Human rights must be at the heart of the first world summit of Public Development Banks

Press release
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On the occasion of the first world summit of public development banks, the FIDH and more than 200 local and international organizations address an open letter to the Director General of the French Development Agency (AFD).

From November 9th to 12th, 2020, the French Development Agency will convene the first global summit of all Public Development Banks (PDBs). Gathering PDBs from around the world, it is aimed to provide a collective response to global challenges, reconciling short-term responses to the Covid-19 crisis with sustainable recovery measures, redirecting financial flows towards sustainable development objectives.

The summit is highly relevant and timely, but for a truly comprehensive and inclusive dialogue, it should draw lessons from the past to shape the strongest future with full participation of the communities impacted by PDB projects and supporting civil society organizations.
In many instances, PDB supported activities have exacerbated poverty and inequality and human rights abuses such as reprisals against human rights defenders and forced evictions, without meaningful redress for affected communities.

The summit should include reflection and discussion on the importance of respecting international human rights standards in achieving sustainable recovery goals, including addressing human rights abuses widely documented in PDB supported investments and projects. The summit should contend with the challenges of increased investment from PDBs lacking robust standards for human rights, social and environmental protection, climate change, and anti-corruption, or where those standards exist, how to address failures to follow them in practice.

The Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted and aggravated the failures of the health, social, and economic systems, requiring a deep rethinking of the way governments, PDBs, and other actors operate. Several grassroots community groups and organisations have been calling on PDBs to ensure that the funding and support they provide for the Covid-19 response, and during the economic recovery period, respects human rights and leads to economic, social and environmental justice for those who are most vulnerable. New impetus in attaining the core principle of “leave no one behind” is needed.

We welcome the opportunity to engage with PDBs during the summit to better serve the principles and goals of international human rights standards, the Paris Agreement, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), transparency, and accountability. To that end however, and as a matter of credibility and efficiency, it must be a priority to ensure human rights and community needs are explicitly discussed and part of the joint declaration foreseen at the end of the summit.

As stated by OHCHR last year:

“with the most pivotal decade of SDG implementation ahead of us, human rights are not only the right way, but the smart way to accelerate progress for more equitable and sustainable development. Development is not just about changing the material conditions …. It is also about empowering people with voice … to be active participants in designing their own solutions and shaping development policy. … Empowering people means moving beyond purely technocratic solutions and treating people as passive objects of aid or charity. People are empowered when they are able to claim their rights and to shape the decisions, policies, rules and conditions that affect their lives.”

As SDGs are at the core of the summit, human rights and participation of communities are then key. That requires adapting the agenda and the expected outcomes. Our recommendations on ensuring an inclusive event follow:

1. Human Rights should be reflected in the core agenda of the summit, attendance and participation. As conceived, the research conference and summit do not appear to provide specific space to human rights defenders and community representatives. Commitment to public participation and protection of civil society space have long been recognised as essential to ensuring effective development. Human rights and grassroots organizations, human rights defenders, and communities should guide the future of the development model, and therefore should be involved in organizing, contributing to the agenda, and participating in the summit. It is a matter of priority to have human rights defenders and communities directly impacted by PDB activities at the table.

2. The principles of a human rights-based and community-led development should be included and highlighted on the expected deliverables of the summit including research papers and collective statements. We encourage governments and PDBs to make a commitment to reinforce and strengthen the principles of human rights-based and community-led development in PDBs’ mandate and governance; policies and practices; internal culture and incentives; what projects and activities they support and invest in; and how they work with other PDBs, governments and key actors. These commitments should lead to improvements, such as:

(a) Full and free participation of directly affected communities in all PDB supported activities and projects, and free prior and informed consent for indigenous peoples. Innovative approaches will have to be developed to address the closing space, risks and challenges for communities, human rights defenders and civil society to meaningfully participate in decisions that impact their lives, livelihoods, environment and resources. Zero tolerance policies against threats and reprisals by PDBs and their clients should be a basic requirement.
(b) Identifying investments that are aligned with international human rights, climate protection, and SDGs, and reorienting investments towards sustainable development that respects these standards, while ensuring that the priorities and needs of marginalised persons are met.
(c) Improving social and environmental requirements through inclusion of human rights standards. PDBs and their clients should adhere to human rights principles and standards enshrined in international conventions. Safeguard policies and procedures should ensure that activities financed directly or indirectly by PDBs, respect human rights, do not contribute to human rights abuse, and contribute to equitable, inclusive development that benefits all persons.
(d) Developing and improving transparency, monitoring, oversight, grievance and accountability mechanisms to actively prevent PDB activities and investments from undermining human rights.
(e) Ensuring private sector clients
 or partners also adopt high human rights and environmental standards, and do not avoid or evade taxes.
(f) Development of common guidance by PDBs on ex ante human rights due diligence and impact assessments in project investments and in support for economic reform policies or programs. This includes identification of contextual and specific risks, prevention and mitigation strategies, and remedy in line with international human rights norms. Ensure that these assessments are developed in close consultation with affected communities, and are updated iteratively based on changing conditions and new information.
(g) Developing coordinated approaches to ensure that PDB supported activities do not exacerbate debt or contribute to cutbacks in public expenditure that will negatively impact human rights or access to essential services for the most vulnerable.

