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ICRC Multi-stakeholder workshop deep-dives into Business in Conflict

On 1st Dec, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) with support from the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology and the Geneva Center for Business and Human Rights, gathered over 50 in-person and about 30 online participants for an in-depth Business in Conflict workshop.

Through two hybrid sessions (Session 1: Looking back – 2022 as a turning point on business in conflict? and Session 2: Looking forward – Where do we go from here?), the workshop created a space where key actors  from civil society, expert consultancies, foundations, and academic institutions exchanged their experience and expertise on specific business and human rights topics in conflict-affected contexts, including international humanitarian law for business, conflict sensitivity, community engagement, heightened human rights due diligence, conflict-sensitive investment, and technology in complex environments.

Some of the high-level ‘lessons learned’ shared by the discussants included:

  • The specific issues related to business operation in conflict-affected contexts are still ‘fighting for attention’ from companies, in a false sense of competing priorities.
  • There is still a need to show policy makers why it is so important for companies to take extra measures when operating in conflict-affected contexts, to demonstrate what the added value is, and to showcase examples.
  • Heightened human rights due diligence should be granular and industry specific (e.g., conflict sensitivity tools for tech companies).

In the third session, in-person participants discussed potential future editions of the workshop (including purpose, content, structure, funding, etc.) as well as the setting up of a ‘community of practitioners’ on the issue of business in conflict.

Participants provided positive feedback on the workshop:

It was (…) fascinating and insightful, and I was delighted to be able to connect with so many likeminded people.”

“It was an excellent opportunity to meet new people and discuss some important issues – even from the ‘virtual room’.  There was a lot of energy, enthusiasm and good will in the room, which I found really exciting.”

“Thanks for the invite, it was a very good event (…). Congrats! Looking forward to the follow up interactions with such complete array of experts.”

“It was good that speakers have different profiles (e.g. academic, UN, consultancy, civil organisations, etc.).”