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The Angolan Government held a seminar for the implementation of the Voluntary Principles in Luanda, Supported by the British Embassy.
On Monday 27 October,the British Ambassador John Dennis joined the Angolan Minister for Geology and Mines, Francisco Manuel Monteiro Queiroz to open the first round table seminar discussion in Angola on “Voluntary Principles for Security and Human Rights”. The event was organised by the Angolan Ministry of Geology and Mines and brought together representatives from relevant Government Ministries, VP Governments, extractive companies and civil society. The event was supported by the UK government, as Chair of the Voluntary Principles through the British Embassy in Luanda. The objective was to promote dialogue on security and human rights challenges in the extractive sector, across government, civil society and the extractive industry, foster good governance, prevention of social conflicts in Angola and to compliment Angola’s work, next year, as Chair of the Kimberley Process – the initiative to stem the flow of conflict diamonds.
The UK provided background to the Voluntary Principles initiative, which was created in 2000 by the U.S. and British governments alongside companies in the oil, gas and mining industries and NGOs, in order to implement a set of principles designed to guide companies in maintaining the safety and security of their operations within an operating framework that encourages respect for human rights. The Voluntary Principles are the only tool for extractive companies to implement the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. We also highlighted that government membership of the Voluntary Principles could help encourage investment by reducing the operational, legal and reputational risks that companies face in connection with security, where their work affects the daily lives of local people.
The panel included representatives of Shell, BP, Angola LNG and Total. They highlighted the perspectives of implementing the Voluntary Principles in the oil and gas sector in Angola, and their experiences of implementation in other African countries as a positive preventive measure against social conflicts. NGOs also had the opportunity to share their views on the value of the Voluntary Principles as an effective tool for dialogue with local communities. In his speech, British Ambassador John Dennis said “As Chair of the Voluntary Principles we particularly welcome Angola’s interest in promoting the use of the Voluntary Principles, and through Angola’s chairmanship of the Kimberley Process we look forward to working closely to develop the extractive industry in a way which respects the rights of people who live and work in this hugely important sector”. Other participants included representatives from the Angolan Ministries of External Affairs, Justice and Human Rights, Petroleum and Interior, local Government and Police Forces, various mining and security companies, the National Body for Diamond Security (CSD), Endiama the national diamond company of Angola, the National Commission for the Kimberley Process in Angola (CNPK), local traditional and religious leaders, representatives from Voluntary Principles governments in Luanda, and NGOs operating in Angola, including Search for Common Ground.