Liberating Communities: The Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights

The Leadership Initiative for Transformation and Empowerment (LITE – Africa) in partnership with Cordaid organized a Business and Human Rights meeting of about 29 participants from the CSO community in Rivers, Nigeria.  The meeting was aimed at facilitating advocacy and empowerment to enhance human rights and security activism in the country through the Voluntary Principles.

Established in 2000, the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights are a set of principles designed to guide companies in maintaining the safety and security of their operations within an operating framework that encourages respect for human rights.

Focus to enhance and advocate for the Voluntary Principle is now shifting back to concentrate on mobilizing the CSO community as against waiting for the conventional top – down (Government to People participation) while expecting the Government will see reasons to sign in and domesticate the Voluntary Principle

“Since Last year, LITE Africa and Global Rights had organized sensitization workshops and meetings for government officials and CSOs and now we had thought that mobilizing interested CSO communities with advocacy to stakeholders such as: media, human rights activist, particular government officials and other civil society organizations will be our next step.” Said Ihekaibe Chinyere , Lite Africa Program Officer

While governments, companies, and NGOs agree to proactively implement or assist in the implementation of the Voluntary Principles, the Principles are the only human rights guidelines designed specifically for extractive sector companies. While the government of Nigeria is yet to accent and domicile it, it is interesting to know that the government of Ghana has made a formal commitment to join the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights.

“This meeting will help to reinforce the importance of the CSO community involvement in planning or implementing advocacy strategies towards the actualization of the Voluntary Principle in Nigeria. Some members of the CSO community are stronger and can be leaders in the follow up of the Voluntary Principle actualization in Nigeria. The Voluntary Principles will help in the protection of the human rights of people in the communities where extractive industries are domiciled, promote the development of these communities and reduce conflicts.” Jerry Nwigwe, Senior Programmes Manager for LITE Africa said.

Furthermore he said, “Several events are expected to ride on the back of the human rights and business training. It is expected that this meeting will lead to, community enlightenment activities on the Voluntary Principle, training bringing together other stakeholders, and exploring new human rights education and advocacy strategies”