New York University Public Law and Legal Theory Working Papers

Document Type



Chicago Journal of International Law, vol. 11 (2011), pp. 321-342


This paper argues that the norms governing businesses in conflict zones are both understudied and undervalued. Understudied because the focus is generally on human rights of universal application, rather than the narrower regime of international humanitarian law (IHL). Undervalued because IHL may provide a more certain foundation for real norms that can be applied to businesses and the individuals that control them.

The first part will briefly describe the normative regime that is set up by human rights and IHL. Part two looks at the specific situation of conflict zones and efforts to regulate some of the newer entities on the scene, in particular private military and security companies. Part three then sketches out a regime that focuses not on toothless regulation but on a model of governance that combines limited sanctions with wider structuring of incentives.

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