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Checklist: Documenting Corporate Human Rights Impacts

This checklist is developed by ESCR-Net & Business & Human Rights Resource Centre, incorporating feedback from civil society representatives around the world. The FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) below provide details of why and how to use this checklist.

For further information, or if you have used the checklist to document a case, please contact [email protected].

Background

The project responds to needs expressed from groups around the world (including ESCR-Net members and partners of Business & Human Rights Resource Centre). It aims to provide greater support for affected communities that can help them effectively document the corporate-related human rights abuses they are experiencing.

While we acknowledge that documentation itself will not be enough necessarily lead to resolution of the problems communities face, the project is designed to spur community-developed documentation in a way that provides greater awareness of the situation they face, and connect them with the support and alliances needed to maximise the power of this documentation.

FAQs

Why document?

Documenting a human rights abuse involving a company or companies can be an important first step that informs and enables further efforts to change the company’s actions or hold it accountable.

Once documentation is available, it can then be used for further advocacy, including: linking affected communities with other organizations that can provide support and advice; media outreach or online campaigning; or legal action, for example.

If the documentation is made publicly available, that helps expose the company’s actions and can increase the pressure for it to change.

How can the checklist help?

The checklist aims to help local groups document the key aspects of a human rights situation involving a company/ies. Human rights documentation can be a complex process: the checklist does not aim to create complete documentation of a situation, but ensure that key elements are registered and the process is underway, so that communities and the organisations they work with can identify next steps.

We will be adding guidance and examples to each question on the checklist: the checklist will be continually refined, improved, and adapted on the basis of cases that have been documented with it.

What type of case can the checklist be used for?

It can be used for a single incident, such as a factory fire, a threat against a human rights defender, or a chemical spill into a water supply.

It can also be used to document broader/ongoing human rights situations that have multiple individual incidents of abuse, for example a forcible relocation of a community followed by intimidation of protestors and restrictions on access to water.

What if it’s not available in the locally-spoken language?

We encourage translations of the checklist into local languages, and documentation in any language.

Do we have to answer all the questions?

No. In many cases, there will not be enough information available to answer all the questions: it is fine to indicate “not known” by some of them.

The first three questions are sufficient to capture the detail of the incident; questions 4-6 are additional and helpful, and might need to be completed with the involvement of a supporting NGO.

Can we include photographs and video?

Yes, these can be an important addition to the documentation: where possible/safe to do so they should be accompanied by details of who took them, when they were taken, what they show.

What will happen once the checklist is completed?

Please send completed documentation to [email protected].

We will then be in touch to clarify any details and discuss next steps. These might include:

  • Connecting the community/organization with relevant advocacy organizations
  • Seeking a public response from the company/ies to the case
  • Publishing and disseminating the documentation on Business & Human Rights Resource Centre and through other channels.

Will the checklist answers be made public?

Only with the consent of the documenting group/individual. The idea is that the checklist will lead to documentation that will be publicly available but we recognize that there may be sensitivities with publishing the information.

What if some of the people involved in the situation are at risk?

This should be indicated clearly on the checklist, and information should only be provided with the consent of the parties at risk.

These FAQs can also be downloaded in Thai and Myanmar language.