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New guidance on operating in high-risk environments launched

Release date:
3 May 2018
As a former intelligence officer for the Royal Air Force, Helen Simpson knows a thing or two about keeping secrets. But recently Simpson, who advises BP on security issues, has been sharing her knowledge to help maintain peace and safeguard children in areas at high risk of conflict.
In BP, we’re good at what we do in the area of security and human rights and we’re recognised as such by the wider industry. This isn’t an area in which we should seek to limit sharing our experiences for competitive advantage – it’s in all of our interests to make sure that, from the smallest to the largest company, we are all working to avoid communities being negatively impacted by our activities
Helen Simpson,global voluntary principles advisor

BP’s experiences of working in conflict-affected areas has helped form a new guidance document launched today (03 May 2018), designed to help companies operating in such locations, work in a way that prevents conflict and promotes peace.


Building peace

The toolkit, ‘human rights due diligence in conflict-affected settings’, is published by non-profit peacebuilding organization, International Alert, with the support of companies like BP that have a track record of working in challenging difficult settings.


CEO of International Alert Harriet Lamb said: “This toolkit builds on International Alert’s ground-breaking work over the past two decades to engage the private sector in building peace. In areas hit by conflict, human rights violations are more likely to happen, and those violations will be more severe than normal.”


Simpson says: “This is a great handbook for security professionals and if an organization were to follow the guidance they would be mitigating a lot of risk when operating in a conflict area.”

Simpson has also contributed to a UNICEF ‘child rights and security checklist’ that aims to help companies identify, improve, and create greater stakeholder confidence in their protection of children’s rights within their security programs.


The document outlines how physical security arrangements can expose children and young people to harm, for instance, children may be recruited and used as public or private security.


The International Alert toolkit distinguishes between four broad types of conflict that are particularly challenging for companies: armed conflict, armed violence, post-conflict and social unrest.


While it focuses on the oil, gas and mining sector, the toolkit’s recommendations are applicable to all other sectors working in conflict areas, particularly agribusiness, renewables and consumer goods.


Respecting community rights

BP’s steps to help protect vulnerable people are part of its role as a founding signatory to the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights (2000) to help guide companies in successfully meeting the challenge of protecting the safety of their personnel and assets while also respecting the rights of community members in the vicinity of their operations.


These commitments are enshrined in BP’s Business and Human Rights Policy, which sets out the company’s commitment to conduct business in a manner that respect the rights and dignity of all people.

As well as our sustainability report, BP also reports our progress on human rights and security issues in our annual report to the Voluntary Principles plenary. BP works in many different countries around the world and reporting on the steps we take to manage human rights is an important part of the open and transparent relationships we build with local communities.
Kate Niblock,sustainability reporting manager
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