This article explores how CSR in mining companies can contribute to the promotion of artisanal miners' human rights (HR) in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
First, the paper designs a framework for a public policy on artisans. Then it incorporates the possible contribution of companies to this policy drawing from the existent CSR literature. This framework is applied to relationships between mining companies and artisans in Katanga, a low-conflict Province of the DRC. Finally, CSR guidelines for the promotion of artisans' HR are formulated. The theoretical framework articulates a public policy approach -which includes different actors- and a CSR approach -which develops the specific role of one such actor: the company- in the promotion of artisanal miners' HR. Data used in the empirical part are qualitative, and include primary data gathered from visits to different mining companies operating in the Province, and an interview with a local specialist in artisanal miners.
The first finding is that artisanal miners are a heterogeneous group, with multiple HR problems. Therefore, a public policy and a CSR policy to promote their HR are equally complex. However, local practices in the specific context of Katanga suggest two suitable CSR strategies for promoting artisans' HR: supporting new sustainable economic activities where artisans have been displaced by a company; and promoting the formalization of artisanal activity where companies are the artisans' clients.
This paper does not include interviews with mining company managers in Katanga in order to design very specific actions in each one of these CSR strategies. Our research does not include field work in high-conflict areas.
The heterogeneity and dynamism of artisanal miners' problems and the weakness of the Congolese State lead to a basic recommendation for responsible mining companies in low-conflict areas: the implementation of dialogues with local communities and local governments in order to cover the needs of artisanal miners and discover innovation opportunities for the companies
Although there is abundant literature on artisanal miners, the connection of artisanal miners and CSR has scarcely been developed. As far as we know, the illustration of this connection for the DRC has not been addressed. Additionally, the design of public policies for artisanal miners -part of the informal economy- and the contribution of companies to such policies can help address problems arising from other informal activities in Africa.