Stakeholder Engagement in Human Rights Due Diligence
A Guide to Human Rights Due Diligence for Lawyers, Chicago: ABA Publishing, American Bar Association, Forthcoming
41 Pages Posted: 5 Aug 2022
Date Written: January 2, 2022
The UN Guiding Principles on Human Rights recognize that, while states are principal duty bearers in upholding human rights, corporations have a responsibility to: 1) conduct human rights due diligence to avoid causing harm and; 2) enable access to remedy for impacted people when harm does occur. Effective human rights due diligence requires understanding the perspectives of potentially affected individuals and groups. Stakeholder engagement is how business enterprises obtain this understanding. It is essential to each step of the human rights due diligence process --identifying and assessing human rights risks, preventing or mitigating human rights harms, and tracking and communicating progress on both of those fronts. Engagement is also crucial to the design of accessible and effective grievance mechanisms, which are key to ensure that affected individuals report abuses and thus serve as frontline monitors of the human rights situation on the ground.
Effective stakeholder engagement requires sincere and ongoing communication with rights holders and their direct participation, with the aim of securing meaningful human rights protections that they experience in their communities and workplaces. This chapter outlines the basic principles that underpin stakeholder engagement and explains how these principles work in practice. It also demonstrates the role of engagement at each step in the human rights due diligence process and draws from knowledge and practice of stakeholder engagement in other contexts to suggest appropriate methods. Finally, it sets forth challenges to effective stakeholder engagement as well as the opportunities presented by emerging, bottom-up approaches and alternative models that center on the experiences and leadership of rights holders.
Keywords: Business and Human Rights, UNGPs, OECD Guidelines, Supply Chains, Rights Holders
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