General Debate Under Item 5: Report of the Forum on Business and Human Rights
Thank you Mr. Vice-President,
This is a joint statement by EAFORD and the Geneva International Centre for Justice.
Our organizations are concerned by the observation presented in the summary report that many export credit agencies (hereon ECAs) and development finance institutions are yet to take effective steps to ensure the protection of human rights in the course of their supported projects.
Article 4 of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights calls upon states to “take additional steps to protect against human rights abuses by business enterprises that are owned or controlled by the State.” Despite this, many members of this very Council seem to lack the political will to carry out the aforementioned obligation.
In Australia, for example, although the ECA reluctantly halted its prospective lending to a coal mine in South Africa, it has not ruled out future financing of projects that may cause or facilitate human rights violations. Similarly, between 2007 and 2015, the ECA in the United States provided 315 million dollars in financing to businesses supplying African mines believed to utilize slave labour.
The vital role to be played by states is especially pertinent when we speak about ECAs, as governments have the influence and authority to affect change within these institutions at a faster pace than perhaps other business operations. In that regard, and to that end, we call upon Member States to take immediate steps towards bringing the business practices of their export credit agencies in line with the Guiding Principles and all relevant international human rights instruments.