At root, legitimate assessments of human rights impacts share core characteristics. The Danish Institute for Business and Human Rights lists them as Ten Key Criteria. We think they can be summarized in 5, ensuring that an assessment:


Meaningfully engages affected rightsholders, which necessitates a meaningful process of identifying rightsholders and meeting them when and where it is safe and convenient for them to speak; as well as a process for eliciting their feedback, both on the findings of the assessment and on the outcomes of interventions.


Does not cause or contribute to human rights violations in its process or outcomes, which necessitates a context-sensitive approach to engagement, particularly with vulnerable people.


Clearly prioritizes interventions based on the severity of the potential adverse impact (rather than, for example, based on the easiest impacts to address), which necessitates scoring and rating impacts themselves.


Is driven by evidence, even as the perceptions of rightsholders are critical inputs, requiring assessors not only to listen to rightsholders and stakeholders but to triangulate their allegations and beliefs with data pertinent to labor conditions, environmental hazards, social disruptions, political shifts, corruption risks and other contextual and operational realities.


Is scoped to cover the appropriate breadth of rightsholders, to include people impacted by business partners, suppliers, purchasers, contractors and other business relationships. For ITC companies, it may include both users of technology and those deprived of access. For financial institutions, it may include rightsholders affected by other operations of a financed company, even when financing is not allocated directly to the problematic project.