Governance & Security

Business operations increase the risk of attack from armed groups


Every worker has the right to a safe and secure working environment. Employees must be protected from risks during their work, including attacks from armed groups. The risk of businesses being targeted by armed groups may be heightened in times of armed conflict, and they may face increased risk of misappropriation and looting of assets and investments. Employers should undertake adequate security risk assessments and regularly monitor and implement sufficient security risk protection measures.


Employees, contractors and expatriate staff are deemed civilians for the purposes of international humanitarian law in times of armed conflict. This status provides a business and its employees with the same international protections that civilians have against armed attack.


Businesses and their personnel will lose this civilian protection if they participate directly in hostilities. Although what constitutes direct participation in hostilities is not entirely clear, it could include the planning or facilitation of a military operation. The risks associated with, and consequences of, participating in direct hostilities should be adequately communicated to employees. Businesses should seek legal advice when operating in areas where armed conflict is taking place.


Businesses should undertake regular assessments regarding the status of armed conflict in the country where it is operating, as well as the impact this has on its operations and the security of personnel.

Relevant Human Rights Instruments

Universal Declaration on Human Rights, 1948, Article 23
International Covenant on Economic Social and Cultural Rights, 1966, Article 7(b))
Convention concerning Occupational Safety and Health
and the Working Environment, 1981 (No. 155)



SDG 8.8

Providing a safe and secure working environment supports the achievement of SDG 8.8: Protect labour rights and promote safe and secure working environments for all workers, including migrant workers, in particular women migrants, and those in precarious employment.