Business, Human Rights and Conflict-Affected Regions

Started in July 2021

The United Nations (UN) Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights provide for the first time a global normative framework backed by UN member states that clarifies state duties and business responsibilities related to business related-human rights abuse. They are the common reference point for efforts to address adverse human rights impacts arising in a business context and have been widely integrated into both public and private sector policy frameworks.

These principles are of particular importance in conflict-affected regions, where the worst forms of business-related human rights abuse tend to happen.

As part of its mandate to promote the UN Guiding Principles, the UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights (UNWG) launched a project in 2018 to clarify the practical steps that States and business enterprises should take to implement the Guiding Principles in conflict and post-conflict contexts.

The UNWG presented the conclusions of this project’s first phase in the report Business, Human Rights and Conflict-Affected Regions: Towards Heightened Action (A/75/212).

Based on extensive research and consultations, the report identifies a series of policies and tools to help ensure that business activity does not lead to human rights abuse and in turn stimulate or exacerbate conflict or hinder peacebuilding. It highlights two major areas requiring further work: a need for more granularity in the existing guidance for states, business, and other relevant actors; and the need to continue addressing existing gaps and policy misalignments across the various actors.

The Research

This project is a follow-up to the initial UNWG efforts and aims to further identify and clarify policies and practices for States and business, including public and private investors, across the full ‘conflict cycle’ and the ‘Protect, Respect and Remedy’ pillars of the Guiding Principles.

In this context, the project is addressing key questions, such as:

  • What are the appropriate policies, regulations, and adjudication to protect against corporate-related human rights abuses in conflict and post-conflict situations?
  • What specific measures should business take in conflict and post-conflict situations, including implementing ‘enhanced due diligence?
  • What is the role and what actions should be taken (and avoided) by actors in the traditional peace and security architecture, including key UN actors such as OHCHR, UNDP, DPPA, the Peacebuilding Support Office, and the Peacebuilding Commission as well as the Security Council?
  • What is the role of business in transitional justice?

This input will help the UNWG to develop specific guidance for how states, international and other organizations, and businesses can foster business respect for human rights in conflict-affected regions more effectively.

ACTIVITIES

While it is clear that no single approach can resolve the many challenges – legal, conceptual, and practical – relating to human rights and business in conflict contexts, this project will support closer examination of three priority areas:

  • Clearly (re)articulating the linkage between the issue of business and human rights, on the one hand, and business and conflict management, on the other.
  • Developing further precise guidance on what constitutes enhanced due diligence, including in the context of grievance management.
  • Fostering the need for heightened UN action in this space and the need to identify concrete options and pathways forward on ‘business, human rights, peace and security’ by key UN actors as well as the Security Council or the Peacebuilding Commission.

Overall Support to the UNWG

This project is connected to the UN Working Group’s work to develop recommendations for the ‘next decade of business and human rights’, which the Geneva Academy has supported since its inception.

This support is part of a wider engagement with various UN Special Procedures that involve reinforced research, stakeholder outreach, and organization of Geneva-based events and consultations.

RESEARCHERS

Picture of Felix Kirchmeier

Felix Kirchmeier

Executive Director of the Geneva Human Rights Platform

Felix Kirchmeier is the Executive Director of the Geneva Human Rights Platform.

Gerald Pachoud

Associate Researcher

Gerald Pachoud is a leading expert on business and human rights.

MORE ON THIS THEMATIC AREA

Smartphone screen News

Aligning Regulations of Business Conduct in the Technology Sector with Human Rights

29 April 2022

A new Research Brief on Regulating Business Conduct in the Technology Sector: Gaps and Ways Forward in Applying the UNGPs depicts the prominent gaps in regulatory approaches to business conduct in the technology sector with regard to the UNGPs.

Read more

Open practice at Villa Moynier News

Open Practice to Prepare the Mandela Moot Court Team

15 July 2022

Our team at the 2022 Mandela Moot Court participated in an open practice at Villa Moynier in preparation for the final rounds that will take place in Geneva from 18 to 21 July.

Read more

The Phillipines,  Lanao del Norte, Iligan City: a woman's hands Event

Rethinking Human Rights Protection from the Ground Up

7 September 2022, 12:00-14:00

This roundtable will discuss the protection of torture survivors and their difficulties in effectively accessing national and international protection mechanisms.

Read more

Event

2022 Annual Conference of the Geneva Human Rights Platform

18 October 2022, 09:00-19:00

The 2022 Annual Conference will focus on digital connectivity in the field of human rights. This includes a view of the digital connections by and among mechanisms within the human rights system, but also the substantive impacts of digitalization.

Read more

Plastic pollution Training

Protecting Human Rights and the Environment

12-16 September 2022

This training course will explore the major international and regional instruments for the promotion of human rights, as well as with their implementation and enforcement mechanisms; and provide practical insights into the different UN human rights mechanisms pertinent to advancing environmental issues and protecting environmental human rights defenders.

Read more

Somalia, explosion of a bomb in the Mogadishu's market place. Short Course

The Classification of Armed Conflicts

19 January - 14 February 2023

This online short course provides an in-depth study of an emblematic example of the complexity of international humanitarian law and the challenges it raises: the classification of armed conflicts.

Read more

Flyer presenting the Geneva Human Rights Platform with other publications of the Geneva Academy on display Project

GHRP Fridays

Started in January 2019

The GHRP Fridays provide an opportunity for all stakeholders to discuss the results of the United Nations (UN) Treaty Body (TB) 2020 Review and practical ways to implement change.

Read more

A session of the UN Human Rights Committtee at Palais Wilson Project

Implementing International Humanitarian Law Through Human Rights Mechanisms

Completed in April 2019

This project examined how IHL could be more systematically, appropriately and correctly dealt with by the human rights mechanisms emanating from the UN Charter, as well as from universal and regional treaties.

Read more

Cover of the publication Publication

Implementing the Treaty Body Review 2020 – Where do we stand

published on May 2022

Felix Kirchmeier, Chloé Naret, Domenico Zipoli

Read more