Operational Guidance on:
Remediation and Access to Remedy
Purpose & Summary
This Operational Guidance elaborates on the Accountability Framework’s Core Principle 9 to describe how companies can ensure proper remediation and access to remedy related to their supply chain commitments. This document focuses on remedy related to human rights issues and on overall processes for remediation. The companion Operational Guidance on Environmental Restoration and Compensation details appropriate remedy for deforestation, ecosystem conversion, and associated conservation values.
This document addresses the following topics:
- Meaning and overview of remediation and access to remedy
- Company responsibilities to provide access to an effective remedy
- Company responsibilities to provide for, cooperate in, and/or support fair and just remediation
- Elements of effective company grievance mechanisms (as Annex 1)
- Sample Terms of Reference for a company grievance mechanism (as Annex 2)
This document relates closely to the Operational Guidance on Supply Chain Management, which outlines how companies should identify and manage instances of non-compliance, some of which may require remediation. It also links closely to the Operational Guidance on Respecting the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities, which addresses remediation and access to remedy in the context of adverse impacts to the human rights of indigenous peoples and local communities. Also relevant is the Operational Guidance on Monitoring and Verification, which clarifies relationships between monitoring and grievance mechanisms and specifies how remediation processes contained in improvement plans can be effectively monitored.
Topics in this Guidance
International human rights law affirms the right to an effective remedy when adverse impacts to human rights occur. Right to an effective remedy for social harms is also recognized in national laws and included in a myriad of voluntary commitments, certification programmes, and similar ethical supply chain initiatives and guidelines. “Adverse impacts to human rights” refers to instances where act(s) or omission(s) of another party remove or limit the ability of individual(s) or group(s) to enjoy their human rights.
The right to an effective remedy is characterized by both a process to which aggrieved person(s) should have access and an outcome produced by that process.
- Process: An effective remedial mechanism can be accessed by individuals and groups to present their grievances and complaints and secure a resolution (see Section 2). Such mechanisms should be responsive and tailored to the circumstances and to the legitimate expectations of the rights holders. Remedial mechanisms come in many forms. Examples of state and non-state remedial mechanisms can be found in Box 1 below.
- Outcome: The product of an effective remedial mechanism is a fair and just remedy that appropriately addresses the harms done. Fair and just remediation can come in many forms, including apologies, restitution, rehabilitation, restoration, financial or non-financial compensation, punitive sanctions, injunctions, and guarantees of non-repetition. See Sections 3 and 4 below for further discussion of what constitutes a fair and just remedy.
The terms “remedy” and “remediation” are generally synonymous and both are used throughout this document without distinction in meaning (see Definitions).
Box 1: Types of grievance mechanisms 
State grievance mechanisms can be judicial and non-judicial, including:
- Administrative procedures before an executive agency or ministry
- Criminal and civil litigation before the nation’s courts
- Dispute resolution before a national human rights ombudsman
Non-state grievance mechanisms come in many forms, including:
- Company grievance mechanisms
- Mediation forums or arbitration
- Grievance mechanisms of certification systems (sometimes in the forum of complaint panels)
- Internal dispute resolution mechanisms of indigenous peoples and local communities (IP/LC) governed by customary laws
- Grievance mechanisms provided as part of jurisdictional approaches