Method

A coalition of banks, the Dutch Banking Sector Association (NVB), trade unions, civil society organisations (CSOs), and the Dutch Government have concluded an agreement. They aim to work towards a situation in which human rights are respected.

The adhering banks and parties have committed to taking individual action. Below are some examples. They are also working together in Working Groups to address specific subjects.

Commitments of adhering banks


Human rights policy

Under the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs), businesses must have a policy on human rights. The banks that adhere to the Dutch Banking Sector Agreement have agreed to implement human rights policies in line with the UNGPs. 

Due diligence

Under the OECD Guidelines, businesses must assess real and potential impacts, act on the findings, track the responses, and communicate how those impacts are being addressed. This process is referred to as due diligence. The Dutch banking sector has agreed to focus on human rights. 

Transparency

The banks adhering to the Agreement will be more transparent about the way they shoulder their human rights responsibilities. This means they will share information about their investment portfolios and about their programmes for screening clients. 

Grievance mechanisms

The banks will also require clients receiving project financing to set up or participate in a grievance mechanism. This will give victims of human rights violations a forum for addressing  their situation. This measure is specified in the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises  and the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.

Commitments of parties to the agreement


Parties to the Agreement are the NVB, civil society organisations (CSOs), trade unions and Dutch government agencies.  Most of them have a great deal of knowledge and experience in the relevant areas. In many cases, they also have access to networks in certain countries, for example through sister organisations active there. This information can be used to speed up, facilitate, and improve the due diligence process that banks are required to carry out under the Agreement.

NVB

The Dutch Banking Association (NVB) represents the banks on the Steering Committee and in various Working Groups. It is also a channel for closer collaboration. It has a role in bringing the banks and the other parties to the agreement together to tackle any challenges that the banks may encounter. The NVB also promotes the Agreement among its members, the European banking sector, the EU, and the OECD. For example with a view to creating a level playing field.

CSOs and trade unions

The trade unions and the CSOs have information on real and potential impacts. Collecting and sharing this information makes it possible to prevent or address incidents. The trade unions and CSOs are not only members of the Steering Committee. They also assist in mapping the value chain by sharing their expertise and arranging contact with local partners. They help define the challenges and direction of the Working Groups on Increasing Leverage and Enabling Remediation and aid in developing an information matrix.

Government

The Dutch Government is represented in the Steering Committee and the Working Groups. It also helps investigate obstacles in financial and other regulations and other actions. Via the Dutch embassies, the Government can provide information on real and potential human rights impacts within the local context. It can support communication between local authorities and other stakeholders. To boost the effect of the Agreement and create a level playing field, the Government will notify the EU and OECD of the results of the Agreement.