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Sié Chéou-Kang CenterPrivate Security Monitor

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Global Efforts

Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights

Established in 2000, the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights are non-binding guidelines designed specifically for oil, gas, and mining companies. The Voluntary Principles provide guidance to extractives companies on maintaining the safety and security of their operations, including contracting for security services, within an operating framework that ensures respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. Many of the Voluntary Principles guide the conduct of private security companies.

Voluntary Principles participants form the plenary, which serves as the main decision-making body for the Voluntary Principles Initiative. Each year, participants gather for a two-day annual plenary Meeting, and as needed extraordinary plenary meetings are held. At these meetings, participants discuss new initiatives intended to promote the future growth of the Voluntary Principles framework.

Participation and Implementation Guidance

Overview of Company Efforts to Implement the Voluntary Principles

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The objective of this report is to provide companies with a summary of the experiences and learning to date associated with implementation of the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights .  The report notes that most companies found the Voluntary Principles to be beneficial in reducing their risk overall, from reputation concerns to legal liability. The report also identifies best practices from companies trying to apply the Principles to their global operations. 

Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights: Implementation Guidance Tools

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This document is a detailed guide designed to help companies, their employees, and contractors implement the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights. They are non-prescriptive and provides a range of different tools on which companies may draw, according to their individual needs and circumstances. A section is decided to utilizing private security providers in accordance with the Voluntary Principles.

Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights: Participation Criteria 2011

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The Participation Criteria for the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights articulate the responsibilities of current and future members of the initiative. Some of the key features of the criteria include: minimum requirements for participation; a dispute resolution process to raise concerns about the performance of a participant; accountability mechanisms that include the possibility of expulsion; and more transparent procedures for accepting new members.

Voluntary Principles Strategy 2014-2016

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This document outlines the strategy for implementing and expanding the Voluntary Principles from 2014 to 2016. Objectives include securing new Participants, strengthening civil society participation at national and international levels, and enhancing engagement with government security entities.

Voluntary Principles Strategy 2013-2016

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This documents outlines strategy for implementing and expanding the Voluntary Principles through 2016. Goals include expanding membership in the Government pillar; reviewing entry criteria; and enhancing civil society participation at the national and international levels. 

The Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights: An Implementation Toolkit for Major Project Sites

Author: World Bank Group
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This toolkit on implementation of the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights outlines how to develop and implement a VPSHR plan and how to gain senior management buy-in along the way. It would be impractical to provide a definitive, complete recipe book for compliance in all situations; rather, this document is a starting point for companies and projects to develop site-level VPSHR implementation plans tailored to their specific location and needs.

Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights: Governance Rules

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This document on Governance Rules for the Voluntary Principles delineates the exact procedures and structure of the organization's governing body. It includes voting procedure, meeting processes, and the responsibilities of the Secretariat, the Plenary Body and the Steering Committee.

Plenary Documents and Speeches

Keynote speech by Edward Bickham, Chairman of the Institute of Business Ethics, to the 2015 Plenary of the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights

Author: Edward Bickham
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Edward Bickman, Chairman of the Institute of Business Ethics, speaks at the 2015 annual plenary of the Voluntary Principles. Bickman drew from his own experience implementing the Principles as a mining company executive, his service on the Steering Committee and time at the OECD. 

Summary of Implementation Efforts during 2014, presented at 2015 plenary

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In this review of the efforts of governments, corporations, and NGOs to uphold the Voluntary Principles (VPs), it summarizes various steps that each pillar has taken to implement the VPs. The report identifies a wide variety of lessons and recommendations with regard to the VPs generally, as well as with regard to implementation efforts specifically

Summary Report of Voluntary Principles Implementation Efforts During 2010, presented at the 2011 Plenary Meeting

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The summary report provides an overview of Participants’ efforts to implement the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights during the course of 2010.  The report addresses four areas of implementation:  (A) Commitment to the Voluntary Principles; (B) Policies, Procedures, and Implementation Activities; (C) Country Implementation; and (D) Lessons and Issues.

Keynote Remarks by Alexandra Guáqueta, Chair of the UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights, at the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights annual plenary

Author: Alexandra Guáqueta
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Alexandra Guáqueta, Chair of the UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights, speaks at the 2014 annual plenary of the Voluntary Principles. Guáqueta, a former oil company executive, spoke in particular about her own experience implementing the principles as a member of the private sector pillar. 

