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Seminar talk with:

Dr. Jonathan Kolieb 

Graduate School of Business and Law, RMIT University, Melbourne, Australia 

Don’t Forget the Geneva Conventions: Achieving Responsible business Conduct in conflict zones Through Adherence to International Humanitarian Law


Wednesday, December 11, 2019 between 10:15-11:45

 Room 1013, Terrace building, University of Haifa*

Lecture is available on YouTube  


In recent decades dozens of prominent transnational corporations have been accused of human rights abuses in conflict-affected areas. These companies face credible allegations of complicity in genocide and other violations of international humanitarian law (“IHL”) such as forced displacement, torture, and murder. This reality is acknowledged by the UN Guiding Principles’ on Business and Human Rights which calls for added emphasis on such areas as it there where ‘the risk of gross human rights abuses is heightened (Principle 7).’ The Guiding Principles call for businesses to not only respect the major human rights treaties, but also ‘respect the standards of international humanitarian law’ – the “laws of war” – when operating in such situations (Commentary, Principle 12).

However, businesses are often unfamiliar with IHL, and its relevance to their operations – both the protections it may provide, and the potential legal liabilities it may represent. While some businesses are increasingly demonstrating a commitment to conduct activities in a conflict-sensitive manner, in most cases this is not happening through an IHL lens. Similarly, the scholarly discourse around Business-and-Human-Rights issues tends to overlook the relevance of IH. Furthermore, traditional IHL-dissemination and scholarship focus on IHL’s implementation by States and armed groups, not private businesses.
This seminar examines the question of how a business operating in a conflict-affected area can uphold human rights. It contends that a crucial, yet often overlooked element, is a business’ commitment to embedding the fundamental standards of IHL (as distinct from human rights laws) into its internal policies and operational practices. This paper discusses the applicability and significance of IHL for transnational business from a governance perspective and couples this analysis with an affirmative “business-case” for greater IHL-compliance. Finally, recommendations for government, civil society and business are provided that may help achieve a higher level of respect for IHL by businesses..

Paper is available upon request - contact Michal at:  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

* The Center is located on floor 1 of the Terrace building (Hamadrega). See map
For more details, contact Michal at  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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