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Mining, civil society and UNICEF agree to partner to further children’s rights within the mining sector

UNICEF South Africa/2016/Schermbrucker
© UNICEF South Africa/2016/Schermbrucker
Panelists at the Breakfast Roundtable.

Table Bay Hotel, Cape Town, 9 February, 2016 - UNICEF in partnership with the National Business Initiative, and the South African Human Rights Commission, held a breakfast Roundtable to discuss ways in which Children’s Rights can be upheld and preserved in the South African Mining Industry . The Breakfast Meeting on the side-lines of the African Mining Indaba presents an opportunity to engage with mining sector stakeholders on child rights impacts, and position children and young people as a distinct stakeholder group that can be prioritized by the industry.

The discussions were informed by the ‘Children’s Rights and Business Principles’ a guideline developed by UNICEF, Save the Children and the UN Global Compact to assess the ways in which the mining sector affects children across the world. Members of the business community and members of government included Honorable Buti Manamela, Deputy Minister in the Presidency responsible for Planning, Monitoring, Evaluation and Youth Development, Mr. Mike Teke President of the Chamber of Mines, Ms Bridgette Radebe Chairperson of Mmakau Mining, Ms Kgomotso Tshaka, Social Ethics, and Transformation committee of the NBI. The panel deliberated some of the challenges that they currently confront, and how their business practices could be better enhanced to put the rights of children as a distinct stakeholder within the sector.

The Children’s Rights and Business Principles are informed by the fact that within the mining sector, children’s rights, namely those of a right to education, housing and their right to a healthy community and environment, are often impacted both positively and negatively by the extractive sector. UNICEF has applied these principles in other countries such as Madagascar, Canada and Mozambique and have proven to serve as important guidelines for corporates as to how to operate in a socially responsible way and recognise children as distinct stakeholders with unique rights.

Though public statistics/evidence on children in the South African mining sector remain thin, one of the purposes of the roundtable was to bring to light how best the private mining sector can include children in their business practices, placing their preservation of their rights as integral. The panellists at the Roundtable acknowledged that the mining industry should recognize children as a distinct stakeholder and their needs should be considered in business practices, and that the principles were a good start to creating a broader multi stakeholder platform to engage and collaborate as to how best to do so.

The attendees expressed their intent to plan to unpack the issues that children face, and to reconvene to formulate a report on addressing opportunities where The Principles can be incorporated, furthering the fulfilment of children’s rights.

 

 

 

 

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