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