Avanzar specializes in auditing extractive company operations for their compliance with the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights (VPSHR). Our co-founder emeritus, Jim Rader worked for five years as the Director of the Extractives Program at Business for Social Responsibility (BSR) in San Francisco, which was the Secretariat for the Voluntary Principles Initiative from its inception in 2000 to 2010. This exposure gave him an intimate understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of the VPSHR.
After leaving BSR at the end of 2005, Rader joined Avanzar. Avanzar developed particular expertise on the carrying out of field audits of the VPSHR on extractive operations and refined an audit protocol that is based on the ISO standards for management systems (such as 14000) and on the AA1000 principles for assurance: inclusiveness, materiality, and responsiveness. The audit template is comprised of seven sections, or categories, of assessment. The majority of content (5 of the 7 categories) in the template directly tests conformance to the Voluntary Principles. The risk assessment template also includes indicators that draw on Avanzar’s experience in engagement with external stakeholders including local communities, Indigenous peoples and illegal miners.
While the Voluntary Principles do not explicitly cover interaction with such external stakeholders, the nature and quality of relationships a company maintains with these groups will have a direct impact on the security and human rights risk environment that they face.
Avanzar has conducted over one hundred assessments of company compliance with the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights in countries in Latin America and the Caribbean, Africa and Central Asia, and South East Asia.