Handbook on Human Rights Impact Assessment
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Handbook on Human Rights Impact Assessment

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.
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Chapter 15: Assessing human rights impacts in global value chains: Can HRIA go beyond social audits in the apparel industry?

Christian Scheper


The chapter addresses the challenge of conducting human rights impact assessment (HRIA) in the context of transnational value chains, with a focus on the apparel industry. The chapter identifies two main challenges for creating meaningful HRIA approaches: (1) a managerial challenge in light of major conflicts of interest in buyer-driven value chains; and (2) an epistemic challenge based on the domination of corporate-led forms of knowledge generated through supply chain assessment techniques. The chapter suggests a conceptual turn in the debate about criteria for HRIA in buyer-driven value chains, which takes seriously the political character of HRIA and separates it from established practices of company-led value chain assessments (based on audits, certification and benchmarking). It proposes a political conception of HRIA that focuses on institutional capacities for workers to address power asymmetries in the value chain and make claims based on national labour laws and international human rights.

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