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Human Rights Impact Assessment Resources

HRIA Compendium Groups

In collaboration with the American University Washington College of Law Human Rights in Business Program, along with the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the ABA Center for Human Rights, we have worked to compile publicly available resources, case studies and literature on HRIA. The PDF File is updated frequently and provides hyperlinks to available resources. For recommendations and additional submissions, please contact us at or at 


    • Books 
    • Articles and Chapters 

General Guidance

HRIA Compendium Groups

ABSTRACT: “This Guide to HRIA Tools aims to assist business managers of (multinational) corporations and their stakeholders to find their way in the world of Human Rights Impact Assessments. It helps to select the best tool(s) to assure the best HRIA process for the project. This first chapter introduces the theory and history of the HRIAs. The second chapter gives a summary of all the HRIA tools” – at the time of publication – “that have been developed to assess the impact of business on human rights. The third chapter maps these HRIA initiatives in order to facilitate the selection of an HRIA tool, while chapter four provides an overview of when and how these tools can best be used.”

ABSTRACT: This report “captures key lessons learned from BSR’s work conducting human rights impact assessments (HRIAs) and outlines our approach to corporate-, country-, site-, and product-level HRIAs using eight guidelines. The report outlines a framework that should be carefully tailored to a company’s unique risk profile and operating context; it is not intended as an off-the-shelf HRIA tool or checklist… The report includes four key components: 1. Guidelines: Eight principles to keep in mind when conducting an HRIA; 2. In-practice examples: Real company examples from our human rights practice that illustrate the guidelines; 3. HRIA levels: The four levels at which a company can conduct HRIAs; 4. Steps: The basic four-step process we follow when conducting an HRIA.”

ABSTRACT: This report aims to “provide an overview of the state of affairs of Human Rights Impact Assessment instruments and methodologies… [and] explore how the development of Human Rights Impact Assessments might be taken further.” The report identifies areas for further improvement, such as practical solutions for efficient implementation of HRIA and to incentivize uptake; clearer definitions and standards regarding business obligations for human rights so as to allow better comparisons between tools; dialogue between stakeholders to address issues of transparency, accountability, and disclosure in HRIA.

ABSTRACT: This Guide and interactive website is “designed for companies of all sizes, sectors and geographies. It is intended to equip readers with practical advice and real-life examples that help to translate the high-level expectations in the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights into concrete action… It features step-by-step guidance points, pitfalls to avoid and suggestions for small- and medium-sized enterprises. It also includes leading examples of company policies and practices…” The website also features case studies from four focus countries. Section 3.3 Assessing Impacts focuses to HRIA. It provides guidance on identifying human rights impacts; prioritizing severe impacts; involving the existing risk management function; deepening assessment of impacts throughout the business; and the ongoing process of impact assessment

ABSTRACT: “This publication provides an insight into the different contexts, motives, requirements and approaches of five companies that have begun to assess the human rights risks and impacts of their business activities and relationships. It gives an impression of the benefits and limitations of each chosen approach and outlines the challenges faced and the lessons learned by the companies interviewed. It does not offer universal guidance on how companies should assess human rights risks and impacts. Instead, it provides an insight into corporate practice and experience, issues that have so far been discussed mainly behind closed doors.”

ABSTRACT: “This working paper discusses the topic of human rights and impact assessment in the private sector context. Drawing on the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, as well as literature from the areas of human rights impact assessment and the human rights-based approach, the paper outlines and discusses five key criteria for the assessment of human rights impact of private sector projects.” These criteria are “applying international human rights standards,” “address the full scope of impacts,” “adopting a human rights-based approach,” “ensuring accountability,” and “evaluating impact severity and addressing impacts.

