Australia to join global human rights and mining initiative

Foreign Minister Bob Carr announced on Human Rights Day that Australia will join a global initiative to promote human rights while ensuring the security of mining projects.

The Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights provide practical guidance to mining, oil and gas companies on managing security while respecting human rights and preventing conflict.

Senator Carr said Australia is proud to join the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Norway, Netherlands, Colombia and Switzerland in this initiative.

"Australian mining companies are expanding overseas, often into unstable environments," Senator Carr said.

"This initiative can help these companies lower risks and manage mine security in a way that respects the human rights and freedoms of local communities.

"As a country with renowned expertise in responsible mining, Australia has a lot to offer.

"Many Australian companies, such as BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto, already use the Voluntary Principles and the number is expected to grow as more companies realise the benefits.

"Joining this initiative will help Australian companies maintain the highest international standards in managing their operations abroad."

The Voluntary Principles provide guidance to companies on:

  • Conducting assessments of human rights risks associated with security
  • Screening and training public and private security forces in human rights issues
  • Ensuring that the use of force is proportional and lawful
  • Developing systems for reporting and investigating allegations of human rights abuses.

The initiative has wide support from both the Australian mining industry and Non-Governmental Organisations.

The Voluntary Principles were established by the US and UK governments, together with extractive companies and NGOs.

Member governments work closely with all parties to encourage companies, local officials and security forces to use these principles to promote best practice in local security operations.

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Source: Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs.