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Human Rights Due Diligence and Impact Assessments

What is a human rights impact assessment

"A human rights impact assessment is a process for systematically identifying, predicting and responding to the potential human rights impacts"1 of a business project, policy, investment, or operation.

Human rights impact assessment is sometimes referred to as human rights due diligence, although the latter term may be understood as a broader one encompassing not only an impact assessment procedure but also the adoption of human rights policies and any other "steps a company must take to become aware of, prevent and address adverse human rights impacts".2

When should such assessment be performed

Such assessment can be performed at any stage of the project including after it has already become operational. However, an impact assessment performed before the activity takes place should be preferred over ex post assessments, since the prevention of human rights violations should be more preferable than their remediation.In this sense, human rights impact assessment should ideally be a part of the decision-making process with regard to any new project.

Scope of assessment

Depending on the nature of the project, the purpose of the due diligence process, and other relevant factors, the human rights impact assessment can either focus on a specific right or group of rights (e.g. labour rights) or cover a wide range of human rights including the rights to life, privacy, health, freedom of association, amongst others.

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Human Rights Translated – A Business Reference Guide, by UN Global Compact et al., p.xi.

Ibid.