This discussion document explores how outcomes achieved through fundamentally consensual grievance mechanisms in the context of company-community conflicts can be considered to achieve effective remedy as required by the Guiding Principles. The project is funded by the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and carried out in cooperation with Brian Ganson of the Africa Centre for Dispute Settlement.
A growing number of non-judicial mechanisms purport to address the grievances of individuals and communities whose human rights may be adversely impacted by a business enterprise. Whether and how such mechanisms can provide effective remedy is a topic of substantial concern. The discussion becomes particularly pointed in the many contexts in which there is no meaningful access to judicial remedy, and therefore effective remedy depends fundamentally on the consent of the company to both the process and the outcome of a non-judicial mechanism. This discussion document intends to help advance this debate in constructive ways. It first draws on a variety of formal and informal inputs to explore common themes and questions that frequently arise in discussions of remedy for negative human rights impacts through non-judicial mechanisms, seeking to illustrate the logical relationships among them and to lay the ground for identifying a way forward in a complex debate. It then briefly explores two challenges that consent-based mechanisms face that appear fundamental: their inter-dependence with adjudicative mechanisms, and the necessity that stakeholders have confidence in both their processes and their outcomes on a sustainable basis. Moving from descriptive to prescriptive mode, the discussion document recommends exploration of the possible value of guidance on the evaluation of consent-based remedy systems and outcomes. It suggests that more structured scrutiny of systems design, systems outcomes and systems governance may be one way to increase accountability for effective remedy within non-judicial mechanisms, while respecting the need for stakeholders to sustainably implement mechanisms which they agree are appropriate to and legitimate within their particular contexts.