Voluntary Principles Initiative Steering Committee Lauds Nigerian Authorities

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President. Muhammadu Buhari

 

By; JACOB ONJEWU DICKSON

Current chair of the Voluntary Principles Initiative, Mr. Ronald Roosdorp said in Abuja on Saturday that the Nigerian Authorities showed great interest in the initiative.

“This field trip shows how the security in the mining and oil industry could be increased when companies, civil society and government cooperate together” he told news men in Abuja.

Roosdorp who spoke on the visit of the initiative’s steering committee to Nigeria said trust building through discussion was the fastest way to improve security.

“Trust building through discussion is the fastest way to improve security and also benefits local employment and foreign investment”

Established in 2000, the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights is a multi-stakeholder initiative which espouses a set of principles designed to guide extractive companies in maintaining the safety and security of their operations within a framework that ensures respects for human rights.

Diligent implementation of the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights holds numerous potential benefits for Nigeria including peace-building; conflict prevention; enhanced governance of the extractive sector, promotion and protection of human rights; improving dialogue, cordiality, collaboration and problem-solving amongst stakeholders in the extractive sector with respect to issues of security and human rights.

In addition, it has the potential to contribute to an extractive sector that is conducive to trade and investment; where extractive companies can operate maximally, which would in turn enable the Nigerian government optimally generate revenues which can be deployed towards promoting the welfare of the nation and actualizing other national objectives.

The VPI is also an immensely useful tool for attaining the objectives of the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, specifically in the area of security and human rights.

Countries that are signatories to the VPI include Argentina, Australia, Canada, Colombia, Ghana, the Netherlands, Norway, Switzerland, United Kingdom and United States of America.

Signatory extractive companies include: Seven Energy, Total, ExxonMobil, Chevron, Statoil, Shell, Hess Corporation, Tullow Oil, Rio Tinto, British Petroleum; Anglo American, PanAust, ConocoPhillips, Goldcorp, Hess Corporation, Repsol, Barrick Gold Corporation, Glencore and BHP Billiton.

NGO signatories to the VPI include Lite Africa, COMPPART, International Alert, Search for Common Ground, Pact and The Fund for Peace.

The international observers participating in the VPI include the International Finance Corporation (IFC), International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), International Council on Mining and Metals; Colombian Mining and Energy Committee on Security and Human Rights; The Geneva Centre for the Democratic Control of Armed Forces (DCAF), International Petroleum Industry Environmental Conservation Association; Institute for Human Rights and Business; International Code of Conduct Association (ICoCA)

In a related development, the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation (AGF), Abubakar Malami Friday expressed deep appreciation to the steering committee of the Voluntary Principles Initiative for prioritizing and recommending Nigeria as one of the countries to be considered for free subscription at the plenary in March 2018 at Washington D.C, United States.

He also announced that Nigeria would soon take a decision on her observer status.

“In due course, the nation will take a decision to evaluate her observer status” Malami said during the visit of the VPI delegation to the Ministry of Justice.

Represented by the Director, Legal Drafting, Mamman Hamzat Takir, Malami assured the delegation of the commitment of the present administration of President Muhammadu Buhari to the enthronement of the rule of law and the delivery of fair and equitable justice to all Nigerians, foreigners and investors without fear or favour as they carry on business in a safe condition.

“Considering the need for the communal cooperation and coordination of security and human rights activities in the extractive sector, it has become increasingly necessary to come together to appraise the efforts at both the government, corporate and non-governmental organizations levels to achieve a safe, friendly, secured, business and human rights compliant environment. This visit therefore, would give us the opportunity to learn from each other, share ideas and identify roadmaps that would facilitate a justice system that meets the hopes and aspirations of our citizens particularly in the extractive zones” he said.

The Minister assured that the Justice Ministry would stick to its role of checking and balancing the supremacy of the laws of the land and sovereignty of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

“As you are aware, the Federal Ministry of Justice is the legal institution of Government to create the necessary synergy between the Federal Government, corporate bodies and non-governmental organizations as pillars of the Voluntary Principles Initiative”.

Earlier, the current chair of the Voluntary Principles Initiative, Mr. Ronald Roosdorp informed top officials of the ministry of the benefits that would accrue to Nigeria as a signatory to the VPI.

