About this agreement

The Dutch Banking Sector Agreement on International Responsible Business Conduct regarding Human Rights was signed on 28 October 2016 and became effective on 7 December 2016 when it was published in the Dutch Government Gazette. It will remain in force for three years. Banks, the Dutch Banking Association (NVB), trade unions, CSOs, and the Dutch Government will work together to help people who are or may be facing human rights violations.

By signing, the banks have agreed to respect human rights under the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises and the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs). The NVB, CSOs, trade unions and government agencies have agreed to support the banks in their efforts. The Agreement focuses on two areas of banking activity: corporate lending and project finance.

Sharing practices

The parties that have signed the agreement intend to learn from one another by carrying out a joint research programme. They will share practices they have adopted, i.e. to increase leverage towards businesses in high-risk sectors. The parties have also agreed to analyse value chains in specific sectors, starting with the palm oil, cocoa, and gold value chains. A number of Working Groups will address these issues. 

To increase their joint impact, the parties have agreed to work on creating a level playing field. They will promote the Agreement through the European banking sector, the EU, the OECD, and other channels.

Adjusted timeline of the Agreement

In the negotiation phase of the Dutch banking sector agreement it was originally foreseen that parties and adhering banks would sign the Agreement and adhering declarations before the summer of 2016. Eventually, the Agreement was signed on 28 October 2016 and entered into force on 7 December 2016 by publication in the Dutch Government Gazette. However, the timelines in the Agreement have not been adjusted. During the start of the implementation phase, the steering group approved a proposal to push back all timelines of the Agreement with six months. In addition, wherever the Agreement refers to an action linked to the signing of the declaration of adherence by banks, these timelines will be amended to reflect that the Agreement entered into force at a later date. Download the adjusted timeline of the Agreement.

Annual report

The Annual Report on the Agreement presents the results achieved each year.