This discussion paper, co-authored with the Danish Institute for Human Rights and the Sciences Po Law School Clinic, proposes a new approach to conducting human rights impact assessments (HRIAs) of business operations or projects, which brings together project-affected people, the company, and other stakeholders to jointly design and implement an assessment. The aim of this new approach is to address one of the key challenges of current HRIA practices: the limited engagement and participation of relevant stakeholders, which can undermine effectiveness and trust.
The paper outlines factors that will affect the effectiveness of such an approach and describes a number of steps that will be required for a successful process, from ensuring meaningful participation and capacity building of all stakeholders involved in the assessment to carefully governing and funding the process. This collaborative approach is designed to improve communication between relevant stakeholders, increase access to relevant information for rights holders, encourage greater engagement with the findings and recommendations of the assessment, and, most importantly, ensure increased prevention or mitigation of negative human rights impacts.
The paper is the result of a two-year long research project, supported by The Tiffany & Co. Foundation, and is based on extensive desktop research; interviews with 49 people with relevant experience, including representatives of companies, civil society organizations, communities, and academia; as well as a roundtable that brought together over a dozen stakeholders and HRIA experts to provide feedback on the research findings and recommendations.