Karina Vargas from Observatorio Ciudadano takes us through how the human rights impact assessment tool helps make companies more accountable and processes more inclusive
Karina is one of many participants from the joint ILC, NAMATI and IIED Community Land Protection Learning Initiative. The Initiative is designed to build a supportive cross-regional community of practice that facilitates learning between community land rights advocates . It equips ILC members with the practical skills to support communities to document and protect their indigenous and customary lands while strengthening local land governance, natural resource management, and the land rights of women and members of marginalized groups.
THE COMMUNITY LAND PROTECTION LEARNING INITIATIVE IS AN OPPORTUNITY FOR ILC MEMBERS TO LEARN FROM PEERS HOW TO PROTECT COMMUNITY LAND
The Human Rights Impact Assessment (HRIA) is a process to identify the gaps between the human rights commitments of the state (human rights in principle) and the actual enjoyment of these rights by rights-holders (human rights in practice). HRIA seeks to identify the rights that are not respected, or indications that might not be respected in the future, so that satisfactory solutions can be found. They are mainly done ex-post (once the investment project has started) and findings can sometimes come too late (after negative impacts have already occurred).
The HRIA tool contains several steps that allow evaluation teams to take stock of the positive and negative human rights impacts of an investment project. Although the tool is presented in a series of consecutive phases, the process is flexible and it is possible for users to move back and forth between phases.
In this first phase, you will take steps to prepare for your human rights impact assessment, including taking a preliminary look at the foreign investment project you intend to study and identifying the main people and groups who are or will be affected by this project. At this phase you should need to build your assessment team. It’s important to build a strong and diverse team composed of people with complementary skills and expertise, with active participation of community members. Gender balance is important too, not only in terms of number of women and men, but also in terms of responsibilities and leadership. The assessment team should develop a budget and a work plan.
B) The Legal framework
Users of the HRIA tool must identify the applicable laws. This phase consists of three main components:
- Identification of the national and international human rights framework.
- Data collection about the specific company and the ‘investment chain’
- The legal framework that governs the investment project, which must be analysed to understand the interface between the legal obligations of the government to defend human rights and the rights granted to the investor.
C) Adapting the Guide
In this third phase, you will start building your own human rights impact assessment tool by selecting the relevant human rights you will focus on and developing the questions you will want to answer. Of course, every project is unique and each assessment pursues its own objectives. Consequently, each research team must adapt the questions and develop new ones to ensure that the final assessment report truly reflects the particular situation, the local context, the type of investment and the communities affected. Ensure that communities’ concerns are at the centre of the process.
D) The Investigation Process
In this fourth phase, you will expand your investigation, looking more closely at the human rights record of your government and of the company. You will also be gathering more information from communities and other groups and individuals who are or will be affected by the project.
E) Analysis and Report
This fifth phase focuses on how to prepare a draft of the report, distribute it for comments and then finalize it. This phase takes a lot of time so it must be well-planned and the report must be approved the community.
F) Engagement, Monitoring and Follow-up
This sixth phase focuses on the different ways you can most effectively make use of your completed report, as well as other complementary activities you might want to undertake. This may include legal actions to uphold rights that are not being respected, communication campaigns, or multi-stakeholder dialogues to present the recommendations of the report.
for more information
Guide "Community-Based Human Rights Impact Assessment: The Getting it Right Tool"
Read IIED blog "Protecting Indigenous lands: lessons from Chile"
Review some of the work done by the Observatorio Ciudadano with the help of this tool.