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International Humanitarian Law for Business

Expand your knowledge of international humanitarian law to mitigate risk and impact when operating in areas of armed conflict.

724 enrolled on this course

An illustration of a fractured world to represent International Humanitarian Law in business to mitigate risk and impact when operating in areas of armed conflict.

International Humanitarian Law for Business

724 enrolled on this course

  • 4 weeks

  • 3 hours per week

  • Accreditation available

  • Digital certificate when eligible

  • Intermediate level

Find out more about how to join this course

The CPD Certification Service

This course has been certified by the CPD Certification Service as conforming to continuing professional development principles. Find out more.

Understand the importance of International Humanitarian Law for business

Globalisation has allowed businesses to expand operations into new territories around the world. These include unstable environments affected by, or prone to, armed conflict, which has presented new and unfamiliar risks.

This four-week course from RMIT University will provide you with insight into the importance of International Humanitarian Law (IHL) when conducting business in conflict zones.

Explore how IHL is relevant to modern-day businesses

For responsible modern businesses, acting sustainably and ethically are primary concerns. However, their roles in conflict zones can have a profound and harmful impact.

On this course, you’ll explore the impact of businesses in armed conflict zones through the frameworks of human rights, ethics, and the environment, and work through relevant scenarios and examples.

Discover the rights and responsibilities in doing business in conflict zones

Businesses are often not familiar enough with their responsibilities and the protections afforded to them under IHL. This lack of knowledge is problematic and has caused companies to breach laws in the past, leading to reputational damage, financial loss, and even prosecution.

This course will assist you in understanding the risks, rights, and responsibilities under IHL so you may ensure that your company acts responsibly in situations of armed conflict.

Implement best practices to mitigate humanitarian risks with RMIT University

The educators at RMIT University are experts in their field who aim to disseminate international humanitarian law and embed understanding and respect for these laws into corporations.

With the help of their knowledge and experience, you’ll be equipped with the frameworks and strategies to implement ethical business practices for operations in conflict zones.


  • Week 1

    Fundamental concepts of international humanitarian law (IHL)

    • IHL and business

      In this activity, we will outline the contemporary relevance of IHL in the business world. We will also discuss who is responsible for upholding IHL and the potential repercussions for avoiding this responsibility.

    • Basics of IHL

      In this activity, we will provide a high level overview of IHL, including its origin and sources. We will also look at how it protects persons and objects, as well as the role the Red Cross plays in supporting IHL.

    • Where and when IHL applies

      In this activity, we will outline the types of armed conflict that IHL applies to, and the situations where it does not apply. You will also consider mini-scenarios involving businesses and make a judgment on whether IHL applies.

    • Key IHL Principles

      In this activity, we will look at the key principles of IHL, how they intend to limit suffering and protect civilians, and how they can apply to businesses.

    • Why IHL matters to business

      In this activity, we will discuss the importance and relevance of IHL to business, and compare and differentiate IHL and Human Rights Law.

  • Week 2

    Doing Business in Armed Conflict

    • Doing business in armed conflict

      In this activity, we will explore the positive impact of IHL awareness and discuss the major IHL violations that businesses should be aware of when doing business in armed conflict.

    • IHL and the broader corporate social responsibility agenda

      In this activity, discuss how IHL relates to a business’s broader Human Rights strategy and initiatives.

    • Specific IHL concerns for businesses

      In this activity, we will outline the major IHL violations that businesses should be aware of.

  • Week 3

    IHL Risks, Rights and Responsibilities

    • Overview of IHL risks

      In this activity, we outline the major types of IHL risks businesses face when operating in conflict zones.

    • High-risk sectors

      In this activity, we explore IHL considerations affecting different sectors.

    • IHL rights and protections for businesses

      In this activity, we discuss the rights and protections afforded to businesses by IHL and how to ensure you don't forfeit those protections.

  • Week 4

    Implementing IHL Best Practice in business

    • Introducing the 7 indicators of IHL corproate best practice

      In this activity, we will introduce the seven indicators of corporate best practice in IHL and discuss how IHL can form part of companies' existing human rights initiatives.

