"Measuring Business & Human Rights" research project to assess & compare companies' responsibility to respect human rights

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30 September 2014

Blog assesses use of human rights indicators in monitoring operations of private security companies

Author: Irene Pietropaoli, co-Director Measuring Business & Human Rights and PhD candidate at the Law school of Middlesex University, London


Private security companies (PSCs) often operate in areas of conflict or weak governance...[G]overnments and industry representatives, sometimes with civil society’s participation, have developed several guidelines and codes of conduct that seek PSCs commitment to human rights standards and monitor their activities. Two key multi-stakeholder initiatives are the International Code of Conduct for Private Security Service Providers (ICoC), and the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights(VPs). The credibility of these initiatives depends on their adoption of effective oversight and reliable complaints mechanisms that ensure remedy for victims, and a greater capacity to monitor compliance and to sanction non-compliance. The efficacy will also rely on PSCs acceptance of such independent external oversight, and on governments and other clients’ commitment to hiring only PSCs that are in full compliance. There is also a need for an open, transparent consultation process that includes extensive outreach to attract appropriate stakeholders and ensures that audits are conducted with the necessary human rights expertise. Assessing measurable criteria in relation to the human rights risk conducted as part of the certification process, needs to amount to more than a desk-based box-ticking exercise....A transparent and public report of lessons learned would be useful also to determine the compatibility between these initiatives. These steps may help to increase transparency and disclosure concerning the activities of PSCs, and to hold them accountable for human rights abuses.

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11 August 2014

Discussion on benefits & drawbacks of indexes for economic, social & cultural rights

In the month of August, ESCR-Net Monitoring Working Group hosted a discussion on the pros and cons of indexes. Contributions by Irene Pietropaoli and Damiano De Felice specifically addressed the debate regarding business and human rights. Scroll down on the discussion for these two contributions.

For CESR, indexes have proven to be most effective as a way to offer a general ‘snapshot’ of ESCR-related issues in a country. By flagging deviations from the norm and changes over time, indexes can effectively draw attention to a state’s apparent under-performance. Nevertheless, we’ve been cautious not to overstate the conclusions about a country’s rights compliance that can be drawn directly from composite scores, especially those whose methodology is complex. It would be great to hear how organizations have used indexes in their ESCR monitoring. Are there other examples to add to the list above? Have you found rankings to be an effective means of monitoring ESCR fulfillment? Do the pros and cons identified here reflect your experience? Are there others that should be mentioned? In what ways can we maximize the benefits and minimize the challenges of using indexes to monitor ESCR?

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31 January 2014

[PDF] List of Tools and Initiatives Featuring Business and Human Rights Indicators

Author: Measuring Business & Human Rights

The tables...list the most relevant existing tools and initiatives that feature business and human rights indicators. The tables demonstrate the proliferation of business and human rights indicators, ratings and indices, which underlines the relevance of MB&HR’s aim to enhance transparency of the methodology and relevance of such initiatives. The tables are divided into six categories: management tools; reporting frameworks; sustainability investment indices; sustainability ratings; sustainability standards, multi stakeholder initiatives and certification schemes; and human rights impact assessment tools...The list will be used as a reference point for the next step of the project, namely, the creation of a “summary card” for each tool and initiative, describing its main features, strengths and weaknesses.

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29 November 2013

Measuring Business & Human Rights

Author: Business & Human Rights Resource Centre, Ann Sofie Cloots (University of Cambridge), Charline Daelman (KU Leuven), Damiano de Felice (LSE) & Irene Pietropaoli (Middlesex University)

the project aims at: 1) flagging out the most important normative, methodological, practical and political challenges related to the production of business and human rights indicators, ratings and benchmarks; and 2) offering potential solutions to these challenges. The project will explore the validity of its findings in two "laboratories", specifically dedicated to an industry sector (private security companies) and a vulnerable group (children’s rights).

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