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Nora Götzmann

This chapter provides an overview of the rationale, principles, methods and approaches for human rights impact assessment (HRIA) in business and human rights (BHR) - spanning project, sector and governance levels. The chapter addresses the requirements for HRIA posed by key frameworks, such as the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, and introduces the different approaches outlined in the Handbook: company-commissioned assessments; community-based assessments; collaborative approaches; sector-wide assessments; and HRIA of trade agreements. The original elements of HRIA are outlined, demonstrating the value added of this methodology, as well as emerging good practice criteria for the content and process of HRIA. Key challenges in current practice are flagged - such as effectiveness, participation, accountability and the role of local context. The chapter also touches on the role of different actors, frameworks and standards in HRIA as well as the role of impact assessment in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

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Nora Götzmann

This chapter addresses the topic of accountability in the context of human rights impact assessment (HRIA) of business projects and activities. It is argued that while accountability is referenced as a key objective of HRIA, precisely how it is to be ensured is not sufficiently elaborated, discussed or problematized. Thinking critically about how accountability can be strengthened in HRIA is therefore necessary. To make a contribution in this regard, the chapter examines four components of accountability that can be identified in the literature - transparency, enforceability, relationships and effectiveness - and considers how they could be better reflected in HRIA governance frameworks and practice. While accountability is more than the simple sum of these parts, it is suggested that reflecting in more detail on what requirements each component poses can assist in developing a more comprehensive understanding of accountability in HRIA, including by identifying critical gaps and opportunities for optimizing enhanced accountability in practice.

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Nora Götzmann

This chapter reflects on the state-of-the-art of human rights impact assessment (HRIA) in business and human rights (BHR), as well as possible ways forward for the practice and related scholarly research. While the contributions in the Handbook are diverse in terms of the HRIA approaches featured, geographical regions, industry sectors, rights-holder focus and institutional focus, several recurring themes can be detected: ensuring that rights-holders are at the centre of the process through meaningful participation and disaggregation; acknowledging and distinguishing between ‘technical’ and ‘political’ dimensions; making and utilizing the linkages between the project-level and wider BHR governance spheres; recognizing and responding to industry and country context; taking a multidisciplinary approach and considering the pros and cons of integration; maximizing and consolidating opportunities for learning, capacity building and dialogue; enhancing transparency and accountability through governance frameworks and actors; improving tools and opportunities for measurement; taking implementation seriously and evaluating effectiveness; and acknowledging limitations and recognizing value added.

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Edited by Nora Götzmann

Human rights impact assessment (HRIA) has increasingly gained traction among state, business and civil society actors since the endorsement of the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights by the Human Rights Council in 2011. This timely and insightful Handbook addresses HRIA in the context of business and human rights.