Cablegate: Update On Voluntary Principles Process In

Published: Thu 1 Apr 2004 06:16 PM
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
E.O. 12958: N/A
REF: 03 BOGOTA 9054
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1. (SBU) British Petroleum (BP) and the Colombian Association
of Petroleum Producers (ACP) hosted a briefing for British
and U.S. emboffs on ACP's draft work plan regarding the
Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights (VPs) for
the extractive industry. ACP and BP requested USG and UK
assistance encouraging relevant GOC agencies to participate
in the implementation of the plan. Specifically, they are
interested in securing GOC cooperation to vet
privately-contracted security teams and public security
forces contracted via Ecopetrol by the extractive companies.
ACP's work plan anticipates an industry-wide workshop in
April aimed at developing a baseline consensus among
producers as well as a series of regional workshops with
local law enforcement and military to bring the GOC onboard.
Emboffs expressed concern that the work plan seemed to come
up short on civil society involvement and encouraged ACP to
consider efforts to solicit input from labor organizations
and NGOs before final agreement on an industry-wide baseline
position. End Summary.
2. (U) Since the initial VP meeting hosted by the U.S.
Embassy in September 2003 (reftel), ACP held a series of
one-day workshops in November 2003 with its members to
develop a draft work plan on VPs. The draft work plan
integrates topics such as corporate responsibility,
transparency of revenue distribution, risk assessment, best
practices, ethical principles, human rights and social
management in hopes of developing a consensus on minimum
baseline standards that would govern the business practices
of ACP members. The workshops consisted of presentations
from companies that currently support VP, including BP,
Occidental Petroleum (OXY) and ChevronTexaco; discussion of
the U.N. Global Compact; and consideration of an OXY case
study on pending lawsuits alleging OXY's involvement in the
1998 Santo Domingo massacre (septel).
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Draft Work Plan: Civil Society Participation Later
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3. (SBU) Based on the September meeting and the November
workshops, ACP and BP have designed a draft work plan that
focuses on using best practices and development of an
intra-industry information sharing network that would
facilitate risk assessment procedures. ACP plans to host a
two-day workshop in April to present the draft work plan and
to formulate a set of baseline standards for implementation
of VPs. Begining in April, ACP also intends to host a series
of eleven regional workshops with local law enforcement and
public security forces to develop an infrastructure for
cooperation. In response to emboffs' concerns that the draft
work plan did not seem to integrate input from civil society
-- primarily labor organizations and human rights NGOs -- ACP
and BP noted that the high degree of mistrust between the
private sector and civil society precluded the inclusion of
civil society representatives in initial discussions. Noting
our concern that NGOs and organized labor might be
disinclined to participate as a result of being excluded from
the formulation process, ACP and BP insisted they will reach
out to NGOs and organized labor only after ACP's membership
has agreed on a set of baseline standards. BP noted that
they would enlist the support of U.K.- and U.S.-based human
rights organizations in reaching out to Colombian organized
labor and NGOs.
GOC Assistance Needed
4. (SBU) ACP and BP stated that industries can accomplish 80
percent of work plan implementation alone. The remaining 20
percent will require GOC assistance in order to obtain
necessary information to conduct environmental, security and
other risk assessment studies and to vet privately-contracted
security companies and public security forces contracted by
Ecopetrol, which traditionally receives logistical or
financial support from extractive producers. ACP and BP
noted that they plan to request U.K. and U.S. Embassy
assistance in communicating the importance of these
activities and the need for GOC cooperation.
Looking Ahead
5. (SBU) Despite the exclusion of civil society participants,
formulation of the draft work plan represents an important
step forward. Post will continue to monitor the VP
implementation process at each stage and will continue to
stress the importance of involving civil society actors early
in the process. The Uribe administration has expressed
strong support for implementation of VPs. As a result,
obtaining GOC cooperation in risk assessment and review
procedures is not a matter of GOC resistance or lack of
political will. It is, rather, a question of overcoming
legal and technical restrictions on information sharing that
might be as simple as the development of a
red-light/green-light system designed to safeguard protected
or sensitive information.
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