I move amendment No. 1:
In page 4, between lines 2 and 3, to insert the following:
“4. (1) The State, when acting as a Member of the Bank shall—
(a) work towards the full respect of human rights in accordance with international law in the operation of the Bank and the financing by it of projects,
(b) work towards the achievement of the objectives of the UNFCCC and the Paris Agreement in the operation of the Bank and the financing by it of projects,
(c) work towards the achievement of the objectives of the Convention on Biological Diversity in the operation of the Bank and the financing by it of projects,
(d) promote the development of safeguards to ensure the achievement of these objectives,
(e) promote the development and implementation of effective remedies for any human rights violations or abuses including those relating to the enjoyment of a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment, arising from their operation of
the Bank and the financing by it of projects,
(f) support the development and implementation of appropriate human rights, social and environmental due diligence processes across the Bank’s operations, including direct consultations with affected or potentially affected individuals or groups, and
(g) work to ensure the operations of the Bank support international standards relating to responsible lending and borrowing, such as the UNCTAD Principles on Responsible Sovereign Lending and Borrowing and the Guiding Principles on Foreign Debt and Human Rights.
(2) The Minister shall report annually to the Dáil in relation to Ireland's membership in the Bank and steps taken in accordance with subsection (1).”.
I welcome this Bill as it will facilitate Ireland's involvement in facilitating the infrastructure required in developing countries for sustainable development, co-operating with a wide range of other countries in doing so. This Bill, with its inclusive east-west partnership focus, will also boost Ireland's strong reputation on international development policy and our commitment to human rights, climate justice and food security in developing countries.
Unfortunately, however, mistakes have been made in the name of development by large financial institutions and world development banks, leading to grave injustices in developed countries, such as Ireland under IMF austerity, but even more so in developing countries where banks have undermined human rights and damaged the natural environment on which we all depend. The AIIB has made commitments to human rights and on protection of the environment. However, it is vital that the AIIB practices what is preaches and is held to respecting human rights and the right to sustainable development. I am advocating a number of amendments which will ensure Ireland's investment within the AIIB goes towards supporting and protecting human rights rather than undermining sustainable development. As an example of the need for adequate checks and balances on Ireland's investment activity, the International Finance Corporation, IFC, the World Bank's private sector arm, has funded some of the south-east Asia and Pacific regions most destructive projects, contravening the IFC's performance standards and its own social and environmental guidelines. These projects include mega hydro-power dams in Vietnam and Cambodia, dirty coal-fired power plants and mines in the Philippines, Vietnam and Myanmar and massive industrial land grabs in Cambodia and Laos.
The purpose of the amendment is to ensure that the Oireachtas gives a clear mandate to the Minister and his officials to co-operate on the basis of existing policies. It makes good sense that the environmental climate and human rights principles we develop for Irish companies operating in Ireland and abroad should be applied to our financial investment activities overseas. The amendment emphasises three areas of concern: human rights, climate change and biodiversity and mandates that Ireland promote in the work of the bank the development of human rights and other environmental safeguards to achieve the objectives, the implementation of effective remedies for failings, the operation of due diligence processes and public consultation, with affected and potentially affected communities; and the implementation of international standards relating to responsible lending and borrowing. The proposed section 4(2) requires the Minister to report annually to the Dáil on the membership of the bank and the steps taken in accordance with the proposed section 4(1). These amendments will strengthen Ireland's reputation as a mediator on the international stage with regard to development, business and human rights.