On 10th November, and in partnership with the Geneva Human Rights Platform at the Geneva Academy and the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung, QUNO hosted an event with the UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights (UN Working Group) to discuss their latest report to the General Assembly focused on conflict-affected areas. The UN Working Group’s report offers a better understanding of the practical measures that States and business enterprises should take to prevent and address business-related human rights abuse in conflict and post-conflict contexts.
The report highlights the need for heightened action both throughout the conflict cycle - from ensuring preventative action to ensuring responsibilities were taken within the transitional justice phases – and throughout the business cycle – from entry into new and fragile contexts to ensuring responsible exits. Importantly, it challenges the assumption that the provision of jobs and investments by companies in post-conflict contexts is always a positive thing.
Discussants identified the defense and policing sectors - both of which are inextricably bound up with conflict - as a blind spot in the report. The research and production of intrinsically abusive equipment is only touched upon in the report when mentioning lethal autonomous weapons. Governance of the technology sector was also identified as an area that warrants more attention given the opportunity for human rights due diligence to serve as a starting point for designing meaningful regulation of specific technologies.
QUNO, together with partners, will continue to support the UN Working Group’s efforts to advance and expand the application of the Guiding Principles on Business & Human Rights.