A global campaign to transform development so it advances the realization of human rights and safeguards those who defend them
People and communities should be able to exercise their human rights, meet their basic needs, and determine their own priorities for their lives, their lands and their future. Yet around the world, the space for civil society participation in development is shrinking, as governments and corporate actors restrict fundamental freedoms and limit the ability of communities to access information and shape crucial decisions. Those who speak out about megaprojects and other investment activities or struggle to defend their environment and human rights are often threatened, criminalized or subjected to violence, as documented in the report "Uncalculated Risks".
In response, human rights defenders and accountability advocates from around the world are coming together to challenge the current model of development and usher in a new development paradigm that advances the realization of human rights and safeguards those who defend them.
What We Do
The Defenders in Development Campaign engages in capacity building and collective action to ensure that communities and marginalized groups have the information, resources, protection and power to shape, participate in, or oppose development activities, and to hold development financiers, governments and companies accountable. We utilize advocacy and campaigning to change how development banks and other actors operate and to ensure that they respect human rights and guarantee a safe enabling environment for public participation.
Who We Are
The Campaign is made up of defenders and those who work with them on issues of development and human rights - community organizations, human rights and environmental groups, defender security organizations, transparency, accountability and press freedom NGOs, and indigenous peoples and women's networks. It is hosted by the Coalition for Human Rights in Development.
You can find the Campaign Declaration and list of participant organizations here. If you wish to find out more and join the campaign, please get in touch!
Tools for Security and Protection
The Defenders in Development campaign supports human rights defenders at risk through its Security Working Group, comprised of staff of international organizations that can offer different types of assistance (emergency grants, legal support, advocacy, security training, etc). To find out more, download the Security Working Group directory here and check out the following resources for human rights defenders at risk. You can also visit the Coalition's resource page for more information on development banks and how to file complaints.
Advocacy, campaigns and news
- Inter-American Bank - Reprisal Risk Management Technical Guide (May 2022)
- Finance in Common campaign (October 2021)
- Open letter to African Development Bank and Nordic Development Fund: Address reprisals against Paten Clan in Uganda (September 2021)
- Article - A COVID-19 Loan for COVID-Denying Turkmenistan (August 2021)
- Blog - IDB Invest and IFC’s new guidance on reprisals: a welcome step, but more is needed (April 2021)
- Our work around COVID-19, press freedom and development finance (2020 and 2021)
- Press Release: Defenders in Development Campaign Welcomes IFC Position Statement on Reprisals (2018)
- Action Plan: Human Rights Defenders World Summit (2018)
- Letter to States and Development Banks (2018)
- Webinar: Demystifying Development Banks - Asia
- Webinar: Safeguarding HRDs in Development
- Webinar: Desmitificando a los Bancos de Desarrollo
- Letter: to the Inter-American Development Bank calling for focus on human rights and participatory development (en español)
- Letter: to the Dutch development bank, FMO, calling for adoption of measures to address reprisals
- Policy submission: to FMO on its proposed sustainability policy and human rights position