At Shift, we have worked for several years with a wide range of financial institutions and their stakeholders seeking to embed the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs) into their practice, as well as supporting the integration of the UNGPs into the work and tools of various financial industry associations and initiatives. One of our areas of focus has been defining and operationalizing the concept of the ‘remedy ecosystem’ and the important role financial institutions can play in enabling remedy, including in the context of the innovative Dutch Banking Sector Agreement.

From March through April 2022, Shift supported the initial conversations of the IFC/MIGA interdepartmental Working Group on IFC/MIGA’s approach to remedial action by providing initial scoping and research on remedy as reflected in the UNGPs. IFC/MIGA subsequently carried out further analysis and then developed and published a proposed “Approach to Remedial Action” for public consultation. We are pleased to make this submission to that consultation.

We recognize that this is an extremely important topic for IFC/MIGA to be tackling in terms of its potential to deliver meaningful outcomes for people in connection with IFC/MIGA’s own investments and also in the signals that such an approach can send to other financial institutions, particularly national and regional development finance institutions.

IFC/MIGA’s proposed “Approach to Remedial Action” (the Approach) references extensively the concepts of the remedy ecosystem and enabling remedy. On the positive side, we note with appreciation that the Approach considers “prospective and anticipatory measures” throughout the project cycle that could lessen the need for and/or increase preparedness for remedy. However, the Approach is grounded in an assumption that IFC/MIGA’s involvement in remedy will typically take, absent “exceptional circumstances”, the primary form of “facilitating or supporting” its clients’ provision of remedy.

In this submission, we provide some background on the development of these concepts, grounded in the international standards on human rights due diligence (the UNGPs and the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises), and highlight examples of application of these concepts by financial institutions that we would encourage the IFC/MIGA to consider further. Both the Approach and the External Review reference these authoritative frameworks; moreover, a growing number of bilateral development finance institutions (DFIs) have made commitments and advancements in practice with reference to these standards over the last decade. They are increasingly being incorporated, in whole or in part, into existing or emerging regulations and legislation governing responsible business conduct. Most pertinently, the concepts of the remedy ecosystem and enabling remedy emerged from processes that took these standards as a core reference point.

This submission covers:

  1. The Centrality of the Connection to Harm Analysis to Concepts of Enabling Remedy
  2. The Remedy Ecosystem and Enabling Remedy
  3. The Relevance of Proximity to Harm?

We hope that the IFC/MIGA will draw on this, and other feedback, to reorient the core elements of the Approach to align more fully with the existing International Standards and developing practice among other financial institutions.