Frequently Asked Questions
Common queries related to Country Guide methodology, content and rollout
How are countries identified for inclusion in the Country Guide?
As the Country Guide is in the early stages, the countries currently included have been chosen primarily on the basis of the strength and capacity of our local partner.
The Country Guide looks for partners that share our vision of a world free from private sector human rights abuses. We aim to find civil society or National Human Rights Institution partners that have expertise in studying and addressing the human rights impacts of businesses, and a track record of constructive engagement with a wide range of actors in the local business environment.
This partner-centred approach means that we prioritise countries where our partners can have the greatest positive impact on the human rights practices of companies. This is why some of the countries requested by our business users are not included in the Country Guide. We not only seek broad coverage, but deep engagement, and that means ensuring that our partners are free to operate and safe from interference.
As the Country Guide expands to cover 40 countries by 2016, we will include additional criteria in the choice of which countries to address. This includes:
- Additionality to local context
- Business interest
- Local demand for multi-stakeholder platforms
- Regional representation
- Engagement by other actors, such as the UN Working Group on Business & Human Rights
How do you decide what country information to include?
The Human Rights and Business Country aim to provide a comprehensive overview of the human rights issues that are most relevant to companies i a given country. We do not claim to cover all types of issues for all types companies, but aim to cover those human rights issues that matter to the vast majority of companies.
The Country Guide research methodology is based on a database of key business and human rights indicators, organised into the issues framework you see in each Country Guide. Occupational Health & Safety, for example, includes indicators such as the per capita accident rate, sectors with the highest accident rates, the incidence of occupational diseases and so on. Where statistics or assessments differ, we aim to include the highest and lowest estimates.
Countries differ greatly in the amount of information that is available, and the methodology by which this information is collected. We aim to provide a systematic overview of each issue and each country, while identifying where information is not available or where sources differ.
For more on the contents of each issue, see Issues
How do you decide which cases to include under each issue?
Cases are primarily identified through the Business and Human Rights Resource Centre, a database of news and information for companies seeking to improve their human rights practices. We also gather cases from local and international news media, international organisations and civil society reports.
The cases section under each issue is not comprehensive, and may not include all cases of human rights impacts by companies publicly reported. Some cases are cut out to avoid repetition, for example, and our selection is limited to only those that have been reported in the last three years. We include the cases for purposes of illustration and the inclusion of a specific case does not imply the we approve the content or any allegations in it.
To suggest a case for inclusion in the Country Guide, please fill out our Feedback form.
For more on the contents of each issue, see Issues
Are other actors able to influence the information you include or exclude?
Each Country Guide is prepared according to a defined methodology and with the collaboration of our partner in the country. Though companies and governments can submit information and comments, they cannot request that information be removed.
Does the Country Guide certify or endorse human rights initiatives by companies, government or others?
No. The Country Guide does not endorse or certify company or government initiatives. Information in the Country Guide regarding human rights and business initiatives of specific companies or governments is provided to inform and inspire other stakeholders.
If you would like to suggest a company initiative that is not included in the Country Guide, please fill out our Feedback form.
Will Country Guides be translated?
Yes. As the Human Rights and Business Country Guide expands it is a priority to include Country Guide in local languages.
How often are Country Guides updated?
We aim to comprehensively update each Country Guide every two years.
Between updates, however, countries will be updated to correct errors of fact and to incorporate new information from local stakeholders when it is brought to our attention. The Business and Human Rights Resource Centre will also provide ongoing news updates on each Country Guide page.
How is the Human Rights and Business Country Guide related to the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights?
The UN Guiding Principles on Business & Human Rights state that companies have the responsibility to respect human rights, no matter where they operate. This means companies must identify their human rights impacts and take proactive steps to address them, and must engage with all groups affected by their operations. The Human Rights and Business Country Guide is a tool to help companies undertake this process.
As defined in the UN Guiding Principles, the corporate responsibility to respect human rights consists of three components. First, companies must commit to respecting human rights through their policies. Second, companies must identify, prevent, mitigate and account for how they address their impacts on human rights. Third, companies must establish processes to enable the remediation of any adverse human rights impacts they cause or to which they contribute. The Country Guide aims to assist companies in fulfilling all of these components.
The UN Guiding Principles state that companies should conduct impact assessments and stakeholder consultations that incorporate issues specific to the local context, including the identification of rights holders at particular risk of adverse impacts. The UN Guiding Principles further state that the identification of human rights impacts should be ongoing, and should include ongoing communication and engagement with employees and communities most likely to be impacted by company operations.
The Country Guide Process provides a platform for ongoing engagement between businesses, governments and civil society organisations, and aims to ensure that, when companies carry out these community engagements, they have the necessary background information to include that all rights holders are included.
While the Country Guide is not a substitute for a human rights impact assessment or the process of human rights due diligence itself, it is intended as a resource for ensuring that such processes fulfil their objective of identifying stakeholders, issues and solutions to ensure that companies meet their responsibility to respect human rights.
How does the Human Rights and Business Country Guide enable business support for development?
Each human rights and business issue covered by the Country Guide includes a section on ‘Engagement Opportunities’. This section identifies government initiatives and priorities to promote and fulfil human rights. We hope that companies will make an effort to engage with government agencies to enhance these efforts but we recognise that this may go beyond the minimum responsibility of companies to respect human rights.
This section also identifies the development priorities of international institutions like the World Bank and the UN. Again, we hope that companies will use this information to design and implement strategic initiatives addressing human rights challenges beyond their core responsibility to respect human rights, and where relevant to engage with these organisations in the local context.
Is the Country Guide only focused on developing countries?
No. Companies in every country, on every continent, have human rights impacts that must be addressed. The pilot and launch of the Country Guide primarily contains developing countries, but that primarily reflects the existing partner network. As the Country Guide expands, the aim is to include countries of all sizes, regions and income levels.
Will the Human Rights and Business Country Guide deter investment?
Human rights cannot be fulfilled without business and investment. The Human Rights and Business Guide helps companies and investors understand how to do business in a particular country in a way that respects and supports human rights. The overriding aim is to promote sustainable business and investment and not to deter it.
How is the Country Guide funded?
The Country Guide is funded by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA). The current grant covers the expansion of the Country Guide to 40 countries by 2016. The Country Guide has also received funding from the U.S Department of State, the Danish International Development Agency, the Norwegian Embassy in Serbia, as well as Rio Tinto and Barrick Gold.
For more information about the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency, see SIDA’s website.
I would like to submit a correction, information on local conditions or an ongoing initiative to promote business respect for human rights. Can I submit this information?
Yes, please let us know on our Feedback page.
Note, though, that given the volume of feedback, we cannot implement all suggested updates or new information immediately. We aim to update each country periodically as new information is released, but changes may not appear on the website for up to several weeks or months.
I am an institution with research or other data that would be relevant to the Country Guide. Would you like to hear from me?
We are always looking for content partners. If you have qualitative or quantitative information that would be relevant to the Country Guide, please let us know on our Feedback page.