Toolkit to help companies improve human rights in conflict areas

Companies working in fragile areas receive guidance to work in a way that prevents conflict and promotes peace, thanks to a new toolkit published by the peacebuilding charity International Alert.

Launched on 12 March, ‘Human rights due diligence in conflict-affected settings’ responds to growing concerns by companies working in fragile areas, about possible human rights violations in those contexts.

The toolkit helps companies understand how specific conflict environments affect their impact on human rights, and the ways in which they should conduct their human rights due diligence depending on the type of conflict they operate in. It offers concrete actions to help companies improve stakeholder management, identify conflict risks and contribute to peace in fragile areas.

“This toolkit builds on International Alert’s ground-breaking work over the past two decades to engage the private sector in building peace. In areas hit by conflict, human rights violations are more likely to happen, and those violations will be more severe than normal,” said Harriet Lamb, CEO of International Alert.

“Working together with the extractives industries, we have tried to support them to address human rights issues and to be mindful of their impact on conflict. This toolkit draws on that experience, aiming to help companies understand the complex contexts in which they work, ensure they do not violate human rights, and strive to support peace through their operations,” she added.

The toolkit draws on Alert’s experience of working with companies in a range of conflict settings. Anglo American, Total, BP, Shell, Kosmos Energy, Newmont Mining, Barrick Gold, the International Council on Mining and Metals (ICMM) and IPIECA, as well as civil society and academic experts were consulted in the process of creating the guidance.

Mark Cutifani, CEO of Anglo American said: “Anglo American places great emphasis on our responsibility to prevent conflict and to respect and promote human rights in all areas where we work. International Alert’s toolkit provides valuable guidance to help companies like us better understand our impacts in conflict-affected areas, particularly in how we assess and respond to the risks in different conflict types.”

The toolkit distinguishes between four broad types of conflicts that are particularly challenging for companies: armed conflict, armed violence, post-conflict and social unrest. The type of conflict, and its relation to the project, could determine the company’s human rights impact.

While it focuses on the extractives sector, the toolkit’s recommendations are applicable to all other sectors working in conflict areas, particularly agribusiness, renewables and consumer goods.

Notes to editors