Human rights impact assessment in conflict-affected societies: from avoiding harm to doing good
Human rights impact assessments (HRIAs) assess the effects of business activity on the realization of human rights in local communities. Businesses are increasingly using HRIA to meet human rights due diligence (HRDD) requirements set by the UN Guiding Principles and domestic legislation. However, existing HRIA tools rarely elaborate on exactly how HRIAs should address conflicts, and what additional considerations businesses must take into account in conflict-affected contexts. This thesis seeks to fill the gap in existing HRIA tools by identifying special considerations that businesses must take into account when conducting HRDD in conflict zones. The thesis analyzes not only how businesses can negatively impact human rights in conflict-affected countries, but also how they can identify positive opportunities to promote human rights and contribute to conflict transformation. The thesis focuses on five major areas: existing HRIA methods; the links between business, human rights, and conflict; arguments for including positive impacts into HRIA; how other forms of impact assessment function in conflict zones; and the experiences of practitioners who work in conflict-affected societies. Findings draw on interviews with practitioners, supplemented by existing research on war economics and peacebuilding. The thesis concludes with a proposed model for HRIA in conflict-affected societies.