Establishing a meaningful human rights due diligence process for corporations : learning from experience of human rights impact assessment

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Harrison, James (2013)

The United Nations Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Business and Human Rights, Professor John Ruggie, has constructed a new international framework, which is set to become the cornerstone for all action on human rights and business at the international level. The principle of human rights due diligence (HRDD) is the central component of the corporate duty to respect human rights within that framework. This article argues that Ruggie's HRDD principle contains the majority of the core procedural elements that a reasonable human rights impact assessment (HRIA) process should incorporate. It is likely that the majority of corporations will adopt HRIA as a mechanism for meeting their due diligence responsibilities. However, in the context of the contentious debate around corporate human rights performance, the current state of the art in HRIA gives rise to concerns about the credibility and robustness of likely practice. Additional requirements are therefore essential if HRDD is to have a significant impact on corporate human rights performance – requirements in relation to transparency; external participation and verification; and independent monitoring and review.
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