Academic Resources

HRIA Compendium Groups


ABSTRACT: “Four specific objectives were pursued in this PhD thesis: (i) to develop and advance tools and methods for human rights due diligence and, specifically, human rights impact assessment (HRIA) with the intention that these tools can be readily adapted to a variety of industries and contexts; (ii) to validate these tools at investment projects around the globe; (iii) to draw from existing environmental, social and health impact assessments and build on best practices while avoiding redundancy with environmental, social and health impact assessments; and (iv) to synthesise the experiences of HRIA practitioners, find commonalities and consider next steps.”

Articles and Chapters

ABSTRACT: “This article contributes to the development of a standard of good practice for Human Rights Impact Assessment (HRIA). It charts the design, delivery and refinement of a methodology for identifying and assessing the human rights impacts of an existing mining operation. The methodology was designed to fulfil the requirements of an internal corporate standard, as well as the due diligence requirements of the United Nations Guiding Principles for Business and Human Rights. The HRIA model emphasizes the identification of human rights impacts and the assessment of the effectiveness of responses to such impacts. Four elements are central: (1) building a shared understanding of the historical and current human rights context of the operation; (2) identifying the current and potential areas of human rights impacts and prioritizing them; (3) reviewing the management systems in place to address human rights impacts; and (4) facilitating significant human rights capacity building for operational personnel responsible for managing human rights-related areas. We also consider the question: where is the most natural home for this emerging field of practice? The fields of social impact assessment, corporate accountability and risk assessment are considered. The authors conclude with key questions that require answers before the full potential of HRIA’s role in the business and human rights agenda can be realized.

ABSTRACT: “This article examines responses of mining industry associations and companies to increasing pressure on the sector to ensure that its activities respect human rights, defined as “do no harm”. Examples illuminate key moments in an evolving industry response starting in the mid-2000s with scepticism that human rights should, or could, provide operationalisable standards for the sector, to subsumption of human rights under voluntary corporate social responsibility approaches already practised by the industry. Also examined is the strategic use by mining companies of emerging human rights tools such as Human Rights Impact Assessment and Operational-Level Grievance Mechanisms.

ABSTRACT: “In this article human rights impact assessments (HRIAs) will be discussed. After examining their background, including their history and the different kinds of human rights impact, the various purposes of HRIAs, namely compliance, policymaking, accountability and empowerment will be examined. Questions relating to the development of HRIAs will also be analysed. It will be examined whether HRIAs should be incorporated into other kinds of impact assessments and how impact on human rights can be determined. In the article, the three phases in carrying out HRIAs, namely the analytical process, the deliberative process, and the monitoring and evaluation, will be subsequently analysed, dividing them into different steps. Finally, the various actors taking part in HRIAs will be dealt with. These are policy-makers, human rights experts, civil society organisations, national human rights institutions, and affected people.”

ABSTRACT: “The human right to self-determination is enacted in various international treaties and conventions. In order to facilitate self-determination, it is necessary to provide Indigenous peoples with opportunities to participate in decision-making and project development. The obligation for governments and companies to engage impacted communities is recognized in international law, especially with the principle of ‘Free, Prior and Informed Consent’, which is outlined in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and in the International Labour Organization Convention 169. The encounter between human rights, Indigenous peoples and mining and other extractive industries is discussed, especially as it is has played out in Brazil. We recommend that companies should fully endorse and respect these internationally recognized human rights, including self-determination, even where not required by national or local legislation. We also discuss the relationship between Free, Prior and Informed Consent and Impacts and Benefits Agreements.”

ABSTRACT: “The United Nations Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Business and Human Rights, Professor John Ruggie, has constructed a new international framework, which is set to become the cornerstone for all action on human rights and business at the international level. The principle of human rights due diligence (HRDD) is the central component of the corporate duty to respect human rights within that framework. This article argues that Ruggie’s HRDD principle contains the majority of the core procedural elements that a reasonable human rights impact assessment (HRIA) process should incorporate. It is likely that the majority of corporations will adopt HRIA as a mechanism for meeting their due diligence responsibilities. However, in the context of the contentious debate around corporate human rights performance, the current state of the art in HRIA gives rise to concerns about the credibility and robustness of likely practice. Additional requirements are therefore essential if HRDD is to have a significant impact on corporate human rights performance – requirements in relation to transparency; external participation and verification; and independent monitoring and review.”

ABSTRACT: “This article critically evaluates the current practice and future potential of human rights impact assessment (HRIA) as a tool of human rights measurement. The article first explores the origins and purposes of HRIAs and the claims made by commentators about what HRIAs can achieve. It goes on to provide an overview of existing practice in HRIA in a wide variety of different fields including health, business, trade, child rights, and development. It then argues that poor practice, particularly among governmental and business actors, highlights the need for greater scrutiny of what the HRIA process should entail. The central part of the article sets out eight core elements that should be included in an HRIA in any field and highlights good and bad practice with regard to each element. This analysis provides the starting point for a better shared conception of what the HRIA process should involve. Three further suggestions are then made to improve future practice: enhancement of collective understanding of key methodological aspects of the HRIA process; more effective and practical support and guidance for those undertaking assessments; and the monitoring of HRIAs in order to highlight and publicize both good and bad practice. On the basis of this, the article concludes by arguing that HRIAs should not be rejected as tools for human rights measurement, but rather strengthened and enhanced.

