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UN expert asks China to follow UN principles while lending

China, which has emerged as a major international lender, should incorporate the UN's guiding principles on business and foreign debts and its national human rights action plan, particularly while lending to high-risk countries, a UN independent expert has said.



Geneva: China, which has emerged as a major international lender, should incorporate the UN's guiding principles on business and foreign debts and its national human rights action plan, particularly while lending to high-risk countries, a UN independent expert has said.

"International human rights standards are in particular relevant when China provides funding for projects in countries with high risks, experiencing internal armed conflicts, weak governance structures or a lack of effective enforcement of national and international law by national authorities," said Juan Pablo Bohoslavsky, the UN independent expert on foreign debt and human rights, after his first official visit to the Communist country.

He noted that China, the world's second largest economy has become a global player and a major international lender and stated that "with China's new leadership role in foreign lending and investment comes new responsibilities".

"For investments in foreign countries careful planning, independent impact assessments and consultation with affected individuals and communities are required," Bohoslavsky said.

"Negative social, environmental or human rights impacts should be avoided, mitigated, or compensated in a timely, fair and equal manner," he said.

"China's going out strategy should not only result in a 'win-win' situation for governments and business enterprises, but also for the people on the ground, both in China and abroad," he added.

The Argentinian legal expert also welcomed China's leadership role in the establishment of two multi-lateral development banks, the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) in Beijing and the BRICS states New Development Bank in Shanghai.

However, he stated that both banks should show that projects financed by them will avoid, mitigate or compensate negative social, environmental and human rights impacts better than other multi-lateral development banks.

"efficiency and results orientation is not a contradiction to ensuring respect for human rights, labour standards or the right to a safe, clean and healthy environment. An effective and independent safeguards mechanism will have to be put in place," he said.

"Then and only then, will these two new institutions live up to their aspirations to foster sustainable development in a comprehensive, human-rights based, and social inclusive manner," said Bohoslavsky.

His findings and recommendations will be presented to the UN Human Rights Council next March. PTI 

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