Policy of respect for human rights including fair recruitment principles in the sugar and palm oil production sector in Guatemala
- Responsible Organisations: Chamber of agriculture (Cámara del Agro CAMAGRO); Sugar producers association (Asociación de Azucareros de Guatemala, ASAZGUA); Palm oil Producer asociación (Gremial de Palmicultores de Guatemala, GREPALMA)
- ILO Regions: Americas
- Country(ies): Guatemala
- Thematic areas: Fair recruitment
- MLFLM: 13.
- Sectors: Agriculture and fishing
Through the technical assistance of the REFRAME Project as well as a consultative process, companies have been sensitized to the fact that the responsibility to respect human rights comes with accountability and transparent reporting requirements, in accordance with established criteria. Subsequently, it was agreed to develop two specific sectoral policies, one for the sugar sector and the other for the palm oil sector, which take as a reference the ILO Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work, as well as the ILO General Principles and Operational Guidelines for Fair Recruitment (GPOG). Companies were provided with guidelines for the verification of good business practices in the respect of human rights, operational complaint mechanisms and suggestions for remedial action. Examples of good practices were also described in the guide along with criteria to measure their effectiveness.
Proof of impact/progress
Following the consultations, the sugar producers association ASAZGUA, the palm oil producer association GREPALMA and its partners made a declaration of commitment to observe and comply with the human rights set forth in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the ILO Declaration on the Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work - taking into account the UN Principles on Business and Rights Human Rights and the ILO General Principles and Operational Guidelines for Fair Recruitment. They committed to promoting respect for these rights throughout value chains, including the right to freedom from forced labour, which is often the result of unfair recruitment.
ASAZGUA, GREPALMA and its partners committed to doing due diligence to prevent, mitigate and resolve current risks throughout value chains, including those related to recruitment irregularities and human rights violations.
ASAZGUA committed to “maintain the timely periodicity of the due diligence evaluations in matters of human rights to our associates“, and to “give continuity to the monitoring, evaluation and improvement system in social, labour and environmental aspects establishing goals of specific improvement for each associate“.
GREPALMA committed to training their partner agencies in human rights and fair recruitment and incorporating a mechanism to verify compliance. These actions have been validated with every participating company. Furthermore, the Sustainability Department of GREPALMA has been tasked to deal with queries related to compliance with the policy. GREPALMA also ensures follow-up to the implementation of the policy through its Board of Directors, and shares its bi-annual progress reports through its communication platforms with concerned parties. The content of the adopted human rights policies will also be reviewed annually as part of an evaluation process.
Thousands of (migrant) workers benefit from these measures. The 11 associated mills in ASAZGUA generate around 63 thousand direct jobs and 315 thousand indirect ones in the sugar sector while the palm oil sector in Guatemala generates 28,575 direct jobs and features 143,000 indirect beneficiaries.
Other promising features
Participation and representation:
The elaboration of both policies for palm oil and sugar producing organizations was a participatory process involving their Boards of Directors, Chamber of Agriculture, companies and workers. During the formulation process they identified the human rights challenges together, including those related to forced labour, freedom of association, and non-discrimination (migrants, gender) and identified remedial action including the application of the principles of fair recruitment.
Through due diligence, a process has been developed to respect human rights throughout value chains, and capacity has been built to identify, prevent, mitigate and remedy the risk of involvement in human rights abuses in companies own activities or due to their commercial relationships.