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2015 UN Annual Forum on Business and Human Rights

IPIECA, ICMM, CCSI and Sciences Po session on assessing the human rights impact of projects

IPIECA, together with the International Council on Mining and Metals (ICMM), the Danish Institute for Human Rights (DIHR),the Columbia Centre on Sustainable Investment (CCSI) and Sciences Po, held a session on current challenges and innovative approaches to assessing the human rights impact of private sector projects during the fourth 2015 UN Annual Forum on Business and Human Rights that took place at the Palais des Nations in Geneva from 17-18 November 2015.

Sam Szoke-Burke (CCSI) chaired the session, and highlighted IPIECA and DIHR’s joint publication on Integrating human rights into environmental, social and health impact assessments, published in December 2013.

During her presentation, Tulika Bansal (DIHR) outlined that human rights impact assessment (HRIA) is an emerging practice, and a number of different methodologies exist for undertaking them, including integrated with environmental, social and health impacts, a focus on specific topics or stakeholders, company-led assessments, community-led assessments and a new multi-stakeholder model currently under development. An ongoing challenge is a lack of common understanding of what good practice looks like in relation to HRIA.

Francesca de Meillac (BG Group) presented on the company’s integrated impact assessment in Myanmar, which incorporated environmental, social and human rights elements. Francesca described the drivers for integrating human rights into the overall IA process, which included avoiding stakeholder fatigue as a result of multiple consultations in parallel processes, as well as detailing how the work was carried out in the field, including extensive regional research, multiple field visits and community consultations.

Manon Aubry (Sciences Po) presented on a new model being developed through a collaborative project by CCSI, DIHR and the Sciences Po Law School Clinic for a multi-stakeholder HRIA. The model aims to overcome the challenge of the frequent lack of distrust between communities and companies, which can often influence the outcomes of the HRIA, by deepening the involvement of a range of stakeholders in the methodology and process, beyond consultation. The model is still in development and has not yet been field tested but the team plan to develop a robust methodology to be piloted as a next phase.

Finally Claire Larner (ICMM) outlined some of the ongoing challenges with HRIA including finding the balance between disclosure/transparency of results whilst not infringing on the rights of those impacted by a project, particularly in regions where a government may not be upholding their duty to respect human rights. Another consideration that extends beyond impact assessments, is knowing which stakeholders to involve, particularly finding those individuals or groups who truly represent the interests of communities. Any multi-stakeholder process will need to be sensitive to those sections of the community who are frequently excluded from the decision-making process.

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