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Business and international humanitarian law – new publication

05-12-2006 News Release 06/137

Geneva (ICRC) – While business enterprises are increasingly operating in environments affected by armed conflict, few are familiar with either their rights or obligations under international humanitarian law – sometimes called the laws of war – a situation which the Geneva-based International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) aims to address through its new publication, Business and International Humanitarian Law.

" The ICRC is mandated to promote international humanitarian law and universal humanitarian principles, and this publication essentially addresses a new audience in this regard " , said Pierre Krähenbühl, the Director of Operations. " We are confident that it will help business enterprises better understand their rights and obligations when they are operating in an environment of armed conflict. This is one step in the direction of mitigating any potential negative effect of their operations on conflict. "

Many businesses have policies that ensure respect for and even promotion of general human rights law. But international humanitarian law serves a distinct purpose. This body of law affords protection to personnel as well as to assets and capital investments of business enterprises. At the same time, it imposes legal obligations on managers and staff, and can even entail their criminal responsibility. By raising awareness and understanding of international humanitarian law, the ICRC publication aims to help business enterprises develop operations that respect and even promote this law.

This publication is intended primarily for country managers and security managers who face the daily challenge of running business operations in conflict environments. It also provides a reference tool for financial, insurance and trading companies that indirectly operate in conflict zones through their clients and suppliers.


 Business and International Humanitarian Law (26 pages) can be ordered online and consulted at  
  • Read also the questions and answers on the role of ICRC in promoting ihl in business
    For further information, please contact:
      Claudia McGoldrick, ICRC Geneva, tel: +41 22 730 2063 or +41 79 217 3216