ABSTRACT: “This report aims to identify best practices in Human Rights Impact Assessments (hereinafter, HRIA) and incorporate these findings into the development of an HRIA tool for communities affected by investment projects. Communities could use this HRIA tool before, during and upon completion of an investment project. In addition, the community-led HRIA approach can help businesses improve their own human rights due diligence procedures. By reviewing the normative foundations of human rights impact assessments, current best practices and opportunities for further development, this report aims to contribute to the efforts of communities, companies, governments and other stakeholders to ensure respect for human rights in the context of investment projects… PODER proposes a tool that would help communities analyze and understand company logic as well as human rights impact, while also contributing to community organizing. Although other tools exist to assess human rights impact, none of these adequately combine the three aforementioned elements.”

ABSTRACT: The Guide describes NomoGaia’s Human Rights Risk Assessment Tool, which is a means to conduct a quick assessment of major risks associated with a project for a third party interested in assessing human rights risks before making a business decision related to that project. It is not meant to be a complete human rights analysis, but rather is an initial step in the due diligence process. The HRRA tool has been test piloted on projects in LiberiaJordanBurmaUganda and Belize.

ABSTRACT: “This paper identifies and addresses the challenges of implementing the corporate responsibility to respect human rights in practice at project sites. To support on-ground operational staff, we offer the Human Rights Sphere (HRS), a practical tool we developed from empirical research in three large-scale projects and from an analytical literature review. The tool is consistent with the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGP). The HRS comprises seven steps through which the understanding and addressing of the social and human rights impacts of projects and corporate human rights due diligence procedures can be enhanced. The HRS describes the various groups of rights-holders to be considered, the social and environmental impacts they may experience, and how these impacts can be linked to actual or potential human rights impacts. The HRS shows how corporate mitigation and compensation practices have to be improved to prevent human rights harm to workers and communities. The HRS presents a comprehensive picture of the human rights side of projects and is presented as a practical tool that can be utilized by operational staff at all project phases. By utilising the HRS, multinational corporations will be better equipped to address the adverse human rights impacts of large projects.”

ABSTRACT: “A Human Rights Impact Assessment (HRIA) is an instrument for examining policies, legislation, programs and projects to identify and measure their effects on human rights… Their fundamental purpose is to help prevent negative effects and to maximize positive effects. As such, HRIAs are an indispensable part of making human rights considerations operational in a range of legal and policy contexts… In recent years there has been increasing demand for various actors to undertake HRIAs before adopting and implementing policies, projects, agreements and programs. The development of this tool is part of a growing effort by the human rights community to operationalize the relevance of human rights in various fields, including development, and thus to advance an understanding of the ways in which public policies and development projects affect the enjoyment of people’s rights… The purpose of this Study is to review the various existing approaches to HRIAs in order to assess their current form, content, methodology and use, as well as their potential relevance to development policy and practice.”

General Tools and Methodologies

HRIA Compendium Groups

ABSTRACT: “The HRCA [Human Rights Compliance Assessment] Quick Check is a free, condensed version of the full HRCA tool, which includes approximately 10 percent of the questions contained in the HRCA database, and allows companies to create a general overview of the human rights risks in their operations. The tool was developed in cooperation with a group of development finance institutions.”

ABSTRACT: “The purpose of this Guidance and Toolbox is to provide those who are involved in conducting, commissioning, reviewing or monitoring Human Rights Impact Assessments (HRIA) of business projects and activities with guidance and practical tools; with the view to ensuring that such assessments apply a human rights-based approach and are consistent with the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UN Guiding Principles)…. The Guidance and Toolbox includes the following sections: Welcome Section: where you can find an overview of the Guidance and Toolbox, an introduction to HRIA, 10 key criteria to guide the process and content of HRIA, as well as other introductory materials on international human rights standards and principles. HRIA Phases and Stakeholder Engagement: the Guidance and Toolbox is divided into five phases: planning and scoping; data collection and baseline development; analysing impacts; impact mitigation and management; and reporting and evaluation; with stakeholder engagement situated as a crosscutting component. For each HRIA phase explanatory guidance is provided as well as corresponding practitioner supplements that include templates, checklists and other practical tools for conducting HRIA. The explanatory guidance seeks to provide an overview of the impact assessment phase, detailing what it would include and why, as well as discussion on key points; these sections are suitable for a broad audience wishing to familiarise themselves with HRIA. The accompanying practitioner supplements are intended for those who are involved in conducting, commissioning, reviewing or monitoring HRIAs.”

