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Security and Conflict

Companies may cause or contribute to human rights abuses impacts through their interaction with public and private security providers, the impact of business on social or armed conflict and through the supply-chain. 

While tin, tantalum, tungsten, and gold are metals found in most household electronic appliances, they are often mined in conflict-affected areas, such as Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. They have earned the term “conflict minerals,” where purchases of these minerals contribute to human rights abuses including summary executions, forced labor, rape, and financing of armed rebel groups. In turn, the use of private military and security companies (PMSCs) has increased significantly in recent years and in the United States United States PMSCs outnumber the number of military personnel. Operating in IraqAfghanistan and Pakistan, the Gulf of Aden as well as Latin America, PMSCs have been involved in numerous human rights abuses, including torture of detainees, killings of innocent civilians, destruction of property, sexual harassment and rape, human trafficking in the recruitment of third-country national and weapons proliferation. Private prisons have also contributed to adverse impacts due to inhumane conditions and the exploitation of prison labor. 

UN Guiding Principle 7 recognizes that business activities in conflict-affected and high-risk areas increases the risks of companies fueling conflict and negatively impacting human rights. Investors and parent companies should engage and encourage companies operating in conflict-affected areas to adopt human rights-based policies and processes, such as evaluating potential areas of operational risks; provide human rights training for security staff; and leveraging existing business relationships and investments to (re)negotiate contracts in line with human rights standards. 

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