Definitions of the most common terms in the context of the HR Tool

    Any, Multiple, Frequent, and Pervasive

    These terms are used, not interchangeably, to calibrate frequency or persistence of incidents. They each have a slightly different meaning:

    • any: at least one incident
    • multiple: two or more incidents
    • frequent: more than two incidents, and somewhat geographically dependent — three incidents in a small community might be deemed “frequent” rather than merely “multiple”
    • pervasive: high frequency over both time and geographic scope

    NOTE: Using “frequent” and “pervasive” with strictest rigor will help teams prioritize.

    See also: widespread and systematic


    The infliction of impact or reduction of a group or person’s ability to enjoy a human right by direct action or failure to act.

    Example: XYZ Company caused adverse impacts in the Community by refusing to address its emissions standards.


    A broader term than IPLC, used to describe multiple groups of rightsholders.

    NOTE: When the reference is to Project Site, Area, or Region Communities, this is a specific subset defined in the Community Identification.


    The infliction of impact or reduction of a group or person’s ability to enjoy a human right by indirect action that facilitates the impact through the direct actions of a third party.

    Example: XYZ Company contributed to adverse impacts in the Community by unknowingly providing benefit to a militia group.

    Directly linked

    The infliction of impact or reduction of a group or person’s ability to enjoy a human right by a relationship with a third party that is contributing to or causing an adverse impact.

    Example: By funding its projects, ABC Company is directly linked to XYZ company, which has both caused and contributed to adverse Community impacts in the past.


    The enforced or involuntary arrest, detention or deprivation of liberty of a person by agents of an organized authority, followed by concealment of their fate or whereabouts.

    See also: International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance — Preamble of the Declaration, and Article 2


    The causes, institutions, social norms, assumptions, environmental factors and other actors that sustain a state of conflict.

    Forced Labor

    Labor coerced by threats of violence, seizure of documents or property, or worker debt/bondage.

    Gender Responsive

    Describes any approach, strategy, or framework where planning, programming, budgeting that contribute to the advancement of gender equality and the fulfillment of women’s rights are given priority (UN Women). This advancement will involve changing gender norms, roles and access to resources as a key component of project outcomes.

    Note: This description was adapted from Eckman, A. 2002 by INSTRAW)

    Gender Transformative

    Describes any approach, strategy, or framework that includes critical awareness of gender roles and norms among men and women, challenges the distribution of resources and allocation of duties between men and women, and promotes the position of women while addressing power relationships between women and others in the community (Interagency Gender Working Group, USAID). This approach focuses on deconstructing hierarchical gender norms, constructing new concepts of masculinity and femininity and thereby transforming underlying power relations (CGIAR, 2012).

    Human rights due diligence

    This definition was modified from the description on the United Nations website.

    Performing human rights due diligence helps proactively manage adverse human rights impacts. There are four core components:

    1. Identifying potential adverse human rights impacts that an enterprise causes, contributes to, or is directly linked to
    2. Integrating findings across company processes and taking action to address those impacts
    3. Tracking and measuring these processes to understand if they are working
    4. Communicating how impacts are being addressed to stakeholders, particularly those affected.

    Enterprises should identify and assess risks within and across:

    • Geographic context
    • Industry sector
    • Business relationships
    • Their internal activities (HQ and any subsidiaries)
    • Their value chain

    The purpose of human rights due diligence is to prevent adverse impacts on people. Risks to people, not risks to business, are the priority. Stakeholder engagement is important to this process; focus particularly on affected stakeholders, human rights defenders (who may be under increased risk of threat), trade unions, and grassroots organizers.

    These assessments should be ongoing.

    Land grab

    Forced transaction by legal or illegal means, including corruption, coercion, or superior legal resources, wherein powerful outsiders take control of land from Communities who don’t want to relinquish it.


    The ability of an enterprise to effect change in the wrongful practices of another party that is causing or contributing to an adverse human rights impact.

    Minimum core standards

    Basic levels of socioeconomic rights, including rights to food, water, housing, medical care, education, and other standards of living.

