News story

Leading UN human rights expert visits UK Export Finance

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Professor John Ruggie, the author of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, met with senior officials from UK Export Finance and members of its advisory council for discussions on human rights and support for exports.

Professor Ruggie and Helen Meeking (Head of UKEF’s Environmental Advisory Unit)
Professor Ruggie and Helen Meeking (Head of UKEF’s Environmental Advisory Unit)

The discussion covered the UK government action plan on business and human rights and the ways in which export credit agencies should seek to address the potential human rights impacts of the support they provide for exports. The work of UK Export Finance (UKEF) in supporting exports and projects was also discussed.

From left: Caroline Rees (SHIFT Project President), David Godfrey (UKEF Chief Executive) and Professor Ruggie
From left: Caroline Rees (Director SHIFT Project), David Godfrey (UKEF Chief Executive) and Professor Ruggie

As the UK’s export credit agency, UKEF takes an active role in the development of international agreements on export credit policies and practices.

Present at the discussion were UKEF’s Chief Executive and members of the Export Guarantees Advisory Council (EGAC), an independent body whose remit is to advise Ministers and UKEF on the development and application of policies in relation to environmental impacts and human rights. Members of UKEF’s in-house specialist unit on environmental, social and human rights also joined the discussions.

Andrew Wiseman, Chair of the EGAC, said:

UK Export Finance is unusual among ECAs in having an advisory council with a specific role to consider the application and development of its policies in this area. We found the discussion with Professor Ruggie useful in helping to set our human rights agenda.

David Godfrey, UK Export Finance Chief Executive said:

It was valuable to be able to discuss the implementation of the UN Guiding Principles with Professor Ruggie. There are specific complexities and challenges that apply to export credit agencies. These are government-controlled entities, but they operate in a commercial environment to support the financing of projects and national exports.

From left: Professor Ruggie with EGAC Chair Andrew Wiseman
From left: Professor Ruggie with EGAC Chair Andrew Wiseman

Mr Ruggie was accompanied by representatives of the SHIFT project, an independent, non-profit centre for business and human rights practice, which he chairs.

Read a note providing information on UK Export Finance and Human Rights.

Media enquiries: Julia Beck, Media Relations Manager

Published 4 March 2015