Two decades of improving practices in security operations

On December 20, 2000, the Governments of the United States and the United Kingdom jointly announced the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights.  

Created to address the challenges faced by oil and mining companies in protecting the safety and security of their operations while ensuring human rights were protected, the Principles were designed to become a global standard in the industry. 

The Voluntary Principles were born from a joint effort that included not only governments but also leading extractive companies and NGOs. Until today, its collaborative aspect is one of its more important strengths, bringing together 65 Members and Observers that work cooperatively to reduce human rights violations in business operations.  


View the webinar – “Looking Back: Reflections on 20 Years of the Voluntary Principles”

Moderated by Edward Bickham, panelists representing founders or early members of the Voluntary Principles Initiative reflect on the beginnings and early vision of the VPs as well as their insights on progress and achievements so far.

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Commentary from invited guests

Our invited contributors share their views on the 20 years of the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights in written pieces, videos, and interviews. 

Government of Australia – Chair of the Voluntary Principles Initiative

In this written piece, the Government of Australia, Chair of the VPI for 2020-2021, highlights the emerging challenges imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic while the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights celebrates its 20th anniversary and the priorities that will help Members achieve the greatest positive impact in the current environment and the years ahead.  Read more

Joel Bisina, Executive Director, LITE-Africa

In this video, Joel Bisina shares his views about key challenges and achievements in the implementation of the Voluntary Principles in Nigeria and its impact on local communities.

LITE-Africa is an NGO based in Nigeria and co-chair of a Working Group that works in the implementation of the Principles in the country. LITE-Africa is also a member of the Voluntary Principles Initiative. View now


Bennett Freeman, one of the founders of the VPs

In a new written piece, Bennett Freeman provides an in-depth reflection on the 20 years of the Voluntary Principles, its achievements and challenges, and a rich assortment of additional resources.

On the same page, you can also watch a video interview where Bennett recalls the events leading to the creation of the VPs, the challenges imposed by the implementation of the first multi-stakeholder initiative in the extractive sector, and the successes achieved. Read now

CME – Mining and Energy Committee on Security and Human Rights

In this video, the CME, an Observer of the Voluntary Principles Initiative since 2014,  demonstrates the work that has been developed by multiple stakeholders in Colombia to support the implementation of the Voluntary Principles and promote the protection of human rights. View now

Marcus Addy, Senior Programme Officer, ICMM

On this commentary piece titled “Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights: Celebrating 20 years of partnership and collaboration to uphold human rights”, Marcus Addy highlights the importance of collaborative work between the International Council on Mining and Metals and the Voluntary Principles Initiative. Read more

Egbert Wesselink, Senior Advisor, PAX

In this written piece, Egbert Wesselink provides an analysis of the origin and purpose of the Voluntary Principles, the achievements and challenges over the last two decades, and the way forward for the Initiative and its members. Read more


Arvind Ganesan, Director of the Business and Human Rights Division, Human Rights Watch

In this video, Arvind Ganesan, one of the founders of the VPs, talks about how the Principles were developed, the relevance of the Voluntary Principles, and how he envisions the future of the Initiative. View now

Panel – Implementing the VPSHR: Addressing the Human Rights Impacts of Security through Multi-Stakeholder Engagement and Regulation

With the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights now in their 20th year, a wealth of information has been gained on how to practically implement the principles at the country-level. Watch the recording of the session organized by the Government of Australia during the United Nations Virtual Forum on Responsible Business and Human Rights, with a particular reference to the Asia-Pacific region. Focus was given to current efforts to include human rights standards in the work practices of private security providers servicing the extractives industry.  

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