Towards Responsible Banking: The Dutch Banking Sector Agreement on international responsible business conduct regarding human rights and beyond

02 November 2017
  • Starts at: 16:00h
  • Fee: Free
  • Venue: T.M.C. Asser Instituut
  • Organiser: T.M.C. Asser Instituut
  • Address: R.J. Schimmelpennincklaan 20-22
    2517 JN The Hague
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The banking sector and financial institutions bear an incredible potential in achieving economic growth while at the same respecting human rights, reducing pollution and hazardous emissions, minimising waste and improving efficiency in the use of natural resources. Spurred by the 2015 Paris Agreement and by the operationalisation of the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, a broader debate over ‘sustainable finance’ has emerged among both institutional and private actors, and reflected in a host of initiatives at the national and international levels.

A consensus is growing that banks as lenders hold a degree of responsibility for the actions of their clients if the latter generate harm on the environment and on human rights. Specialised instruments like the Equator Principles, the work of the UNEP Finance Initiative, and more general standards such as the UNGP and the OECD Guidelines affirm a due diligence obligation for banks to limit the harm associated to their activities and the negative impact on human rights. At the national level, agreements like the Dutch Banking Sector Agreement on international responsible business conduct regarding human rights are a tool to consolidate corporate commitments of responsible conduct in the framework of corporate loans and project finance, and to specifically support the banking sector in preventing and mitigating negative outcomes connected to their operations.

In light of these significant developments, the T.M.C. Asser Instituut organises a roundtable that investigates the evolution, implementation and enforcement of an emerging obligation that banks exercise due diligence and ensure respect of human rights. It will reflect over the strengths and shortcomings of the current regulatory approaches and the novel governance solutions established at the Dutch level. The speakers will highlight social, economical and legal challenges and opportunities lying ahead for public and private partnerships in the transnational regulation of the financial sector.

- Ruben Zandvliet: Advisor Environmental, Social, and Ethical Risk & Policies at ABN Amro 
Benjamin Thompson: Program Officer, Business and Human Rights at PAX
Tessel van Westen: Senior Policy Officer International CSR Unit, Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Maryse Hazelzet: Advisory Sustainability at NVB
Ryan Brightwell: Researcher and Editor at BankTrack

When:                   2 November 2017, 16-18h
Where:                  T.M.C. Asser Instituut, The Hague

For enquiries, please contact

Doing Business Right
The T.M.C. Asser Instituut carries out
research on developments in international and European law and its potential for serving the cultivation of trust and respect in the global, regional, national and local societies in which the law operates. This roundtable is part of the newly established research project of the Asser Institute on ‘Doing Business Right’, which is part of the broader research strand ‘Advancing Public Interests in International and European Law’.