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Human Rights Impact Assessment

A human rights impact assessment (HRIA) is a "process to measure the gap between the human rights commitments of the state and the actual enjoyment of these rights by rights-holders. By calling on the participation of all stakeholders involved in the investment project, the [HRIA] seeks to identify the rights that are not respected, or indications that they might not be respected in the future, so that satisfactory solutions can be found."

Source: Rights & Democracy: Getting it Right: Human Rights Impact Assessment Guide.

HRIAs are increasingly used to measure the potential or actual impacts of business operations on the human rights of local communities and other stakeholders, though they are by no means common. Similar to environmental and social impact assessments, HRIAs are distinguished by their grounding in international human rights law, and thus their ability to measure a project’s operations against universally recognized and legally codified standards. Ex ante HRIAs, undertaken before operations commence, are particularly useful in identifying potential human rights risks, thereby fulfilling the role of human rights due diligence promoted in the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. Such assessments serve a preventative function, assisting companies or governments in detecting problematic aspects of a potential project that should be addressed before a deal is signed or implemented. 

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