Chair’s Summary of Proceedings, Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights 2012 Plenary Meeting

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The summary of the 2012 Annual Plenary of the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights in Ottawa, Canada provides an overview of the topics and initiatives covered during the meeting. In particular, the meeting welcomed new members, including Total, S.A. and the Center for the Democratic Control of Armed Forces; received reports upon a pilot project led by Barrick Gold and the challenges faced by current participants; and discussed current best practices on human rights and security issues for the extractive industry. 

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton’s Remarks to the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights 2011 Plenary Meeting

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In her address to the Members of the Voluntary Principles, Secretary Clinton spoke of the need for NGOs, companies and governments to work together to strengthen human rights safeguards in company security arrangements in the extractive sector. Secretary Clinton also encouraged Voluntary Principles participants to give the initiative more structure and monitoring power to assure compliance by companies.

John Ruggie’s Keynote Address at the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights 2011 Extraordinary Plenary Meeting

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John Ruggie, the former U.N. Special Representative on Business and Human Rights, gave a keynote address at the Extraordinary Plenary Session of the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights held in Ottawa, Canada, on September 15-16, 2011.  In his remarks, Professor Ruggie observed that the Voluntary Principles Initiative “deals with the most palpable and widely recognized of all human rights: the physical security and integrity of the person.”

Summary of Proceedings, Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights 2010 Plenary Meeting

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The summary of the 2010 Annual Plenary of the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights in London summarizes all topics covered during the meeting. The report outlines the current in-country work, presents Colombia as a case study, presents annual reports, and provides updates on the Secretariat, the private military and security initiative, the implementation guidance tool, and a five-year plan. 

Margaret Jungk: Opening Speech to the 2013 Plenary for the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights

Author: Margaret Jungk
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In her speech to the 2013 Plenary, Margaret Jungk describes the change from 2000 to 2013 in discourse from local communities and businesses towards human rights. Whereas in 2000 the rhetoric of rights were alien to communities and absent from corporate practice, in 2013 these are increasingly common. Drawing from this, Margaret describes what the discourse may look like ten years on, in 2023. 

Other Resources

E3Plus: Excellence in Social Responsibility e-Toolkit (ESR) v.1

Author: e3 Plus
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This report provides a framework for responsible practices from both public and private security based on the Voluntary Principle for Security and Human Rights released in December 2000. It emphasizes the role of private security personnel to be strictly defensive and not to undertake any roles that are properly the responsibility of state law enforcement or military authorities.

BP – Annual Report on the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights January to December 2011

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This report describes BP's implementation of the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights during 2011. BP operated in locations such as Azerbaijan, Georgia, Turkey, Indonesia and Iraq, and has created new risk assessments to gauge the environmental and social impacts of its operations. The report outlines BP's methods of hiring and training private security, engaging with community stakeholders, and upholding the Voluntary Principles as a whole.

Statement by Voluntary Principles Participants on Memoranda of Understanding Between Companies and State Security Forces

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This statement focuses on mining and oil companies, both of which frequently operate in insecure environments and often in conjunction with local and state security forces.  Therefore, a certain level of understanding must be met between private and state actors to ensure planning and coordination in expectations and decision making processes.

Voluntary Principles on Security & Human Rights National-Level Implementation Guidance Note

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The purpose of this document is to give guidance to those interested in initiating or supporting a national‐level process to implement the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights . While the Voluntary Principles initiative has grown over the past ten years, there has been too little focus on national‐level implementation within the countries that have challenges related to security and human rights. At the same time, there has been little guidance, with the exception of a case study on Colombia , given to those in the countries on how they can encourage VPs adoption by host governments and extractive companies operating in the country. 

Comprehensive Review of Minera Yanacocha’s Policies Based on the Voluntary Principles of Security and Human Rights

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In 2007, Oxfam America and Newmont Mining Corporation, both formal participants in the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights , entered into a mediated dialogue under the auspices of the Voluntary Principles to address concerns raised by Oxfam. Oxfam was concerned about security practices at the Minera Yanacocha gold mining operation in Peru, which is owned in part and managed by Newmont. Newmont and Yanacocha agreed to commission an independent review of its security policies, procedures, practices and programs, and to make publicly available a summary of key findings and recommendations, unedited, from that review.  This report details the review’s findings.

Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights: Performance Indicators

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A team at International Alert developed these indicators for companies to assist them in measuring and evaluating compliance with the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights .  Indicators 1–3 deal with Human Rights Risk and Impact Assessment. Indicators 4-7 look to ensure the adequate legal, contractual and training measures for private security forces are in place.  Indicators 8-9 deal with monitoring and oversight. Indicator 10 evaluates equipment transfers to security forces while Indicator 11 documents human rights incidents on company property and actions taken in response.