Annual Report 2018 | September 2019
Enabling Remediation Working Group
Amongst other things, the working group focused on the question of when a bank is deemed to be ‘linked to’, ‘contributing to’ or ‘causing’ adverse human rights impacts through their financing activities, and what they can do about it. As this has been a topic of debate at an international level, there was interest in the working group’s findings, which were published in its report of May 2019. This saw opportunities for banks to strengthen the focus on remedy in practice, whether in contribution or linkage situations. The working group hopes the report will have a positive influence on the international debate on the topic of remedy and banks.
In the coming months, the Steering Committee will advise the adhering banks on implementation of the report’s findings.
An often-neglected area
“When human rights abuses occur, those harmed are entitled to effective remedy. However, enabling remediation for victims of human rights impacts is often a neglected area. While companies, including banks, have a responsibility to provide remedy if they cause or contribute to a negative impact, and use their leverage to enable remediation if they are directly linked to it, the focus is often on preventing an issue from recurring in the future.
“Together with a group of external experts, the parties and adhering banks recognized that globally there are many impacts resulting from business activities for which remedy isn’t currently available in practice, and that banks may be connected to these impacts through their client relationships and those clients’ extended value chains.
“The UNGP expect businesses to put the perspective of potentially affected stakeholders at the centre of their due diligence, so a focus on remedy is crucial if banks are to fulfil their responsibility to respect human rights.
“The Enabling Remediation report emphasizes that remedy is a relevant consideration for banks in all cases where they are connected to a negative impact, through contribution or linkage. It identifies significant opportunities for banks to strengthen their focus on remedy in practice, be better prepared for remedy before an impact happens and take the appropriate steps when an impact has occurred.
“The working group’s outcomes are the product of a unique series of collaborations. Now it’s up to the banking sector to use them to improve the availability of remedy for victims of human rights abuses. So that the report’s findings can ultimately contribute to better outcomes for people all over the world.”
Thijs Van Brussel
Pax for Peace