About the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights (VPs)
The Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights is an international multi-stakeholder initiative established in the year 2000 involving governments, extractive companies, local and international NGOs and international observers. The VPs espouse a set of guidelines on how extractive companies (Oil, gas and mining) can ensure compatibility between their security arrangements and respect for human rights. It gives guidelines to extractive companies on risk assessment, interaction with public security forces and interactions with private security companies to ensure that the legitimate need for security of operations, assets and personnel is done appropriately, in a manner that will not violate the human rights of other people, with concomitant benefits for all stakeholders.
Members of the initiative include companies like Total, ExxonMobil, Shell, Statoil, Chevron, Tullow Oil, Conoco, AngloGold Ashanti, Rio Tinto, and Repsol. NGOs members include Human Rights Watch, Fund for Peace and International Alert. Observers include the International Finance Corporation (IFC), International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and International Petroleum Industry Environmental Conservation Association (IPIECA). Member countries include Ghana, Colombia, US, UK, Netherlands, Norway, Argentina, Australia, and Canada, although the Principles are implemented by all the extractives companies in several other countries where they have their operations (For a list of all members and observers, see the document captioned “VPs Fact Sheet – English”).
Diligent application of the Voluntary Principles by extractive companies will contribute to conflict-prevention, peace-building, protection of the welfare of host communities and also a trade and investment-friendly climate which is integral for businesses to operate optimally. Its conscientious application will also be a win-win for all stakeholders – government, extractive companies, communities, NGOs and the Nigerian nation. The VPs also works hand-in-hand with the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (which Nigeria supported and still supports) to ensure businesses respect human rights in their security arrangements. For more on its benefits, see attached document, captioned “Fact Sheet on the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights (personal draft)” which I developed for my former organization, Global Rights, about 4 years ago which is still relevant today. With her kind permission of my former boss I have shared it with you all. I have also attached other relevant documents on the mechanism to give a bit more background about the Principles.
The mechanism makes sense from a number of perspectives; from the angles of trade and investment, community, conflict prevention, human rights, peace-building, governance of the extractive sector, etc. Nigeria has absolutely nothing to lose and all to gain by implementing.