As members of Multilateral Development Banks, which are public banks, states are bound by their human rights obligations and should therefore make sure that the operations of these banks comply with human rights standards. It can also be argued that International Financial Institutions (IFIs), which bring together public and private banks, have – as “organs of society” – human rights responsibilities as per the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Victims of corporate abuses can, under certain conditions, turn to the organisations which financially support TNCs involved in corporate-related abuses. Accountability mechanism are “offices in these international financial institution that have been given the authority to try to resolve a dispute or determine compliance with the institution’s policy. Accountability mechanisms may resolve the dispute formally or informally, and may use a variety of tools to resolve the dispute, including investigations or formal dispute resolution proceedings”. 1 These accountability mechanisms are increasingly used by affected communities. The following section will specifically look at:
- the Multilateral Development Banks, often criticised for funding projects which have negative impacts on human rights (World Bank, european Investment Bank and the european Bank for Reconstruction and Development, Inter-American Development Bank, African Development Bank and Asian Development Bank) 2 . These institutions have set up internal accountability mechanisms to address disputes and compliance with their own policies.
- Most Multilateral Development Banks also have an office or department which investigates allegations of fraud and corruption in activities financed by the Bank concerned (such as the Inter-American Development Bank’s Office of Institutional Integrity). Although this guide will not be looking into this issue, it could represent an interesting avenue for victims, as corruption and human rights violations are too often linked, including in cases of human rights violations committed by multinational corporations.
- the export Credit Agencies (ECAs) which are private or quasi-governmental institutions that act as intermediaries between national governments and exporters to issue export financing. Many ECAs also feature accountability mechanisms where people affected by ECA-funded projects can file complaints.
- the private banks, of which some are bound by the equator Principles.
- the shareholders of companies that can act as powerful actors to raise human rights or environmental concerns.