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Statement by Banktrack on OHCHR advice on application of UN Guiding Principles in banking sector

Author: Banktrack, Published on: 15 June 2017

BankTrack’s request to the OHCHR followed a “Discussion Paper” released by the Thun Group in January this year, which was strongly criticised for unilaterally declaring that banks would not generally be considered, under the UN Guiding Principles, to be causing or contributing to adverse human rights impacts arising from their clients' operations. This apparent attempt to play down banks’ human rights responsibilities contradicted previous advice from as early as 2013, from the OHCHR and others, and led Professor Ruggie, the author of the UN Guiding Principles, to publicly state that he was “deeply troubled” by the paper. The new interpretive advice from the OHCHR: reaffirms that banks can contribute to adverse human rights impacts through their finance...elaborates on the factors influencing the nature of a bank’s involvement with an adverse human rights impact, including whether the bank was incentivising or facilitating harm, and the quality of its human rights systems and due diligence processes...discusses the responsibility of banks to remediate human rights impacts when they identify they have contributed to them, and their separate responsibility to establish or participate in a grievance mechanism so that people whose rights have been affected by the bank can seek remedy...

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