BankTrack paper explores responsibilities of banks allegedly contributing to human rights violations through finance

In this briefing paper, BankTrack examines whether private sector banks may have contributed to adverse human rights impacts through their provision of finance. The paper explores eight cases of human rights abuses and the relationship and responsibilities of the banks providing financing to the projects. These cases include:

  • Dakota Access Pipeline, United States. See here for responses received from banks to a statement by Rainforest Action Network (RAN) questioning banks' financing of the Dakota Access Pipeline given the human rights concerns. Responses received from Wells Fargo, Mizuho, TD Bank & Citigroup to the RAN statement.
  •  Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion Project, Canada
      • We invited TD Bank and Royal Bank of Canada to respond; responses provided below
  • Agua Zarca hydroelectic project, Honduras. See here for more information about this case, including an earlier response from Desarrollos Energéticos (DESA) and the announcement that FMO and Finnfund finalized their exit from the project in July 2017.
  • Phnom Penh Sugar, Cambodia
      • We invited ANZ Bank to respond; response provided below
      • See here for an earlier story about this case.
  • Drummond and paramilitary violence, Colombia
      • We invited BNP Paribas, Citigroup, Drummond, HSBC, Mizuho Financial & Wells Fargo to respond; responses provided below
      • We invited Bank of America & BBVA to respond; they did not respond
      • See here for an earlier related story.
  • Finance for cluster munitions, International
      • We invited BPCE Group, Citigroup, Morgan Stanley & Wells Fargo to respond; responses provided below
      • We invited  Bank of America, Bank of China, Hanwha, Mitsubishi UFJ, Norinco, Orbital ATK, Poongsan & Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group to respond; they did not respond
      • We invited Goldman Sachs & JPMorgan Chase to respond; they declined to respond
      • China Aerospace Science and Industry could not be reached
  • Bank support for illegal settlements, Palestinian territories. See here for more information about Human Rights Watch's report calling on Israeli banks to cease activities in settlements, including a response from AXA. Israeli banks contacted by the Resource Centre for comment did not respond.
  • Secret loans scandel, Mozambique
      • We invited Credit Suisse to respond; response provided below
      • We invited VTB Bank to respond; it did not respond

We will update this story if we do receive any additional responses from companies. [also refers to Energy Transfer Partners, Kinder Morgan, Phnom Penh Sugar & Textron]

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Report
24 January 2018

BankTrack briefing paper: How banks contribute to human rights violations

Author: Ryan Brightwell, BankTrack, with the support of Johan Frijns, BankTrack & Andreas Missbach, Public Eye

8 Dec 2017

... The responsibility to respect human rights, as defined by the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (“the Guiding Principles”), requires that business enterprises: (a) avoid causing or contributing to adverse human rights impacts through their own activities, and address such impacts when they occur; and (b) seek to prevent or mitigate adverse human rights impacts that are directly linked to their operations, products or services by their business relationships, even if they have not contributed to those impacts... We consider that... banks can and unfortunately do contribute to human rights violations when providing financial products and services, and that while such occasions may not represent a high proportion of a bank’s transactions, in absolute number they are rather common, and their impact is significant.

... This paper... present[s] examples of actual cases in which banks are likely to have contributed to human rights abuses through their finance in our analysis... Recommendations for banks [include]... recognise the principle,... ensure there is remedy,... improve due diligence, and be prepared to walk away,... [and] engage constructively and seek guidance. 

Read the full post here

Company non-response
23 January 2018

Bank of America did not respond re Drummond & paramilitary violence in Colombia & financing cluster munitions

Company non-response
23 January 2018

Bank of China did not respond re financing for cluster munitions

Company has been contacted. We will update this page if Bank of China responds. 

Company non-response
23 January 2018

BBVA did not respond re Drummond & paramilitary violence in Colombia

Company non-response
23 January 2018

Goldman Sachs declined to respond re financing for cluster munitions

Company non-response
23 January 2018

Hanwha did not respond re cluster munitions case

Company non-response
23 January 2018

JPMorgan Chase declined to respond re financing for cluster munitions

Company non-response
23 January 2018

Mitsubishi UFJ did not respond re financing cluster munitions

Company non-response
23 January 2018

Norinco did not respond re cluster munitions case

Company non-response
23 January 2018

Orbital ATK did not respond re cluster munitions case