As part of the public consultation on the review of its Environmental and Social Sustainability Framework (ESSF), 12 civil society organisations sent a joint submission to the European Investment Bank's (EIB) urging it to develop a comprehensive policy and robust safeguards to protect human rights. The drafts of the Bank’s new Environmental and Social Policy and Standards do not include sufficient provisions to prevent EIB operations from having a detrimental impact on human rights.
NGOs and local communities have been alerting the EIB about the need to prioritise the promotion and protection of human rights in all its operations for years. Too often, the EIB has financed projects which have contributed to human rights abuses and have sidelined or ignored the voices and concerns of impacted people (see for instance recent cases in Nepal, Georgia and Kenya).
While the term ‘human rights’ is used as a cross-cutting subject throughout the whole Policy and Standards, the language in the proposed drafts is not concrete and does not make neither the EIB nor the project promoters fully liable in case of failure in applying the EIB standards. The EIB’s ‘human-rights-responsive approach’ and related language in the drafts do little to ensure that the EIB’s clients will respect and promote human rights, and that they will be held accountable if they fail to do so. A policy cannot be ‘human-rights-responsive’ if it does not require the EIB to conduct human rights due diligence and appropriately safeguard human rights.
The submission below outlines our recommendations for integrating human rights into the EIB’s Environmental and Social Sustainability Framework, by proposing specific improvements to the Policy and Standards. This contribution should be read in connection with the other joint NGO contributions on the EIB Environmental and Social Policy and Standards (see the different contributions here)