The Voluntary Principles for Security and Human Rights were unveiled in December 2000 by the US State Department and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office of the United Kingdom, after a yearlong process involving government officials, oil and mining companies, and NGOs.
The Principles provide guidance to companies operating in zones of conflict or fragile states so that they can ensure that security forces – public or private – protecting the companies’ facilities and premises operate in a way that protects the company’s assets while respecting human rights and fundamental freedoms. Such an initiative was necessary because of widespread international concern over the way security forces operated while protecting oil and mining installations in many parts of the world.
While the Principles have grown over the past seven years to include 4 governments, 18 companies and 8 NGOs, companies have sought clearer guidance as to what the principles mean in practice. Several companies have prepared detailed operational guidelines for internal use. The International Finance Corporation is currently supporting an effort by the Voluntary Principles’ secretariat to develop a guidance tool for companies assist the implementation of the VPs. Other pillars of the process, i.e. governments and NGOs, have often sought clearer information about company performance in implementing the Principles. In the absence of reliable or credible indicators, companies have reported their performance using different yard-sticks and benchmarks. A comprehensive process is currently underway to develop reporting guidelines, building from the Global Reporting Initiative framework.
A team at International Alert has developed these draft guidelines to assist global efforts to bring in uniformity, clarity, and simplicity for material information that can be made available to make better decisions within companies, measure and evaluate performance internally or externally, and assist in bringing about a climate of accountability in the process. The guidelines are drawn from the work Alert did with the support of the Government of the United Kingdom’s Global Conflict Prevention Pool in 2007 and the Government of Canada’s Global Peace and Security Fund in 2008. These indicators were initially developed for the Colombian context, where Alert has long experience of operating on the ground with Colombian companies and civil society, and presented in an earlier draft form at the Annual Plenary of the Voluntary Principles in Amsterdam in early 2008.
- Author(s):William Godnick
- Date:June 2008