About This Toolkit

Who is this Toolkit for

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This Toolkit has been written primarily with companies in mind. It can be helpful:

  • At both headquarters and company operational (field) levels. The Toolkit can inform corporate policies and provide a checklist for due diligence processes. It can be used as a benchmark to understand where a company stands in implementing human rights compliant security practices. On a more practical level, the examples and good practices can inform specific problem-solving on the ground for security managers and field-level staff.
  • For a range of corporate functions: Security and human rights issues should  be addressed by a wide range of corporate functions including: security, government relations, community relations, sustainability or corporate social responsibility teams, compliance, legal, or business and human rights units where they increasingly exist. 
  • For different types of companies: The Toolkit is relevant for all kinds of companies in all kinds of industries, both large companies and SMEs, for multinationals operating abroad or national companies facing security and human rights issues.
  • In implementing the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights (VPs): The Toolkit provides comprehensive guidance to support implementation of the VPs. It is an essential tool for new Voluntary Principles Initiative member companies and should be used by existing members to benchmark their security practices against new requirements and emerging best practice.
  • For companies working in complex environments: The Toolkit focuses predominantly on challenges that are more pronounced in complex operating environments – defined as countries or areas affected by armed conflict or presenting challenging social and economic circumstances where a “social license to operate” is essential to ensure business continuity. 


States bear the duty to protect the human rights of their citizens and play a critical role in promoting the responsible management of security around corporate operations. Different states play different roles in this dynamic; States host companies operating within their borders, but they are also home to company headquarters. Increasingly, governments enact laws and regulations that relate to company behavior outside of their territory, through operations or supply chains. Therefore, the commitment and active involvement of government actors is essential to address security and human rights challenges. 

Many of the good practices in this Toolkit involve companies’ engagement with governments, suggesting ways in which companies and government actors can work together to address those challenges. Both the sections on “Working with host governments” and “Working with public security forces” are directly relevant to this. The Toolkit recommends that governments require companies to comply with standards on security and human rights. The Toolkit also suggests that companies coordinate and engage constructively with governments to improve respect for human rights and international humanitarian law in the management of corporate security at headquarter levels. Other good practices identify potential synergies that can be realised through bridging ‘business and human rights’ and broader security sector reform actors and approaches. The Toolkit provides governments with some ideas on how they can contribute to such efforts. 

Civil society and communities

Local and international civil society organisations are critical partners and/or advisers for companies. civil society organisations are often trusted members of society with networks of contacts, and they are familiar with human rights, security and development issues. civil society organisations often can provide companies with gateways to communicate directly with communities affected by their business operations. The good practices included in this Toolkit encourage companies to work with civil society organisations to address some of the security and human rights challenges they face. This Toolkit can also help civil society organisations identify how they can engage companies and promote the implementation and operationalization of good practices.