BankTrack Human Rights Benchmark 2019 shows 4 out of 5 banks are failing on human rights
Published on 26 November 2019, the third iteration of BankTrack's Human Rights Benchmark assesses 50 of the largest global banks on their progress towards implementing the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs). It finds that nearly a decade after the UNGPs were adopted, banks are failing on human rights - while more banks have human rights policies in place, not one was able to show that it is addressing specific abuses.
Dutch bank ABN AMRO tops the table, the only bank to be classed as a ‘leader’ for its human rights commitments and reporting.
As part of the benchmarking process, BankTrack contacted each bank for comments on their draft scores. The full report includes links to 50 individual web pages showing each banks' results in full - including banks' comments (Appendix I). The report, as well as a four page summary are available below.
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Banks are failing on human rights nearly a decade after new UN principles were established to guide their behavior, according to the third BankTrack Human Rights Benchmark, published today...
“There is increasing ‘lip-service’ paid to human rights compliance by the biggest global banks, but in the vast majority of cases it goes no further than this,” said report author Ryan Brightwell. “Banks are still implicated in – or even directly facilitating – human rights abuses, including violations of Indigenous peoples’ rights, land grabs and even war crimes.”
Dutch bank ABN AMRO tops the league table, the only bank to be classed as a ‘leader’ for the breadth of its human rights commitments and reporting. The highest-performing UK and US banks are Barclays and Citi respectively, which both make it to the ‘front runners’ group. However, even these banks have much room for improvement before they can be said to be adequately implementing their human rights responsibilities...
“Regulators will need to intervene if banks continue to fail,” said BankTrack director Johan Frijns...
Author: Financial News
BankTrack [...] has ranked 50 of the world’s largest according to the action they can prove they are taking on UN human rights principles.
It cited the Brumadinho disaster in January, which killed at least 248 people and led to calls for banks to suspend financing to Vale [...], and the Dakota Access Pipeline controversy, where pressure groups defending Native Americans’ rights organised a campaign to boycott those involved in its financing, as examples of how complicity in human rights infringements can hurt banks’ business.
BankTrack scored the 50 banks on four criteria: whether they publicly commit to supporting human rights; whether they can show evidence that they assess human rights risks in companies they lend to; how comprehensive their reporting is; and whether they provide any means for people hurt by their activities to seek redress.
Overall, the group said, four out of five banks are “failing on human rights”. Its report found that while “the basics are increasingly in place” — 35 of the 50 banks had at least published a pledge to respect human rights in general — there was “little progress on reporting” and “none of the banks analysed have, or even claim to have, established an effective grievance mechanism for those affected by the impacts of their finance”...