Speech Chris Buijink tijdens de Liechtenstein-conferentie over bestrijding mensenhandel

28 juni 2019
Voorzitter van de Nederlandse Vereniging van Banken, Chris Buijink, sprak 28 juni tijdens de Liechtenstein-conferentie bij het ministerie van Buitenlandse Zaken. U vindt de toespraak hieronder.

Gesproken woord geldt

Excellencie(s), Ladies and Gentlemen,

  • I’m happy that the past decades have shown important improvements with regard to our global Sustainable Development Goals. According to the 2018 SDG Report of the United Nations, the degree of extreme poverty has fallen.

  • Since the turn of the century, globally, labour productivity has increased and unemployment rates decreased. More than 100 countries have developed sustainable consumption and production policies and initiatives.

  • Of course we’re still facing major concerns and great challenges. For instance, human rights abuses occur closer to home than we sometimes believe in our Western societies.

  • In 2016, over 40 million men, women and children were estimated to be enslaved. Human rights abuses, including Human Trafficking and Modern Slavery, cause victims in the Netherlands too.

  • In this country, the amount of victims of human trafficking is estimated to be about 6.250 a year. An estimated 69% of them are victims of sexual exploitation. In other words, modern slavery is unfortunately still part of our global reality and the reality of our own comfortable neighborhood.

  • Banks, as part of our society, have the responsibility to respect human rights. The banking industry recognizes its role in human rights issues, and increasingly acts to stimulate positive change.

  • That’s why at the end of 2016 a coalition of banks, the Dutch Banking Association, trade unions, civil society organisations (CSOs), and the Dutch Government concluded the Dutch Banking Agreement on human rights. They aim to work towards a situation in which human rights are respected.

  • Banks that adhere to the Agreement investigate the human rights impact of corporate lending and project finance. These are important efforts. With it, do we change the world from one day to another? No. Do we change our policy according to the Agreement and create the opportunity to influence human rights through our customers all over the world? Yes.

  • Tackling human rights abuses is a joint responsibility of the public and private sector. This is why collaboration between the public and private sector through a coordinated, multi-stakeholder approach is crucial to realize positive change. This is what we do in the Dutch Banking Agreement but also through other initiatives.

  • Let me give you an example which falls squarely in the realm of the Liechtenstein Initiative, since you also recognize that the global financial sector has the opportunity to realize real and measurable impact. We believe we can make a difference, also in the Netherlands.

  • More than four years ago, the Dutch bank ABN AMRO, the Inspection of the Dutch Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment and the University of Amsterdam joined forces. They formed a public-private partnership.

  • They developed 26 indicators that proactively signal human trafficking in bank data.

  • Let me give you an example of such indicator. If a human trafficker is pretending that he or she pays an employee in accordance with Dutch law, he or she must deposit the wage of the employee on a bank account. A wage deposit which is immediately withdrawn from his account is therefore an indicator of human trafficking.

  • Another example is a situation in which several people with more or less the same age and nationality live at the same address.

  • All 26 indicators together, help signal victims of human trafficking that would otherwise remain undetected.

  • The public-private partnership developed a basic model that ABN AMRO ran on a limited bank data set.

  • This resulted in 72 unusual transactions which the bank reported to the Financial Intelligence Unit. The FIU found that 50 were suspicious and passed them on to the Inspection of the Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment, the supervisor for labour conditions.

  • Nowadays, two criminal investigations against two legal persons and responsible directors and 1 surveillance action against one legal person and seven agricultural and horticultural companies are in preparation.

  • I’m proud to say that three other Dutch banks, ING, KNAB and Rabobank, four more scholars from the University of Amsterdam and eight additional public actors have joined to expand this initiative.

  • Also the Dutch Banking Association developed, in cooperation with the municipality of Amsterdam, a leaflet for people working in the sex industry on how to open a business bank account, so that they can operate in a transparent and independent manner.

  • I already mentioned the Dutch Banking Sector Agreement. At the end of this year, the Agreement reaches the end of its term. We will closely evaluate the results together with our partners in the Agreement.

  • Whatever the next steps are, Dutch banks are fully committed to the goal of improving human rights. Banks can use and do use leverage to safeguard human rights. There are many examples.

  • For instance, ING advised a new petrochemical complex about environmental and social aspects of the project.

  • ASN developed a methodology to assess, to discuss and to measure living wages in the garment sector.

  • FMO moved a client to recognize the rights for nomadic people in Africa.

  • Rabobank asks difficult and confronting questions to the palm oil-industry.

  • And so on.

  • Finally, we strongly support The Liechtenstein Initiative. Rest assured that we together with our colleagues from the Liechtenstein Bankers Association, great that you are here, Hans-Werner, will promote the findings of your commission in the European banking scene.

  • I wish you – and ourselves –strength and success in the important fight for a more humane world!