Vedanta

Foreign and Commonwealth Office written question – answered on 16th April 2019.

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Photo of Caroline Lucas Caroline Lucas Green, Brighton, Pavilion

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what assessment his Department has made of the adequacy of the (a) human rights and (b) environmental record of the UK-listed company Vedanta Resources in its overseas operations.

Photo of Caroline Lucas Caroline Lucas Green, Brighton, Pavilion

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, whether his Department has plans to undertake an investigation into allegations of (a) human rights abuses and (b) environmental damage by the UK-listed company Vedanta Resources in its overseas operations.

Photo of Caroline Lucas Caroline Lucas Green, Brighton, Pavilion

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what assessment his Department has made of the legality of the commercial operations of the UK-listed company Vedanta Resources in (a) India and (b) Zambia in relation to human rights law.

Photo of Caroline Lucas Caroline Lucas Green, Brighton, Pavilion

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what processes his Department has put in place to monitor the compliance of UK-listed companies with international (a) human rights and (b) environmental law in relation of operations overseas.

Photo of Mark Field Mark Field Minister of State

In line with the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, the British Government encourages all companies to conduct human rights due diligence and to put in place measures to mitigate any human rights impacts caused by their operations and to assist with access to remedy accordingly. In its National Action Plan on Business and Human Rights, updated in 2016, the Government has set out its approach to ensuring that those affected by business-related human rights abuses by UK-based business enterprises have access to effective remedy. The UK is also a signatory to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises maintains a National Contact Point (NCP) to promote the Guidelines, and implements a complaints mechanism. The complaints mechanism can include the examination of instances where alleged abuses of human rights or environmental damage may have occurred.

The UK NCP has previously handled a complaint against Vedanta Resources plc (Vedanta) from Survival International regarding activities related to the planned construction of a bauxite mine in India. The UK NCP issued a final statement on the complaint in September 2009: September 2009: UK NCP Final Statement - Complaint from Survival International against Vedanta Resources plc in which the UK NCP made recommendations to Vedanta with the aim of assisting the company in bringing its practices in line with the Guidelines; including that Vedanta engage with the indigenous group named in the complaint and include a human and indigenous rights impact assessment in its project management process. In line with its published procedures, the UK NCP issued a follow-up statement on the case in March 2010 UK. The statement can be found on the NCP website: https://www.gov.uk/government/groups/uk-national-contact-point-for-the-organisation-for-economic-co-operation-and-development-guidelines.

We are awaiting the result of the case before the Supreme Court brought on behalf of 1,826 claimants in Zambia against Konkola Copper Mines, a subsidiary of Vedanta.

The Government considers that it has met its responsibilities under the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights: to set out the requirements of businesses with respect to human rights, to promote responsible business practices and to support access remedy for human rights abuses with regard to the activities of Vedanta Resource plc (Vedanta).

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