Annual Plenary Meeting
The UK Government hosted the 2010 Annual Plenary, held in London on 18-19 March. Key outcomes included the announcements of Colombia and Switzerland becoming newly engaged governments, Canada moving from engaged to participating government status, and Search for Common Ground joining the NGO pillar. In addition, a commitment was made by participants to learn from, and build on, the progress that has been made in recent in-country work in Indonesia, Peru and Colombia, as well as the mediation process presented by Oxfam and Newmont. The Implementation Guidance Tool (IGT) project was announced and an IGT Working Group was established. The aim of the project is to produce a practical tool by the Plenary in 2011. While it was acknowledged that the standard of reporting has increased, the focus would be on sharing best practice and further improving the reporting process.
“Undertaking Risk Assessments” — hosted by the U.S. Department of State, 8 October 2009
This workshop explored the practicalities of conducting Voluntary Principles-consistent risk assessments. It explored how to assess the root causes of conflict, how to assess both probability and consequence of various security and human rights risks, and how these relate to wider issues of rule of law and political stability. The workshop was based on practical examples and allowed participants to share experiences and best practices. It also covered very practical issues such as information sources to use in risk assessment, how to corroborate information and how to use the resulting output in the risk assessment process to guide the implementation of the Voluntary Principles. It will deal with how to integrate a VPs-consistent risk assessment with other common corporate and security risk assessment frameworks. It will examined the limitations of the risk assessment process and present some ideas of how to overcome them. Participants came away with a much better sense of the practicalities associated with conducting VP-consistent risk assessment and the benefits of doing so.
“Sharing experiences to feed into development of the VPs Implementation Toolkit” &mdsh; hosted by IPIECA and ICMM, 14 October
The workshop examined the practicalities and challenges associated with implementing the Voluntary Principles, particularly around working with host governments. It allowed companies to share practical experiences and recommendations based on what has worked and what hasn’t in difficult business environments.
“VPs - Engagement with host governments” — hosted by IPIECA supported by the VPs Secretariat and ERM, 17 June 2009
This workshop examined the practicalities and challenges associated with implementing the Voluntary Principles, particularly around working with host governments. It covered the issues associated with engaging with host governments (for example, how a company might do so when the Voluntary Principles are not a high agenda item), leveraging home country support, engaging with a country’s security services from senior to local levels, and dealing with “common” challenges such as pressure to use disproportionate security arrangements or to transfer equipment to government security services without appropriate safeguards. The workshop allowed companies to share practical experiences and recommendations based on what has worked and what hasn’t in difficult business environments. It also explored the limits to what a single or group of companies might be able to achieve and how to maximize support from other stakeholders.
Annual Plenary Meeting
The annual meeting of the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights was held in Oslo, Norway 18,19 March hosted by the Norwegian Government.
The “Framework for the Admission and Participation of New Governments” was introduced. With it in place, the Voluntary Principles welcomed the government of Canada into the process as a new Engaged Government. The process also officially welcomed Pact, Inc., a U.S.-based NGO.
The Reporting Working Group circulated the current Draft Reporting Guidance to participants for consideration during the Plenary in Oslo with a recommendation that it be piloted for the 2009 reporting cycle and used as the basis for developing 2010 submissions to the Plenary.
The annual plenary session of the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights was held in Amsterdam in March 2008
The 2008 Plenary, marking the seven-year anniversary of the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights (VPs), was held in Amsterdam on 3 and 4 March, hosted by the Government of the Netherlands.
The first day of the Plenary focused on governance issues, in particular on the following areas:
- Governance of the initiative, specifically with regard to government entry criteria as well as roles and responsibilities of governments;
- Future model of participation in the VPs, i.e. broadening the initiative to new participants (“big-tent” model) or deepening the engagement of existing participants (“small-tent” model), or both;
- The establishment of a new governance group to address some of these issues, approval of its mandate, the status of its recommendations and resources required;
On the second day, in-country implementation efforts in Colombia and Nigeria were presented by international guests and a government proposal to deepen in-country engagement was discussed. Talisman Energy and Anglo Gold Ashanti were welcomed as new members.
Two companies join the Voluntary Principles process
Talisman Energy and Anglo Gold Ashanti were welcomed as new participants into the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights Plenary in 2007, bringing the number of company participants to 18. The two companies attended their first annual plenary session in 2008.
The annual plenary session of the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights, held in Washington DC, was marked by the adoption of formal participation criteria.
The Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights Plenary adopted formal participation criteria at the annual session, held in Washington DC on May 7 and 8, 2007. The adoption of formal participation criteria, combined with last year's decision to remove the requirement that companies or NGOs could participate in the Plenary only if its home government was also a participant, paves the way towards an expansion of the Voluntary Principles membership. The Governance Working Group was assigned responsibility for developing a standard process for the review and approval of new members. The Communications Working Group was recast as the Reporting Criteria Working Group, with a mandate to develop criteria that will guide how all pillars should report on their implementation efforts.