ABSTRACT: “Developed for companies committed to assessing and managing the human rights risks and impacts of their business activities, the Guide to Human Rights Impact Assessment and Management (HRIAM) provides guidance on how to: Identify potential and/or existing human rights risks; Assess potential and/or existing human rights impacts; [and] Integrate findings from the assessment into the company’s management system. The Guide to HRIAM is divided into seven stages. The seven stage framework offers a comprehensive and systematic methodology for companies to follow and adapt to their needs when: Developing their own human rights impact assessment, or Integrating human rights into other kinds of risk and/or impact assessments… By following and adapting the Guide to HRIAM’s seven stage process, and completing a human rights impact assessment, a company will be in a better position to address any potential and/or existing human rights risks and impacts.

ABSTRACT: “Human Rights Impact Assessment is a process for systematically identifying, predicting and responding to the potential human rights impacts of a business operation, capital project, government policy, or trade agreement. It is framed by international human rights standards and designed to complement other impact assessment and due diligence processes. It is also rooted in the realities of the particular project by incorporating the context within which it will operate from the outset. In 2016, responding to feedback from users, we updated our HRIA platform, commissioning a dedicated program for cataloging. The program is 85 MB (compressed) and is too large to include on this website, but we are happy to send OS X, Windows and Linux versions to anyone who requests them. Please email us at to request a copy. Previously, in 2012 NomoGaia updated the HRIA toolkit and template to automate impact ratings scores using Excel. This development reduces human error and standardizes rating in a transparent way. The toolkit is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.”

Sector Specific Guidance and Tools

HRIA Compendium Groups

Sector Specific Guidance and Tools

ABSTRACT:  “With increased attention being given to the accountability of businesses for their human rights impacts, human rights impact assessment (HRIA) has gained traction as one tool available to assess and address the impacts of extractive industries projects on the human rights enjoyment of workers and communities. The United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs) have been a key driving factor for the growing focus on HRIA. However, as HRIA is relatively new in the extractive industries, for example compared to the more established practices of environmental or social impact assessment, current HRIA practice varies considerably and there are few examples of methodologies and assessments in the public domain. This hinders the development of a common understanding amongst extractive industries stakeholders as to what ‘good practice’ HRIA can and should entail. Relatedly, the extent to which such assessments in fact facilitate processes and outcomes that effectively address the adverse human rights impacts of extractive industries projects remains largely unknown. In this paper, we propose that the human rights-based approach might provide useful parameters to guide the development, implementation and evaluation of HRIA methodologies and practice going forward. In particular, the focus that the human rights-based approach places on (i) the application of international human rights standards, (ii) human rights principles to guide processes, and (iii) accountability and transparency, could provide useful parameters, with the view to establishing HRIA practice that meaningfully contributes to preventing and addressing the adverse human rights impacts of extractive industries projects.”

ABSTRACT: “This publication is a comprehensive guide focused on integrating human rights due diligence into corporate risk management processes. It introduces and explains what is meant by human rights due diligence and the central role it plays in delivering on the corporate responsibility to respect human rights. The guide aims to assist mining companies in reviewing their existing risk management processes, identifying how they can build on them to ensure they are adequately addressing human rights and whether their existing processes are consistent with the UN Guiding Principles. A range of the available tools on risk management and aspects of human rights due diligence are introduced within and the tools are supported by a number of industry-related case studies. The studies focus on practices such as the use of global employee surveys, conflict assessment and effective stakeholder engagement.”

