The application of due diligence responsibility to child labour in mineral supply chains: a rights holders' perspective
This dissertation presents an exploratory and interpretive literature study on the extent of the application of due diligence responsibility to child labourers as rights holders in the mineral supply chain. Worldwide, one million children work in hazardous mining conditions referred to as the worst forms of child labour. The incidence of child labour today more prominently occurs within the confines of complex and fragmented corporate global supply chains. The international community has widely recognised this dilemma, as a result, corporations now have a due diligence responsibility duty to respect the rights of the child to be free from economic exploitation in their global supply chain activities. In doing so, they have an obligation to identify, prevent, mitigate and remedy child labour impacts in the supply chain. The Guiding Principles/normative framework and the OECD Guidelines are recognised as the two most prominent standards that strongly require corporations to enforce this duty. While corporations have a due diligence responsibility duty to respect the rights of the child, specific to child labour impacts in the mineral supply chain, a due diligence responsibility gap nonetheless exists. Child labour in mineral supply chains occurs at the very bottom of the supply chain. Children in such contexts are therefore invisible children cut out from immediate due diligence responsibility action. As duty bearers of due diligence responsibility, corporations also normally tend to this duty from a corporate risk approach. They thereby fail to promote the rights holders' perspective for child labour in activities as such mining. The due diligence responsibility gap for child labour in the mineral supply chain is also enhanced by limited information on the relation between due diligence responsibility and the effective realisation of the rights of the child to be free from child labour in the mineral supply chain. The presence of a due diligence responsibility gap leads to an investigation on the extent to which this duty applies to child labourers as rights holders in the mineral supply chain and whether it can be used to realise the rights of the child to be free from economic exploitation. The investigation of the study eventually leads to the conclusion that due diligence responsibility as a duty to only respect the rights of the child cannot effectively realise the rights of the child in supply chain activities. It should be accompanied by duties which also require corporations to protect and fulfil the rights of the child in the supply chain.