The Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights (VP) are a code of conduct for multinational companies in the extractive sector, signed in 2000 by large companies, the governments of the United States, United Kingdom, the Netherlands and Norway, and NGOs such as Human Rights Watch, International Alert and Amnesty International. The Government of Colombia was accepted in October 2009 as a member of the World Council.
The VP set specific lines of action to systematically assess and manage the risks and impacts of business activity, within an operating framework that ensures respect for Human Rights and fundamental freedoms. They emerged as a response to global concern about the abuse of Human Rights by large companies in the extractive sector, especially in conflict zones.
Some companies in Colombia have decided to adopt this code as a benchmark because of its international legitimacy, usefulness for managing risks related to security and Human Rights, contribution to the welfare of local communities, potential to mitigate potential conflicts and its effects on the consolidation of peace. This is the case of Ecopetrol.
The exercise of the Voluntary Principles involves companies, NGOs and governments in equal standing, in a tripartite and supportive effort, which is consistent with the philosophy of raising awareness that Human Rights and security are a necessity shared by all and require efforts of cooperation, each from their natural sphere of action.
Ecopetrol has been a pioneer in the application of the VP. Along with Occidental de Colombia, it carried out the world´s first application of the CSBP methodology (Conflict-Sensitive Business Practice), a risk analysis methodology in safety and human rights, created by International Alert and the Ideas for Peace Foundation as a tool for implementing the VP.
Since 2008, Ecopetrol has implemented a series of practices aimed that the application of the Voluntary Principles.