The West African Network for Peacebuilding (WANEP) – Ghana, has held a second dialogue on the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights (VPS) in the extractive industry with stakeholders within the Newmont Ahafo Mine catchment area.
Twenty participants comprising representatives from the Newmont Gold Ghana Limited – Ahafo Mine, the regional Peace Council, traditional and community youth leaders, civil society organisations, the Police, women groups and the media attended.
The one-day event was to review the threats identified in the last dialogue and to identify the current ones to design strategies to mitigate them.
Mr. Albert Yelyang, the National Network Coordinator of WANEP-Ghana made this known in an interview with the Ghana News Agency (GNA), after the programme on Monday, at Kenyasi Number Two in the Asutifi North District of Brong-Ahafo Region.
Mr. Yelyang said the VPS project is being implemented by WANEP-Ghana, in six communities with financial support by The Fund For Peace (FFP), based in the United State of America as an international partner.
The communities, he mentioned are Kenyasi and Obuasi in the Ashanti Region, Tarkwa and six other coastal districts in the Western Region, Keta in the Volta Region and Talensi District in the Upper East Region.
The project is complementing the efforts of Government in the implementation of the VPS in the mining and oil and gas affected communities in the country, Mr. Yelyang said.
He said many concerns were raised but emphasised that the key and outstanding issue was the unemployment still existing in the mining communities, especially employment of the youth in the communities.
Mr. Yelyang stressed the need for the local youth and opinion leaders to continue discussing the various grievances related to unemployment, poverty and engagement of public and private securities by the companies.
He hoped there would not be negative fallouts like escalation of tensions and demonstrations arising out of their grievances and concerns.
Mr. Yelyang urged that the mining companies should also continue to enhance the capacities of both the public and private security personnel they engage, so that their presence and quest to ensure law and order does not escalate volatile situations.
Established in 2000, the VPS is a multi-stakeholder initiative (MSI) involving government, companies, and non-governmental organisations that promote implementation of a set of principles that guide oil, gas and mining companies on providing security for their operations in a manner that respects human rights.
Specifically, the Voluntary Principles guide companies in conducting a comprehensive human rights risk assessment in their engagement with public and private security providers to ensure human rights are respected in the protection of company facilities and premises.
The VPS implementation has become necessary because, while the duty to protect human rights rests with governments, businesses have a responsibility to respect human rights as outlined in the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, by acting with due diligence to avoid harming people and addressing adverse impacts with which they are involved.
Extractive companies often operate in complex environments with little guidance on the ground on how to observe their human rights responsibilities.
The VPS thus helps companies to identify human rights risks and take meaningful steps to address those risks in a manner that helps to ensure respect for human rights in their operations.