ABSTRACT: “This paper sets out to bridge the legitimacy gap between ineffective voluntary mechanisms and prospective, albeit currently unfeasible, compulsory regimes by presenting a model for a human rights impact assessment (HRIA) in the overseas hydrocarbon industry, an industry plagued by allegations of human rights abuse. Part 1 sets out the background of our case study: the billion-dollar Yadana Pipeline Project in Burma (Myanmar), the first large international pipeline in Southeast Asia. The Paper then canvasses the relationship between human rights and private extractive industries and describes the need for human rights concepts, as well as attention to environmental concerns and corruption, within the corporate “sphere of influence”— typically its core operations, business partnerships, host communities, and relations with policy-makers. Part 2 assesses the limitations of extant mechanisms, such as voluntary codes of conduct, in regulating corporate human rights compliance, and introduces the HRIA as a stepping stone to more effective regulation. Part 3 outlines the basic history, principles, and processes of environmental and social impact assessment regimes with a view towards developing a model for an HRIA. Part 4 presents the conceptual, legal, and business case for such an HRIA. Part 5 applies this model to the case study and then concludes with several general comments and specific recommendations for creating a viable HRIA regime.”

ABSTRACT: “Human rights impact assessment (HRIA) is a process for systematically identifying, predicting and responding to the potential impact on human rights of a business operation, capital project, government policy or trade agreement. Traditionally, it has been conducted as a desktop exercise to predict the effects of trade agreements and government policies on individuals and communities. In line with a growing call for multinational corporations to ensure they do not violate human rights in their activities, HRIA is increasingly incorporated into the standard suite of corporate development project impact assessments. In this context, the policy world’s non-structured, desk-based approaches to HRIA are insufficient. Although a number of corporations have commissioned and conducted HRIA, no broadly accepted and validated assessment tool is currently available. The lack of standardisation has complicated efforts to evaluate the effectiveness of HRIA as a risk mitigation tool, and has caused confusion in the corporate world regarding company duties. Hence, clarification is needed. The objectives of this paper are (i) to describe an HRIA methodology, (ii) to provide a rationale for its components and design, and (iii) to illustrate implementation of HRIA using the methodology in two selected corporate development projects—a uranium mine in Malawi and a tree farm in Tanzania. We found that as a prognostic tool, HRIA could examine potential positive and negative human rights impacts and provide effective recommendations for mitigation. However, longer-term monitoring revealed that recommendations were unevenly implemented, dependent on market conditions and personnel movements. This instability in the approach to human rights suggests a need for on-going monitoring and surveillance.”

  • Salcito K (2014) Lessons Learned: A decade of corporate human rights impact assessment: strategic advances and lessons learned. (See: Rights Incorporated, above)

ABSTRACT: A decade ago, the first executive summary of the first corporate human rights impact assessment (HRIA) was published, describing foreseen human rights risks associated with an extractive sector project.  The summary was heralded as the first step in a burgeoning era of corporate respect for human rights. Since then, a governance framework has been established to incorporate multinational corporations into the human rights regime, and HRIA has become established as a core component of corporate responsibility. HRIAs, where conducted systematically and holistically, have identified risks not foreseen in other assessments and established remedial mechanisms that have been both cost effective and rights-respectful. However, standardization of the HRIA process has not met expectations. There is still a high level of confusion among corporations as to what components of HRIA are necessary to ensure that they have conducted “due diligence” to foresee and manage human rights risks. However, leading practitioners share an increasingly coherent understanding of what makes and HRIA adequate. Here, we describe the development and evolution of HRIA as a corporate tool and analyze the role that it is having on corporate practices and operations.

ABSTRACT: “In recent years there has been a surge in both community- and company-led human rights impact assessments (HRIAs) thanks in part to the due diligence requirements of the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs). Community-based HRIAs, by nature, analyse impacts from the perspective of a local community… Companies have also developed tools and processes to assess the potential impact of their projects; however, they often fail to seek out the expectations or assertions of the very people whose rights they may be adversely impacting… In any given investment project, either a company-led or a community-based HRIA may have been conducted. In Brazil, however, these two processes recently occurred in parallel providing a unique opportunity for comparison. In viewing these two processes, this piece suggests that company and communities work together, when possible, in a hybrid approach to assess human rights in order to create a shared understanding of impacts, solutions and remedies.” This article is based on a case study of community- and company-led HRIAs (undertaken by Coca Cola and Pepsi Co) conducted on sugar mills in Brazil.

ABSTRACT: “From 2010 to 2012, Oxfam America (Oxfam) supported two partner organizations to conduct pilots of a community-based human rights impact assessment tool, Getting it Right, Human Rights Impact Assessment Guide, to assess the effects of private investments. The tool generates a norm-based interview protocol based on human rights concerns identified with community members. The pilots were carried out in contexts where companies and government agencies had failed to respond to repeated human rights concerns. One of the two pilots, documenting migrant tobacco farmworker conditions in North Carolina, is detailed. The pilots generated three primary outcomes: (1) increased human rights knowledge and vehicles for effective claim-making among community members and support organizations; (2) increased engagement between community support organizations and companies; and (3) responsive action by companies. The final report’s actionable recommendations, amplified through subsequent public outreach through media, internet and active citizenry, generated heightened response and significant initial actions by companies. Areas of future application are suggested, including more frequent application of independent community-based human rights impact assessments for significant private investments.”

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