As a catalyst for better relationships among companies, communities, and governments ACCESS advocates for improved practice based on the best available evidence and insight. In facilitating conversations with and among businesses and their stakeholders, ACCESS helps these stakeholders to identify the most critical issues related to preventing and resolving company-community conflicts, assisting them in finding their own answers and solutions that work in practice.
The question of whether non-judicial mechanisms can deliver rights-compatible outcomes for communities, particularly in weak rule of law states, has emerged as a critical one. An ACCESS expert meeting held in April 2014, which brought together a diverse audience of operators of grievance mechanisms, business representatives, members of the advocacy community, facilitators of grievance processes, and academics, discussed and examined:
- whether grievance mechanisms provide remedy for those harmed and deliver solutions;
- whether they have an impact on the ground and actually solve problems, and;
- the strength of the evidence on which we base our conclusions: how do we know?
Drawing on their own research and experience, the expert meeting participants concluded that there are limited criteria or guidance available for the evaluation of the effectiveness of non-judicial grievance mechanisms. Once an agreement is made in the context of a mechanism’s procedures, non-judicial mechanisms do not typically follow up with affected parties to determine whether the grievance has been fairly resolved. Mechanisms need to put in place follow up procedures that can help them monitor the implementation of the agreement reached by the parties.
Effective remedy in the context of consent-based mechanisms requires a robust system monitored and evaluated on an ongoing basis for its perceived fairness and trustworthiness, its attentiveness to the parties’ informed consent, its ability to deliver on agreements reached and promises made, alignment of the actual impact of remedies with the intentions behind them, the fit of the system within broader social, political and conflict dynamics around it, and its adaptation to strengths and gaps in extant judicial and non-judicial dispute resolution mechanisms and capabilities.
Guidance on the evaluation of consent-based mechanisms and outcomes may be one way to balance, on the one hand, the need for rigorous standards in which stakeholders can have confidence, and on the other hand, the need for stakeholders to arrive at sustainable consent-based systems and mechanisms which they agree are appropriate to and legitimate within their particular contexts. It potentially provides a platform to integrate individual, systems, and contextual interests and concerns across their process and substantive elements. Apart from evaluating its performance, the Guidance will inform operators of a consent-based mechanism on the elements and criteria of evaluation that they need to take into account when starting a conflict resolution process – anticipating on its future evaluation.
Guidance on monitoring and evaluation of grievance mechanisms could potentially be useful both to companies and communities as they negotiate the ways in which companies meet their responsibilities under the UN Guiding Principles, and to stakeholders such as home and host country governments, financial institutions and others concerned with respect of human rights by companies as well as broader issues of fairness and justice.
The project aims to develop Guidance on Monitoring and Evaluation of grievance mechanisms in a multi-stakeholder approach, including the testing and piloting with three or four companies.
ACCESS is currently seeking partners and financial support in order to implement this project.