A stack of various currencies

Finance and Banking

The finance and banking sector is central to the flow of capital in our global economy and hence plays a vital role in having substantial leverage over global market players and business decision-making. Financial institutions are key stakeholders in ensuring corporate respect for human rights.

Finance and banking institutions can cause, contribute to, or be directly linked to adverse human rights impacts. Thus, the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights apply to the financial sector without exception. Examples of adverse impacts directly linked to the sector include; a pension fund investing in private prisons that employ forced prison labor, investing in food and beverage companies that systematically buy produce from farms using child labor, or investing in companies that source conflict minerals. Financial institutions may also contribute to human rights abuses by lending money to agricultural companies involved in land grabs or by funding infrastructure projects that displace Indigenous populations.

The UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and the OECD Guidance on Responsible Business Conduct for Institutional Investors call on businesses and financial institutions alike to ensure that, at a minimum, their activities respect the rights contained in the International Bill of Rights and the ILO Core Conventions. Where financial institutions, public or private, may impact people, they should uphold their human rights responsibilities by conducting human rights due diligence and remediating harms. This responsibility extends to international development financing organizations and investment funds operated by national governments.

The Investor Alliance leads and coordinates a number of efforts regarding the human rights performance of the financial sector. These activities and key resources include:

To learn more about our work on finance and banking, please contact Anita Dorett.