About This Toolkit

Quick Guide to Using the Toolkit

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(see: “About this Toolkit” for detail)

Who is it for? 

The primary target audience of this Toolkit are companies facing security and human rights challenges linked to their operations in complex environments. The Toolkit can be used by company staff working in a wide range of functions: those dealing with security, government relations, business and human rights, corporate social responsibility, community relations, and legal issues. 

Due to its focus on security and human rights challenges, this Toolkit will directly benefit companies seeking to implement the provisions of the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights (VPs) and provides comprehensive guidance to that effect. It is an essential tool for new VPs member companies, where they can find valuable recommendations and good practices that will support their development of policies and action plans. Companies that have already started to implement the VPs will use the Toolkit as a way to benchmark their security practices against new requirements and emerging best practices. 

The Toolkit may also be useful for governments, civil society actors, clients, and investors (read more link to About section) 

What is the added value of this Toolkit?

  • The Toolkit provides guidance that companies can adapt and apply to address security and human rights-related risks in their operations. 
  • The Toolkit makes the management of security and human rights-related risks easier by bringing together requirements drawn from a range of sources, starting by the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and expanding to relevant guidance developed by bodies such as the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the International Finance Corporation, the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights Initiative, the United Nations Global Compact, the International Code of Conduct Association, etc.
  • The guidance assists companies in establishing strong policies and processes responding to upcoming requirements or expectations on stemming from mandatory human rights due diligence in various countries or regions or from the work of the United Nations Working Group on Business and Human Rights and in particular its recent report ‘Business, human rights and conflict-affected regions: towards heightened action’.
  • Given the very important role of security issues in relation to sustainable development, the Toolkit helps companies build a strong basis for their contribution to the Sustainable Development Goals.

At the corporate level, issues addressed within the Toolkit can inform company policies and demonstrate compliance with international business and human rights standards as well as mandatory due diligence requirements. At the operational level, the practical examples and good practices can help managers and field-level staff develop measures to prevent or mitigate security and human rights related risk.

How do I use the Toolkit?

The Toolkit is divided into four challenge areas that focus on company risks relating to host state engagement, public and private security, and community security. Each challenge area identifies key security-related risks and offers corresponding good practices. Users do not need to read the whole Toolkit. They can instead focus on specific issues or on particular challenges that they are encountering in their operations. Alternatively, companies seeking to develop security and human rights policies or benchmark existing ones should study the Toolkit in its entirety.

The good practices contained in the Toolkit are not meant to be prescriptive. It is up to the user to evaluate their relevance and how they can be adapted to a specific situation or context. Good practices are accompanied by additional resources, in case more information is required.

Keep in mind:

* Good practices and policies are in principle subject to the national laws in place and it is the company’s responsibility to align with those.  When the national laws conflict with international human rights standards and the good practices promoted in the present Toolkit, it is the company’s responsibility to find the most appropriate balance towards safeguarding the rights and dignity of affected populations.

* Community engagement and inclusive decision-making on security issues are key elements of a company’s social license to operate. Proactive engagement can prevent conflicts that may have significant negative consequences on business continuity.