A lack of awareness of IHL exposes businesses to greater risks, so is critical they take steps now. This will help mitigate the operational, reputational and legal risks associated with doing business in conflict zones and encourage businesses to take further responsibility for protecting the lives and dignity of the local communities where they work.
This guide is recommended for businesses that have a presence in conflict-affected regions or who work with, or contract the services of, private and public security forces in fragile areas.
Security personnel, in particular, need to be able to identify when and how the legal obligations governing conduct in armed conflict displace their usual use of force standards. Specialised IHL rules come into effect here – for example relating to the legality of weapons used, the provision of equipment and services to certain groups connected to the conflict, or the legal obligations flowing from directly participating in hostilities.
Many existing training templates and modules used for corporate security and human rights training do not comprehensively address IHL or these use of force issues. Companies should consider how they might be able to supplement these training packages with IHL considerations to ensure all risks and responsibilities are addressed.
Complex analysis is needed in armed conflict environments – for instance, to clarify when the threshold of armed conflict has been met, to identify the parties involved in the conflict or to determine the nexus of a company’s actions to that conflict. Legal advice should be obtained to resolve these concerns.