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Human rights due diligence in law & practice: Good practices & challenges for business enterprises

Author: Robert McCorquodale, Lise Smit, Stuart Neely, & Robin Brooks, Published on: 5 February 2018

"Human rights due diligence in law and practice: Good practices and challenges for business enterprises," 10 May 2017

...[T]here is limited information available as to how companies are...conducting HRDD [human rights due diligence] consistent with their responsibility to respect human rights under the GPs [Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights]. This article considers the practices of companies worldwide in attempting to implement HRDD...[with a focus on four broad and diverse sectors: mining and energy, financial services, health sciences and pharmaceuticals, and technology].

Based on empirical research conducted through surveys [completed by 152 respondents] and interviews [with 14 senior-level people], it analyses...the extent to which there are different consequences in terms of human rights impacts as to whether a company adopts a specific HRDD process or uses a process that is part of other processes... It examines the responses of companies with reference to the core elements of implementing HRDD: [I]dentifying actual or potential human rights impacts; taking action to address these impacts; and tracking or monitoring the effectiveness of actions... 

The research shows the difference that dedicated HRDD - in comparison with non-human rights specific processes - can make in terms of identifying adverse human rights impacts of both the company as well as those which are part of its business relationships...

More specifically, [this study] clearly demonstrates that a company which undertakes dedicated HRDD...is much more likely to identify adverse human rights impacts than through its ordinary non-specific HRDD (such as labour procedures or health and safety processes). It also showed that existing non-specific HRDD may not be adequate for raising awareness of third party impacts... [Furthermore] it strongly suggests that where HRDD is done expressly, human rights impacts of both the company itself and its business partners are significantly more likely to be identified, effectiveness of actions are significantly more likely to be tracked, human rights experts are more likely to be consulted, and a wider range of human rights are likely to be considered...

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