Established in 2000, the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights are a set of principles developed to guide extractive companies (oil, gas and mining companies) in ensuring the safety and security of their operations, personnel and facilities in a manner that promotes respect for human rights norms.
OVERVIEW OF THE VOLUNTARY PRINCIPLES:
• Multiple Stakeholders: It is an international initiative involving multiple stakeholders from extractive companies, governments and key international non-governmental organizations.
• Extractive Sector: It was developed for the extractive sector.
• Scope: The scope of the voluntary principles is narrow and limited to security and human right issues.
• Uniqueness: It is the only international initiative which spells out guidelines for ensuring extractive industries’ security arrangements respect human rights.
• Shared responsibility: They recognize the need for shared responsibility for the protection of human rights in extractive companies’ security arrangements by stakeholders including governments, extractive industries and civil society/host communities.
WHY IMPLEMENT THE VOLUNTARY PRINCIPLES?
• It gives practical guidelines on risk management in relation to security and human right issues to ensure extractive companies respect human rights at the international, national, project or site level.
• It provide a useful medium for joint learning and problem-solving, and for building best practices on security and human rights challenges for companies, governments, and NGOs
• While other initiatives like Extractive Industry
• While other initiatives like Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative (EITI), Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and Community Development Agreements or Global Memorandum of Agreement address other issues in the extractive sector (e.g. environmental issues, transparency, development, etc.), the voluntary principles focuses on the security arrangements of extractive companies to ensure they respect human rights.
• The Voluntary Principles works hand-in-hand with the broader United Nations Guiding Principles on business and human rights framework by providing specific guidelines for the extractive sector to safeguard human rights in their security arrangements.
• It addresses the gap in the Minerals laws of countries which addresses several issues such as fiscal, environmental, and community development issues, but rarely addresses human rights in their security issues.
• It directly answers the question on how extractive companies can obey and respect national and international human rights in their security arrangements.
IMPORTANT FEATURES OF THE VOLUNTARY PRINCIPLES ON SECURITY AND HUMAN RIGHTS
• Broadly, the Voluntary Principles gives guidelines for extractive companies on risk assessment, interaction with public security forces and private.
• Key principles of the VPs include: identification of security risks and the possibility of violence and development of strategies to address them; inspection of available human rights records of public and private security forces; conflict analysis and development of approaches for managing relationships between stakeholders; proper management of transfer of equipment to public and private security forces that may cause human right abuses; wide, regular and structured consultation with stakeholders on security and human rights issues and impact of security arrangements; communication of companies’ policies on ethical conduct and human rights to security providers; guidelines on deployment and conduct of security forces (e.g. appropriateness, competence, proportionality, avoidance of implicated security personnel; appropriateness, competence, proportionality, avoidance of implicated security personnel; respect for human rights; use of force; response to human rights violation and abuse, provision of medical aid to the injured); promotion and observance of international law enforcement principles; support of efforts to provide human rights training and education for security forces.
POTENTIAL BENEFITS FOR GOVERNMENTS
• Contributes to having a good, stable and more secure trade and investment-friendly operating climate which is important for profit-making for companies and fulfillment of national objectives such as revenue generation, economic growth, poverty alleviation, boosting local and foreign direct investment, and sustainable development by Governments.
• Enables government to be pro-active about conflict-prevention arising out of security and human-rights related issues in the extractive sector
• Improves dialogue, collaboration and problem- solving with extractive companies and civil society organizations on security and human rights.
• Enables governments to better fulfill its human rights obligations under domestic laws and international treaties
• Helps governments to fulfill their constitutional duty of promoting the welfare of their people in the area of security and human rights.
• Promotes a positive change in the mindset of Public Security forces thereby making them more professional, disciplined, boosting their public image and enabling them comply with international law enforcement principles and human rights standards.
• Contributes to reducing the huge funds devoted to security by governments and extractive companies allowing them to maximize revenue generation and deploy them for more productive ends.