The Plenary also included sessions on company, government and NGO implementation efforts. The composition of the Steering Committee for 2007 was set, consisting of International Alert, Human Rights Watch, Rio Tinto, ExxonMobil, and the governments of the United States and Norway.
Explored implementation of the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights in Nigeria.
A delegation comprised of representatives from the governments of the Netherlands, Norway, the United Kingdom and the United States, along with Statoil and the International Business Leaders Forum traveled to Nigeria to met with Nigerian officials, international oil companies and nongovernmental organizations to explore implementation of the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights.
The 5-year review of company implementation efforts and in-country working group progress is made public on the Voluntary Principles website.
This represents the first publication of a report as part of the Communication Working Group's effort to share learnings about implementation with a wider public.
The Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights Plenary opened participation to more extractives companies, non governmental organizations (NGOs) and host governments.
To become a participant, a company, NGO or government must commit to act in good faith, promote the Voluntary Principles publicly, implement the principles (or assist in their implementation), share experiences and report publicly on their activities according to agreed reporting criteria and on at least an annual basis. Admission as an official participant requires consensus support among existing participants. More detailed criteria for governance, participation and reporting are under development.
The annual plenary session was held in London, marking the 5-year anniversary of the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights.Oxfam International was welcomed as a new participant, and the International Petroleum Industry Environmental Conservation Association (IPIECA) as a new observer to the process. Human Rights First rejoined the process.
During the session, the Information Working Group was recast as the Communications Working Group, as its mandate was expanded to include outreach to potential participants and to champions of the process.
The Communications Working Group presented a report highlighting the findings of two surveys it had conducted -- one on the successes of and challenges for companies implementing the Voluntary Principles, and the other on in-country implementation efforts. The 5-year review of company implementation efforts detailed company perceptions, successes, lessons learned and challenges associated with implementing the Voluntary Principles over the initiative's initial years of existence.
A series of proposals drafted by the Governance Working Group framed discussions on the governance of the Voluntary Principles process. The proposals addressed the overall aim of governance reform and set out specific changes to the current arrangements.
The composition of the Steering Committee for 2006 was set, consisting of International Alert, Human Rights Watch, Newmont Mining, Statoil, the governments of the UK and the Netherlands. The US government will host the plenary in 2007, and will therefore also take part as necessary.
The Information Working Group of the Voluntary Principles released an update on the in-country working group processes in Indonesia and Colombia
This update was part of a larger effort to institutionalize a systematic information-sharing process for all activities related to the Voluntary Principles. The in-country working group update outlined the successes and key learnings of the two initial in-country processes, thereby providing guidance to participants of both existing and future processes in other countries.
A special plenary meeting was held at International Business Leaders Forum to review governance issues. The Voluntary Principles Secretariat was tasked with developing participation criteria that would articulate the conditions for both entry to and suspension from the process.
Two additional companies join the Voluntary Principles process and two working groups are formed.
The annual plenary session was held in Oslo, and Marathon Oil and Anglo American joined the group at this meeting. Newmont replaced ChevronTexaco and Human Rights Watch replaced Amnesty International on the Steering Committee as part of the annual Committee membership rotation. Additionally, two working groups were established, one to review the process for sharing information about progress with implementing the principles, and the other to review the structure of the Voluntary Principles process and identify opportunities for improvement. Both working groups consist of representatives from member companies, governments and NGOs. Next year’s plenary meeting will be hosted by the UK government in London in January 2006.
Voluntary Principles website launched.
A Voluntary Principles website was launched, which was designed and developed by BSR and funded by a grant from the US Department of State. The website content includes the full text of the Principles, a participants list and contact information for the secretariat.
Secretariat established, co-managed by BSR and IBLF.
An annual plenary meeting was hosted by the Dutch government in the Hague. Amerada Hess and BHP Billiton joined the group. At this meeting, participants agreed to establish a Nigeria working group, and to create a Secretariat for a trial period of one year that would manage the process. The Secretariat would be co-managed by BSR and IBLF, in association with the convening governments.
An annual plenary meeting was hosted by the Dutch government in the Hague
Amerada Hess, BG Group and BHP Billiton joined the group at this meeting. Participants agreed to establish a Nigeria task force, and to create a Secretariat for a trial period of one year that would manage the process. The Secretariat would be co-managed by BSR and IBLF, in association with the convening governments.
An in-country process begins in Colombia.
A meeting was hosted by the US Embassy in Bogota to begin an in-country process in Colombia. The meeting was well attended, with enthusiastic host country officials as well as company representatives expressing their support to continue an active, in-country process, using the Voluntary Principles as a framework for action. The Colombian Petroleum Association, together with BP volunteered to draft a work-plan to be reviewed by the Steering Committee for consideration.
First Steering Committee meeting hosted by the UK Foreign Office.