As reiterated by the OHCHR, effective governance for sustainable development requires non-discriminatory, inclusive, participatory, and accountable governance. With the most pivotal decade of SDG implementation ahead of us — and in the context of intersecting health, environmental, economic and social crises building greater integration and coherence between the development and human rights agendas will be key:
“Human rights are not only a guide on the right way to achieve SDG implementation, but the smart way to accelerate more sustainable and equitable development” .

PDBs should open channels for the meaningful participation of communities, human rights defenders, and civil society groups in the appraisal, design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of their projects and activities, as well as in their decision-making processes.

For these reasons, the agenda and the deliverable of the summit should duly reflect the centrality of human rights and community-led development to effective and sustainable development.

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  • Co-signatories

    1. Japan Japan
    2. Abibiman Foundation Ghana
    3. AbibiNsroma Foundation Ghana
    4. Accountability Counsel USA
    5. ACT Alliance Advocacy to the EU Belgium
    6. ActionAid International International
    7. Action contre la Faim France
    8. Action Santé Mondiale France
    9. Adivasi Nanjeewan Gathan Navjyoti Agua(ANGNA) India
    10. Al-Haq Palestine
    11. Alliance for Empowering Rural Communities Ghana
    12. Al-Marsad- Arab Human rights Center in Golan Heights Occupied Syrian Golan
    13. ALTSEAN-Burma (Alternative ASEAN Network on Burma) Burma/Myanmar
    14. Alyansa Tigil Mina Philippines
    15. Ancien Rapporteur Spécial des Nations unies sur la situation des défenseurs des droits de l’Homme (2014-2020) France
    16. Arab Forum for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (AFRPD) MENA
    17. Arab Watch Coalition MENA
    18. ARA e.V. (Arbeitsgemeinschaft Regenwald und Artenschutz) Germany
    20. Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact (AIPP) Thailand
    21. Asociacion para el Desarrollo Integral de las victimas de la Violencia en las Verapaces, Maya Achi.- ADIVIMA- Guatemala, CA.
    22. Asociación Unión de Talleres 11 de Septiembre Bolivia
    23. Association Democratique des Femmes du Maroc (ADFM) Morocco
    24. Association Green Alternative Georgia
    25. Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons Indian Administered Jammu and Kashmir
    26. Association Rwandaise pour la Défense des Droits de la Personne et des Libertés Publiques, ADL. Rwanda
    27. Association Tunisienne pour le Droit de Développement Tunisia
    28. Autistic Minority International Switzerland/global
    29. Bank Information Center USA
    30. Bankwatch Network Central and Eastern Europe (CEE)
    31. Both ENDS Netherlands
    32. Bretton Woods Project UK
    33. Buliisa Initiative for Rural Development Organisation (BIRUDO) Uganda
    34. Business & Human Rights Resource Centre Global
    35. Bytes For All, Pakistan Pakistan
    36. Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS) Middle East and North Africa
    37. Canadian Lawyers for International Human Rights (CLAIHR) Canada
    38. CARE France France
    39. Catholic Board of Education Odisha
    40. Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL) International
    41. Center for Pan-African Affairs USA
    42. Centre for Human Rights and Development Mongolia
    43. Centre for Research and Advocacy, Manipur Manipur, India
    44. Centre Libanais des droits humains (CLDH) Liban
    45. Centro de Investigación y Promoción de los derechos Humanos Honduras Centro América
    46. Centro de Políticas Públicas y Derechos Humanos - Perú EQUIDAD Peru
    47. Centro Mexicano de Derecho Ambiental, A.C. (CEMDA) México
    48. Centro Nicaraguense de Derechos Humanos CENIDH Nicaragua América Central
    49. Chairperson Oil Workers’ Rights Protection Organization Public Union Azerbaijan
    50. Civil Society Institute NGO, Armenia Armenia
    51. CLEAN (Coastal Livelihood and Environmental Action Network) Bangladesh
