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Human rights and the EIB


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We stand for the protection of human rights in everything we do.


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How we support human rights


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Require our clients to respect human rights

Assess the impact of our projects on human rights

Every project that we finance has to go through a human-rights-responsive due diligence process during which we assess the environmental and social impact.

We check the risk, frequency, and severity of human rights impacts throughout the project cycle, from the appraisal of a project and inclusion of contractual obligations in our financing agreements, to project monitoring until project completion and beyond.

We put in place mitigation measures wherever possible. During a due diligence process, we can also implement additional measures that improve human rights. We take an integrated approach to assessing and managing human rights.

We provide transparent reports on our assessment of the environmental and social impact of our operations. We also publish key environmental and social documents relevant to each of our operations.

Read more in our Environmental and Social Standards 

 

 

Examples of our approach

As part of its standard due diligence, when a project requires further scrutiny on account of human rights, the Bank can take a number of actions and additional mitigation measures such as :

  • Request the project promoter to undertake additional studies or mitigation measures
  • Request labour audits or labour assessments
  • Request indigenous people’s development plans
  • Check for potential human rights violations in conflict or fragile regions
  • Check that the rights to privacy and data protection are protected
  • Insert appropriate contractual obligations, including reporting and monitoring requirements
  • Stop the disbursements (and possibly recall the loan) until actions are corrected
  • Refrain from financing a project on human rights grounds

 

Supporting promoters to engage with stakeholders

The Bank has published guidance to support promoters in their efforts to engage with stakeholders about environmental, climate and social risks and impacts. The note proposes measures and actions to address them. This includes specific recommendations about the need to address the risks of reprisals.

Read the guidance note 

Standing with human rights defenders

Freedom of expression and thought is a fundamental human right. In many countries in the world, the space for dissent is shrinking and human rights defenders are being persecuted. The increasing use of lawsuits against public participation, specially targeted at civil society organisations, is worrisome. The EIB believes that enabling expression of dissenting voices and diverse opinions regarding its operations is at the heart of democracy and the rule of law.

The EIB does not tolerate any reprisals, threats, intimidation, harassment, or violence against any human rights defenders, environmental activists or indigenous people advocates voicing their opinion about EIB-financed activities. The Bank takes any allegation of intimidation or reprisals seriously, and follows up, as and when appropriate.

Listening to citizens’ concerns

We see meaningful stakeholder engagement as a cornerstone of sustainable and inclusive development, and as the foundation for respecting the rights of affected people, rooted in international human rights law.

Our social and environmental standards require that promoters set up a project-level grievance mechanism. This mechanism gives all stakeholders, in particular – but not exclusively – impacted individuals and communities, the ability to provide feedback, channel their concerns and, thereby, access information and, where relevant, seek recourse and remedy.

Furthermore, the Bank’s own accountability mechanisms, such as the EIB Group Complaints Mechanism or the Bank’s own Fraud Investigations Division, have policies and procedures in place for citizens to hold the Bank to account and raise concerns about its operations without risking their security.

Find out how our complaints mechanism works 

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Our next steps

We have made a lot of progress in enhancing our commitments to human rights but there is still more to do. We acknowledge challenges in ensuring human rights performance of our clients, especially in more fragile environments, and work hard on trying to improve their and our own human rights processes.

We are currently reviewing the EIB’s Environment and Social Sustainability Framework and we have launched a broad public consultation process . All our stakeholders are invited to join us by providing their views on our approach.


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  • Last modified-on: 27-01-2021