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Article

7 Apr 2022

Author:
Kayla Winarsky Green, BSR

Opinion: Rapid human rights due diligence during political and armed conflict: a business response to Ukraine

7 April 2022

...In our work with member companies on the subject of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, BSR has provided several specific recommendations, and in particular the need to conduct heightened human rights due diligence. The UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs) expect companies to identify and assess actual or potential adverse human rights impacts and to take appropriate action to address them. Under normal circumstances, companies have weeks, months, or even years to complete due diligence. However, this is not the case during political and armed conflict...

The repercussions of the invasion on business are massive, including immediate to long-term implications on climate and energy transition, global supply chains, economies and geopolitics, and healthcare, as well as on the global financial system, democracy, and corporate citizenship. Russia's invasion of Ukraine also heightens human rights risks for business with operations, supply chains, customers, and users in the region, with concerns including:

  • Whether it would be responsible to continue operating in the environment, and how to responsibly exit the region if presence is no longer tenable. 
  • In what circumstances a corporate leader should address a political situation, and how such activism (or a lack thereof) might impact employee mental well-being, safety, or security. 
  • How to have positive impacts on the human rights of Ukrainian staff members and the broader community and how to support Russian employees to exercise their freedom of expression by engaging in protest.
  • How to go above legal compliance to address human rights concerns.

The BSR rapid human rights due diligence tool guides companies through human rights due diligence in urgent scenarios. The tool also makes specific reference to various standards from international humanitarian law and international human rights law...

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