Crude oil in an open toxic oil waste pit abandoned by Chevron in the Ecuadorean Amazon Rainforest near Lago Agrio. Photo by Caroline Bennett/Rainforest Action Network via Flickr.
The negotiation process towards a meaningful treaty on business and human rights has been underway since 2014 at the UN Human Rights Council. The process has been a slow one but the development and release of the draft treaty in July this year is a strong indication that there is a clear change coming to the world of business and human rights.
The need for a binding treaty which holds companies to account in their operations, particularly for operations in developing countries, has long been pushed by civil society organisations as the existing soft instruments (such as the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights) do not have the required legal weight or binding force. It is largely acknowledged that Corporate self-regulation has failed. The local laws and deficient enforcement mechanisms in some countries mean that people affected by corporate human rights abuses have no access to effective grievance mechanisms. Companies and communities shown in our Dirty Profits report over time have shown the difficulties communities and individuals face in accessing compensation from corporate transnational companies such as Exxon, Chevron, Glencore, Barrick Gold and many others.
The DIRTY Profits 7 highlights the ten European banks with some of the highest investments in 11 global arms companies, companies that have since 2015 been exporting to unstable/crisis-affected countries in the MENA region (Middle East and North Africa) and countries involved in the war in Yemen.
The global extractives industry is heavily involved in some of the worst labour, environmental and human rights violations. The rights of communities, farmers and indigenous people are being trampled in the push for ever more extraction. Indeed all businesses must respect and contribute to the society where they operate, and investors too have a critical role to play, particularly in the current mining upturn.
In Dirty Profits 6 Facing Finance shows how extractive companies have dealt with human rights and environmental violations shown in Dirty Profits reports since 2012, as well as how selected European banks have reacted to these violations in their provision of finance over time.
For the past four years, the Dirty Profits report has highlighted companies violating environmental and human rights norms and standards, as well as selected financial institutions which support them. The report has sought to, and continues to, advocate for stronger ethical regulations on the investment decisions made by financial institutions. Each successive report makes the case clearer that despite voluntary guidance investors continue to have financial ties to harmful companies. This report is no different. The fourteen companies selected for this edition have violated human rights, directly caused environmental devastation, engaged in labour violations such as child labour practices, and have severe governance failures including corruption and embezzlement. All of which are factors that are claimed to be considered in ESG investment criteria.
In compiling this report 12 NGO’s from 8 different countries including Israel, South Africa and Brazil, have contributed to both company research as well as drafting specific articles related to their expertise on human rights and environment. The financial institutions selected for this report, cover the largest banks in Europe based on the Global Financial Sectors Index 2016 – Deutsche Bank, ING, UBS, HSBC, and BNP Paribas.