CNV signs banking agreement - Dutch Agreements Responsible Business Conduct - Business and Human Rights - CNV Internationaal

CNV signs Dutch banking covenant

Banks, trade unions, NGOs and the government signed a special agreement on Friday 28th October. These parties all signed a covenant in The Hague that will make it easier for banks to ensure that human rights are respected around the world when making investments and financing. CNV Chairman Maurice Limmen: “The signing of this banking covenant is not only a cause for celebration, but a necessity for promoting Decent Work.”

The signing of this banking covenant is not only a cause for celebration, but a necessity for promoting Decent Work.”

Maurice Limmen

Banks are promising to work harder to combat human rights violations

The covenant contains agreements on safe working conditions, trade union freedom and child labour, among others. Banks are promising to work harder to actively combat and prevent human rights violations carried out by or at the premises of business customers. Chairman Maurice Limmen signed the covenant on behalf of CNV: “Banks, NGOs, trade unions and the government have been working flat out over the past while to produce this covenant. These are the agreements that are currently the most realistic and achievable. We hope to achieve an even broader mentality shift in the banking sector over time.”

"These are the agreements that are currently the most realistic and achievable. We hope to achieve an even broader mentality shift in the banking sector over time.”

Maurice Limmen

CNV’s partner unions in Asia, Africa and Latin America will play a major role in this. They will act as whistle-blowers the moment they discover serious human rights violations occurring at companies with an investment relationship with a participating Dutch bank.

Maurice Limmen: “Our partner unions are well-placed to fulfil this ‘watchdog’ role, because they are the ones with their eyes and ears on the shop floor. We will work with them to provide strict supervision so that banks must honour their agreements.”

The covenant was signed by the CNV and FNV trade unions, thirteen Dutch banks (including INB, Rabo, ABN AMRO, Triodos Bank and ASN Bank), the Ministers Dijsselbloem (Finance) and Ploumen (International Trade and Development Co-operation) and the organisations Amnesty International, Oxfam Novib and Pax.

 This is the second ICSR (International Corporate Social Responsibility) covenant to be signed. The first ICSR covenant, relating to the clothing and textiles sector, was signed in July 2016.

The covenant was signed by

The banking covenant was signed by Dutch banks, trade unions, ngo’s and government:

 Ministry of Foreign Affairs of The Netherlands
 Ministry of Finance of The Netherlands
 Nederlandse Vereniging van Banken (Dutch Association of Banks)
CNV trade Union confederation
FNV trade Union confederation
Oxfam Novib
Amnesty International Nederland

ASN Bank
ASR Bank N.V.
BNG Bank
F. van Lanschot Bankiers N.V.
ING Groep N.V.
Intesa Sanpaolo Bank Luxembourg S.A., Amsterdam Branch
Nederlandse Financierings-Maatschappij voor Ontwikkelingslanden N.V.
NWB Bank
SNS Bank N.V.
Triodos Bank N.V


Lilianne Ploumen, minister Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation 

 ‘Companies that are responsible for poor working conditions, pollution of the environment or unfair land confiscation all have a bank account or receive bank loans. This means banks occupy an important position: they can use their influence to tackle human rights violations by their clients. The banks signing this agreement today are showing a sense of responsibility and commitment. Working with NGOs, trade unions and the government, they want to help ensure fairer, more sustainable global supply chains. They are setting an example for the world to follow, and that is something to be proud of.’ 

Jeroen Dijsselbloem, minister van Financiën

‘I am very pleased that the Dutch banks have made an agreement with civil organizations to prevent and deal with human rights violations. Banks can contribute to ascertaining that their clients respect human rights, and do not allow child- or forced labour within their production process. The agreement also deals with transparency. It must be clear to consumers in which area’s and industries banks invest and how they call on these industries about their human rights policy.’

Chris Buijink, chairman, NVB Dutch Association of Banks 

“This agreement unites the knowledge and expertise of NGOs, unions, government and banks to ensure the early detection and elimination of human rights violations. It puts us in the worldwide vanguard and we will do everything we can to make similar agreements at the international level.” 

Eduard Nazarski, directeur Amnesty International Nederland

"The government has a duty to protect human rights, and banks have a responsibility to respect human rights. By signing this agreement, both have elected to take action. Only time will tell whether agreements of this kind will prove to be an effective means of fighting human rights violations.” 

Jan Gruiters, general director, PAX:

“The purpose of this agreement is to help prevent human rights violations and compensate the victims of such violations. Such compensation is vital to fostering peace and reconciliation in conflict areas, for example in Colombia. Under the agreement, the parties will investigate whether banks should bear some of the responsibility in this respect. Our many years of experience working in conflict areas and advocating for victims can help banks understand such situations.”

Farah Karimi, algemeen directeur Oxfam Novib 

“It’s a positive development to have concluded a far-reaching agreement promoting greater transparency by banks about their loans and how they act on their human rights policy in the real world. But this is only the start. It is our expectation that the agreement will also encourage the banks’ clients to tackle human rights violations.” 

Mariëtte Hamer, president Dutch Social Economic Council SER

“Like the Sustainable Garment and Textile Sector Agreement, cooperation is the key to the Dutch Banking Sector Agreement on International Responsible Business Conduct regarding Human Rights. I believe that cooperation between government, unions, NGOs and the banks themselves will lead to improvements in the lives and working conditions of people worldwide. The SER will do everything possible in the years ahead to join with all of the parties on making the agreement a success

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