Pioneering guide to assess Human Rights Impacts launched by FGV and Childhood Brasil

The study developed an impact assessment matrix through a collaborative effort involving 40 companies.
22 June 2017
Pioneering guide to assess Human Rights Impacts launched by FGV and Childhood Brasil

The Human Rights and Business Research Group (GDHeE) of FGV’s Sao Paulo Law School (Direito SP) and Childhood Brasil have launched a pioneering tool to guide the private sector, based on the impacts caused by its operations on children and adolescents. The Human Rights Impact Assessment Guide identifies corporate accountability precedents across multiple segments, providing a practical roadmap to carry out assessment, management and control activities.

The study developed an impact assessment matrix through a collaborative effort involving 40 companies, aiming to support the private sector both in assessing risks and developing action plans to protect human rights, based on examples with children and adolescents. According to Flávia Scabin, GDHeE coordinator, the study can guide companies and public authorities in infrastructure works and other operations, mitigating impacts in different populations.

“Brazil adopted the UN’s guiding principles on business and human rights in 2011, changing what is expected from companies when it comes to human rights,” she said.

According to Scabin, companies are now also expected to face the negative impacts of its operations within their chains and surroundings, which requires new public policies to control and promote businesses, as well as new ways to manage and control impacts and tools that ensure the proper engagement of all players involved and the local community. 

Available in digital format and shared freely with non-profit purposes, the Human Rights Impact Assessment Guide was launched during the Corporate Meeting for the Human Rights of Children and Adolescents, held at Direito SP on June 7, featuring corporate representatives from the most vulnerable industries, such as transport and logistics; agribusiness; extractive and infrastructure.

According to Heloisa Ribeiro, managing director of Childhood Brasil, the study is a strategic tool in the institution’s efforts to support the development of public policies to safeguard the rights of children and adolescents.  “The guide is a benchmark for companies to comply with the Human Rights Due Diligence steps established by the UN’s Guiding Principles. Although the project was initially focused on large enterprises, the document covers all of a company’s operations by accurately reflecting Brazil’s reality,” said Ribeiro.

The guide is a byproduct of the research project titled “Large Enterprises and Human Rights: corporate accountability in safeguarding the rights of children and adolescents,” conducted by GDHeE between 2014 and 2015 in partnership with Childhood Brasil, and supported by the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands and OAK Foundation. The study investigated the preparations of three 2014 FIFA World Cup host cities, including all stages of infrastructure projects – covering all steps from decision-making to planning, funding, licensing and construction –, beyond the point of view of impacted populations.

“The gap between consensus regarding what needs to be done and the establishment of rules to protect human rights is very large,” said the dean of Direito SP, Professor Oscar Vilhena Vieira. For the last five years, the GDHeE has been trying to fill this gap between corporate operations and human rights guidelines, empowering companies in this sense, according to Vieira.

“The study must go beyond the academic world and the interests of researchers in order to directly contribute towards society’s development,” he said.

The Human Rights Impact Assessment Guide is available on the website.