The first Steering Committee meeting was hosted by the UK Foreign Office in London. Prior to the meeting, a joint UK-US delegation traveled to Colombia to meet with senior government officials, the Colombian Petroleum Association, and the International Committee of the Red Cross to discuss the Voluntary Principles. The broad concept of a Colombia Committee was crafted.
A Steering Committee with a rotating membership of governments, NGOs and companies is established.
The group held a plenary session in Washington DC, at which The Government of Norway, Statoil, Norsk Hydro, and Pax Christi joined the group. A Steering Committee was established at the meeting, which consisted of the US, UK and Dutch governments, Amnesty International, International Alert, BP, ChevronTexaco, Business for Social Responsibility and the International Business Leaders Forum. The governments were tasked with retaining their diplomatic roles by providing formal briefings to host/home country governments as well as facilitating agendas, the establishment of workshops and plenary meetings. The three functions of the Committee include: 1) to carry forward the workplan agreed by the plenary; 2) to receive information from prospective participants, consulting with existing participants; and 3) to submit recommendations on an IBLF proposal for a Voluntary Principles website. It was decided that Committee membership would rotate annually. It was also decided that the group’s next country of focus would be Angola.
A joint US Department of State/UK Foreign Office team visits Nigeria to promote the Voluntary Principles.
A joint US Department of State/UK Foreign Office team visited Nigeria for the purpose of briefing the host country government at senior levels on the Principles, and convening interested companies to address ways to integrate the principles into their country policies and practices.
An additional company joins the Voluntary Principles process.
The group convened again, with the meeting chaired by the UK Foreign Office. Additionally, ExxonMobil joined the dialogue process at this point.
A joint US Department of State/UK Foreign Office team visits Indonesia to promote the Voluntary Principles.
A joint US Department of State/UK Foreign Office team visited Indonesia for the purpose of briefing industry members and the industry association on the Principles, and convening interested companies to address ways to integrate the principles into their country policies and practices.
An additional company joins the Voluntary Principles process.
Newmont Mining joined the Voluntary Principles process.
The Dutch government and additional company and NGO join the Voluntary Principles process.
The group welcomed two additions at their convening at the US Department of State, the Government of the Netherlands and BG Group. In addition, the International Committee of the Red Cross joined the dialogue process with an observer status. This meeting was chaired by the US Department of State, reflecting the Bush Administration’s embrace of the Principles and the process. Additionally, Eron and the Council for Economic Priorities withdrew from the process.
Participants reconvene to discuss implementation efforts.
The meeting participants reconvened once again at the UK Foreign Office, where companies gave encouraging indications of the steps they were taking to integrate the Principles into their policies and operations, and the NGOs of their willingness to maintain the dialogue. The group agreed to brief other interested companies and governments, and to broaden the process to include a limited number of new participants. Additionally, the Lawyers Committee on Human Rights, now known as Human Rights First, joined the dialogue process.
The Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights are announced by the US and UK governments.
The Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights were announced by US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright in Washington and UK Foreign Secretary Robin Cook in London. The joint statement announced that those identified (companies and NGOs) “support the process and welcome the principles.”
Final drafting meeting for the Voluntary Principles.
The fourth and final drafting meeting was hosted by the UK Foreign Office in London and focused on discussing the draft principles, which had been revised to incorporate comments from the July meeting.
Participants review the first draft of the Voluntary Principles.
A third meeting was held at the US Department of State in Washington, DC to review a first draft of the principles that was circulated in advance, and preceded by a series of informal consultations with company and NGO participants alike. The drafting was largely done by the US Department of State’s Office of the Legal Adviser and the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor. At this point, one NGO (Safer World) dropped out of the process and two others joined the process (the International Federation of Chemical, Energy, Mine and General Workers’ Union and the Fund for Peace. An additional US company, Conoco, joined as well.
Second convening identifies three key areas of focus: risk assessment, relationships with public security and relationships with private security.
A second meeting at the US Embassy in London included the original group that was convened in March, plus two additional American companies, Enron and Occidental Petroleum. The participants agreed that the process would aim at developing specific guidelines for companies on ways they should handle their security arrangements that would be consistent with international standards on human rights. Furthermore, participants agreed that principles would be voluntary and would address three key areas: the criteria that companies take into account as they assess the risk to human rights in their security arrangements; their relationships with state security forces, both military and police; and company relations with private security forces.
Initial convening of companies, NGOs and governments on security and human rights issues.
The UK Foreign Office and the US Department of State brought together a number of leading companies from the extractive industries (Freeport McMoRan, Shell, BP, Rio Tinto, and Chevron and Texaco [separately, prior to their merger which formed ChevronTexaco]) with human rights and corporate responsibility organizations (Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, International Alert, Safer World, Council for Economic Priorities, the International Business Leaders Forum [IBLF] and Business for Social Responsibility [BSR]) in London to determine whether there was a willingness to seek common ground on security and human rights issues. The discussion was constructive, but inconclusive other than a consensus to reconvene in two months.