    52. Climate Action Network Europe Europe
    53. Climate Action Network International Mexico
    54. CNCD-11.11.11 Belgium
    55. CNS/ Asha Parivar India
    56. Coalition for Human Rights in Development Global
    57. Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI) Commonwealth/India
    58. Community Empowerment and Social Justice Network (CEMSOJ) Nepal
    59. Consejo de Pueblos Wuxhtaj Guatemala, Centro América
    60. Convergencia por los Derechos Humanos (CAFCA, CALDH, CIIDH, ECAP, ICCPG, ODHAG, SEDEM, UDEFEGUA, UNAMG) Guatemala
    61. Coordinadora de Comunidades Afectadas por la Cosntruccion de la Hidroelectrica Chixoy.-COCAHICH- Guatemala
    62. Counter Balance Europe
    63. Crude Accountability USA
    64. Damascus Center for human rights studies Syria
    65. Defenders Protection Initiative -DPI Uganda /Africa
    66. Democracy and Workers’ Rights Center in Palestine Palestine
    67. Derecho Ambiente y Recursos Naturales Peru
    68. Disabled People’s International (DPI) International
    69. Displaced Kids Association Iraq
    70. EarthRights International USA
    71. Egyptian Center for Civil and Legislative Reform (ECCLR) Egypt
    72. Environics Trust India
    73. Eurodad (European Network on Debt and Development) Belgium / Europe
    74. European Network on Debt and Development, Eurodad Europe
    75. FIAN Austria Austria
    76. FIAN Belgium Belgium
    77. FIAN Germany Germany
    78. FIAN International Switzerland for the Right to Food Switzerland
    79. FIAN International International
    80. FIAN Sweden Sweden
    81. First Peoples Worldwide USA
    82. FOCSIV Italy
    83. Forest Peoples Programme Netherlands and UK
    84. Foundation for Human Rights Initiative (FHRI) Uganda
    85. Foundation for the Conservation of the Earth Nigeria
    86. Freedom from Debt Coalition Philippines
    87. Freedom House Global
    88. Friends of the Earth United States USA
    89. Friends of the Siberian Forests Russia
    90. Friends with Environment in Development East Africa
    91. Front Line Defenders Ireland
    92. Fundación Ambiente y Recursos Naturales (FARN) Argentina
    93. Fundación para el Desarrollo de Políticas Sustentables (Fundeps) Argentina
    94. Global Forum for Media Development (GFMD) Belgium/International
    95. Global Initiative for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights Global
    96. Global Policy Forum International
    97. Global Social Justice Switzerland
    98. Global Witness Global
    99. Green Advocates International Liberia
    100. Haki Jamii Rights Centre Kenya
    101. Heartland Initiative USA
    102. Heinrich Böll Stiftung Washington, DC USA
    103. HRM "Bir Duino-Kyrgyzstan" Kyrgyzstan
    104. Human Rights Center of Georgia Georgia
    105. Human Rights in China (HRIC) China
    106. iLaw Thailand
    107. India Indigenous Peoples India
    108. Indian Social Action Forum India
    109. Indigenous Peoples Forum Odisha India
    110. Inspire Girls Foundation (IGF) Uganda
    111. Interamerican Association for Environmental Defense Latin America
    112. International Accountability Project Global
    113. International Dalit Solidarity Network South Asia
    114. International Federation for Human Rights International
    115. Internationale Liga für Menschenrechte Deutschland
    116. International Rivers USA and Global
    117. International Trade Union Confederation Global
    118. International Women’s Rights Action Watch Asia Pacific (IWRAW Asia Pacific) Malaysia
    119. International Work Group for Indigenous Affairs (IWGIA) Denmark
    120. Jammu Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society Indian Administered Jammu and Kashmir
    121. Joy for Children Uganda Uganda
    122. Just Associates (JASS) USA
    123. Justice for Iran Iran
    124. Kenya Union of Hair and Beauty Workers (KUHABWO) Kenya
    125. Koalisi Rakyat untuk Hak atas Air (KRuHA) Indonesia
    126. Lao Movement for Human Rights Laos
    127. Las abejas Mexico
    128. Latin America Working Group (LAWG) USA
    129. Latvian Human Rights Committee Latvia
    130. Lawyers’ Association for Human Rights of Nepalese Indigenous Peoples (LAHURNIP) Nepal
