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Human rights impact assessments

A human rights impact assessment (HRIA) is a process for identifying, understanding, assessing and addressing the adverse effects of a business project or activities on the human rights enjoyment of impacted rights-holders such as workers and community members. HRIAs can take various shapes and be led by different stakeholders, but should share the ultimate goal of protecting human rights and improving accountability of businesses for their adverse impacts on human rights.

The UN Guiding Principles firmly establish the corporate responsibility to respect human rights as a standard of expected conduct. This includes the expectation that businesses implement due diligence to identify, avoid, mitigate and remediate the human rights impacts with which they are involved. HRIA can provide a process for businesses to understand and address such impacts. While the UN Guiding Principles do not necessarily require that businesses conduct “human rights impact assessments”, they indicate that a range of approaches may be appropriate for assessing human rights impacts. Examples of approaches that have been developed include “stand-alone” HRIA (i.e. assessments that focus exclusively on human rights), “integrated’ assessments” (e.g. integrating human rights into environmental, social and health impact assessments) and others (e.g. community-led, sector-wide, or in the area of trade and investment).

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What National Action Plans say on Human rights impact assessments