sign on form

Stay up to date

Sign up now for all our news
in one monthly digest

Banks not yet living up to UN human rights principles, finds BankTrack

New research finds inadequate reporting on human rights impacts, and failure to establish mechanisms to allow complaints.
By BANKTRACK | Geneva, Dec 2 2014

As the world's largest gathering on business and human rights takes place in Geneva, new research from BankTrack has found that global banks are making slow progress in implementing human rights standards, and are failing to live up to their responsibilities completely in some areas. The findings are presented in a new report titled "Banking with Principles?".

The report assesses 32 large global banks against the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, which set out the responsibilities of businesses to respect fundamental human freedoms. The report shows that, while some progress has been made since the Principles were launched in mid-2011, major gaps remain.

Progress has been particularly poor in developing adequate reporting on human rights impacts, and in the establishment of grievance mechanisms through which people affected by banks' activities can complain. The Guiding Principles call on all types of businesses to establish or join such complaint mechanisms - however none of the banks have yet taken this step.

Of the 32 banks covered, half were found to have developed human rights policies that include a clear commitment to respect human rights. This is one of the most fundamental requirements of the Guiding Principles. A majority (17 out of 32) did not provide any reporting on human rights developments or impacts at the bank. None of the banks covered were found to have grievance mechanisms in place, meaning there are no transparent means for communities or individuals to raise complaints when they feel banks have caused or contributed to a human rights abuse. None had a clearly described process in place to remedy even those human rights abuses that the banks identified themselves.

"To date, banks' efforts to implement the UN Guiding Principles have mainly revolved around producing discussion papers on the best way forward. BankTrack has welcomed these discussions, but some three and a half years on from the launch of these Principles, it is time to move onto implementation", said Ryan Brightwell, the report's author.

"Banks should now take steps to clearly show how they place impacts on rights-holders at the centre of their approach to human rights", added Andreas Missbach of the Switzerland-based Berne Declaration, who presented the report at the UN Forum on Business and Human Rights in Geneva yesterday.
Banks were assigned a score of between 0 and 12 depending on their performance against 12 criteria. The Dutch co-operative bank Rabobank scored the highest, with eight points, followed by Credit Suisse and UBS. Banks scoring less than two points included HSBC, Deutsche Bank and Bank of America, alongside the Chinese banks. The average score obtained was just three out of 12.

The report can be downloaded here [PDF]. To order a hard copy please contact us.


Correction: An earlier version of this report stated that the Lower Sesan II Dam in Cambodia is financed by ANZ. This was incorrect. ANZ is engaged in a joint venture with the Cambodia-based Royal Group of Companies, one of the main backers of the Lower Sesan II dam. However nether ANZ nor ANZ Royal Bank are involved in financing the dam. We apologise to ANZ for this error.


