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Responsible risk-taking in conflict-affected countries: the need for due diligence and the importance of collective approaches

30-09-2012 Article, International Review of the Red Cross, No. 887, by John Bray and Antony Crockett


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. The authors argue that corporate respect for human rights may not be sufficient to correct or compensate for state failure and also suggest that the leverage or influence enjoyed by individual companies in relation to the conduct of security forces and host governments may be limited, particularly in times of crisis. There is therefore a need for a collective approach to human rights risks in conflict-affected countries, and this should focus on public security sector reform and good governance as well as on corporate due diligence.

Keywords: risk assessment, due diligence, private sector, conflict-affected areas, corporate responsibility, human rights, Voluntary Principles, Guiding Principles, case studies.


John Bray is a Director at the Tokyo office of Control Risks, a business risk consultancy. His international experience includes varied projects with private sector companies as well as multilateral agencies and NGOs operating in complex environments.

Antony Crockett is Senior Associate at the London office of Clifford Chance LLP. He is admitted to practice as a lawyer in England & Wales and in Australia. He holds the degrees LLB (Hons) (Melbourne), BSc (Melbourne), and LLM (London School of Economics).