CSR Practice Selected as Secretariat for Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights

Foley Hoag Will Administer This Multi-Stakeholder Initiative to Help Extractive Sector Companies Maintain the Security of Their Operations in a Manner That Ensures Respect for Human Rights.

September 30, 2010

Foley Hoag’s Corporate Social Responsibility (“CSR”) Practice, the first practice of its kind in a major U.S. law firm, has been selected to serve as the Secretariat for the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights (“Voluntary Principles”). The Voluntary Principles is a multi-stakeholder initiative that guides extractive sector companies in maintaining the safety and security of their operations in a manner that ensures respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms.  Participants in the Voluntary Principles encompass 17 companies, including Marathon Oil, Newmont Mining Corporation, and Talisman Energy; 7 governments, including the United States, the United Kingdom, and Canada; and 9 leading non-governmental organizations (“NGOs”), including Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International.

The Voluntary Principles provide operational guidance to companies seeking to address on-the-ground security and human rights challenges, including engagements with public and private security forces in conflict-prone areas.  Participants have developed training materials and risk assessment tools as well as mechanisms to ensure that allegations of human rights abuses are promptly reported and investigated.  Participation in the Principles helps companies manage both legal and reputational risk.

As the Secretariat, Foley Hoag lawyers will draw upon more than a decade of experience in advising oil, gas, and mining companies regarding best practices in corporate social responsibility and risk management.  Foley Hoag will work with all Participants to develop better on-the-ground implementation processes in challenging country contexts.  They will also work with Participants to develop and disseminate best practices.  In addition, Foley Hoag will operate in an administrative and advisory capacity to facilitate the work of the Voluntary Principles Steering Committee and Plenary.

Gare Smith, partner and Chair of the firm’s CSR practice, noted, “It is an honor for our firm to be selected to serve in this capacity.  The guidelines provide critical guidance to an industry that must confront complex security challenges in difficult operating environments while also respecting human rights.  We look forward to working with all Voluntary Principles Participants to further strengthen the initiative and its capacity to address on-the-ground human rights and security challenges.”

Foley Hoag’s CSR practice helps clients anticipate challenges and mitigate risks by incorporating internationally recognized standards into their strategic planning, crisis response strategies, and relationships with community and industry stakeholders.  Our CSR attorneys develop legal policies and business strategies that incorporate respect for human rights and comply with all relevant laws and voluntary standards.  We enable our clients to confidently pursue growth, secure in the knowledge that their strategies have been designed to safeguard reputation and minimize legal risk.  For more information on the practice, visit www.csrandthelaw.com.

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