With the globalisation of market economies, business has become an increasingly prominent actor in international relations. It is also increasingly present in situations of armed conflict. On the one hand, companies operating in volatile environments are exposed to violence and the consequences of armed conflicts. On the other hand, some of their conduct in armed conflict may lead to violations of the law. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) engages with the private sector on humanitarian issues, with the aim of ensuring compliance or clarifying the obligations that business actors have under international humanitarian law (IHL) and encouraging them to comply with the commitments they have undertaken under various international initiatives to respect IHL and human rights law. In times of conflict, IHL spells out certain responsibilities and rights for all parties involved. Knowledge of the relevant rules of IHL is therefore critical for local and international businesses operating in volatile contexts. In this Q&A section, Philip Spoerri, ICRC Director for International Law and Cooperation, gives an overview of the rules applicable to business actors in situations of conflict, and discusses some of the ICRC’s engagement with business actors.
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