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Report

Danish Institute for Human Rights publishes guidance on how to conduct human rights impact assessment of digital activities

"Guidance on human rights impact assessment of digital activities", 23 November 2020

... This Guidance sets out to do the following:

  • Offer a methodology that can be used by all kinds of companies that design, develop, sell, procure, deploy, apply or otherwise use digital projects, products and services, as well as state actors procuring such projects, products and services.
  • Assist those individuals who are involved in HRIAs and enable the consolidation of a robust body of HRIA practice...
  • Provide tailored guidance for the realities of the digital ecosystem...
  • Outline a process for stand-alone HRIA, i.e. an impact assessment that focuses exclusively on human rights...

In the business context, HRIA can be defined as a process for identifying, understanding, assessing and addressing the adverse effects of a business project or business activities on the human rights enjoyment of impacted rightsholders....

Digital projects, products and services can be fast-changing and often operate at large scale. Considering specifically the potential scale of operations, HRIA can be a key HRDD tool in contexts where people, and therefore also businesses, face severe risks and impacts in connection to businesses’ digital projects, products or services. It is important that if a HRIA is conducted, it is seen as a part of a company’s general responsibility to conduct HRDD, rather than as an isolated event. This includes ensuring that HRIAs provide learnings for the ongoing and company-wide due diligence processes...

The decision on when to conduct a HRIA and the scope of the assessment will require professional judgment and while formal structures and procedures can help inform such decisions they should always leave room for those with human rights expertise to make their analysis...