The devastating impacts of Russia’s unprovoked and unjustified war of aggression against Ukraine continue to shock the world. Russia is committing war crimes, crimes against humanity and violating international humanitarian law through attacks on civilians and civilian infrastructure, including mass executions, sexual violence, torture, and forcible transfer of civilians. Tens of thousands have been killed and millions of Ukrainians have been forced to flee their homes, creating one of the largest humanitarian disasters and refugee crises of modern times. The consequences of Russia’s military aggression, including disruptions to food and energy supplies, have resulted in human suffering and financial hardship in Ukraine and around the world. Russia’s aggression has undermined the rules-based order necessary to safeguard the international community and the global economy.
We, a coalition of civil society organizations, strongly condemn the continuing Russian military invasion. We are united by a common purpose: to block access to the economic and financial resources enabling Russian aggression, which is an attack on the rules-based international order itself.
In creating B4Ukraine, we appeal to the business community to support the people and territorial integrity of sovereign democratic Ukraine by abiding by the calls and expectations set forth in this document and associated guidelines.
We call on companies that have terminated or suspended their business operations and relationships in Russia to stand by those commitments until the territorial sovereignty of Ukraine within internationally recognized borders is restored and accountability is imposed for war crimes and the destruction of Ukrainian infrastructure and property. We also call on companies which have not yet terminated or suspended their operations to do so immediately until the above mentioned conditions are met.
We expect companies to demonstrate public support for Ukraine, opposition to Russia’s continued war of aggression, and alignment with the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs) and OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises (OECD Guidelines).
As part of their responsibility to respect human rights, we call on companies – whether or not in sectors subject to compliance with sanctions and export controls – to undertake heightened human rights due diligence. Companies should identify, assess, prevent, and mitigate their actual or potential adverse impacts on human rights and the conflict due to their business operations and relationships in Russia. Along with this process, companies should consider Russia’s other violations of international law, including its occupations of Georgian and Moldovan territories, systemic abuses of its population, and complicity in human rights harms in other parts of the world. Conducting due diligence not only helps companies to identify and diminish human rights risks, but also addresses the potential legal, operational, and financial risks associated with the ongoing conflict.
We further expect companies to communicate clearly how the due diligence process informed their decision to terminate or suspend their operations, as well as the conditions under which they will or will not return to the Russian market. Companies claiming to provide essential goods and services also have a responsibility to clarify the criteria and process they used to reach that conclusion.
In light of their responsibilities under the UNGPs and OECD Guidelines, we expect companies to provide access to remedy for all those adversely affected by their operations, which caused, contributed to, or were directly linked to human rights harms. We urge companies to contribute to humanitarian relief and the post-conflict reconstruction of Ukraine.
We expect companies to uphold these commitments until Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity are restored and accountability imposed for war crimes and the destruction of Ukrainian infrastructure and property.
B4Ukraine’s cause is supported by:
CEE Bankwatch Network
Center for Civil Liberties
Center for Environmental Initiatives Ecoaction
Center for Russian Studies
Centre for Economic Strategy
CGS Strategy XXI
Council for Economic Security of Ukraine
Council of International Policy "Ukrainian Prism"
Direct Initiative International Center for Ukraine
Human Rights Now
International Partnership for Human Rights
International Trade Council
Investor Alliance for Human Rights
Kyiv Security Forum
National Education Association
NGO Promotion of Intercultural Cooperation (Ukraine Analytica)
Odessa Center for Nonproliferation
Open Society Foundations
Polish Institute for Human Rights and Business
Ukraine Communications Support Network
Ukrainian Strategic Initiative
Unity of Ukraine
We Are Ukraine
Zevin Asset Management
The Business for Ukraine (B4Ukraine) coalition was officially launched in July 2022, when its Declaration was published. The Coalition was initiated in response to Russia’s unprovoked full-scale war on Ukraine as an informal initiative driven by civil society groups, policy think tanks, researchers, and concerned professionals from the United States, Ukraine, and elsewhere in Europe. Its participants are united by a common purpose: to block access to the economic and financial resources enabling Russian aggression.
The ultimate goal of the Coalition is defined in the Declaration. We aim for an accelerated and sustained exit of foreign businesses from the Russian market to cut revenue available to the Russian government and weaken its ability to continue its aggression and war crimes in Ukraine, thereby helping to end the war and suffering in Ukraine. These objectives will also help to restore an international rules-based order and deter future acts of aggression against sovereign states.
We are calling for businesses who have already cut ties with Russia to stand by those commitments until the territorial sovereignty within the internationally recognized borders of Ukraine is restored and accountability is imposed, and for those who have not yet left to take immediate action to leave Russia.
We are also asking businesses to meet their responsibility to respect human rights and – whether or not in sectors subject to compliance with sanctions and export controls – to undertake heightened human rights due diligence.
B4Ukraine accomplishes its mission via a combination of research, education, engagement, and advocacy.
The Coalition is a new informal initiative with an evolving governance framework. It is effectively led by its core active members on a voluntary basis. The management body of the Coalition is a Steering Committee that makes decisions by consensus. Also, several working groups, such as groups on business tracking, communications, and business engagement, provide guidance and expertise in respective fields to ensure work contributes to overarching goals and objectives.
To join the Coalition and support our cause, please reach out to us at [email protected].