On March 26 – 27, 2014, the Government of Switzerland hosted the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights (VPs) Initiative Annual Plenary Meeting in Montreux, Switzerland. The initiative is a collaborative effort by governments, major multinational extractive companies, and NGOs to provide guidance to companies on tangible steps that they can take to minimize the risk of human rights abuses in communities located near extraction sites.
During the meeting, the government of Ghana announced that it would join the VPs Initiative, becoming the first African government participant. Government participation in the VPs Initiative signals an important commitment to human rights and to supporting a positive business environment for extractive companies. The VPs Initiative also welcomed companies Repsol, PanAust, IAMGold, and NGO LITE-Africa as new members, as well as the Institute for Human Rights and Business, as an observer. Several companies also discussed challenges and best practices related to implementation and verification of their performance under the VPs. These discussions helped to demonstrate how companies work to adhere to their commitments in some of the toughest places in the world, spurring discussion about how participants can work collaboratively to support these efforts.
The United States’ active participation in the VPs Initiative is an example of this Administration’s practical approach to working in partnership with corporations, other governments, and civil society groups to address human rights problems that cannot be solved by governments alone.