    See also: Minimum Core Risk Analysis

    Organized authority

    Militias, gangs, private/corporate entities, or any other actor or group acting as a de facto state authority with acquiescence of the state government.

    Politically Motivated Killings / Persecution

    The targeting of individuals based on their affiliation, membership, or identity, including race, ethnicity, sex, gender, sexuality, religion, nationality, migrancy, or social status.

    Progressive Realization

    States have obligations around economic, social and cultural rights under international human rights treaties. The core obligation is to work toward the full realization of economic, social, and cultural rights for all people (see fact sheet below).

    These rights can be hampered by a lack of available resources, and they can only be achieved over a period of time. Therefore, a State’s compliance with this obligation is considered alongside the resources, financial and otherwise, available to it. Hence, many national constitutions allow for the progressive realization of these rights.

    See also: FAQ on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights fact sheet, p. 13-14

    Project Risk

    The possibility that a project’s activities could cause, contribute to, or become directly linked with adverse human rights impacts, as defined first by teams and revisited/validated by Communities during later due diligence.

    See also: Project Risk Determination Framework

    Project Site, Area, Region, Category

    Projects are considered on the basis of their geographic scope, as further outlined in the Project and Community Background of this guide.

    • Project Site refers to any specific site that has already been identified for inclusion in the project scope and where project implementation activities will occur.
    • Project Area refers to the Project Site plus nearby geographies. Within the scope of this area, groups know or know of each other, and communicate about issues. Given the right circumstances (e.g., funding, community interest), there could be potential for expansion of the project across this area without significantly changing project objectives or approach.
    • Project Region or Ecoregion automatically includes both Project Area and Site, plus other regional communities that face similar issues, or political or environmental dynamics.


    The right of Indigenous Peoples, enshrined in UNDRIP, to maintain and strengthen their distinct political, legal, economic, social and cultural institutions, while retaining their right to participate fully in the political, economic, social and cultural life of the state. Unlawful impacts to self-determination might include any or all of the following:

    • Lack of consultation/consent
    • Disproportionate impact
    • Unlawful discrimination
    • Purposeful harm toward Indigenous institutions and practices
    • Interlinkage with other human rights violations


    Significant, important, or prominent, as applied to an issue that Communities and their partnering organizations care about and are consciously aware of.

    Note: This term excludes issues that only one or a few people are concerned about that do not represent the larger context.

    Unlawful Discrimination

    Inequitable discrimination that is not in compliance with national law and that is motivated by race, color, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth, ability, gender, or other status.

    See also: International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, arts. 2, 26. e.g., Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, ON and DP v Russian Federation, para. 7.2 (3 Apr. 2020). the Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (42) (4) the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (29) (5) the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities(43) (6) the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers (44)

    Vulnerable Identities

    Groups who are or have been subject to legacies of oppression and whose rights must be protected with additional measures, including but not limited to women, youth, older persons, persons with disabilities, racial and ethnic minorities, LGBTQI2S+ persons, refugees, migrants, human rights defenders, people suffering poverty, and people living with HIV/AIDS or other chronic health conditions.

    Widespread and systematic

    Beyond pervasive, this term refers to calculated and dangerous patterns of abuse. Consider the following factors:

    • Frequency: massive, collective, repeating often, or directed against large numbers of civilian victims
    • Organized: implemented in a strategic or planned fashion
    • Geographically widespread: orchestrated across multiple geographic regions
    • Temporally widespread: persistent over long periods of time
    • Targeted: victims are chosen by their membership in a particular population.

    Worst forms of child labor

    Prohibited exploitative practices against children, including:

    • all forms of slavery or practices similar to slavery, trafficking, debt bondage, or forced labor
    • any use of children in armed conflict, child prostitution, or pornography
    • any use children for illicit activities, in particular for the production and trafficking of drugs
    • any work which is likely to harm the health, safety or morals of children

    See also: ILO Convention No 182, the Worst Forms of Child Labour Convention(48)