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This page provides further information on human rights risks associated with raw materials in automotive supply chains as well as due diligence processes and mitigation strategies. The resources presented below are intended as an addition to the information on general elements of human rights due diligence that is relevant to companies from all sectors (Policy Commitment, Assessing & Addressing Human Rights Risks and Impacts, Embedding & Integrating Respect for Human Rights, Tracking & Communicating Performance, Grievance & Remedy). Companies from other sectors, which process raw materials, can also benefit from the insights provided in this section.
The following publications provide general information on human rights risks associated with raw materials in automotive supply chains.
The briefing by the Business and Human Rights Resource Centre serves as a snapshot of human rights issues in the automotive sector. It provides an overview of cases of human rights allegations and companies reactions as well as positive company actions, and guidance materials to improve human rights due diligence in the automotive sector.
The Dragon Fly Initiative (TDI) together with Drive Sustainability and the Responsible Minerals Initiative has published a study called Material Change on the risks and opportunities of collective actions by industry groups or trade associations in the automotive and electronic industries to maximise positive social, environmental and governance impacts in the raw materials supply chain. Next to the detailed raw material profiles, an interactive map permits companies to get an overview of the main countries of origin of each raw material.
The joint publication “Vom Erz zum Auto” by Misereor and Brot für die Welt put a spotlight on ores that are crucial for car manufacturing (available in German). The publication discusses common human rights violations and environmental costs related to the extraction and processing of raw materials that are essential in the production of automobiles.
Focussing on the minerals, metals, and coal sector, the study „Human Rights Risks in Mining – A Baseline Study“ (2016) by the Federal Institute for Geosciences and Natural Resources (BGR) and the Max-Planck-Foundation for International Peace and the Rule of Law (MPFPR) examines and illustrates human rights risks associated with the mining sector. The study provides a comprehensive overview of typical human rights violations and environmental degradation in industrial and artisanal mining.
The following sections provide in-depth insights into human rights risks associated with raw materials in automotive supply chains and identify mitigation options.
The study "Platinum for the World Market, Iron Shacks for the Workers - Living and Working Conditions in Marikana Five Years After the Massacre" (2017) of Bread for the World reveals the ecological and human rights-related problems of platinum mining in South Africa and calls on the human rights due diligence of German companies which import the precious metal, e.g. for the production of exhaust catalysts.
Companies that are
particularly interested in learning more about the human rights risks
associated with electromobility can find insightful background information in
the articles and short videos published by Wirtschaftswoche and Washington Post.
The multimedia story “Für dein Auto” (Nov 2017) illustrates typical human rights and environmental risks associated with the mining of cobalt, platinum, graphite, iron and copper - key raw materials for the production of electric cars.
In a series of articles called “This is where mobile technology begins”
( 2016) the Washington Post documents the human rights risks and
environmental damages associated with the extraction and processing of
cobalt, graphite and lithium.
In a joint civil society briefing (2018), 17 NGOs (among them Global Witness, Amnesty International and Germanwatch) provide guidance to companies, Member States and the EU Commission on how to implement the EU regulation on conflict minerals and the related human rights due diligence in their supply chains.Due Diligence Guidance for Responsible Supply Chains of Minerals from Conflict-Affected and High-Risk Areas” (2013). It provides relevant background information on conflict-affected and high-risk countries and develops a set of recommendations for how corporations can respect human rights in difficult contexts.
Automotive companies interested in understanding due diligence requirements in cobalt supply chains can refer to the report “Time to Recharge: Corporate Action and Inaction to tackle Abuses in the Cobalt Supply Chain” (2017) by Amnesty International. The report assesses the human rights policies and practices of 29 companies. Focussing in particular on cobalt-sourcing practices from the Democratic Republic of Congo, the report amongst others analyses the performance of BMW, Daimler, Tesla, General Motors and Renault.
Companies that are particularly interested in the causes of child labour in the extraction of raw materials, can refer to the report “Breaking the Chain – Ending the Supply of Child-Mined Minerals“ issued by PACT (2013). Focussing on the Democratic Republic of Congo, the report illuminates the underlying causes and drivers of child labour in the Katanga province
The report “The deadly business – Findings from the Lead Recycling Africa Project“ (2016) by the Oeko Institut deals with the human rights risks associated with recycling of car batteries in four African states (Cameroon, Kenya, Ethiopia and Tanzania).
