Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights

The Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights (VPs) are a set of non-binding principles created to assist extractive companies to balance security concerns with human rights.  The VPs were launched in 2000 and are a tripartite multi-stakeholder initiative.  Participants include 7 states, 11 NGOs, 21 companies and 5 organizations with observer status (as of May 2012).

The VPs were developed in response to reports of human rights abuses allegedly committed by security providers contracted by the extractive industry.  The principles apply to interactions with both public and private security forces.  They are voluntary, but several companies, both participants and non-participants, have incorporated the VPs into their management systems and agreements with contractors.

The VPs include provisions on:

    • regular consultations between companies and host governments & local communities;
    • issues of proportionality and use of force;
    • improved company engagement for protection of human rights by their security contractors;
    • monitoring of progress of investigations into alleged abuses;
    • inclusion of appropriate provisions in contracts;
    • review of the background of private security that companies intend to employ.

 

Questions have been raised about lack of transparency, mainly because of the confidential nature of the dialogue on which the VPs are based.  There has also been concerns about the actual implementation of the principles and the participation criteria.  In 2009, the plenary adopted amended formal participation criteria and indicated a common understanding of the future direction of the VPs.  The changes include minimum requirements for participation, a dispute resolution process to raise concerns about the performance of a participant, clear accountability mechanisms, and some public reporting on implementation, or support of implementation, of the VPs.

The VPs plenary also welcomed greater focus on local implementation through “in-country processes” - multi-stakeholder forums to support implementation and integration of the VPs at a country level.  Countries mentioned with respect to such processes include Colombia, Indonesia and Nigeria.  At the moment, only the Colombia case study is publicly available.

A selection of key reports on the VPs is accessible below.

For further reports & articles, see the Resource Centre’s general section on the Voluntary Principles on Security & Human Rights

Official website and principles

Voluntary Principles homepage

Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights

[Español] Principios Voluntarios de Seguridad y Derechos Humanos

[Français] Principes volontaires sur la sécurité et les droits de l’homme

Reports and commentaries

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