ABSTRACT: “This guidance addresses the question of how companies can ensure respect for human rights in their operations without exacerbating or generating conflicts. Since International Alert published its ‘Conflict-sensitive business practice’ in 2005, the field of business and human rights has emerged as a highly influential area of theory and practice. However, while there has been substantial uptake of the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, particularly around company efforts to undertake more rigorous human rights due diligence, there is little available guidance on what this means for companies operating in conflict-affected settings. This is significant, because in conflict-affected settings the likelihood and severity of human rights violations is considerably higher, and the most vulnerable members of society are likely to disproportionately experience more negative impacts and be less resilient to external shocks. In these complex and volatile environments, thorough and robust human rights due diligence (HRDD) is all the more important, since companies cannot rely on standard approaches.”

ABSTRACT: “Conflict-sensitive business practice: Guidance for extractive industries consists of guidance on doing business in societies at risk of conflict for field managers working across a range of business activities, as well as headquarters staff in political risk, security, external relations and social performance departments. It provides information on understanding conflict risk through a series of practical documents, including: introduction to conflict-sensitive business practice (CSBP), including an overview of the regulatory; environment for doing business in conflict-risk states; screening tool for early identification of conflict risk; macro-level conflict risk and impact assessment tool; project-level conflict risk and impact assessment tool; special guidance on key flashpoint issues where conflict could arise at any point during a company’s operation.”

ABSTRACT: “The purpose of the Guide is to assist oil and gas companies in implementing a due diligence process for human rights. This can be an essential part of a company’s overall risk management strategy, especially in countries where human rights issues may be more prevalent…. The Guide is divided into four sections: Section 1: What is a human rights due diligence process; Section 2: Why is a human rights due diligence process important for the oil and gas sectors? Section 3: Developing and implementing a human rights due diligence process; Section 4: Resources to support oil and gas companies.”

ABSTRACT: “This Guide describes how human rights can be integrated into environmental, social and health impact assessments (ESHIAs), which the oil and gas industry routinely uses to evaluate projects and activities. It provides an introduction to human rights and their relevance to the activities of the oil and gas industry, and briefly describes why it is important for the oil and gas industry to consider the impact that its projects and activities have on human rights. It is the product of collaboration between impact assessment practitioners from IPIECA members and human rights practitioners from the Danish Institute for Human Rights (DIHR). Together, the organizations have attempted to bridge the gaps in terminology, processes and approaches between the ESHIA and human rights impact assessment communities.”

ABSTRACT: “This guide focuses on what due diligence, risk assessment and community engagement mean in a human rights context, examines why human rights matter in Communities and Social Performance (CSP) work, and illustrates how our processes and systems align with international standards and expectations, using real-life examples we have encountered in our business. The guide is written primarily for our CSP practitioners who interact daily with our host communities and want to ‘do the right thing’ in the face of the dilemmas they encounter. But we hope that it will be of use to all Rio Tinto employees, and of interest to our stakeholders who want to understand how we meet our ‘responsibility to respect human rights’.”

ABSTRACT: “In light of the ongoing debate on human rights in the extractive industries, the present study contributes to the related discussion on human rights in the mining sector. …it attempts to close a gap in the related discussion by providing an impartial analysis that adequately considers the technical and legal correlations. In order to avoid an excessively broad analysis, the present study focuses on the minerals, metals, and coal sector… The scope of the study must further be limited to the most important general human rights risk areas… While analyzing mining in all of its forms, ranging from industrial and large-scale to artisanal and small-scale, the study aims to identify general areas where the risk of adverse human rights impacts is most significant (“human rights Risk Areas”). Therefore, the “cases” described in each of these risk areas do not contain any statement of facts but are rather to be seen as past and present examples, which suggest the existence of a specific human rights risk area. In three separate chapters (3-5), the study looks at such human rights Risk Areas in Industrial and Large-Scale mining (LSM), Artisanal and Small-Scale Mining (ASM), and other exceptional situations. In each chapter, the respective mining sector is described in detail first, after which the risk areas are outlined and legally analyzed. Where appropriate, the analysis follows the different phases of the mine life cycle to make the paper as instructive as possible to readers with different backgrounds. The present paper is conceptualized as a desktop study…

