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UK: CORE & Amnesty Int'l UK highlight shortcomings re export promotion & human rights in submission to UN Working Group
Author: CORE Coalition & Amnesty International UK, Published on: 20 March 2018
"CORE Coalition and Amnesty International UK joint submission to the UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights: ensuring respect for human rights in the context of "economic diplomacy" and investment/trade promotion," 14 March 2018
UK Export Finance’s (UKEF) policy is only to "take account" of non-financial risks, including environmental, social and human rights risks. This is considerably weaker than imposing a requirement on businesses... The UNGPs are therefore not considered by UKEF as a benchmark for assessing companies’ eligibility to receive government support unless this is mandated by the OECD Common Approaches or by the Equator Principles... Export promotion is undertaken in the UK with little regard for human rights. Each year the UK government produces a Human Rights and Democracy report which cites a number of countries which pose specific human rights concerns... [yet] the UK... identifies a number of priority markets for the promotion of defence and security sales. In 2016, the government identified three countries cited in the Human rights and Democracy report – Bahrain, Colombia and Saudi Arabia as priority markets for business engagement within the defence and security sector.
... There is no evidence of any direct consequences for any companies that have been subject to complaints, not even in the few cases where such companies have been found to be in breach of the OECD Guidelines. If the NCP investigates a complaint and finds that a company has breached the OECD Guidelines, it will issue a Final Statement, which may include a recommendation that the business should take certain actions to comply with the Guidelines in the future. The NCP has no powers to enforce its findings, to ensure compliance or to require a company to provide remediation to those adversely affected by the activities that are the subject of the complaint.