ABN AMRO Bank N.V. is a Dutch state-owned bank with headquarters in Amsterdam. It was re-established, in its current form, in 2009 following the acquisition and break up…
The Australia and New Zealand Banking Group Limited commonly called ANZ, is the fourth largest bank in Australia, after the Commonwealth Bank,…
Bank of America
Bank of America is an American multinational banking and financial services corporation and is the second largest bank holding company in the United States by assets, and…
Bank of China
Bank of China is one of China's Big Four joint-stock commercial banks. Bank of China offers commercial banking, investment banking, insurance, asset management, aircraft…
Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFG
Bank of Tokyo - Mitsubishi UFJ is the largest bank in Japan. It was established on January 1, 2006, with the merger of the Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi, Ltd. and UFJ Bank Ltd.…
Barclays is a major global financial services provider engaged in retail and commercial banking, credit cards, investment banking, wealth management and investment management…
Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria (BBVA), is a multinational Spanish banking group. It was formed in 1999 from a merger of Banco Bilbao Vizcaya and Argentaria. It provides financial…
BNP Paribas
BNP Paribas is one of the main banks in Europe. It was created on 23 May 2000 through the merger of Banque Nationale de Paris (BNP) and Paribas.…
China Construction Bank
China Construction Bank (CCB) is a leading commercial bank in China providing a comprehensive range of commercial banking products and services. CCB's business consists of…
Citigroup Inc., doing business as Citi, is a major American financial services company based in New York, NY. Citigroup was formed from a merger between Citicorp and financial…
Commerzbank AG is Germany's second largest bank, headquartered in Frankfurt am Main. Next to a large presence in the German banking market, Commerzbank has numerous branch…
Crédit Agricole
The Crédit Agricole Group is a unified but decentralised group consisting of 39 Regional Banks, Crédit Agricole S.A. and many subsidiaries. It includes Crédit…
Credit Suisse
Credit Suisse Group was founded in 1856 and is headquartered in Zurich, Switzerland. It serves companies, institutional clients and high-net-worth private clients worldwide,…
Deutsche Bank
Deutsche Bank was founded in 1870 and is a leading global investment bank. It has operations throughout the world and has a strong presence in Germany and Europe. The bank´s…
Goldman Sachs
Goldman Sachs (NYSE: GS) was founded in 1869 and is a leading global financial services firm that is headquartered in New York. It provides an array of financing…
Headquartered in London, HSBC is one of the largest banking and financial services organisations in the world. HSBC operates from around 6,100 offices in 72 countries and…
ICBC (Industrial and Commercial Bank of China) is a joint-stock commercial bank based in the People's Republic of China.  Founded in 1984, ICBC overtook Citi to become…
ING (an abbreviation of Internationale Nederlanden Groep) is a Netherlands based international financial services company and one of the world's largest savings banks. ING…
JPMorgan Chase
JPMorgan Chase is one of the Big Four Banks of the United States (along with Bank of America, Citigroup and Wells Fargo). The firm was formed in…
Mizuho Financial Group
Mizuho Financial Group is one of three Japanese "megabanks" (along with Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group and Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group). The name "Mizuho" is an…
Morgan Stanley
Morgan Stanley was one of the four investment banks that for decades ruled on Wall Street (with Lehman Brothers, Merril Lynch and JPMorgan Chase). The corporation, founded…
Rabobank Group is a full-range financial services provider based in the Netherlands. It is founded on cooperative principles and as such owned by its members. The bank offers…
RBS was founded in 1727 and is one of the major UK banks. RBS has 40 million customers using the financial services of over 30 brands, including NatWest, Direct Line, Churchill,…
Banco Santandar S.A., founded in 1857 in Santander, Spain. The group has expanded since 2000 through a number of acquisitions, with operations across Europe, Latin America,…
Société Générale
Société Générale ("SocGen") is one of the oldest banks in France, dating back to 1864. The original name was Société…
Standard Chartered
Despite its British base, Standard Chartered has few customers in the United Kingdom. Ninety percent of its profits come from Asia, Africa, and the Middle East. Its operations…
Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation
Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation (SMBC) was established in April 2001 through the merger of two leading banks: the Sakura Bank Limited, and the Sumitomo Bank Limited.…
Modern UBS was formed through a merger of the Union Bank of Switzerland and the Swiss Bank Corporation in June 1998.  UBS is headquartered in Zurich and Basel and it…
The UniCredit Group is the result of the merger of nine of Italy's largest banks and the subsequent combination with the German HVB Group and the Italian Capitalia Group.…
Wells Fargo
Wells Fargo is one of the big banks in the United States, located in San Fransisco. In october 2008, Wells Fargo acquired the troubled bank Wachovia, at that moment the sixth…

Good login. Redirecting to
'My Banktrack'.
Wrong login. Click here to request your password.
An email has been sent with your login!
Request password
This email is unknown.
<< Back
Please provide one or more search terms

Join our mailinglist

Get all our latest news releases delivered straight to your inbox - or get our News Digest once a month

banktrack tweets
RT @RAN: Fracked gas is a climate&community disaster. Tell banks: no Rio Grande Valley fracked gas terminals #BridgeToNowhere
Oct 27, 2016
@Komala_chandra Thank you for flagging. Great data analysis.
Oct 27, 2016
Vismarkt 15
6511 VJ Nijmegen
Contact us