ABSTRACT: “This guidance addresses the question of how companies can ensure respect for human rights in their operations without exacerbating or generating conflicts. Since International Alert published its ‘Conflict-sensitive business practice‘ in 2005, the field of business and human rights has emerged as a highly influential area of theory and practice. However, while there has been substantial uptake of the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, particularly around company efforts to undertake more rigorous human rights due diligence, there is little available guidance on what this means for companies operating in conflict-affected settings… The guidance will do the following: Help companies from the extractive sector understand any conflicts in their operating context and identify the implications these have for HRDD.; Provide tools, case studies and recommendations to help companies and other practitioners conducting HRDD in conflict-affected settings.; Contribute to ongoing debates on business, human rights and conflict sensitivity.”

Issue-Specific Guidance and Tools

HRIA Compendium Groups

Issue Specific Guidance and Tools

ABSTRACT: “In an age of globalization, free trade should be synonymous with prosperity for all. Yet too often small farmers, indigenous peoples, people with HIV and others are left out of the picture. The Future of Human Rights Impact Assessments of Trade Agreements proposes a new way to make free trade work for all people. It examines how trade pacts can benefit people but can also threaten their basic human rights – to access food, medicines and education or to protect their cultural heritage – and develops a step-by-step process to identify the human impacts of trade before trade pacts are finalized. A case study examines the impact of a US-Central American trade agreement on access to medicines in Costa Rica to demonstrate how the step-by-step process works in practice. The process works, but more efforts are needed to make sure such assessments of trade policies become standard practice. Human rights NGOs and academics but also governments should lead the way in the future. The Future of Human Rights Impact Assessments of Trade Agreements is important for all people who believe that globalization can do more, not just for corporations and the economy, but for everyone, even the poorest.

ABSTRACT: “This report clarifies the relationships between business, human rights and water and answers some of the key questions that arise when they are considered together. It makes the case for integrating human rights considerations, including those relating to water, into the policies and practices of business. Given the international political consensus that has developed, more generally about the responsibility of companies to respect human rights, and specifically about water as a human right, the report anticipates that governments and intergovernmental organisations will increasingly call on businesses to be transparent and accountable for their impacts in relation to water, in human rights terms…”

ABSTRACT: “The human right to water has recently been recognized by both the United Nations General Assembly and the Human Rights Council. As the mining industry interacts with water on multiple levels, it is important that these interactions respect the human right to water. Currently, a disconnect exists between mine site water management practices and the recognition of water from a human rights perspective. It has been argued that the Minerals Council of Australia Water Accounting Framework can be used to strengthen the connection between water management and human rights. This article extends this connection through the use of a Social Water Assessment Protocol (SWAP). The SWAP is a scoping tool consisting of a set of questions classified into taxonomic themes under leading topics with suggested sources of data that enable mine sites to better understand the local water context in which they operate. Three of the themes contained in the SWAP – gender, Indigenous peoples and health – are discussed to demonstrate how the protocol may be useful in assisting mining companies to consider their impacts on the human right to water.”

ABSTRACT: “‘Children’s Rights in Impact Assessments’ is designed to guide companies in assessing their policies and processes as they relate to their responsibility to respect children’s rights and their commitment to support children’s rights. This tool should be used as part of ongoing assessments of human rights impacts, as outlined in the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. The criteria it offers can be used to review critical areas of potential or actual impact on children’s rights, based on the Children’s Rights and Business Principles. Respecting and supporting children’s rights requires business to both prevent harm and actively safeguard children’s best interests. By integrating children’s rights considerations into ongoing impact assessments, a company is taking an important step towards recognizing children as rights holders and stakeholders, and towards understanding its potential and actual impacts on children. Guidance on specific actions a company can take to address the identified risks to children is provided throughout the tool.”

