Voluntary Principles Initiative delegation to engage government officials during 5-day visit

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TUE, FEBRUARY 6 2018-theG&BJournal-A delegation from the Initiative of the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights -led by Mr. Ronald Roosdorp of the Netherlands Government will arrive in Nigeria on Sunday, February 11, 2018.

The delegation, which is made up of representatives from three pillars: governments, companies, and non-governmental organizations (NGOs), will stay in Nigeria for five days (Sunday, February 11 and Friday, February 16, 2018) to strengthen the work of the In Country Pilot Working Group, promote cross-Pillar collaboration with regard to Voluntary Principles implementation and engage government officials in discussions regarding the benefits of Voluntary Principles participation and implementation.

A statement in Abuja on Sunday said the delegation would use the proposed visit in enlightening Nigerian government officials, corporate entities and members of the civil society on the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights.

The delegation will meet with the Rivers State Government, ministries and departments of government within mining, extractive and security sector” the statement signed by Joel Bisina, Executive Director, Leadership Initiative for Transformation and Empowerment (LITE) said,

The Ronald Roosdorp- led delegation is expected to participate in a security forum, NGO multi-stakeholder forum and Mining sector program”

The Voluntary Principles Initiative, which is more relevant than ever to its members and to the wider community, seeks to: actively promote universal respect for human rights in the provision of security for extractive and mining industry activities in a manner guided by the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights (“Voluntary Principles”); strengthen implementation and accountability; and increase the number of Voluntary Principles Initiative Participants.

Specifically, the multi-stakeholder initiative (involving oil, gas, and mining companies, governments and non-governmental organizations) has acquired the capacity to play an increasingly effective role in promoting principles that guide companies on providing security for their operations in a manner that respects human rights.

The statement said the initiative had proved itself a force for the promotion of human rights, economic development, stability and the prevention of conflicts in connection with the extractive industry.

Emphasizing that the voluntary principles serve as implementation tools for the United Nations Guiding Principles on business and human rights at the global compact, the statement said “the visit to Nigeria is to create awareness on the In-Country Pilot Working Group in Nigeria (ICPWG)”

“It is to support the Nigerian in-country working group, identify and respond to local in-country challenges related to implementation of the Voluntary Principles and to identify joint solutions to those challenges. It is also to do outreach within the country; create interest amongst local officials, companies and civil society about the VPs, share best practices, foster communication, raise awareness related to local security and human rights environments; strengthen participation by local host governments (formally or informally), with a focus on host government security stakeholders and promote the Voluntary Principles in engagements with relevant local stakeholders” the statement said.

The in-country pilot group in Nigeria was established in 2017 and is co-chaired by the Swiss government and LITE-Africa, members comprising of government actors, civil society organizations and corporate organizations.

The Group seeks to facilitate activities that promote in-country implementation of the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights (the “Voluntary Principles”).

The statement said Voluntary Principles Initiative is concerned with security and human rights challenges.

“The activities of VPI include, but are not limited to; facilitating formal and informal discussions regarding the local security and human rights context, including identifying challenges and opportunities to address concerns; Organizing in-country roundtables to share best practices and identify lessons learned with regard to in-country Voluntary Principles implementation; Complementing Initiative-level verification processes by enhancing visibility of implementation efforts and security and human rights risks specific to the country”.

The group is also promoting the Voluntary Principles in engagements with relevant local stakeholders, supporting local, regional and/or national human rights assessments and monitoring of security and human rights concerns; conducting assessments of the familiarity of local stakeholders with the Voluntary Principles and identifying opportunities to share expertise, developing training materials for members of the Pilot Group as well as private and public security forces and serving as an in-country resource for local stakeholders interested in the Voluntary Principles and/or the Voluntary Principles Initiative.

“Argentina, Australia, Canada, Colombia, Ghana, The Netherlands, Norway, Switzerland, United Kingdom and United States governments are involved in this meeting” the statement added.

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