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Manage security while protecting human rights

Maintaining safety and security is essential for mining activities but it can also lead to risks to communities and other stakeholders.

Mine sites are often highly visible and have a large footprint. Companies need to ensure the safety of their people and secure their assets, but this can be difficult in practice, especially if the project is controversial or there is conflict in the surrounding area. The way the mining industry manages security in line with human rights remains a key stakeholder concern. Getting it wrong can lead to allegations of complicity in grave human rights abuses.

The Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights (VPs) is a global multi-stakeholder initiative designed to guide oil, gas and mining companies within an operating framework that encourages respect for human rights, outlining expectations in relation to risk assessments and appropriate engagement with public and private security providers. This can help to address reputational and community concerns.

What the VPs cover

The VPs provides a framework for companies to:

  • Assess human rights risks associated with security, including an assessment of whether company actions might heighten or mitigate risk.
  • Engage appropriately with public and private security providers.
  • Institute human rights screenings for private security forces and encourage the screening of public security forces.
  • Take steps to promote the observance of best practices relevant to human rights and security.
  • Develop company systems for reporting and investigating allegations of human rights abuses.

Strengthening operational capacity

ICMM is one of the few permanent observers to the VPs, with many company members also signatories to the initiative at a global level. Through formal participation in the VPs process, governments, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and companies can develop working relationships through which they can collaborate to:

  • Share information and participate in dialogue regarding challenges in implementation.
  • Engage in mutual learning and joint problem solving.
  • Create joint approaches and partnerships to address the complex issues.
  • Promote human rights to provide lasting positive impacts.

ICMM, in partnership with International Finance Corporation, the International Committee of the Red Cross, and IPIECA (the global oil and gas industry for social and environmental issues), has produced Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights: Implementation guidance tools to support companies in maintaining security and human rights at operations.