Feb 04, 2015 by Coalition

A Meeting for Human Rights

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The Bank on Human Rights Coalition was launched in April 2014 to support global action to make sure that development finance institutions, such as the World Bank, the African Development Bank and other regional banks, respect, protect, and fulfil human rights. Since then, the Coalition has grown to nearly 50 members, spanning diverse sectors and regions.

On February 4, 2015, over 30 activists and representatives from community organisations & civil society from 24 countries will meet in Johannesburg, South Africa for the first global membership meeting of the Bank on Human Rights Coalition. Members of the Coalition will meet to discuss and collaborate on efforts to ensure that development financial institutions uphold and fulfil human rights standards.

The global system of development finance is rapidly evolving, changing how development is being governed and financed. A growing focus on infrastructure finance is leading to the creation of many new programs with little attention to transparency or accountability. Coalition members note a new wave of deregulation on a national level, as governments in Latin America and Asia roll back hard-won social and environmental legislation to pave the way for investments. Communities have found themselves frequently shut out of development decisions and face an uphill struggle when they try to hold their governments and far-away investors accountable.

Recognising these challenges, the Bank on Human Rights Coalition has been actively engaging with development banks and national governments on their human rights commitments. In the ongoing World Bank Safeguards Review process, the Coalition has been organising communications and advocacy around human rights standards. Efforts to build cross border partnerships have already resulted in stronger ties — activists in Brazil are now sharing strategies with their counterparts in South Africa to shape the BRICS New Development Bank.

A key part of the Coalition’s work revolves around engaging communities facing development-related human rights issues. Members acknowledge the need to bring in new voices to the development debate, opening up the space for communities to take the lead on deciding their own development. The membership gathering has been organised as an opportunity to shape the future of the Coalition in responding to the needs of communities when they confront the changing landscape of development finance. By sharing resources, information and knowledge, members can build ties and identify common struggles across borders and languages.

“For me, it’s amazing to have so many talented advocates on development and human rights in one single place. We’ve been working over the past months by phone and text, but this is the first time we’re all under one roof. I am excited to work with each of them this week to strategize the priorities and activities of the Coalition. It’s an incredible gathering.” says Ryan Schlief, the Executive Director of the International Accountability Project, a founding member organisation.

The meeting continues through the week till February 7, 2015.