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Article

4 Mar 2022

Author:
FIDH

FIDH calls on companies operating in Belarus and Russia to avoid contributing to violations of international law

Companies operating in Belarus and Russia must avoid contributing to violations of international law, 3 March 2022

...In conflict-affected and high-risk areas such as Russia and Belarus, companies must respect internationally recognized human rights, as well as the standards of international humanitarian law and international criminal law. Companies operating in these states must conduct a thorough, robust and enhanced due diligence process, in regard to both their operations and their whole supply chain, to avoid contributing to human rights or humanitarian law violations.

Conflict affected or high-risk settings are complex, and encompass a variety of actors, drivers, and motivations. Thus, it is critical for companies to have a thorough understanding of the conflict and to integrate conflict analysis into their risk and impact assessments. Businesses should also develop strong and effective measures to prevent and address potential and actual adverse human rights impacts, as well as mechanisms and procedures to provide or cooperate in providing remedy. Such enhanced due diligence should be based on consultation and engagement with external stakeholders, especially national and local experts, and with local communities.

Companies must also cease any activity or cut financial ties that could contribute directly or indirectly to ongoing crimes committed by the Russian and Belarusian authorities or cease any activity for which they cannot efficiently implement measures to prevent or address negative impacts. In this respect, firms providing arms or weapons-making materials, dual-use technologies or military equipment risk being directly complicit in ongoing violations. But Russia’s strong economic reliance on state-owned firms in sectors such as banking, energy, and aviation, as well as the deep political ties between selected business elites and Vladimir Putin, should also lead companies to reconsider their business with such entities if they do not want to find themselves financing Russia’s war efforts.

In this regard, FIDH welcomes the decision of many businesses to end their relations with entities such as Russian state-owned companies Rosneft or Gazprom by withdrawing from projects. FIDH also recalls that businesses that choose disengagement must do so responsibly, i.e., with an evaluation, mitigation and remediation of potential adverse impacts resulting from their disengagement, particularly of impacts on workers and local populations...

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