ABSTRACT: “Responding to violations against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer people worldwide, in the light of the universality of human rights, this paper demonstrates the need, benefits and opportunities for including sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) in human rights impact assessment (HRIA) and related impact assessments. The United Nations legal framework (including the 2011 Resolution on Human Rights, Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity) and supporting international legal documents such as the Yogyakarta Principles provide the mandate and basis for this paper. The paper develops a typology of documents related to SOGI aspects in HRIA and provides examples of SOGI-centred HRIA approaches, specifically the Uganda Anti-Homosexuality Bill and post-earthquake disaster relief in Haiti. Our findings identify research-practice gaps in modes and technicalities of the pioneer SOGI-centred HRIA cases, and attest to an absence of methodologies, tools and indicators. We call upon impact assessment practitioners to develop and use tools that are inclusive of gays, lesbians and bisexuals as well as transgender and intersex people.”

ABSTRACT: “High risk circumstances are situations in which the likelihood of severe human rights impacts is greatest.” High risk circumstances “should be the highest priority for company action since they present the greatest risks to individuals” and they “present high risk to the business as well, including commercial, reputational, investor related and legal risks.” Conducting human rights due diligence can be particularly challenging because high risk circumstances are “more complex and fluid. There may be practical difficulties in engaging directly with some affected individuals and groups. The capacity to manage identified risks and impacts may be beyond the sole control of the business enterprise. Key lessons and insights from business practitioners, further elaborated in this resource, include: To understand the source of risk, and determine where there are high risk circumstances, companies can ask themselves a set of targeted questions, looking at the operating context, the nature of the company’s business relationships, the nature of the company’s business activities, and the types of people who could be affected by the company’s activities (or activities of its business relationships). A listing of these diagnostic questions is an annex in this resource; Engage internal stakeholders in ways that: (a) raise awareness of high risk circumstances, (b) create expectations about identifying and escalating these types of risks, (c) ensure that due diligence is ongoing and responsive to changes in circumstances; Engage external stakeholders in ways that: (a) are integrated into more robust strategies, (b) involve independent third parties in support of company efforts, (c) enable the business to push information to stakeholders and empower stakeholders to push information to the company. Across these insights and examples, one crosscutting message becomes clear: while the tendency within many companies is to seek greater control over and protection of information as risks increase, in reality, enhanced transparency is critical for success.

ABSTRACT: “Respecting, protecting and fulfilling human rights must become more prominent in both the processes and outcomes of resettlement. We have developed a Human Rights-Based Approach to Resettlement for use by project operators, rights holders and governments so that they can better understand what the corporate responsibility to respect human rights entails in situations of involuntary resettlement and expropriation. We outline the procedural human rights principles and resettlement outcomes that must be achieved in order for resettlement to be considered human rights compliant. We also consider how human rights are addressed in the International Finance Corporation Performance Standard 5 on land acquisition and involuntary resettlement. We suggest that the International Finance Corporation’s largely silent approach towards the private sector’s human rights responsibilities potentially understates the significant human rights risks that characterize displacement and involuntary resettlement.”

ABSTRACT: “Because children are affected by a wide range of issues, a comprehensive business approach will consider child rights throughout the company’s management systems and strategies. The Toolkit is designed to assist any of those in the mining sector who are responsible for designing and implementing strategies related to social and environmental performance at the project level. It provides 10 concise tools for improving social and environmental performance towards respecting and advancing children’s rights in the following areas: 1. Impact assessment 2. Stakeholder engagement 3. Resettlement 4. In-migration 5. Environment 6. Security 7. Health and safety 8. Working conditions 9. Protecting children from sexual violence 10. Social investment.”