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17 Nov 2017

Ryan Brightwell, BankTrack, Business and Human Rights Journal

Commentary: Banking sector needs to address gaps in access to remedy for human rights abuses

"Steps forward and steps back on the road to access to remedy in the banking sector", 16 Nov 2017

...[B]anks struggle with access to remedy...[and BankTrack has]...been unable to find any examples of global banks operating grievance mechanisms, participating in them systematically, or credibly explaining how they facilitate or enable access to remedy for those impacted by their finance. FMO, the Dutch development bank, remains the only example of a bank which is partly privately owned and has an independent grievance mechanism.

The main bank initiative on implementing the [UN] Guiding Principles [on Business & Human Rights], the Thun Group...has avoided the topic of access to remedy studiously... [B]anks can contribute to human rights abuses through their finance...[and] in practice...[I]t’s important that the debate on how banks can play a role in ensuring access to remedy takes place, with the full and committed participation of banks.

...[T]he Dutch banking sector agreement on human rights...looks set to play a much more promising role in this respect than the Thun Group has so far managed...This...multi-stakeholder agreement, signed by all Dutch banks as well as civil society organisations and Government ministries, includes a commitment for all banks to create a complaint procedure that is publicly accessible for employees, clients and third parties, as well as the creation of a “voluntary advisory expert mechanism” to handle notifications of an alleged breach of the OECD Guidelines, including on human rights...[refers to BNP Paribas and FMO].