2012 Non-financial rating of the 27 EU Member States: Respect for human rights and the environment throughout the EU

With the recent global financial crisis, ethical investment has become a key issue. For over a decade, a growing number of investors have included non-financial concerns, or so called ESG criteria (Environment, Social and Governance), in their decisions to invest in or divest from companies. Few of them however apply non-financial criteria to states. When they do, analysis of States’ human rights performances is often limited and lacks a solid methodology.

FIDH releases today the updated and revised version of its study on the 27 EU States. In 2001, FIDH established its own ethical fund, Libertés et Solidarité, and devised a screening methodology for selecting both bonds and shares. The current study sets a classification of EU Member States respecting, supporting and promoting human rights. It aims at feeding the discussion on states’ non-financial evaluation to enable ethical fund managers to proritise their investments.

Whilst the eyes of economists, financial analysts and financial rating agencies are now turned towards states’ internal governance structures and the management of their debt payments, FIDH warns the international community about the necessity to incorporate human rights concerns in their financial analysis. FIDH, whose approach is entrenched in international human rights law, recalls the necessity and urgency to put the well-being of all at the centre of economic decision-making.

The current study includes updated data aimed at measuring respect for human rights, domestically and extraterritorially, as well as respect for the environment. Indicators have been replaced to fulfill the legal and social reality of state’s respect for human rights and environmental management. A distinct criterion on Union Rights and Labour Conditions was added which seems particularly relevant in times of economic crisis and the undermining of labour rights throughout Europe. The chapter on freedom of expression was expanded to include indicators on the right to information and the right to privacy, two much debated and sometimes conflicting issues in the European information society. As a result of these evolutions, the final ranking of this 2012 report cannot be compared with the 2010 ranking.

This ranking aims at challenging States in the areas where indicators reveal weaknesses to encourage them to improve their policies in the field of human rights, rather than stigmatising those who rank low. FIDH intends to use these results in its dialogue with European States on their human rights performances.

To download the report click here.

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