Human Rights

Sarah Simon

13 min Read Time | September 16th 2021

Key Takeaways


The topic deals with intrinsic violations of people’s rights.


The core focus should be on how activities are hindering, threatening, destroying communities' livelihoods and ultimately their intrinsic rights.


This topic covers the negative & direct impact only.

What is it?

Human Rights are defined as “rights inherent to all human beings, regardless of race, sex, nationality, ethnicity, language, religion, or any other status.” They encompass all aspects of people’s lives, including:

The respect and sanctity of Human Rights are most well known for being collected in the “Universal Declaration of Human Rights” by the United Nations General Assembly in Paris on 10 December 1948 under the General Assembly resolution 217 A.

Human Rights are intrinsically connected to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). “The goals provide a framework for development cooperation institutions to work coherently together towards a common end”. Through them, development and positive impact can be attained.


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SDG choice

Impact assessment

The Human Rights topic addresses the negative impacts stemming from a company’s direct involvement in any activity that might hinder people’s intrinsic rights.

This topic specifically deals with the negative impact on people’s livelihoods and intrinsic human rights.

For instance:

  • Hindering the natural assets of people/indigenous people,

  • Destruction or usurpation of one’s physical assets,

  • Causing damage or reducing one’s financial assets,

  • Reducing the means of subsistence of a group, i.e., hunting assets (territories on which one relies for nourishment)

  • Hampering/reducing/destroying a group’s cultural/religious assets

The above can be summarized in the below two macro-areas (via micro-areas):
  1. Land grabbing resulting in forced displacement

  2. Weapons/War Crimes (direct supply causing negative externalities on civilian populations)

Micro areas: land grabbing and forced displacement, political conflicts and wars, livelihood destructions through companies' direct and indirect business activities, etc.


The introduction shall expose the main theme of the note. It should cover the “assets” being impacted by a company’s or industry’s activity at large. The introduction should be context-specific, discussing the socio-political and geographic landscape of where the human right violations are taking place.

For instance:

Around 3,000 indigenous territories lie in the Amazon Biome, which represents 35% of the whole Amazon region1. Mining operations in the region cover roughly 20% of the indigenous lands, endangering hundreds of indigenous communities and critical ecosystems across 45 million (Mn) hectares (Ha)2.

Sentence 1: This clarifies the impact recipient, the “asset,” i.e., natural & hunting assets used for subsistence; and thus the intrinsic ‘Human Right’ at stake, i.e., property right, land grabbing.

Sentence 2: This clarifies what the negative impact driver was, the driver being oil drilling operations on indigenous people’s territories.

Core Analysis:

The core shall prove the aforementioned issue at stake, tangibly proving how the intrinsic rights of people and their assets were impacted by the company.

This topic addresses a company's involvement in human rights violations, including but not limited to livelihood destructions, land-grabbing, systematic discrimination, violence, human trafficking, and forced displacement. These acts stem from a company's direct involvement in any activity that hinders peoples' and communities' intrinsic rights and complicity through any acts of human rights violations committed by third parties.

The core analysis must include:
  • What intrinsic human rights are being violated.

  • How the business activities have negatively impacted which communities.

  • The scale of the impact (number of people harmed, what livelihoods have been destroyed, etc.)

  • How and by how much the impact is going to last over time.

  • How deep the impact is.

Caution: Do not mix this topic up with Labor Practices.

For example:

CNOOC is one of the largest independent oil and gas exploration and production companies in the world, engaging in exploration, development, production, and sale of crude oil and natural gas5. The company has been operating in Uganda since 2006 in oil extraction and development projects and has also been involved in human rights violations in Uganda and Tanzania for many years4;p71.

In 2020, many credible organizations reported that due to CNOOC and other oil companies projects, about 12,000 indigenous families have lost their land4;p71. The reports also found that the "community members have been harassed, intimidated, and forced to leave their lands without receiving adequate compensations and they're also never involved in decision-making or consulted about adequate compensation contrary to Uganda law.4;p71"

Paragraph 2: It clarifies and quantifies who was harmed and how (i.e.,displacement of indigenous people due to oil and gas exploration activities; loss of physical and cultural assets used for subsistence by local communities; harassment and violence, etc.).

