Business, violence and conflict
IRRC No. 887
Businesses can have both positive and negative effects on communities in conflict-affected or high-risk areas. They may contribute to the violence, but they may also be the victims of it, or even assist in the relief and prevention of further violence. This issue of the Review examines the relationship between business and conflict, the rules that regulate companies' activities in the context of conflict, efforts to highlight the rights and responsibilities of companies, States and civil society in this field and the options open to humanitarian agencies that want to enter into dialogue with companies.
Table of contents
Editorial: Globalisation will only mean progress if it is responsible
'The world is my country'. Those famous words by Thomas Paine express the idea of a common thread linking all humankind and transcending distances, borders, and nations. The industrial revolution ﬁrst, and then globalisation, gave that idea new impetus. Today, we are more connected than we have ever been–because of our travels, our means of communication, and our business exchanges. The private sector has largely contributed to this development: the business activities of our national and multinational companies have woven a complex web of mutual interdependencies.
Interview with John G. Ruggie
The conduct of multinational corporations, particularly those operating in conflict areas, is increasingly becoming subject to public scrutiny. More and more companies profess a commitment to live up to their human rights responsibilities in fragile contexts. In situations of armed conflict, international humanitarian law also applies. The business sector is, however, relatively less aware of this body of law.
Business actors in armed conflict: towards a new humanitarian agenda
The purpose of this article is to give an overview of current understandings of the various roles of business actors in armed conflict. It traces the expanding discussion of business and conflict in today’s civil wars, and the discussion’s importance to humanitarian, human rights, corporate and peacebuilding policymakers.
The role of business in armed violence reduction and prevention
This article looks at business activities in violent and fragile environments through an armed violence lens and explores the role of business in armed violence reduction and prevention (AVRP) strategies.
Regulating the private security industry: a story of regulating the last war
This article argues that attempts to regulate the private military and security industry have been stymied by a tendency to be constantly ‘regulating the last war’ or responding to the challenges of a previous manifestation of private force rather than dealing with the current challenges.
The UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and conflict-affected areas: state obligations and business responsibilities
The UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights provide authoritative guidance for states and businesses on how to prevent and address business-related human rights harms, including in conflict-affected areas.
Developments in international criminal law and the case of business involvement in international crimes
In the wake of the mandate of the Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General for Business and Human Rights (SRSG), international criminal law looks set to play a role in measures towards the legal accountability of business actors involved in gross human rights and humanitarian law violations.
Corporations, international crimes and national courts: a Norwegian view
It is axiomatic to state that in order to bring all of those responsible for international crimes to trial, one must ultimately rely on domestic courts. There are a number of reasons for this: jurisdictional, reasons of scope (in terms of the accused), financial, and practical ones, to note but a few. These issues are potentially even more acute when it comes to holding corporations accountable for international crimes.
Assessing the roles of multi-stakeholder initiatives in advancing the business and human rights agenda
Growing reliance on ‘multi-stakeholder initiatives’ (MSIs) aimed at improving business performance with respect to specific human rights-related challenges has become a significant dimension of the evolving corporate responsibility agenda over recent decades. A number of such initiatives have developed in direct response to calls for greater state and corporate accountability in areas of weak governance and violent conflict.
The importance of stakeholder engagement in the corporate responsibility to respect human rights
Over the past forty years, there has been a steady rise in the expectation for companies to operate as responsible citizens. Today companies have at their disposal a variety of initiatives, and new levels of accountability have been reached with the advancement of international standards on, among others, corporate responsibility to respect human rights.
Responsible risk-taking in conflict-affected countries: the need for due diligence and the importance of collective approaches
This article discusses some of the challenges that may be encountered by companies seeking to adhere to the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights and the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights when operating in conflict-affected countries.
Pushing the humanitarian agenda through engagement with business actors: the ICRC’s experience
Large companies can have both massively positive and massively negative impacts on communities, be it directly through their operations or indirectly through their influence on decision-makers. This is particularly true when business operations take place in conflict-affected or high-risk areas. Humanitarian organisations endeavouring to bring protection and/or assistance in these areas cannot, therefore, ignore these influential actors.
The interaction between humanitarian non-governmental organisations and extractive industries: a perspective from Médecins Sans Frontières
This opinion note explores some aspects of the relationship between humanitarian non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and extractive industries.
Ten questions to Philip Spoerri, ICRC Director for International Law and Cooperation
In this Q&A section, Philip Spoerri, ICRC Director for International Law and Cooperation, gives an overview of the rules applicable to business actors in situations of conflict, and discusses some of the ICRC’s engagement with business actors.
The International Committee of the Red Cross’s (ICRC’s) confidential approach
Specific means employed by the ICRC to ensure respect for the law by State and non-State authorities Policy document. December 2012.
What's new in law and case law across the world (Autumn 2012)
Biannual update on national legislation implementing international humanitarian law and relevant case law, January – June 2012
Book Review – International Law and the Classification of Conflicts
Book review by Dr Roberta Arnold, Fellow, Royal Institute of International Affairs, Chatham House, and Professor of International Law, University College London
Book Review – The Golden Fleece: Manipulation and Independence in Humanitarian Action
Book review by Michael Barnett, University Professor of International Relations and Political Science, Institute for Security and Conflict Studies, Elliott School of International Affairs, George Washington University
New publications in humanitarian action and the law (Autumn 2012)
This selection is based on the new acquisitions of the ICRC Library and Public Archives