BHR in conflict-affected areas
After decades of occupation, the civilian population of Gaza is facing further collective punishment including military bombardment, constituting clear breaches of international humanitarian law by Israel, following the atrocious killings and hostage-taking of Israeli civilians by Hamas on 7 October.
While the international community has immense responsibility to help bring this humanitarian crisis to an end, secure the release of hostages, and end the occupation, business also has an immediate responsibility to ensure it is not contributing to the horrific killings of Palestinian civilians in Gaza or exacerbating the human suffering across the region.
For business and investors, the international standards in conflict are clearly defined by the UN Guiding Principles for Business and Human Rights (UNGPs), supplemented with guidance from the UN Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights, as well as the UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights and UN Development Programme. These demand heightened human rights due diligence regarding their operations and supply chains, proportionate to the scale and severity of the risks to people.
To encourage companies to deliver transparent due diligence, cross-company learning, and to support responsible investor engagement, BHRRC is beginning a survey and tracker of companies’ heightened due diligence, as we have done for other conflicts.
While this violence continues, companies in this broader zone of conflict must be far more diligent to ensure they are not exacerbating or contributing to the conflict. The harm they can contribute to civilians is immense, as are the legal and reputational risks they run if they ignore their responsibilities.
Accountability in conflict: The problem of tech company opacity
The siege and corralling of Palestinian civilians, and massive loss of civilian life, alongside the destruction of homes and essential infrastructure has led South Africa to accuse Israel of genocide before the International Court of Justice, which Israel refutes. But while the Court considers the case, momentum is also growing around demands for accountability from other actors - including the companies and investors associated with the conflict. Phil Bloomer asks what heightened due diligence efforts have been undertaken?
OPT/Israel: UN experts call on international community, including businesses, to prevent genocide against the Palestinian people
UN experts warn of a potential genocide against Palestinians by Israel. Over 11,000 killed, 27,000 injured, and 1.6m displaced in Gaza. UN experts are calling on the international community - including non-state actors such as businesses - to take immediate action to prevent the risk of genocide against the Palestinian people.
Tech companies criticised for alleged complicity & bias against Palestinians during Gaza siege
Amid further escalations of attacks in the OPT of Gaza and the West Bank, tech companies are facing criticism for alleged failure to address hate speech, misinformation and disinformation which is disproportionately affecting Palestinian individuals, supporters and human rights defenders. We approached companies to respond.
OPT: Efforts to restore telecommunication services ongoing in the besieged Gaza Strip following intensified Israeli bombing & ground invasion
Gaza has lost internet connection and telecommunications on at least three occasions since Israel began its bombardment and ground invasion. Critical infrastructure has been a major target of attacks throughout the history of the occupation.
Social media platforms allegedly contribute to harmful content & suppress Palestinian voices during times of crisis
Civil society organisations and media have raised concerns about a surge in hate speech, including antisemitism, Islamophobia, and anti-Palestinian racism, as well as censorship incidents of Palestinian narratives on social media platforms. We invited Meta, Telegram, TikTok, and X Corp to respond to allegations.
Workers and trade unionists disrupt manufacturing and handling of Israel-linked arms and military equipment
Workers, trade unionists and activists in countries including Spain, the UK and Belgium have heeded Palestinian trade union calls for solidarity. They have taken action to disrupt the supply of arms and other military equipment to Israel.
OPT: Gaza's workers in Israel and West Bank targeted for arrests, beatings and expulsion, according to Israeli and Palestinian NGOs
Some 200,000 Palestinians from the occupied West Bank and the Gaza Strip usually work in the Israel's economy. An unknown number of Gazan labourers have been held in West Bank military facilities since 7 October.
Guidance: Responsible business conduct in challenging contexts
Heightened human rights due diligence for business in conflict-affected contexts
Guidance from UNDP and the UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights
Conducting business during armed conflict
What is International Humanitarian Law (IHL) and how do companies comply with their obligations? Guidance from Business and Human Rights Compliance
- International Alert: Human rights due diligence in conflict-affected settings: Guidance for extractives industries