Implementation of the Guiding Principles in the Extractive Industries in South America: Observations from the Lithium Triangle


  • Andy Symington Australian Human Rights Institute


The Guiding Principles are the main instrument around which business and human rights dialogue revolves. However, ten years on from their launch, it is of interest to examine their impact on state and company practice on the ground. Drawing on extensive fieldwork in the region, this article examines the impact of the Principles in the lithium extraction industry in South America. It finds that while direct take-up is very limited, there is significant indirect influence via the instrument’s incorporation in other industry-specific or sustainability frameworks. The paper goes on to analyse the applicability of the Guiding Principles and operational steps like due diligence to indigenous rights and to situations where mining companies typically lack capacity until projects are well advanced. Some suggestions are made for increased state and community involvement in due diligence processes to make them a more robust fit to the extractive and indigenous contexts.

Biografía del autor/a

Andy Symington, Australian Human Rights Institute

Andy Symington is a PhD candidate in the Faculty of Law and Justice at UNSW Sydney (Australia) and an associate of the Australian Human Rights Institute. He is working in the area of business and human rights with a particular research focus on corporate engagement with Indigenous rights norms in South America’s lithium industry. He also works as a human rights consultant and is an experienced and widely published freelance travel writer and journalist.


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