Overview

Companies working in complex environments face many challenges around their areas of operations. These  challenges can undermine the  safety  and security of  their  operations and staff while  also  affecting the  human rights  of  local communities. Business and human rights, security sector reform (SSR) as well as the wider security and development communities have developed – at times individually and at times through multi-stakeholder processes – policy frameworks, guidance documents and tools that support companies addressing these challenges. However, these good practices remain fragmented and are rarely shared between different stakeholder groups. This Knowledge Hub aims to bring relevant resources and tools together within a coherent, accessible structure which facilitates problem-solving both at headquarters and at field levels.

The Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights (VPs) were established in 2000 in response to security and human rights challenges around extractive operations. The VPs is a multi-stakeholder initiative in which governments, extractive companies and NGOs work together to guide extractive companies in “maintaining the safety and security of their operations within an operating framework that encourages respect for human rights”. In 2011, the VPs Implementation Guidance Tools (IGTs) were published to provide “a set of tools designed to help companies, their employees, and contractors implement the VPs”.

This Knowledge Hub builds on and complements the general guidance found in the VPs and the IGTs: four sections of the Hub correspond to the four modules of the IGTs. It also draws on other relevant tools from the field of business and human rights and the body of SSR good practice developed by the international community. Although focused on the extractives sector, the guidance and tools provided here are intended to be of use to companies in other sectors working in complex environments and facing similar challenges. Furthermore, these resources will also guide other stakeholders, such as governments and non-governmental organisations, on how to engage with companies to address security and human rights challenges.

This Knowledge Hub has been developed by the Geneva Centre for the Democratic Control of Armed Forces (DCAF) and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). As official Observers to the VPs, DCAF and the ICRC are fully committed to supporting the goals of this initiative. Drawing on the knowledge and experience of the two organisations, DCAF and the ICRC are developing guidance to support companies operating in complex environments manage their security in a way that is effective and respects human rights and international humanitarian law. The two products developed through the DCAF-ICRC partnership are this Knowledge Hub and a Toolkit of good practices under the same title (“Addressing security and human rights challenges in complex environments – A Toolkit”). The Toolkit can be accessed clicking on the tab “Toolkit” of this site. So far, three chapters of the Toolkit have been developed: 1) Working with host governments, 2) Working with public security forces, and 3) Working with private security providers.

Both the Knowledge Hub and the Toolkit are living products. They will be regularly updated with new good practices, tools and links to other resources. Through the Comment function found at the bottom of each page, feedback and suggestions from users are strongly encouraged in order to ensure that the recommendations and tools provided in this Hub are effective in addressing challenges on the ground.