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