Paragraph 1: It supports the above evidence by proving an existing link between the human rights-related negative outcome and the perpetrator.

For further examples, please consult the key examples (below) to grasp an understanding of the topic.


Environmental Injustice

When companies fail to protect the environment, it can be a violation of numerous human rights. This includes the rights to life, access to basic resources, such as food, water, property, and privacy.

This also affects the "collective rights of indigenous peoples to their ancestral lands and resources; and the right to a healthy environment".

For example, natural resource extraction violates a number of human rights for people depending on those resources.

Resource extraction is the act of withdrawing local materials from the environment to be used as a commodity. Some examples include fossil fuels, minerals, trees, animals, water, etc. Resource extraction impacts local communities economically, socially, and environmentally, often in an environmentally unjust way.

Indigenous communities in particular often live in regions abundant with resources, like oil/gas, minerals, plants, etc. Unfortunately, economic interests have historically cost the wellbeing of these communities, and indigenous peoples are still facing exploitation and expropriation today.

Addressing the impact on these communities is imperative so that our platform can provide a voice for those who systematically may not have the privilege to be heard. However, this topic is not limited to only the discussion of marginalized communities as the focus should be on a local community that has been clearly affected by the company’s activity.

Caution: This should not discuss the adverse health impacts on communities if the topic is already offered/covered for this company in the industry.

Conflict Minerals

Conflict resources are natural resources extracted in a conflict zone, which can directly or indirectly perpetuate the fighting.

The four most commonly mined conflict minerals are cassiterite (for tin), wolframite (for tungsten), coltan (for tantalum), and gold ore. They are known as the 3TG. These minerals are essential in the manufacture of a variety of products, including consumer electronics such as smartphones, tablets, and computers.

The extraction and sale of blood diamonds, also known as "conflict diamonds", is a better-known phenomenon that occurs under similar conditions. Even petroleum can be a conflict resource.

The flagship program of the RMI, the Responsible Minerals Assurance Process (RMAP), takes a unique approach to help companies make informed choices about responsibly sourcing such minerals in their supply chains.

If the company is producing the mineral: What is their market share in the industry? How much do they produce per year (in tonnes)? What percent is claimed to be certified or verified?

If the company is sourcing the material from a supplier: How many suppliers do they have? How large are those companies? How much do they purchase/consume per year (in tonnes)? Knowing specifically for each supplier is a plus. What percent is claimed to be certified or verified?

Does the company follow the Responsible Minerals Assurance Process (RMAP) standards?

Try to mention the consequences of sourcing these minerals: either on the local environment, local communities, or perpetuating conflicts. You can use studies as proxies. Learn more in the article Step 5: Assess scale and value.


Wrap up the discussion keeping the most salient points.



There are no hard thresholds for this topic as vulnerable groups are usually on the lower part of the scale. The analysis is publishable if it has demonstrated that the company has had a direct impact on communities through its business activities or in the area where the company’s operations are located, that there is sufficient data to capture the impact and on whom, and that the impact is deep and persistent.

To describe the scale of the impact, taking into account:

1/ The breadth of the impact

  • Is the impact local, national, or global?

  • How many people are concerned? Thousands? Millions? Billions?

2/ The depth of the impact

  • Is the life of people concerned deeply affected, or does the issue just marginally impact them?

  • Are the changes brought by the issue profoundly changing society or the planet?

3/ The persistence of the impact

  • How long would the impact described last for? Months? Years? Decades?

  • How reversible is the impact described in the impact analysis? Can it be easily stopped/extended?

In your analysis, make sure you add value to your readers and go beyond the company’s CSR report by not merely reporting data from the company’s report but going the extra mile of providing additional metrics, studies, and sources to make your analysis robust and the impact value and scale are clear.


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Step 4: Build a good structure

How should you structure your impact analysis.

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