievance mechanism in Porgera, Papua New Guinea, to remedy sexual violence committed by private security personnel. It was one of the first designed to align with the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.
The Framework was the flashpoint of controversy throughout its operation. Stakeholders criticized it under the Guiding Principles and international law. At one point, some claimants threatened to bring legal action in the United States.
In 2015, Enodo was commissioned to conduct an independent and public assessment of the Framework with reference to the Guiding Principles.
Enodo’s assessment was the first of its kind. The Framework’s complexity and Barrick’s transparency were unprecedented. Each step of the assessment posed unique challenges.
To evaluate the Framework fairly and objectively, we developed a rigorous analytical structure around the Guiding Principles and integrated a diverse array of stakeholder perspectives.
- • We developed 26 practical indicators of an effective grievance mechanism.
- • We engaged with experts in the Guiding Principles and sexual violence.
- • We engaged with all personnel involved in the Framework’s design and implementation.
- • We engaged with community leaders and other local stakeholders.
- • We engaged with over 100 survivors of sexual violence in Porgera to understand their experience and the Framework’s impact on their lives.
We identified precisely which parts of the Framework had succeeded and which had fallen short. We offered Barrick specific recommendations regarding how to address the continuing controversy in a principled manner, with the interests of vulnerable women always the beacon.
Our assessment demonstrated that, while there were errors, much of the criticism of Barrick was unfounded. Barrick’s unprecedented transparency was praised by investors, international organizations, and even the most skeptical local NGO.
Our assessment wrestled with many complex aspects of Guiding Principle 31, including the meaning of “legitimacy”, the quantum of “rights-compatible remedy”, and the scope of stakeholder engagement.
The result is a practical roadmap for companies to use in designing Guiding Principles-aligned grievance mechanisms.