Communities first: new training manual to empower people affected by investment projects

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Although some important steps have been made in the last decade towards corporate accountability and respect for communities’ human rights, environmental and land rights defenders are still being killed every week, attacks are documented on every continent and there is a growing trend to criminalize those protesting to protect their rights in the face of large-scale investments.

Oxfam and FIDH have developed a training manual directed at community-based organizations, NGOs, and support organizations to improve awareness and use of Getting it Right, a powerful tool that aims at empowering communities at the forefront of investment projects. The publication of the training manual is a call for NGOs to take on the tool as well as a call for States and companies to give a voice to those most affected by investment projects, starting by ensuring their direct participation in assessment processes.

Download the training manual here

Why is community participation so important?

In the last decade, there have been increasing and ongoing talks on due diligence as part of the business and human rights agenda. However, while progress is happening, there remains an enormous imbalance of power between companies and people affected by their investment projects. Communities often lack the opportunity and capacity to meaningfully participate in decision-making processes that will affect their lives.

Oxfam and FIDH are proponents of community-led approaches, so that those who are most directly affected — local communities — can intervene to identify human rights impacts, propose responses, and engage government and corporate actors to take action to respect human rights. If communities come with their own evidence-based analysis, it contributes to empower rights-holders and re-balance power relationships between duty-bearers and rights holders and can generate a dialogue amongst stakeholders to effectively prevent human rights abuses.
Oxfam and FIDH hope that this new training manual will increase communities’ access to this powerful tool and will contribute to re-balancing power relationships between duty-bearers and rights holders.

The Getting it Right tool

Getting it Right is a community-driven HRIA tool developed by the former Canadian organization Rights & Democracy. Getting it Right uses a dynamic participatory approach, and is the only HRIA tool specifically designed to be used by community-based organizations and organizations that support them. Such approach is central to recall the importance of the right to participation and thereby to guarantee meaningful consultation.

Oxfam and FIDH have been actively promoting community-based HRIAs with experience implementing Getting it Right in over 10 countries such as Bolivia, Brazil, Ecuador and the USA. These cases have resulted in empowering communities and their accompanying organizations and have contributed to ensure that affected peoples’ voices were heard.

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