Why conflict sensitivity matters for business and human rights

The principles of conflict-sensitive business practice are well established. Companies operating in conflict areas must be mindful that there is a two-way dynamic between a company and its context, where the context impacts the company and the company impacts context.

They must recognise that business activities should be carried out in a manner that prevents conflict and promotes peace. In particular, attention should be paid to issues that are likely to drive conflict, such as resettlement or security arrangements. In this paper, International Alert explores how the principles of conflict sensitivity can enhance and provide additional considerations for companies conducting human rights due diligence (HRDD) in conflict-affected settings (CAS). As HRDD is still a nascent and evolving field of practice, there is opportunity to apply learning from conflict sensitivity. The starting point is to explore the differences between conducting HRDD in CAS and a relatively more stable environment, and how conflict sensitivity can enhance HRDD. Alert outlines four key elements necessary for heightened due diligence in CAS – namely, how investment decisions are made, how impacts are identified and assessed, how to engage with stakeholders, and how to enhance positive impacts on human rights.