A standard and a multi-stakeholder Initiative

We believe in the importance of the promotion and protection of human rights throughout the world and the constructive role businesses, governments, and civil society can play in together advancing these goals.

In 2000, companies, governments and NGOs engaged in a dialogue to address security-related human rights abuses and violations. As a collective effort, the Voluntary Principles were developed and later became a globally recognized standard. The Voluntary Principles Initiative promotes the principles and its implementation by members from three pillars: corporate, government, and NGO.

Joint effort. Collective gain

Through the implementation of the Voluntary Principles and participation in the Initiative, governments, NGOs and companies develop relationships through which they can participate in dialogue, engage in mutual learning and joint problem solving, create common approaches to address challenges, and jointly promote human rights for a lasting positive impact.

For governments

Reaffirms government commitment to the protection of human rights and prevention of conflict. Promotes transparency and good corporate social responsibility practices and encourages a more stable investment environment.

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For companies

Minimises security-related impacts on communities and aligns corporate policies with internationally recognized human rights principles. It also reduces reputational concerns and contributes to operational stability.

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For NGOs

Provides a better understanding of issues related to security and human rights, improving the ability to advocate for change. Provides tools and approaches that can be incorporated into their work.

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Read our latest news

03
July 2020

Register for the Webinar about Case Studies on VPs Implementation

Register for the Webinar about Case Studies on VPs Implementation – July 7, 2020 10-11am EDT

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26
June 2020

View the recording – Webinar on Security and Human Rights and the treatment of national minorities

If you missed the live presentation, you can watch the discussion on how to improve human rights performance of police and security guards in the context of minorities.

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23
June 2020

Information about Open Request for Proposal

The Voluntary Principles Association (VPA) requests proposals from firms registered in the Netherlands to provide corporate services. Revised proposal posted July 3, 2020. Proposal closing date is July 22.

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22
June 2020

Register for the Webinar: Security and Human Rights and the treatment of national minorities

Our panel of experts will discuss their experience and longstanding efforts in improving the human rights performance of police and security guards in the context of minorities.

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What you may also want to know

Read answers to common questions about how implementing the principles will bring a positive impact to communities and what becoming a member of the Initiative means.

What are considered human rights abuses in relation to security operations?
Do I need to be a member to implement the Voluntary Principles?
How is the Voluntary Principles Initiative governed?
How do the different pillars contribute to the Initiative?
How can the Voluntary Principles support a company to achieve better results on the ground?

Everyone is entitled to fundamental human rights which include the right to life, to be free from torture and degrading treatment, freedom of expression, among others. While performing their duties and to protect the rights of others, private and public security personnel may need to use force to secure company assets, operations, and personnel. However, they still need to comply with policies, procedures, and the law. That includes using the minimum force necessary to resolve the situation, acting ethically, and only when necessary. Security personnel should also consider the vulnerabilities of particular groups such as women and girls, children, indigenous peoples, ethnic and religious minorities, foreign nationals, the poor and marginalized, LGBT persons and human rights defenders. Failing to do so may result in human rights abuses or violations.

You do not need to be a member to implement the Voluntary Principles. However, members can benefit from joining the Initiative. For example, members can participate in dialogue about the challenges of implementing the principles; engage in mutual learning and joint problem solving with other members that are well versed in security and human rights issues; create partnerships to address the challenges of security and human rights at the international, national and project level; jointly promote human rights to provide lasting positive impact; and develop tools that will help define best practice.

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Participants are organized into three pillars: corporate, government, and NGO. Observers can participate if they meet certain criteria such as demonstrating relevant expertise in human rights or in the industries that are the focus of the Voluntary Principles. All participants attend an annual plenary where the main decision-making takes place. Additionally, a Steering Committee, formed by participants of all three pillars, is responsible for the executive decisions. The Secretariat is responsible for the day-to-day administration. Finally, the Voluntary Principles Association is the entity that addresses the financial and administrative needs of the Initiative.

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Each group of stakeholders offers a unique perspective and contribution. Governments provide an enabling environment for the implementation of the Voluntary Principles for the public and private security sector and implement national policies; companies have firsthand knowledge regarding the challenges of working with public and private security on the ground; and NGOs have access to information regarding how security-related issues impact local communities. By working together and sharing information, stakeholders are better equipped to address security concerns collectively and to achieve lasting positive impacts.

The principles support improved practices by companies at the project level. Company participants have updated their corporate policies to reflect the values and act on the recommendations found in the principles. For example, many companies have integrated the principles into their contracts with private security providers. Additionally, companies have made significant investments in training programs for public and private security forces, employees, and contractors. Companies who join the Initiative can also draw on the experience of other members to better identify and manage security-related human rights risks.

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  • Everyone is entitled to fundamental human rights which include the right to life, to be free from torture and degrading treatment, freedom of expression, among others. While performing their duties and to protect the rights of others, private and public security personnel may need to use force to secure company assets, operations, and personnel. However, they still need to comply with policies, procedures, and the law. That includes using the minimum force necessary to resolve the situation, acting ethically, and only when necessary. Security personnel should also consider the vulnerabilities of particular groups such as women and girls, children, indigenous peoples, ethnic and religious minorities, foreign nationals, the poor and marginalized, LGBT persons and human rights defenders. Failing to do so may result in human rights abuses or violations.

  • You do not need to be a member to implement the Voluntary Principles. However, members can benefit from joining the Initiative. For example, members can participate in dialogue about the challenges of implementing the principles; engage in mutual learning and joint problem solving with other members that are well versed in security and human rights issues; create partnerships to address the challenges of security and human rights at the international, national and project level; jointly promote human rights to provide lasting positive impact; and develop tools that will help define best practice.

    Read more

  • Participants are organized into three pillars: corporate, government, and NGO. Observers can participate if they meet certain criteria such as demonstrating relevant expertise in human rights or in the industries that are the focus of the Voluntary Principles. All participants attend an annual plenary where the main decision-making takes place. Additionally, a Steering Committee, formed by participants of all three pillars, is responsible for the executive decisions. The Secretariat is responsible for the day-to-day administration. Finally, the Voluntary Principles Association is the entity that addresses the financial and administrative needs of the Initiative.

    Read more

  • Each group of stakeholders offers a unique perspective and contribution. Governments provide an enabling environment for the implementation of the Voluntary Principles for the public and private security sector and implement national policies; companies have firsthand knowledge regarding the challenges of working with public and private security on the ground; and NGOs have access to information regarding how security-related issues impact local communities. By working together and sharing information, stakeholders are better equipped to address security concerns collectively and to achieve lasting positive impacts.

  • The principles support improved practices by companies at the project level. Company participants have updated their corporate policies to reflect the values and act on the recommendations found in the principles. For example, many companies have integrated the principles into their contracts with private security providers. Additionally, companies have made significant investments in training programs for public and private security forces, employees, and contractors. Companies who join the Initiative can also draw on the experience of other members to better identify and manage security-related human rights risks.

    Read more

How to become a member of the Initiative

Learn more about the admission criteria to each pillar and details about the process of becoming a member.