Get Involved with the VPs: What You Can Do
The Voluntary Principles is fundamentally a guidance framework with the primary responsibility for implementation resting with companies. However, this implementation does not — and should not — occur in isolation. Indeed, all of us have a role to play to ensure that the Voluntary Principles are implemented effectively, and in so doing, that communities are safer and more secure.
Engage With Companies
Identify the appropriate point of contact from a company. Most frequently, this will be the individual in charge of Community Relations.
Determine if the company is a member of the Voluntary Principles.
- If Yes, you can be fairly confident that the company is implementing the VPs. However, it can be useful to ask for more information on how the VPs are implemented.
- If No, remember that a company does not need to be a member of the Voluntary Principles Plenary in order to implement them. However, as a stakeholder, you will need to ask if the company does implement the VPs, and how it does so.
- If a company is not implementing the VPs, communities can advocate strongly that a company do so. The VPs are a highly practical framework that, when implemented, are not only good for communities, but good for business, and as such there is a strong case for companies to do so.
The VPs require companies to consult regularly with communities about potential impacts their operational security may have. If a company is not already doing so, request that they provide a forum for dialogue with the community which addresses:
- How the company is seeking to minimize any impact ;
- How the company intends to keep the community safe; and
- What mechanisms allow for the community to raise concerns about the provision or actions of security forces.
As part of the risk assessment process, the VPs recommend that companies consult with local civil society to assist in understanding risks, including potential for violence, the human rights records of security forces, and rule of law. This can be a useful platform for dialogue with companies, by allowing civil society members to be included in this analysis, and providing an in-road for civil society to consult on broader issues related to security and human rights.
Advocate with the Government
Identify the appropriate contact from the government. You may need to begin with local officials first.
The Ghanaian government is a member of the Voluntary Principles Plenary. Therefore, the government has committed to assist and support the implementation of the Voluntary Principles in the oil, gas, and mining sectors within Ghana. You can:
- Engage with the Ghanaian government on its National Action Plan;
- Determine if and how the government requires or encourages companies operating within the country to adopt and implement the Voluntary Principles;
- Encourage the government to support a forum for dialogue between communities, companies and security forces on the provision of security at an industry level, a company level, and an individual site level;
- Understand how the government will investigate allegations of human rights abuses and remedy abuses.
You can seek assurances from the government and the security forces that:
- The deployment of security forces is appropriate for the level of identified risk;
- Security forces act lawfully and respectfully;
- Members of the security forces tasked with providing security have clean records;
- There be clear and proportional use of force protocols in place (though recognize that the security forces may not share those with you);
- Security forces are adequately trained, including on human rights; and
- There is an accessible and transparent process in place for investigating human rights abuses should they occur.
- Why the Voluntary Principles Matter to You