Extractives companies often work in complex contexts, where there is weak governance and rule of law, insecurity and conflict. One of the challenges facing companies in these situations is how to ensure the security of their operations and personnel which also meeting their responsibility to respect the human rights of local communities. The risks are exacerbated by other contextual factors, such as the prevalence or potential for violence against vulnerable groups (e.g. women, Indigenous people, minorities), or where there is conflict over the use or ownership of land or other natural resources.
Additional risks arise where public security forces (e.g. policy, para-military or military) are active in or around a site – and in many cases, companies will have no choice as to whether public security is involved in the security arrangements. Public security forces may be poorly resourced, trained and disciplined, and may have a history of human rights abuses. Even where the command and control for security forces lies with the government, companies may be required to provide equipment or other resources, and so may be held to account for any human rights abuses they perpetrate.
In 2000, the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights (VPs) were established as a multi-stakeholder response to these challenges. The VPs provide a set of principles ‘to guide companies in maintaining the security of their operations within an operating framework that encourages respect for human rights’. The Australian Government became a participant in the VPs in 2013, and a number of Australian headquartered companies also participate.
In 2014, the GCNA established its Security and Human Rights Community of Practice with the engagement of DFAT, to provide a platform for senior security professionals to share challenges and best practices.
Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights
Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights Implementation Guidance Tools [PDF]
Security and Human Rights Knowledge Hub
Business and Human Rights Dilemmas Forum