Companies are responsible for conducting due diligence to ensure their operations respect human rights. Some take on this task by carrying out human rights impact assessments (HRIAs) for some or all of their operations and activities. Through such assessments, companies can create real opportunities for advancing the business and human rights agenda, predominantly by knowing their impacts and designing interventions to avoid, mitigate or remediate harms. However, company-commissioned HRIAs have suffered from various shortcomings in methodological consistency and rigour, implementation and follow-up, which jeopardize their effectiveness. This chapter examines the processes, limitations and opportunities for improvement in the field of company-commissioned HRIA.
Rebecca DeWinter-Schmitt and Kendyl Salcito
Human rights impact assessment (HRIA) is inherently a multidisciplinary practice, as human rights are cross-cutting and implicate cultural, social, economic, political, legal, environmental and health topics. Yet, HRIA and related fields of impact and risk assessment largely reside in silos. A growing body of literature documents the added value of merging disciplinary methods and findings in pursuit of comprehensive analysis of the impacts of business activities on people and the environment. This chapter examines that literature as pertinent to HRIA, identifying space for HRIA practitioners to integrate the methodologies, good practices and experiences across impact assessment disciplines. The literature also indicates that other fields of impact assessment would benefit from incorporating human-rights-based approaches. The chapter makes the case for transdisciplinary collaboration and concludes with a set of concrete action items for HRIA practitioners to more fully integrate HRIA and established impact and risk assessment methodologies.