Close adherence to the UN Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Right (VPSHR) enables corporates to build and maintain an effective SLO in complex environments.
The VPHSRs state that risk assessments are vital to the promotion and protection of human rights. These risk assessments must consider the available human rights records of public security forces, paramilitaries, local and national law enforcement, as well as the reputation of private security. Awareness of past abuses and allegations will help corporates to avoid recurrences, as well as to promote accountability in the future.
Corporates should take care to ensure that their contractors and partners are familiar with VPHSRs.
General Principles of Ethical Conduct
- Regular consultation between corporates, their partners and contractors, and government representatives and local communities, about the impact of security arrangements on those communities, and clear communication between all stakeholders about the need for ethical conduct and respect for human rights by public service providers.
- The primary role of public security agencies should be to maintain the rule of law, including the safeguarding of human rights, and deterrence of acts which might threaten personnel and facilities.
- Individuals credibly implicated in human rights abuses must not be allowed to provide security services, and force should only be used when strictly necessary and to an extent proportional to the threat.
- The rights of the individual should not be violated while exercising the right to exercise freedom of association and peaceful assembly, the right to engage in collective bargaining or other related rights of Barrick employees – as recognised by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the ILO Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work.
- Corporates should ensure the holding of structured meetings with public security on a regular basis, to discuss security, human rights and related workplace safety issues. Support should be given to host nation governments to provide human rights training and education for public security, as well as their efforts to strengthen state institutions to ensure accountability and respect for human rights.
- In respect of recent allegations of human rights abuses, corporates should actively monitor the status of any ongoing investigation and press for proper resolution of these issues, in consultation with the host nation Government and relevant NGOs. The security and safety of sources must be protected and additional or more accurate information that may alter previous allegations must be made available, as appropriate, to concerned parties.
Private Security Companies
- Corporates must ensure that private security companies observe correct policies with regard to ethical conduct and human rights, the law and professional standards of the host nation, emerging best practice developed by the industry, civil society and governments and the promotion of the observance of international humanitarian law.
- In particular, private security contractors must act in a lawful manner, exercising caution and restraint in a manner consistent with international guidelines on the use of force, including the UN Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by law enforcement officials and the UN Coode of Conduct for Law Enforcement Officials, as well as emerging best practice.
- Furthermore, private security companies must have policies regarding appropriate conduct and the use of force, which are open to monitoring.
- Such monitoring should encompass detailed investigations into allegations of abusive or unlawful acts and the availability of disciplinary measures sufficient to prevent and deter, as well as procedures for reporting allegations to relevant local law enforcement authorities when appropriate.
- All allegations of human rights abuses by private security must be recorded, and credible allegations investigated. Once those allegations have been forwarded to the relevant law enforcement authorities, corporates should actively monitor the status of investigations and press for their proper resolution.
The Importance of Effective Grievance Procedures
An essential component in any plan to build relationships with stakeholders is the existence of a clear set of procedures for handling grievances. Effective grievance procedures provide an indispensable took for communities and companies to address difficulties in a non-confrontational manner.
Confrontation occurs when stakeholders feel they have no mechanism for addressing problems in a peaceful manner. The key principle to be applied when handling grievances is Respect. The manner in which grievances are heard is often as important to the complainant as the outcome.
A respectful grievance procedure will be characterized by six principles:
- Clarity and transparency – Feedback needs to be available throughout the process.
- Accessibility – Arrangements for the submission of grievances must be public and available to all.
- Safety – No complainant should face any danger as a result of making a report.
- Predictability/timeliness – A grievance procedure needs to be guided by clear timelines and processes, with a clear documented outcome.
- Compliance – The process identified for handling a grievance must be strictly adhered to.
- Existence of a recourse mechanism – A committee must be established as a fall back, in the event of disagreements.
About the Author
Mark Jenkins advises clients on Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), security and risk management issues affecting the viability of on and off-shore energy, mining and infrastructure sector projects in Europe, the Middle East and Africa. Mark’s experience has been focussed on creating reliable community support for projects through the development of a Social License to Operate (SLO) based on effective CSR initiatives. The success of these initiatives has been based on a thorough understanding of local environmental, commercial, and cultural dynamics, especially Islamic ones.
Prospect Law is a multi-disciplinary practice with specialist expertise in the energy and environmental sectors with particular experience in the low carbon energy sector. The firm is made up of lawyers, engineers, surveyors and finance experts.
This article remains the copyright property of Prospect Law Ltd and Prospect Advisory Ltd and neither the article nor any part of it may be published or copied without the prior written permission of the directors of Prospect Law and Prospect Advisory.
This article is not intended to constitute legal or other professional advice and it should not be relied on in any way.
For more information or assistance with a particular query, please in the first instance contact Adam Mikula on 020 7947 5354 or by email on firstname.lastname@example.org.