Human Rights Guidance Tool for the Financial Sector
Key Issues and Questions

Geographical Contexts

When considering the human rights risks associated with a particular region, exploring the following questions will assist in highlighting potential areas of concern:

What is the nature of the government?

If it is not democratically elected, or if there is a history of unstable government in the country, this is a potential concern.

Is there conflict or war within the country?

Conflict may include civil war, cross border fighting or incursions, terrorist or guerrilla fighting.

Is local infrastructure adequate?

Some countries have poor infrastructure, due to poverty or war. This may prevent local people from accessing basic and essential services, and make it more difficult for a company to avoid infringing their human rights.

What is the level of national debt?

Countries may have substantial levels of debt and debt repayment which prevents them from developing basic and essential services for their populations.

Is corruption endemic within the country?

A significant level of corruption within both public and business sectors can also be a negative indicator for human rights.

Are there any international sanctions?

Sanctions have been declared against some countries because of the human rights abuses committed by their governments. Companies should seek the advice of their own government, UN agencies or other international bodies

Is there a conflict between company policy and national law / local practices / customs?

For example, some countries may prevent women from joining the workforce, or treat indigenous or minority groups differently, or prevent the movement of people to join a workforce, or discriminate against particular groups or individuals.

Is there a history of human rights abuses by the government, army or police force, or legal or illegal groups operating in the country?

Some governments have a record of abusing the human rights of their populations. This may be identified by other governments or international NGOs. Legal or illegal groups may also be abusing human rights.

EIRIS analyses the human rights policies, management systems and reporting of companies with operations in high risk countries for human rights. EIRIS uses a proprietary list of countries of concern for human rights which divides countries into two categories of risk: high risk (category A) and medium risk (category B).

High Risk Countries (Category A List)
Afghanistan, Algeria, Azerbaijan (with Nagorno-Karabakh), Bahrain, Belarus, Burma/Myanmar, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, China, Colombia, Congo D.R., Cuba, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Haiti, Iran, Iraq, Kazakhstan, Laos, Libya, Nigeria, North Korea, Pakistan (with Kashmir), Russia, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, South Sudan, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Swaziland, Syria, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uganda, Uzbekistan, Vietnam, Yemen, Zimbabwe.

Medium Risk Countries (Category B List)
Angola, Armenia (with Nagorno-Karabakh), Bangladesh, Brunei, Cambodia, Congo (Brazzaville), Cote d'Ivoire, Djibouti, Fiji, Gabon, Gambia, Guatemala, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Honduras, India (with Kashmir), Israel (with Occupied Territories), Jordan, Kenya, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, Madagascar, Maldives, Mali, Mauritania, Morocco, Nepal, Nicaragua, Oman, Philippines, Qatar, Rwanda, Thailand, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, Venezuela.


December 2014     United Nations Environment Programme Finance Initiative