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Research Areas

The project "Implementing the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights in Development Cooperation" builds on the results of the previous research project "Human Rights, Corporate Responsibility and Sustainable Development". The following subject areas are particularly relevant and will be crucial for the work of the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development in the future:

Human Rights Impact Assessments (HRIA)

In the previous project, a comparative analysis of existing HRIA instruments was conducted and an active dialogue between large German corporations and civil society actors has been initiated and consolidated. The current project will expand both the theoretical groundwork and the established dialogue and utilize them for the empirical-practical analysis required to identify Best Practices and HRIA models. In this context, the research team has already conducted an HRIA for a planned copper-gold mine in the Philippines (Tampakan Gold-Copper Project). Furthermore, the project will analyze the practicality and effectiveness of HRIA instruments for different actors in various business sectors. Here, the focus rests on private corporations, especially investment activities of large corporations, as well as on national development agencies. On this basis, relevant actors can build expertise on HRIA by themselves. In the medium-term, they should be empowered to conduct HRIA autonomously, or to advice and support corporations competently.


Development Agencies

Following the publication of the federal government's new strategy on human rights in May 2011, development agencies in Germany (GIZ, KfW, and DEG) also face the task of complying with their human rights responsibility. This includes inter alia, that development agencies conduct human rights impact assessments for their activities and programs. This research project creates a scientific foundation for actors in development cooperation, which serves as a basis on which they can thoroughly investigate the human rights compatibility of their development programs and projects. Thus, German development cooperation can effectively advance the goal of a consequent implementation of the UN Guiding Principles, and serve as an example of good practice on the international level, as well as for the German economy. In addition, development agencies are enabled to support and advice corporations in their efforts to fulfill their human rights due diligence.

Small and medium-sized enterprises (SME)

SME increasingly act in countries of the Global South and are hereby also supported through the governments Foreign Trade and Investment Promotion scheme. Due to the state obligation to protect human rights and increasing human rights risks, which SME face in developing countries, the implementation of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights through SME gains in importance. However, existing instruments and guidelines are in large parts not tailored to the specific requirements of SME. This research project aims to fill the existing gaps and thereby support SME in their implementation of their human rights responsibility. To achieve this, SME's specific requirements will be identified and considered within the framework of the project. The goal is to detect existing weaknesses and to develop guidance for SME in the form of a human rights assessment catalogue and recommendations, to enable SME to comply with human rights standards.