Any of our business? Human Rights and the UK private sector - Human Rights Joint Committee Contents

Memorandum submitted by BHP Billiton Limited

  On 3 June we received an email from Ms Emily Gregory on behalf of the Joint Committee on Human Rights in relation to the Committee's inquiry into Business and Human Rights advising that BHP Billiton had been referred to in evidence and inviting us to respond.

  We have read the submissions that make reference to us and would like to make the following comments.

  BHP Billiton considers human rights to be a very important issue and we recognise, support an are committed to the following international instruments which are directly relevant to different aspects of human rights: the UN Declaration of Human Rights; the US-UK Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights; the UN Global Compact and the World Bank Operational Directions on Involuntary Resettlement.

  The management of human rights are embedded in our management systems that are regularly audited and our performance publicly reported. For example, as part of this system our Sustainable Development Policy requires that wherever we operate we will ensure that we understand, promote and uphold fundamental rights within our sphere of influence.

  At an operational level all our sites and facilities that we either own or operate must undertake a human rights assessment and identify any actual or potential human rights issues, and where so identified develop and implement a human rights management plan as well as ensuring that all employees and contractors receive training to facilitate compliance with our human rights commitments.

  The human rights assessments must be reviewed annually to ensure that it remains relevant and there are also reporting obligations on sites to ensure that it is carried out as well as reporting any human rights transgressions.

  BHP Billiton reports its sustainability performance which includes reporting on human rights issues. Our latest sustainability report, Resourcing the Future, is available on our website at:

  Human rights information in this report includes, for example, details about the number of employees and contractors participating in human rights training in FY2008 (23,876), that there were no recorded human rights transgressions in that year and how we have met our commitments under the Global Compact.

  In relation to the comments made in the submissions about BHP Billiton we note that there are a number of errors and much of the information is out of date.

  Finally, we also recognise that one of our challenges is to continue to manage the potential exposure to human rights issues in an ever changing world and in diverse locations where we operate but we believe with our commitment to human rights and detailed management systems that we are able to remain sensitive to and appropriately manage human rights issues.

Ian Wood

Vice President Environment and Community Relations

12 June 2009

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