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Promoting IHL among partners

Promoting IHL among partners
Two men shake hands at a rural visit to Damascus

There’s a common misconception that violations of IHL only occur in developing countries. The reality is that IHL can also be an issue in developed countries, even where these violations are uncommon and democracy is well established.

Similarly, businesses operating in relatively stable contexts, can be connected to violations of IHL through their supply chains and the activities of their business partners.

Taking positive action to encourage business partners and other third parties (e.g. contractors, suppliers, investors and customers) to respect IHL helps to manage associated risks and facilitates better humanitarian outcomes for people living in conflict-affected areas.

Businesses have a responsibility to make their contractors, suppliers, and others with whom they have substantial involvement, aware of their standards, procedures and corresponding expectations regarding IHL. Having a proactive agenda to promote respect for IHL helps create an overall culture of respect within the business community for IHL and the humanitarian values that underpin it. This is why it is important for members of the business community to support partners and suppliers to achieve acceptable standards in relation to IHL. Businesses should also be prepared to terminate business relationships where it is clear that these standards cannot be attained. Additionally, ongoing monitoring of a partner’s operations through surveys and site visits, and provision of support to implement mitigative actions targeted at addressing IHL risks, are effective ways of promoting rights-respecting behaviours at a grass roots level.

Questions to consider

  • Does your business have a screening process for potential third-party partners, to assess IHL compliance?
  • Does your business acknowledge that there are particularly vulnerable groups that require special attention in conflict situations, such as women and children, and proactively identify and recognise these groups as protected populations under IHL?

Examples of good or best practice

  • The business includes an explicit requirement in its contractual arrangements to adhere to IHL, and articulates expected behaviours of suppliers that operate in conflict affected areas. In particular, contracts with companies that provide security to business operations include provisions that require those companies to identify, reduce and manage armed conflict and IHL-related risk.
  • The business involves partners in risk assessments and provides training on IHL red flags as a means of promoting IHL compliance with its partners.
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International Humanitarian Law for Business

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