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