In the face of growing insecurity and human rights abuses across Africa, some non-governmental organisations have taken the initiative of providing research materials and other field-data collections, to raise awareness on the inherent danger of ignoring the twin pillars of security and human rights.One of such NGOs, is The Leadership Initiative for Transformation and Empowerment (LITEAfrica) which, true to its objectives, held a two-day sensitization workshop on Voluntary Principles (VP) and United Nations Guiding Principles (UNGP) on Security and Human Rights, in Abuja. LITE-Africa, with support from the Canadian Fund for Local Initiative (CFLI), is implementing what is termed, the Strengthening Voluntary Principles in-country Implementation in Nigeria (S-VoPIN).
The workshop had participants and stakeholders from the government, companies and Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs); the three pillars of the VP. It was propelled by the need to strengthen and increase in-country implementation of the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights through cross pillar cooperation and coltolaboration, using the In- Country Implementation Group in Nigeria. Welcoming participants to the event, a Representative of the Canadian High Commission in Nigeria, Mr. John Crysller, expressed gratitude to LITE-Africa for the initiative. Crysller noted with appreciation representations of the pillars of the VP. According to the diplomat, the CFLI would continue to support LITE-Africa’s strategies geared towards the enhancement of Corporate Social responsibilities (CSR) by companies and Businesses.
On his part, the Co- Chairman of the Incountry Implementation working group, Mr. Joel Bisina, on behalf of LITE- Africa and the Swiss Embassy, appreciated all participants for attending the workshop, even as he noted that the VP was a multi-stakeholder Initiative involving government, companies and NGOs, and also a set of soft laws that guide firms and businesses in providing security for their operations.
The VP is said to be saddled with the responsibility of providing “guidelines to security forces’ operations in the extractive and mining sector to respect human rights while protecting company’s personnel and assets”.The Voluntary Principle on Security and Human Rights, according to Bisina, who is LITE-AFRICA’s executive director, “is a global set of principles that are developed by collaboration and cooperation, between governments of various countries, who are signatories to the initiative, businesses; that is mostly IOCs, and some corporations…”
Bisina further disclosed that the Nigerian government participated at the VP plenary in Bogota, Columbia, and that the government might have set up an interministerial committee to evaluate Nigeria’s membership to the VP since it was listed as one of the VP priority countries alongside Burma and Ghana by the steering committee. He, however, stated that, currently, Nigeria was yet to sign to the VPs.
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