Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights

Fact Sheet
Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights & Labor
Washington, DC
December 20, 2012


The Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights

Established in 2000, the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights (Voluntary Principles) is a multi-stakeholder initiative (MSI) involving governments, companies, and non-governmental organizations that promotes implementation of a set of principles that guide oil, gas, and mining companies on providing security for their operations in a manner that respects human rights. Specifically, the Voluntary Principles guide companies in conducting a comprehensive human rights risk assessment in their engagement with public and private security providers to ensure human rights are respected in the protection of company facilities and premises.

Overview of the Voluntary Principles:

  • MSI composed of multinational oil, gas, and mining companies, governments, and key international non-governmental organizations
  • Practical guidelines to help extractives companies manage risk effectively at the international, national, project level
  • Platform for mutual learning, joint problem solving, and building best practices on security and human rights challenges with companies, governments, and NGOs
  • Framework to build capacity of key players to address these issues in complex environments.

Why Implement the Voluntary Principles?

While the duty to protect human rights rests with governments, businesses have a responsibility to respect human rights as outlined in the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights,[1] by acting with due diligence to avoid harming people and addressing adverse impacts with which they are involved. Extractives companies often operate in complex environments with little guidance on the ground on how to observe their human rights responsibilities. The Voluntary Principles helps companies identify human rights risks and take meaningful steps to address those risks in a manner that helps ensure respect for human rights in their operations.

The Voluntary Principles provide a framework for companies to manage risk effectively by:

  • Conducting a comprehensive assessment of human rights risks associated with security
  • Engaging appropriately with public and private security service providers and surrounding communities in complex environments
  • Instituting human rights screenings of and trainings for public and private security forces
  • Developing systems for reporting and investigating allegations of human rights abuses
Join this important initiative to contribute to the advancement of security and human rights. For more details please go to www.voluntaryprinciples.org

[1] The Guiding Principles are the first set of UN-endorsed global guidelines on business and human rights, and provide an important framework and focal point for corporations, states, civil society, and other actors as they work to strengthen their respective approaches to business and human rights.

United Kingdom
United States of America

Anglo American
AngloGold Ashanti
Barrick Gold Corporation
BG Group
BHP Billiton
Chevron Corporation
Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold
Hess Corporation
Inmet Mining Corporation
Marathon Oil Company
Newmont Mining Corporation
Occidental Petroleum Corporation
Rio Tinto
Talisman Energy

Non-Governmental Organizations
Amnesty International
The Fund for Peace
Global Rights
Human Rights First
Human Rights Watch
IKV Pax Christi
International Alert
Partnership Africa Canada
Pearson Centre
Search for Common Ground

International Finance Corporation
International Committee of the Red Cross
International Council on Mining & Metals
International Petroleum Industry Environmental