The report “Beauty and the Beast – Child Labour in India for Sparkling Cars and Cosmetics“ which was published in 2016 by the organizations SOMO and Terre des Homme assesses the human rights implications of mica production in India. Mica extraction often involves child labour and other serious labour rights violations. Based on the findings, the report concludes with practical recommendations for different stakeholders including companies on how to implement human right due diligence in mica supply chains.
Companies interested in the human rights risks of leather production can take a look at the report “Sustainability in the leather supply chain“(2013) report published by Ernst & Young. The report provides information on the labour rights situation and sustainability challenges in ten different leather producing countries (India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, China, Vietnam, Indonesia, Thailand, Brazil, Uruguay, Egypt).
The NGO INKOTA-netzwerk e.V. has produced a number of studies over the past years that highlight the human rights risks and challenges associated with leather production in Turkey, Indonesia and India.
The following section contains an overview of selected initiatives that support companies in the implementation of human rights due diligence. The participation in these initiatives does not replace the integration of human rights due diligence processes in company operations.
The Responsible Business Alliance (RBA) represents an industry initiative of global companies from various sectors (automotive, aviation, technology, electronics, toy production), which seeks to promote sustainability in electronics supply chains. The RBA runs a set of working groups that address topics of particular importance for sustainable electronics industry supply chains including Chemical Management, Responsible Minerals Initiative, Environmental Sustainability, Indirect Spend, Responsible Labour Initiative, Stakeholder Initiative, Stakeholder Engagement, Student Workers, Trafficked & Forced Labour und Working Hours. Members include global corporations such as Tesla, Samsung and Apple.
The Global Battery Alliance represents a global initiative of the World Economic Forum that unites global corporations from different sectors (raw materials, technology, automobile). The aim of the Alliance is to address the social and environmental risks associated with the production of batteries that range from child labour, health and safety hazards in informal work, to poverty wages and pollution. BASF, VW and the NEC Corporations are among the members of the initiative.
The Aluminium Stewardship Initiative is a multi-stakeholder initiative aiming at a sustainable aluminium production. Members of the initiative include corporations of the automotive industry such as Audi, BMW, Jaguar and Land Rover.
The European Partnership for Responsible Minerals is a multi-stakeholder initiative that promotes better working and living conditions for miners and mining communities in conflict-affected and high-risk areas. Members of this initiative include global companies such as Intel, Apple and Philips.
The Leather Working Group is a multi-stakeholder initiative that connects more than 400 brands, manufacturers, suppliers with NGOs and end users. Focussing primarily on environmental aspects, the group seeks to promote improvement in the leather manufacturing industry by creating alignment on environmental priorities and by bringing visibility to best practices and providing guidelines for continual improvement. Corporate members of the initiative include Adidas, H&M and Primark.
http://www.responsible-mica-initiative.com/is a multi-stakeholder initiative that aims to eradicate child labour and unacceptable working conditions in the Indian mica supply chain by joining forces across industries. Corporate members of the initiative include Merck, Philips and BASF.
The following section provides practical examples from selected companies and their response to some of the risk areas outlined above.
As part of their human rights due diligence for conflict minerals, Boening and Microsoft started to support the project “Children Out of Mining“ in 2014. The project was run by the NGO PACT in the Katanga region of the Democratic Republic of Congo, where child labour is widespread. Katanga supplies a large proportion of Tin, Tantalum and Tungsten to the global markets. In the course of the project, child labour in the participating areas could be reduced by 89%.
Merck describes its approach to sustainable supply chain management of the raw material Mica in its CSR-Report 2016. In 2008, Merck discovered child labour in its mica supply chains in the Jharkhand and Bihar regions of India. The CSR report describes what measures Merck has taken to respond to this discovery. The company took the conscious decision to continue existing business relationships. At the same time, processes have been developed to ensure that mica is sourced only from controlled mines.
In 2011, Motorola and the AVX Corporation jointly set up the programme Solutions for Hope. The programme was initially created to test the feasibility of responsible, traceable sourcing of tantalum from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in order to promote economic stability in the area. Today the initiative supports the collaboration of companies, civil society organizations and governments in their endeavour to source minerals responsibly from regions experiencing conflict that characterized by limited market access and opaque supply chains. Since 2016 Motorola and AVX use a cloud based due diligence process that is intended to guarantee the traceability of their raw materials from Ruanda.
One fine body…