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UN Independent Expert asks Thun Group of Banks to discuss the Guiding Principles on Foreign Debt and Human Rights & practice of lending to states with widespread human rights violations

“Mandate of the Independent Expert on the effects of foreign debt and other related international financial obligations of States on the full enjoyment of all human rights, particularly economic, social and cultural rights” - 19 October 2017

Dear Members of the Thun Group of Banks,

… With this… letter I would like to express my gratitude for the open exchange I had with colleagues from UBS and Crédit Suisse on the occasion of my recent official visit to Switzerland… In my meetings, I expressed concern that the Thun Group’s second discussion paper may be interpreted as unduly limiting the responsibilities of banks in the context of their client relationships…

… I would like to encourage the Thun Group of Banks to discuss… the relevance of the Guiding Principles on Foreign Debt and Human Rights… [and] regret that the Guiding Principles… have largely been absent in discussions about human rights due diligence of financial institutions, including its commercial banking sector…

… Furthermore, I would like to propose to the Thun Group to reflect on lending to States and State-linked corporations operating in contexts marked by widespread and systematic violations of human rights… Unless lending decisions are subjected to human rights impact assessments, appropriately targeted or mitigated by contractual measures, financial lending can have a persistent impact on criminal regimes, making it possible for them to consolidate autocratic rule, perpetuate political exclusion and human rights violations, and reduce the need for political concessions. 

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