Mapping of human rights impacts in the gold value chain

The parties and adhering banks to the DBA (banks, civil society organizations, government and trade unions) mapped the human rights impacts in the gold value chain from their collective areas of expertise.

Mapping of human rights impacts in the gold value chain © Wolfgang Bicheler (Drijfhout)

Read the analysis of the Gold Value Chain. In line with the UNGPs, they subsequently determined which human rights impacts were most severe and should therefore be addressed with priority. Parties and banks agreed to jointly carry out value chain mapping exercises in high risk sectors. Earlier analyses on the cocoa and palm oil value chain where published.

Dutch banks are involved in financing Large-Scale Mining (LSM) production, manufacturing, retail and recycling activities within the gold sector. Gold mining contributes to economies and can have positive impact. Nevertheless there are significant human rights risks. The working group based its analysis on the expertise of parties and their networks, expertise of local stakeholders and output of expert meetings. Representatives of the Dutch Responsible Gold Agreement took part in the working group, making this the first actual cooperation between two sector agreements for responsible business conduct.

Prioritisation framework

The gold working group identified and prioritised human rights issues associated with the gold value chain. This was done according to the severity and leverage framework derived from the UNGPs. These contain the Scale (gravity of the impact), Scope (number of individuals affected) and remediability (the ease with which those impacted can be restored to their prior enjoyment of their rights). To determine leverage, parties considered which actor in or around the chain needs to behave differently, which party or adhering banks best positioned to influence this actor and how the party or adhering bank is going to exercise leverage.

Identified human rights issues

This led to a longlist of 27 human rights issues and eventually to a shortlist of 8 human rights issues:

  • Labour - Child Labour
  • Occupational health & safety – Exposure to Mercury
  • Occupational health & safety – Physical working conditions
  • Land & water related rights – Land & water rights
  • Broader community impacts – Community health & safety
  • Broader community impacts – Effects of in-migration
  • Governance – Conflict Financing
  • Vulnerable groups – Women’s rights


The working group decided to focus on the issues that are most prevalent in LSM mining and formulated recommendations on three of the prioritized severe human rights issues: land and water rights, women’s rights and community health and safety. In addition, the working group formulated recommendations on two overarching topics: transparency and the relation ASM-LSM.

Read the analysis of the Gold Value Chain (pdf)