Al-Haq, together with the Global Legal Action Network, have just released ‘Business and Human Rights in Occupied Territory: Guidance for Upholding Human Rights’. The report is a most valuable contribution to the field of business and human rights given its focus on the unique yet enduring situation of occupation. Authored by Marya Farah, the report is one of the first to provide an in-depth examination of business and human rights in the context of occupied territories, and it does so through the use of a series of case studies, including Crimea, Western Sahara, and Palestine.
While the United Nations Guiding Principles and a subsequent body of work have focused on conflict situations, the report notes that “situations of occupation in particular continue to be met with inconsistent approaches by both businesses and States. Such incoherence is exacerbated by the already challenging legal and administrative environment present in occupied territories.” Given the lack of sufficient human rights due diligence, companies may face legal, financial, reputational, and commercial risks when operating in occupied territory where human rights violations occur.
The report sets out those measures which States and businesses should take to meet their respective obligations and businesses under international law:
States should examine the coherence of policies related to contexts of occupation, ensure their consistency with international law, and take all necessary measures to fulfill their obligations. States should also ensure that businesses domiciled in their territory respect human rights throughout their areas of operation, including extraterritorially. In doing so, States can demonstrate to businesses that respect for human rights is not subject to politicization.
Likewise, businesses should conduct human rights due diligence for all operations and activities, and tailor an enhanced HRDD process to situations of occupation in order to consider the specific context present as well as actual and potential impacts on the protected population in the occupied territory. Given the heightened risks of abuse in conflict–affected areas in general, alongside the prevalence of unlawfully administered and prolonged situations of occupation, businesses may be unable to mitigate adverse human rights impacts in a specific setting.
The full document can be accessed here.