On June 5, the National Agency on Corruption Prevention (NACP) added the leading Chinese manufacturers of video surveillance equipment to the register of “International war sponsors.” The reason was the sale of Hikvision and Dahua products on the Russian market after the full-scale invasion of Ukraine. Both companies supply the aggressor country with dual-purpose equipment that can be used for military purposes.

The decision of the NACP directly affects the reputation and operational activities of Hikvision and Dahua. Several examples of abolition are already found in the Prozorro tenders for the purchase of Hikvision equipment by the state authorities of Ukraine. In addition, international sponsors of war are included in the World-Check database, which socially responsible businesses around the world use to check the history of their counterparties.

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(Screenshot from the Prozorro resource about the cancellation of the tender for Hikvision IP video recorders in the amount of Hr. 43 990.39 ($1,190) from the Head Office of the National Police in the Zaporizhzhia region)In

The reaction of the Russian propaganda machine, which came to the defense of its partners, shows that the strike was accurate.

The Militaryst Telegram channel from the media pool of the Main Intelligence Directorate (MTD) of the Russian Federation accused the authors of the Kyiv Post article dedicated to exposing Hikvision and Dahua of manipulation and a commissioned campaign.

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The minister of strategic industries has disclosed that Ukrainian defense industry capabilities are several times larger than the funding available to support it,“so right now we have to cherry-pick.”

Furthermore, our portal, mail services and Telegram account were subjected to cyberattacks made, unsurprisingly, from Russian IP addresses.

Participation in the aggression of the Russian Federation against Ukraine is a new “red flag” for buyers and suppliers of Chinese video surveillance systems. In addition to numerous bugs, violation of human rights, the participation in the “International war sponsors” list forced the US authorities to ban the public procurement of Hikvision and Dahua.

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In particular, their cameras will not be among the video surveillance systems installed on the border of Ukraine with Russia under the American technical assistance program.

The position of Chinese No. 1 and No. 2 brands in the world market of video surveillance systems may now look as unshakable, as the Russian army and President Putin's control over his state looked until recently. That this can change quickly is not only proven by the history of the Russian war in Ukraine.

Bulk purchases of global brands from Chinese manufacturers of fabrics and ready-made clothing began to decline sharply after the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) published reports. They highlight the involvement of imprisoned Uyghurs in forced labor in textile factories across China.

(Multiple dormitory buildings and a teaching building appear to be completely fenced in and isolated in a style that resembles other political indoctrination camps. Source: ASPI’s International Cyber Policy Centre)

Similarly, Western companies, sensitive to reputational losses, began to stop cooperation with companies whose equipment monitors Uyghurs in Chinese “re-education camps.”

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To avoid accusations of facilitating human rights violations, Hikvision and Dahua equipment have already been banned by a leading group of concerned companies: in Northern Europe by Avarn Security, in the largest retailer in Great Britain Tesco, and in the British supermarket chain Morrisons.

(Screenshot of Free Tibet article about Morrisons’s refusal to use the Hikvision technique due to ethical concerns. Source: https://freetibet.org/latest/campaign-win-morrisons-to-end-use-of-hikvision-cameras/)

The fight against a business that profits from the rejection of humanity is now being waged at the highest levels. The community of international lawyers is working on extending the norms of the Convention on the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms to private companies.

In the foreseeable future, the current recommendations that companies must comply with the international obligations of the countries in which they operate may become mandatory.

We also await the implementation of the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights developed by the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General on Human Rights and Transnational Corporations and adopted by the UN Human Rights Council.

The guiding principles of the UN Council are already applied in judicial practice. In particular, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACHR) in the case of Miskito Divers vs. Honduras 2021 decided with significant business and human rights implications.

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The court emphasized that companies are obliged to avoid adverse impacts on human rights as a result of their activities and to eliminate such impacts when they occur; seek to prevent or mitigate adverse human rights impacts associated with their activities, products, or services through business relationships, even if they did not contribute to such impacts.

(Screenshot of OpenGlobalRights article regarding Miskito Divers case. Source: https://www.openglobalrights.org/justice-for-miskito-divers-a-turning-point-for-business-and-human-rights-standards/)

What does this mean in our case? Hikvision and Dahua should withdraw from the market of the aggressor country and compensate for the losses caused by their activities as war sponsors.

 Oleksii Kupriienko is part of the “Don't Fund Russian Army” initiative which aims to exclude global businesses of Russia. He is the Founder & CEO of “Underdog” the UnLawyers.

 The views expressed are the author’s and not necessarily those of Kyiv Post

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