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Banktrack & Public Eye request advice from OHCHR on application of UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights in context of banking sector

Author: Ryan Brightwell, BankTrack (The Netherlands) & Andreas Missbach, Public Eye (Switzerland), Published on: 6 March 2017

We are writing to request advice regarding the application of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights in the context of the banking sector, in light of previous guidance produced by the OHCHR on related issues. [W]e seek your advice and clarification on the following issues: 1. OHCHR previously provided advice in a letter of November 2013 to the OECD Working Party on Responsible Business Conduct on when a financial institution may be considered to be “directly linked” to a human rights impact through a business relationship.4 Can the OHCHR elaborate on which factors would influence whether a bank is (a) causing or contributing to an impact or (b) having a direct link to an adverse impact via a business relationship? 2. Where a bank has contributed to an adverse impact through its finance, what are the differentiated responsibilities of the bank and the company or vehicle leading the project to provide for or cooperate in remediation under Principle 22? 3. How should the responsibilities of banks to “establish or participate in effective operational-level grievance mechanisms for individuals and communities who may be adversely impacted by their operations” under Guiding Principle 29 be interpreted with regard to adverse impacts that a bank may cause or contribute, or those to which the bank may have a direct link through its finance?

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