Voluntary Principles in West Africa

Focusing on Voluntary Principles in West Africa

Our Regional Training Center (RTC) in Accra, Ghana recently wrapped up a four day workshop focusing on the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights (VPs). Established in 2000 as a collaborative effort by governments, multinational companies, and NGOs, the VPs provide guidance to local companies on tangible steps that they can take to minimize the risk of human rights abuses in communities near gold extraction sites. In 2016, Ghana became the first African country to become a participating member of the VPs initiative after it submitted a National Action Plan to monitor the activities of companies in the gold mining industry. Thus, the VPs course at the RTC was an ideal opportunity for the country to walk the walk.

This course gathered representatives from Ghanaian government agencies, civil society, military forces and private industry to discuss the current state of mining and the way forward with the implementation of the VPs. It also featured a diverse group of instructors from the Fund for Peace (a non-profit from Washington, D.C.), a Liberian Attorney, and the Ghanaian Coordinator for the West Africa Network for Peacebuilding (WANEP). The course moved beyond the theoretical with a site visit to the Akyem gold mine where VPs participants met with representatives from both the mine operators, the Newmont Mining Corporation, and leaders of the local community that had been resettled by the mining company.  They discussed the vital relationship developed between the company and the local community to identify the issues, develop solutions, and showcase the relationship as a role model for corporate social responsibility within the Ghanaian mining community.

For those who are unfamiliar, CTP operates the RTC on behalf of the State Department, with the mission to provide training courses for regional participants as part of WACSI (West Africa Cooperative Security Initiative). Courses cover regional stability topics like advanced drug enforcement, identity theft, fraudulent documents, financial investigations, trafficking in persons, and transnational organized criminal investigations. The RTC provides a modern, efficient, and secure space for U.S. and local government representatives, private clients, and local stakeholders to connect, learn, and share best practices. Stay tuned for updates or visit the RTC website at https://www.westafricartc.org/ to subscribe to our monthly newsletter filled with course updates and participant anecdotes.

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