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 22: The concept of accountability in HRIA

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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