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29 Dec 2012 by Ludwig Boltzmann

Corporations in Conflict Regions

by Karin Lukas and Astrid Steinkellner (Assistance: Gabriel Thurner)

Corporations in Conflict Regions

INEF Forschungsreihe Menschenrechte, Unternehmensverantwortung und Nachhaltige Entwicklung 12/2012

A large number of human rights violations with the participation of companies take place in conflict regions without functioning state structures. This study examines the negative effects of company activities in such settings as well as the possible measures companies should take to mitigate these effects. The role of companies as potential “problem solvers” will be analysed as well.

Regarding the human rights responsibility in such situations, the primary responsibility rests with the state where the human rights violation takes place (host state). However, if the host state is not willing or able to assume this responsibility, a certain responsibility lies with the state where the company is incorporated (home state). The extent of this responsibility as well as the contribution of home states to prevent abusive human rights activities of companies abroad will be analysed. Moreover, in the international legal discourse, arguments for a direct human rights responsibility of companies themselves have been developed. Such a direct responsibility remains highly contested and manifests itself only in legally non-binding settings.

In the area of non-binding soft law instruments, there are a number of effective mechanisms which should be further developed and strengthened. This includes more transparent processes, the dissemination of lessons learned and the extension of existing effective mechanisms to further industry sectors. Given the vast number of soft law instruments, a harmonisation and streamlining of these mechanisms would be important in order to create a level-playing field for companies operating in conflict regions.

a. Cover Corporations in Conflict Regions