“It is not an instrument or a binding law. It is to reduce security risk in the attractive industry through dialogue and cooperation. It is also to improve things on ground and assist governments, companies and communities in achieving their goals” he said.

Established in 2000, the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights is a multi-stakeholder initiative which espouses a set of principles designed to guide extractive companies in maintaining the safety and security of their operations within a framework that ensures respects for human rights.

Diligent implementation of the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights holds numerous potential benefits for Nigeria including peace-building; conflict prevention; enhanced governance of the extractive sector, promotion and protection of human rights; improving dialogue, cordiality, collaboration and problem-solving amongst stakeholders in the extractive sector with respect to issues of security and human rights.

In addition, it has the potential to contribute to an extractive sector that is conducive to trade and investment; where extractive companies can operate maximally, which would in turn enable the Nigerian government optimally generate revenues which can be deployed towards promoting the welfare of the nation and actualizing other national objectives.

The VPI is also an immensely useful tool for attaining the objectives of the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, specifically in the area of security and human rights.

Countries that are signatories to the VPI include Argentina, Australia, Canada, Colombia, Ghana, the Netherlands, Norway, Switzerland, United Kingdom and United States of America.

Signatory extractive companies include: Seven Energy, Total, ExxonMobil, Chevron, Statoil, Shell, Hess Corporation, Tullow Oil, Rio Tinto, British Petroleum; Anglo American, PanAust, ConocoPhillips, Goldcorp, Hess Corporation, Repsol, Barrick Gold Corporation, Glencore and BHP Billiton.

NGO signatories to the VPI include Lite Africa, COMPPART, International Alert, Search for Common Ground, Pact and The Fund for Peace.

The international observers participating in the VPI include the International Finance Corporation (IFC), International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), International Council on Mining and Metals; Colombian Mining and Energy Committee on Security and Human Rights; The Geneva Centre for the Democratic Control of Armed Forces (DCAF), International Petroleum Indust1ry Environmental Conservation Association; Institute for Human Rights and Business; International Code of Conduct Association (ICoCA)

In this vein, non-governmental organizations in Nigeria weekend urged law enforcement agencies to integrate the voluntary principles in their training programmes, mobilization and deployment of personnel to security duties in critical national assets in the oil, gas and mining sector as this will guarantee that rights of local communities will be respected.

They also appealed to government agencies, particularly those responsible for registering, licensing and regulating private security firms to integrate human rights observance as a precondition as this will go along in entrenching core human rights values and the culture of respecting the dignity of the human person in the country.

At a world press conference in Abuja,Executive Director, Leadership Initiative for Transformation and Empowerment (LITE), Mr. Joel Bisina said the launch of the In-country implementation pilot group and the visit of the steering committee delegation to Nigeria remained glorious achievements of the Voluntary Principles Initiative.

Attention, the LITE executive director said, was focused on increasing knowledge base through training, dialogues and consultative meetings on the VPs at the highest level of government.

“The Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights is anchored on three pillars. That is the Government Pillar, The Corporate Pillar and the NGO pillar respectively. As a multi-stakeholders initiative, the Voluntary Principles provide good sets of guidelines to companies in deploying security personnel to their facilities in ways that respects the rights of the communities in which they operate” he said.

Besides, he emphasized the role of NGO pillars in facilitating confident building dialogue when allegations of VPs non-adherence occur.

“NGO pillars are helping the government and the corporate pillars to identify areas that need improvement related to the VPs, support the development and roll out tools to improve implementation as well encourage participation in the implementation of the principles.

Bisina listed working singularly and collaboratively to advance and increase knowledge base in the country over the years as a major achievement of NGO pillar in Nigeria.

“The launch of the In-country implementation pilot group has further strengthened these efforts in bringing the pillars to a common room where they discuss security and human rights challenges creatively and collaboratively. This is clear departure from the past where it was a blaming and name calling game. The message is now ‘knowing and showing’ rather ‘them against us’ or ‘we against them’ this changing narrative underscore the power of the voluntary Principles in promoting consultations and dialogues among stakeholders in the extractive and mining sector through joint-problem solving.”

He urged the Federal government to sign-on to the voluntary principles.

“The visit of the steering committee delegation to Nigeria this week further reinforces the work the In-country Implementation Working Group has been doing, in bringing greater visibility to the VPs at a very high level of government. It will be a great outcome for the country to sign-on to the VPs” he said.

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