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Responsible security management and human rights profiled at 3rd UN Regional Forum on Business and Human Rights in Eastern Europe and Central Asia

On 10 Nov 2022, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) contributed to the UN Regional Forum on Business and Human Rights in Eastern Europe and Central Asia, which brought together governments, civil society, trade unions, academia and companies from across the region.

During Session III – Heightened Human Rights Due Diligence (hHRDD): unpacking the responsibilities of businesses in conflict-affected contexts, the ICRC shared the stage with other experts from UNDP, EU Parliament, the Business & Human Rights Resource Centre and Yaroslav Mudryi National Law University (Ukraine). The panel addressed key challenges for implementing the UNGPs and advancing the business and human rights agenda, with a focus on the Ukraine conflict and other crises in the region.

The ICRC shared good practices and latest tools to reinforce responsible security management in conflict-affected and high-risk areas. Key insights included:

  • In conflict-affected contexts, companies need security to protect their personnel and assets. But across this region, companies’ security arrangements have implied human rights risks, including violence, harassment, and sexual violence.
  • Poorly managed security arrangements can exacerbate conflict or spark social unrest – as has been the case in several contexts throughout Eastern Europe and Central Asia.
  • International humanitarian law (IHL) is directly binding on companies. IHL provides protections to companies, since staff and assets are considered civilian objects; at the same time, IHL imposes obligations on companies to respect the laws of war (e.g. avoiding pillage, forced displacement and complicity in the violations of others).