Investors with US$861 billion in assets under management and advisement support findings of BankTrack’s 2022 Global Human Rights Benchmark

A group of 47 investors representing US$861 billion in assets under management and advisement, coordinated by the Investor Alliance for Human Rights, has released an investor statement in support of the BankTrack Global Human Rights Benchmark.

NEW YORK, NY – THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 21, 2023 - A group of 47 investors coordinated by the Investor Alliance for Human Rights has signed a statement in support of BankTrack’s 2022 Global Human Rights Benchmark. The statement expresses concern regarding the human rights performance of banks, as shown by the Benchmark’s findings, and calls on banks to “raise the ambition and increase the pace” of implementation of the Guiding Principles, as the UN has called for in its Roadmap for the Next Decade.

The Benchmark evaluated the disclosures of 50 of the world’s largest banks against a set of 14 criteria covering four key areas of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs): (1) policy commitment, (2) human rights due diligence, (3) reporting, and (4) access to remedy. In addition, it assessed how banks respond to specific cases of adverse human rights impacts raised by civil society groups. 

Anita Dorett, Director of the Investor Alliance for Human Rights said, “This statement and our partnership with BankTrack demonstrates how rigorous, evidence-based benchmarks grounded in international human rights frameworks such as the BankTrack Global Human Rights Benchmark can strengthen investors' analyses, proxy voting, and engagement strategies to ensure robust implementation of the UNGPs in the banking sector.”

While modest improvements were evident compared to past rankings, the Benchmark found that 38 out of the 50 evaluated banks are implementing less than half of the human rights expectations outlined in the UNGPs. Moreover, of particular concern to investors, all but eight out of 50 banks fell short of reporting on specific human rights impacts, indicating that earlier progress on human rights disclosure has stalled. Another important gap is remedy, as no bank demonstrated how specific human rights harms that were identified through due diligence were remedied or managed. Banks also failed to provide a meaningful response to allegations of human rights violations in nearly three-quarters of cases.

This investor statement comes at a crucial time as European Union institutions begin the final stages of negotiations over the Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence Directive, or CS3D, which aims to create mandatory human rights and environmental due diligence rules for companies. The inclusion of the financial sector in the scope of the legislation has been a controversial issue, leading to the recent release of a statement by the UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights calling on policymakers to include the entire financial sector in the CS3D without creating “carveouts” or other exceptions.

Ryan Brightwell, Human Rights Lead at BankTrack, commented, “With this statement of support, investors are sending a strong signal to all commercial banks that they must take urgent steps to improve their implementation of human rights principles. With a new Global Human Rights Benchmark due in November 2024, banks have a window of opportunity now to make meaningful improvements to their management of human rights impacts, including by showing the evidence that their due diligence is making a difference to rights-holders on the ground.”

To learn more, watch this Investor Alliance webinar. The statement remains open for signatures on a rolling basis. 

About the Investor Alliance for Human Rights

The Investor Alliance for Human Rights is a collective action platform for responsible investment that is grounded in respect for people’s fundamental rights. The Investor Alliance’s over 200 members include asset management firms, public pension funds, trade union funds, faith-based institutions, family funds, and endowments. Collectively, they represent nearly US$12T in assets under management and 19 countries. The Investor Alliance is an initiative of the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility.

Visit our website and follow us on Twitter/X (@InvestForRights).

About BankTrack

BankTrack is the tracking, campaigning and NGO support organisation targeting the operations and investments of commercial banks globally. Our mission is to challenge commercial banks globally to act urgently and decisively on the accelerating climate crisis, the ongoing destruction of nature, the risk of ever more pandemics, and the widespread violation of human rights. 

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