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Issue: UBS group business relation to surveillance of the Uyghurs

Description On 22nd June 2020, the Society for Threatened Peoples Switzerland (STP) filed a specific instance against UBS Group AG (UBS) at the Swiss NCP. The complaint concerns the bank’s financial ties with Hangzhou Hikvision Digital Technology Co. Ltd. (Hikvision), a provider of modern surveillance technology that has played a key role in the mass surveillance of the Uyghurs and other Turkic minorities in Xinjiang, China.

UBS has been involved in Hikvision through investment products and activities as well as by providing nominee shareholding services in relation to the technology company. The complainant maintains that this constitutes a breach of the bank’s own Code of Conduct as well of the OECD Guidelines. Specifically, the STP alleges that, by having entered and subsequently maintained a business relationship with Hikvision, UBS has neither fulfilled its duties regarding due diligence nor sought ways to prevent or mitigate the adverse human rights impacts of Hikvision’s operations in Xinjiang.

The STP is therefore seeking mediation from the NCP to encourage UBS to withdraw from all financial transactions, products and services that include or relate to Hikvision as well as to adapt its internal policies to prevent the bank’s involvement in human rights violations in the future. Most importantly, the STP requests of the bank to ensure that its entire equity business is covered by human rights due diligence processes and to incorporate clear exit clauses in its contractual agreements to allow it to withdraw from business relationships that have an adverse impact on human rights. Further, the STP also requests UBS to increase transparency on how it addresses potential and actual adverse human rights impacts to which it is directly linked.
Developments/Outcome The complaint has been filed with the Swiss NCP.

1 cases relating to 'UBS group business relation to surveillance of the Uyghurs':

Title Issue Date filed Status
Society for Threatened Peoples Switzerland vs UBS Group UBS group business relation to surveillance of the Uyghurs 22 June 2020 Filed

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