    131. Lawyers for Human Rights, Manipur India
    132. Leadership Initiative for Transformation and Empowerment(LITE) Africa Nigeria
    133. League for the Defence of Human Rights in Iran Iran
    134. Lebanese Union of Persons with Physical Disabilities (LUPD) Lebanon
    135. LGBT Centre Mongolia
    136. Liga voor de Rechten van de Mens (Dutch League for Human Rights) The Netherlands
    137. Ligue des droits de l’Homme - France (LDH) France
    138. Lok Shakti Abhiyan India
    139. Lumière Synergie pour le Développement Senegal
    140. Maldivian Democracy Network (MDN) Maldives
    141. MANUSHYA Foundation Southeast Asia
    142. Mekong Watch Mekong Region
    143. Mitini Nepal South Asia
    144. MONFEMNET National Network NGO Mongolia
    145. Movimento Nacional de Direitos Humanos - MNDH Brasil Brazil
    146. Narasha Community Development Group Kenya
    147. National Federation of Indigenous Nationalities (NAFIN) Nepal
    148. National Union of Domestic Employees Trinidad and Tobago – Caribbean
    149. NGO Forum on ADB Asia
    150. NGO "Youth Group on Protection of Environment" Tajikistan
    151. NomoGaia USA and Global
    152. Odhikar Bangladesh
    153. Odisha Adivasi Manch India
    154. Oil Change International Global
    155. OPEN ASIA|Armanshahr Afghanistan
    156. Oyu Tolgoi Watch Mongolia
    157. Pakistan Kissan(Farmers) Rabta Committee United Kingdom
    158. Partnership for Policy Integrity USA
    159. Peace Brigades International Global
    160. Phenix Center for Economic & Informatic Studies Jordan
    161. Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (PAHRA) Philippines
    162. Philippine Movement for Climate Justice (PMCJ) Philippines
    163. Press Freedom Advocacy Association Iraq
    164. Program on Human Rights and the Global Economy, Northeastern University School of Law USA
    165. Project on Organizing, Development, Education and Research (PODER) México and Latinoamerica
    166. Protection International Mesoamérica Mesoamérica
    167. Psychological Responsiveness NGO Mongolia
    168. "Publlic Administration New Initiative" NGO Mongolia
    169. Recourse The Netherlands
    170. Réseau Action Climat France France
    171. Réseau Camerounais des Organisations des Droits de l’Homme (RECODH) Afrique
    172. Réseau International des Droits Humains RIDH Genève, Suisse
    173. Resonate! Yemen Yemen
    174. Rights and Accountability in Development (RAID) United Kingdom
    175. Rivers without Boundaries Coalition -Mongolia Mongolia
    176. Rivers without Boundaries International Coalition Eurasian continent
    177. Sisters’ Arab Forum for Human Rights (SAF) Yemen
    178. Social Initiatives for Growth and Networking (SIGN) India
    179. Sri Lanka Nature Group Sri Lanka
    180. Steps Without Borders NGO Mongolia
    181. Studies and Economic Media Center (SEMC) Yemen
    182. SUARAM Malaysia
    183. Syrian Center for Media and Freedom of Expression France
    184. Tata Institute of Social Sceinces India
    185. Tebtebba Philippines
    186. The Lao Movement for Human Rights Laos
    187. The PRINCESS center for girls and young women’s rights Mongolia
    188. The Society of the Divine Word India
    189. Thy Kingdom Come Foundation India
    190. Tunisian Association for Governance and Social Accountability (GoAct) Tunisia
    191. Tunisian Association for Local Governance Tunisia
    192. Union for Civil Liberty Thailand
    193. Universal Rights and Development NGO Mongolia
    194. urgewald Germany
    195. VedvarendeEnergi Denmark and international
    196. Verein für sozial-ökologischen Wandel Germany and International
    197. Vietnam Committee on Human Rights (VCHR) Vietnam
    198. Wedian Association for Social Development Yemen
    199. Witness Radio - Uganda Uganda
    200. Women Engage for a Common Future International
    201. WoMin African Alliance Africa
    202. Yemeni Organization for Promoting Integrity (OPI) Yemen
    203. Yemen Observatory for Human Rights Yemen
    204. Youth For Environment Education And Development Foundation (YFEED Foundation) Nepal

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