Challenge Topic

Communities’ impacts on company security

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Frustration and obstruction from communities: managing tensions and addressing actors fuelling social conflicts

Good Practices

Conduct human rights due diligence and update it regularly.

Undertake a stakeholder mapping and analysis.

  • Clearly identify stakeholders’ interests and perspectives regarding the project to identify potential ways of reducing tensions. Pay particular attention to vulnerable and marginalised groups.
  • Identify possible conflicts of interests between stakeholders.

Develop a stakeholder engagement strategy and build community support for the project without raising unrealistic expectations.

  • Develop a long-term social investment plan together with local communities.
  • Consider offering incentives to company staff that demonstrate a consistent track record of promoting respect for the community.  

Engage constructively with people opposing the project.

  • Reach out to those opposing the project and renew invitations to engage in good faith. The OECD says that companies should ‘avoid making public statements questioning the work of such groups or blaming them for any supposed delays or other disruptions to the project’.
  • Identify constructive leaders who advocate for non-violent approaches and engage them early on. Cooperate with these leaders to identify community needs and the proper way to address the impacts of operations. Ensure leaders from all marginalised and groups in vulnerable situations, as well as demographic segments of the population (e.g. different ethnic and religious groups), are consulted.
  • Do not treat communities as a threat, or they will become a threat. Legal actions against community members could result in further exacerbating the situation and contribute to the criminalisation of non-violent human rights defenders.
  • Ask the community whether they would be interested in developing a community consultative committee that the company can meet on a regular basis in each community.
  • Where necessary, identify reliable independent third parties who are trusted by the community to act as mediators.


Illegal access to a company’s property or grounds: managing security threats

Good Practices

Conduct a baseline study and a risk assessment and update them regularly

(see Unidentified root causes, unaddressed impacts of the operation or unfulfilled commitments: addressing persistent tensions within Stakeholder engagement strategy – Working with Communities).

  • Consult local staff on trends regarding illegal activities.
  • Understand why trespassers may want to gain access to the company’s property or grounds, since this may help in finding ways to mitigate this risk. For example, in the case of artisanal and small scale miners, it is important to understand whether they are local artisanal miners who, after the company’s acquisition of the land, no longer have an area to operate (see Threats to the livelihood of local communities within Impacts of Company operations on the security of communities – Working with Communities) or whether they are individuals who came to the project site from elsewhere for the purpose of carrying out illegal activities. Understand why this criminality exists and whether there are community engagement or artisanal mining formalisation support measures that could reduce criminality.
  • Assess the different risks faced by men and women working as company security, considering in particular the risk of gender - based violence.

Adjust security arrangements to prevent and mitigate security risks, as well as minimise the need for the use of force.

  • Discuss security arrangements with public security management (e.g. agree on appropriate rotation of public security forces) and support government efforts to strengthen law enforcement in alignment with the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights (see Security arrangements – Working with Public Security Forces).
  • Employ well-trained and equipped private security providers who are prepared to respond to threats effectively with the minimal possible use of force (see Working with Private Security Providers sections on Training, Relationship between public and private security and security equipment and the use of force.
  • Reduce the range of scenarios where security personnel operate individually and equip guards with ‘emergency buttons’.
  • Consider prohibiting security providers from carrying small arms, light weapons or other lethal weapons. Ensure that security providers understand how less-lethal weapons can be lethal in certain circumstances or if used improperly.
  • Ensure that security providers understand that they are only permitted to use deadly force in the event of a threat of death or grave bodily injury to themselves or others.
  • Ensure security arrangements are proportionate to risks/threats.
  • Monitor security personnel through a variety of means to avoid collusion between security personnel and trespassers. Consider using radio networks, CCTV visual monitoring, daily inspections and unannounced physical site inspections (see Oversight and accountability – Working with Private Security Providers).
  • Address the risk of bribery and pressure on security personnel by outsiders wanting access to the mine, in particular if security personnel comes from the surrounding communities.
  • Conduct a lessons learned exercise after an incident has taken place and, if appropriate, use the incident for practical exercises in future trainings.

Discuss security issues with communities on a regular basis

Review the company’s social investment strategy.

  • Optimise benefits for the local population so that they view a successful operation as more lucrative than illegal activities directed against the company.
  • Work with the national, regional and/or local authorities to address the social and economic incentives of illegal activities in or around the company’s grounds.

Case Studies and Fact Sheets

Company-Community Relations and the Social License to Operate

View Resource

Indigenous Peoples fact sheet

View Resource