Shaping business behaviour. Leading by example

The Voluntary Principles support the efforts of governments to positively influence security practices related to extractive projects. Participant Governments have reported that the Voluntary Principles promote government objectives relating to human rights and business, as well as overseas economic development and stability. By pledging and publicizing their own support – on government websites, to embassies, in meetings, and at events – Participant Governments help define responsible business behavior. Governments also can train their own security forces to comply with the Voluntary Principles. Finally, Participant Governments can engage with other governments to adopt and implement the Voluntary Principles.

What governments can achieve by becoming a participant

Governments that join the Initiative engage in mutual learning and joint problem-solving with other governments, international and national companies and non-governmental organizations to address challenges related to security and human rights – including company interaction with security service providers. It also assists governments in their efforts to implement the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights to ensure effective domestic judicial mechanisms to address business-related human rights impacts.

Protects human rights

Assists governments in fulfilling their duty to protect human rights and reduces harms to people and costs related to insecurity.

Supports policy objectives

Promotes transparency and good corporate social responsibility practices. It can support other government policy objectives such as development, strengthening investment climate, and conflict prevention.

More stability

Promotes a more stable investment environment for the benefit of all stakeholders, reduces production delays caused by conflict.

Governments play a critical role in supporting implementation

Home governments (in countries in which companies are based) and host governments (in countries in which companies operate) are relevant actors in supporting Voluntary Principles implementation. Home governments can help support the Voluntary Principles through various aspects of their activities – including their diplomatic and economic engagement with other governments. For example, a home government often works through its embassies to engage with key players on the ground, including the host government, companies, and local members of civil society. Such engagement may include coordinating and supporting Initiatives by stakeholders; providing training; hosting learning forums; and promoting best practices with regard to implementation. Home governments also support the Voluntary Principles through their economic policies. For example, they can require or encourage the companies to which their export credit agencies lend to commit to implementing the Voluntary Principles.

Roles and responsibilities of governments

Governments should provide an enabling environment for the implementation of the Voluntary Principles. Other roles of governments include:

  • Promoting understanding and implementation of the Voluntary Principles with companies and civil society headquartered or operating within national territory, as well as with other governments.
  • Regularly conducting outreach with other governments to encourage them to join the Voluntary Principles.
  • Working with stakeholders on the ground to assist them in implementation.
  • Engaging with stakeholders at the international level to coordinate efforts, share best practices, and promote discussion and learning through case studies.
  • Reporting annually on activities to support Voluntary Principles implementation.
  • Participating in the governance of the Voluntary Principles.

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Government Members of the Voluntary Principles Initiative and Useful Resources

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