    • Policy indicators

      In this activity, we will identify the policy indicators of IHL best practice.

    • Capacity and capability indicators

      In this activity, we will identify the capacity and capability indicators of IHL best practice.

    • Operations indicators

      In this activity, we will identify the operations indicators of IHL best practice.

    • Transparency and accountability indicators

      In this activity, we will identify the transparency and accountability indicators of IHL best practice.

    • IHL support

      In this activity, we look at resources that businesses can access to learn more about IHL.

Who is this accredited by?

The CPD Certification Service
The CPD Certification Service:

The CPD Certification Service was established in 1996 and is the leading independent CPD accreditation institution operating across industry sectors to complement the CPD policies of professional and academic bodies.

When would you like to start?

Start straight away and join a global classroom of learners. If the course hasn’t started yet you’ll see the future date listed below.

  • Available now

Learning on this course

On every step of the course you can meet other learners, share your ideas and join in with active discussions in the comments.

What will you achieve?

By the end of the course, you‘ll be able to...

  • Explore IHL and its signficance for companies
  • Describe how IHL limits suffering in armed conflict
  • Describe where and when IHL applies
  • Summarise the principles of IHL, including those most relevant to business activities
  • Explain the positive impact of IHL awareness amongst businesses

Who is the course for?

This course is designed for learners involved in business, who wish to expand their international humanitarian law knowledge in order to avoid risk and understand the rights and responsibilities involved in doing business in and around armed conflict.

Who will you learn with?

I'm Senior Lecturer in International Law at RMIT University, and Peace+Conflict Lead at our Business and Human Rights Centre. I focus on strengthening responsible business practices in conflict zones.

Legal Adviser in the International Humanitarian Law (IHL) Program at Australian Red Cross, where I have primary responsibility for our IHL engagement with the private + academic sectors in Australia.

Who developed the course?

RMIT University

Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) is a global university, with over 80,000 students, specialising in technology, design and enterprise.

  • Established

  • Location

    Melbourne, Australia
  • World ranking

    Top 210Source: QS World University Rankings 2022

Australian Red Cross

We are a movement of people, and we help Australians act for humanity. Each in our own way, and collectively with communities and partners, we give each action a far greater impact. We provide relief in times of crises, care when it’s needed most and commitment when others turn away. Red Cross is there for people in need, no matter who you are, no matter where you live. We help millions of people around the world each year and care for local communities in Australia and in Asia and the Pacific.

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Ways to learn

Choose the best way to learn for you!

Subscribe & save


Automatically renews

Develop skills to further your career

  • Access to this course
  • Access to 1,000+ courses
  • Learn at your own pace
  • Discuss your learning in comments
  • Tests to boost your learning
  • Digital certificate when you're eligible

Cancel for free anytime

Buy this course

$134/one-off payment

Fulfill your current learning need

  • Access to this course
  • Learn at your own pace
  • Discuss your learning in comments
  • Tests to boost your learning
  • Printed and digital certificate when you’re eligible

Limited access


Sample the course materials

  • Access expires 16 May 2024

Find out more about certificates, Unlimited or buying a course (Upgrades)

Learning on FutureLearn

Your learning, your rules

  • Courses are split into weeks, activities, and steps to help you keep track of your learning
  • Learn through a mix of bite-sized videos, long- and short-form articles, audio, and practical activities
  • Stay motivated by using the Progress page to keep track of your step completion and assessment scores

Join a global classroom

  • Experience the power of social learning, and get inspired by an international network of learners
  • Share ideas with your peers and course educators on every step of the course
  • Join the conversation by reading, @ing, liking, bookmarking, and replying to comments from others

Map your progress

  • As you work through the course, use notifications and the Progress page to guide your learning
  • Whenever you’re ready, mark each step as complete, you’re in control
  • Complete 90% of course steps and all of the assessments to earn your certificate

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