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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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Kendyl Salcito

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.

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Caroline Brodeur, Irit Tamir and Sarah Zoen

Human rights impact assessments (HRIAs) sit at the heart of businesses’ due diligence obligations as they seek to minimize human rights risks and lessen adverse impacts of business activities on affected populations. However, workers and communities affected by large-scale business operations often lack the information, capacity and technical expertise to engage meaningfully with companies and governments in the assessment of human rights impacts. To overcome these shortcomings, communities may conduct their own community-based human rights impact assessments (COBHRAs). This chapter provides an overview of the COBHRA methodology and its application in two concrete case studies. The chapter also discusses key challenges and opportunities for the methodology. It is argued that by putting local communities at the forefront of the impact assessment, COBHRAs not only help to identify long-lasting solutions to human rights issues but also contribute to rebalancing power between stakeholders.

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Kaitlin Y. Cordes, Sam Szoke-Burke and Tulika Bansal

This chapter explores a yet-untested approach for collaborative human rights impact assessment (HRIA) - defined as a joint process undertaken by project-affected people and a company, potentially with the host government or other stakeholders, to investigate, measure and respond to a business project’s human rights impacts. The approach emphasizes deep collaboration between stakeholders. This differs from company-commissioned HRIAs, which usually do not create space for project-affected people to jointly define and implement the process. This chapter explores why stakeholders might wish to undertake a collaborative HRIA, as well as factors affecting the appropriateness of the approach in specific contexts. It also provides an overview of the collaborative approach to HRIA, including discussion of participants, key steps, structure and governance, methodology, dispute resolution and funding. Finally, the chapter reflects on key challenges and opportunities relating to the local context, characteristics of the project and the people affected, and issues related to time and timing.

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Margaret Wachenfeld, Elin Wrzoncki and Luis F. de Angulo

This chapter looks at the methodology and practice of sector-wide impact assessment (SWIA), a methodology developed to consider sector, cumulative and project-level human rights impacts holistically. The chapter starts with outlining the methodology and discussing the rationale for undertaking a SWIA as compared to other types of methodologies used to identify, analyse and address impacts of business activities on human rights. The process of conducting a SWIA is then described, drawing on practical examples from Myanmar and Colombia. The chapter argues that SWIA can help to create a shared vision of responsible business conduct across stakeholders through facts-based analysis and dialogue. This shared vision can in turn provide the basis for actions by different stakeholders to address the adverse human rights impacts of a sector comprehensively. The chapter concludes with a discussion of challenges, lessons learned and pathways forward for the future development and application of this methodology.

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Simon Walker

This chapter focuses on methodology and practice of human rights impact assessment (HRIA) of trade agreements. It sets out the basic steps of the methodology and identifies the actors, time and resources involved, referencing current practice. The assessments covered include HRIAs that focus specifically on human rights (stand-alone HRIAs) and assessments that integrate human rights alongside the analysis of economic, environmental and social impacts (integrated IAs). The chapter examines opportunities and challenges related to HRIA of trade agreements, highlighting the broader context of human rights due diligence (HRDD) of business projects and activities under the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs), which has provided both guidance and impetus for HRIA of trade agreements. The chapter highlights the incorporation of participatory assessment techniques as a particular challenge facing HRIAs of trade agreements and encourages development of further methodological guidance in this regard.

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Tara M. Collins

Despite their relevance to the business and human rights discourse, children and youth and their human rights in relation to business activities are inadequately considered. Hence, this chapter has several objectives: (1) improve awareness of children’s rights among stakeholders working with human rights impact assessment (HRIA); (2) discuss key challenges and opportunities for respectful inclusion of children and youth in HRIA of business projects and activities; and (3) support development of more comprehensive impact assessments through inclusion of children’s rights. While there are some demands involved with the inclusion of children’s rights in HRIA, it is argued that this does not excuse lack of attention to this population group. Greater efforts can facilitate understanding and practice of reflecting child rights in HRIA. Indeed, it is essential to mainstream them in order to respect young people’s human rights as well as ascertain the significance of business activities upon them.

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Cathal Doyle

Indigenous peoples are recognized under international human rights law (IHRL) as a distinct category of rights-holders with sui generis collective rights. To guarantee these rights in the context of business activities, IHRL has established several state duties and associated business responsibilities. These include the requirements to conduct human rights impact assessment (HRIA) to assess potential impacts of business activities on indigenous peoples’ rights, and to consult with them in good faith in order to obtain their free, prior and informed consent (FPIC) to those impacts. This chapter examines the prospects for the operationalization of a mutually reinforcing relationship between indigenous-rights-based conceptions of FPIC and HRIA, in which HRIAs inform FPIC processes, and FPIC processes legitimize, shape and give effect to HRIAs. It probes the implications FPIC has for the scope, timing, process and content of HRIA and associated challenges and opportunities, including the potential of HRIA to further the realization of FPIC.

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Bonita Meyersfeld

Gender-based discrimination places certain people in certain roles from the moment of birth. Women are often ascribed particular characteristics or capabilities that will in turn determine their role and work in a specific context. The result is that men and women are funnelled into a life path that takes them further away from their inherent, individual capabilities and closer to the role assigned to them because of their sex. This role allocation is often normalized and invisible. This is a problem for human rights impact assessment (HRIA). Those who assess the impacts of business projects and activities may not be able to identify the layers of harm that could occur for women in an affected community. This chapter demonstrates how gender-based discrimination often is not part of the impact assessments carried out for business projects. This leads to consequences that, although avoidable, cause unforeseen and devastating consequences for women in affected communities.

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Yann Wyss and Tulika Bansal

This chapter discusses how human rights impact assessments (HRIAs) have been a centrepiece of Nestlé’s overall human rights due diligence programme, helping the company to know and show that it respects human rights both at the corporate and operations levels. The chapter is based on the 10-year collaboration between Nestlé and the Danish Institute for Human Rights, in developing a HRIA methodology and conducting over a dozen HRIAs in Nestlé’s operations and its supply chains. First, it describes the applied HRIA methodology and how it has evolved and improved over the years. Through three case studies, distinct features of HRIA are provided and key implementation challenges discussed. The chapter concludes with a potential way forward for HRIAs for Nestlé, which could be applicable for the food and beverage sector more widely, or for other companies with complex supply chains.