Human Rights

Sarah Simon

15 min Read Time | June 1st 2022

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.



SDG choice

✅ SDG: 16

✅ Impact Category: Processes

Exception: Products

  • Aerospace & Defense

✅ ILG: Basic Needs

Data Points & Units

Points to consider:

  • What human rights are being violated?

  • How the company’s activities have negatively impacted people?

  • What is the scale of the impact? For example the number of people harmed, families displaced, etc.

  • Since when is it happening and is it likely to continue over time?

  • How profound is the impact?


  • Only direct impacts are accepted.

  • The impact needs to be relevant and still significant today.

  • Do not take sides in conflicts (stick to the facts and use neutral language).

  • Quantitative data is needed.

Some definitions:

  • Disclosed: When the data is directly disclosed by the company, i.e., we did not do any calculations/estimations to obtain the figure.

  • Estimated: When we have calculated the figure.

  • Complete: When the data represents 100% of the company’s operations.

  • Partial: When the data is given for only a portion of its operations (not 100%).

Impact assessment

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

This topic deals explicitly 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 results 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 central 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 rights violations are taking place.

For instance:

"Around 3,000 indigenous territories lie in the Amazon Biome, representing 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 the negative impact driver, the driver being oil drilling operations on indigenous people's territories.

Core Analysis:

The core shall prove the issue mentioned earlier at stake, tangibly proving how the company impacted people's intrinsic rights and assets.

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 profound the impact is.

Demonstrate that the company has had a direct impact on communities through its business activities or in the area where its operations are located. There is sufficient data to capture the impact and on whom and that the impact is profound and persistent.

Discuss the human rights violations with their broader impacts on communities: 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.

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 globally, 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 had 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 violate numerous human rights. This includes the rights to life and access to essential 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 several human rights for people depending on those resources.

Resource extraction is 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 well-being 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 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 manufacturing 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 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 helping companies make informed choices about responsibly sourcing such minerals in their supply chains.

If the company is producing the mineral: What is its market share in the industry? How much do they make 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 about 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 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 by keeping the most salient points.


Common mistakes:

  1. Not bringing quantitative data

  2. Outdated

  3. Mixing/overlapping with other topics

  4. The impact is no longer relevant today

  5. Discussion of indirect impacts


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 profound and persistent.

To describe the scale of the impact, take 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.


1. Check if the assigned analysis has more recent data (we require the latest data available)

NO: do not refresh the analysis and please report it

YES: Move to step 2

2. Update the analysis following our Important Metrics & Standards.  Make sure to include the relevant impact data.

3. Check the introduction: Is it up to standard? Are sources working? Is data current and relevant?

YES: do not refresh the introduction

NO: move to step 4

4. Fix the introduction following our Standards

5. Fix the Headline

6. Fix the conclusion

7. Add/Update the data points as per the available data


Based on the article you've just read, here are some more we think you'd be interested in.

26 Min read

Adverse Health Impacts on Communities

12 Min read

Adverse Health Impacts from Products and/or Services

9 Min read

Access to Education & Training

9 Min read

Investments’ Social Impacts

9 Min read


How to treat the topic of investments and its environmental and social impact.

10 Min read

Step 4: Build a good structure

How should you structure your impact analysis.

World Green Background Sustainability small

Let’s take action together

With the right investment companies having a positive impact on the planet are able to flourish. Our community forms part of that mission by measuring their impact.

Join Us