Sep 03, 2020 by Coalition

Global development summit needs human rights focus, say 200 organizations around the world


3 September 2020

In a letter addressed to the French Development Agency, over 200 organizations around the world are calling for the principles of a human rights-based and community-led development to be included and prioritized both in the agenda and in the outcomes of the Finance in Common Summit, a high-level gathering of all Public Development Banks, which will take place in Paris on 9-12 November.

You can download the full letter in English, French, Spanish and Arabic. If you wish to endorse the letter and join our calls, you can sign up here


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: 


  1. 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.
  2. 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. 
  3. 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. 
  4. Developing and improving transparency, monitoring, oversight, grievance and accountability mechanisms to actively prevent PDB activities and investments from undermining human rights. 
  5. Ensuring private sector clients or partners also adopt high human rights and environmental standards, and do not avoid or evade taxes. 
  6. 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.
  7. 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.


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