NomoGaia Response to October 2009 Business & Human Rights Consultation

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The Nomogaia Foundation would like to thank UN Special Rapporteur for Human Rights and Business John Ruggie for holding the October consultation on operationalizing his three-tiered framework. It is Nomogaia’s view that several challenges confront Human Rights Impact Assessments (HRIAs) threatening to undermine a crucial process in corporate due diligence.

Reasons business do not conduct HRIAs include:

  • Companies do not yet see human rights as their business
  • The fear of provoking criticism of corporate projects
  • There is no legal requirement to conduct them
  • Corporate unwillingness to make HRIAs public inhibits the development of a standard form and recognized methodology which businesses would be comfortable adopting
  • There is no competent and independent profession (akin to environmental consultants for Environmental Impact Assessments) to conduct them
  • In industries where HRIAs are most needed, such as extractive industries,companies conduct so many comprehensive impact assessments that an additional assessment strikes them as both onerous and redundant

These reservations, voiced by companies in public and in private, are a significant barrier. In response, Nomogaia recommends the following:

  • Create standard forms and methods for HRIAs, so that there are recognized norms
  • These methods should be: 1) systematic, covering all impacted rights, 2) as objective as the topic permits (similar results reached by different assessors, making the HRIA verifiable)
  • Develop qualifications and a certification system for independent competent human rights impact assessors
  • HRIAs should assess both positive and negative impacts, clearly stating the likelihood, extent and degree of impacts
  • HRIA methodology must incorporate perspectives and information from rightsholders themselves
  • HRIAs should be made public and so a professional literature can develop and grow
  • HRIAs should be tailored to fit the industry and activity being assessed

We realize that these recommendations may be controversial and we hope they encourage discussion in the business and human rights community. The recommendations have been based on two over years of analysis, fieldwork, research, and HRIA testing as part of our work to develop a workable, useful HRIA methodology for large capital projects.

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