• Through information sharing, it could help address challenges such as oil theft, pipeline vandalisation, oil bunkering, extortion, shutdown of production, kidnapping, illegal mining, divestment by extractive companies etc.
• Contributes to effective governance of the extractive sector from a security and human rights perspective.
• Potential benefits for extractive companies
Gives practical guidance on how extractive companies can respect, avoid or address human right violations and abuse thereby preventing and reducing conflicts
• Contributes to peace-building and attainment of peaceful co-existence with host communities
• Enhances their capacity to obey domestic and international human rights law
• Helps companies reduce the costs related to insecurity thereby increasing their profit margin.
• Enables companies to enhance their ability to be seen as good corporate entities.
• Contributes to ensuring cordial relationship with host communities
• Promotes transparency and good corporate social responsibilities
• Contributes to the ability of companies to operate in serene climate within which to maximize profits.
POTENTIALBENEFITS FOR NO-GOVERNMENTAL ORGANIZATIONS
• Enables NGOs to have a better grasp security and human right issues thereby improving their ability advocate for change
• Through mutual learning from other stakeholders, it enables NGOs to support all stakeholders on peace, security and human rights issues
• Provides NGOs with knowledge of tools and approaches pertaining to the VPs and their broader issues that they can integrate into their work
• Enables mutual sharing of information and participation in dialogues on challenges in implementation of the Voluntary Principles
• Promotes mutual learning and problem-solving with a group that is well-acquainted in security and human rights issues to address challenges at international, national and project level
• Promotes joint promotion of human rights with other stakeholders which could have a long-term positive impact on security and human rights issues
• Promotes joint development of publicly available tools for defining best practices for security and human rights issues.
POTENTIAL BENEFITS FOR COMMUNITIES
• Contributes to the promotion and protection of the human rights of host communities.
• Through regular consultations as prescribed in the voluntary principles it gives communities a sense of ownership and commitment.
• It contributes to building good relationships with extractive companies and government entities.
• It contributes to conflict prevention and peace building which result in a conducive atmosphere for communities to pursue productive activities
• Potential benefits for all stakeholders.
• Through regular consultations, it promotes peace-building and good relationship.
POTENTIAL BENEFITS FOR ALL STAKEHOLDERS
• Through regular consultations, it promotes peace building and good relationship amongst stakeholders in the extractive sector
• Provides a good model for addressing security and human rights issues in the extractive sector
• Reduces friction and promotes conflict prevention amongst stakeholders in the extractive sector by reducing the risk of human rights violations or abuse
• Enhances better governance of the extractive sector from the security and human rights perspective.
PARTICIPANTS IN THE VOLUNTARY PRINCIPLES
Participants in the voluntary principles initiative include Governments, Extractive Companies, Non-Governmental organizations and International Observers they are:
Governments: Australia, Canada, Colombia, The Netherlands, Norway, Switzerland, United Kingdom and United State of America.
Extractive Companies: Anglo American, Anglo Gold Ashanti, Barrick Gold Corporation, BG Group, BHP Billiton, British Petroleum, Chevron Corporation, Conoco Philips, Exxon Mobil, Freeport-McMoRan Copper and Gold, Hess Corporation, Marathon Oil Company, Newmont Mining Corporation, Norsk Hydro, Occidental Petroleum Corporation, Pan Aust, Repsol, Rio Tinto, Shell, Statoil, Talisman Energy, Tullow Oil, Total
Non-Governmental Organizations: The Fund for Peace, Global Rights, Human Rights Watch, IKV Pax Christi, International Alert, Pact, Partnership Africa Canada, Partners for Democratic Change International, and Search for Common Ground.
Observers: Center for the Democratic Control of Armed Forces (DCAF), International Committee of the Red Cross(ICRC), International Council on Mining and Metals (ICMM), International Finance Corporation (IFC), International Petroleum Industry Environmental Conservation Association (IPIECA).
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