International Committee of the Red Cross

Toolkit helps companies facing security and human rights challenges

Article 07 July 2016

Companies operating in areas affected by armed conflict and violence face multiple security and human rights challenges. The Geneva Centre for the Democratic Control of Armed Forces (DCAF) and the ICRC have therefore published a "toolkit" entitled Addressing security and human rights challenges in complex environments.  A third edition of the Toolkit has just been released, and includes a new chapter on working communities, developed in collaboration with CDA Collaborative Learning Projects. It also includes a fully revised and updated version of the first chapter of the Toolkit (i.e. Chapter 1 –Working with host governments), with new good practices and tools.

The Toolkit forms part of a joint DCAF-ICRC project that produces guidance for companies operating in complex environments. The aim is to help companies manage their security effectively while respecting human rights and complying with international humanitarian law.

The project is based on a survey of existing literature and tools dealing with security and human rights, plus visits to Colombia, Peru, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and South Africa. This survey included over 130 meetings with governments, companies, civil society organizations and others, highlighting both the security and human rights problems that companies face and ways in which they could resolve those problems.

As part of the project, DCAF and the ICRC have developed two tools: the Knowledge Hub and the Toolkit. These tools provide resources for companies and reflect the commitment of both organizations to the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights.

The Toolkit

The Toolkit is divided into four chapters:

  • Chapter 1: Working with host governments
  • Chapter 2: Working with public security forces
  • Chapter 3: Working with private security providers
  • Chapter 4: Working with communities

The document is structured around the real-life security and human rights challenges that companies face when operating in complex environments. It sets out good practices and recommendations, and contains a number of checklists and case studies.

The new edition has been translated into Spanish and French and been published on the Knowledge Hub. The DCAF-ICRC team is also developing a number of additional tools.

The Toolkit is a living document, developed through extensive consultations with a wide variety of actors and a review process involving a multi-stakeholder group of experts.

Feedback and suggestions from users are strongly encouraged; this will ensure that the recommendations and tools provided in this Toolkit are effective in addressing challenges on the ground. 

We invite anyone who wishes to have further information or to engage with the DCAF-ICRC project with the view to contributing to the continuous development and improvement of the Toolkit to write to  Lucía Hernández at DCAF or Claude Voillat at the ICRC.