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.
To find out more about the Defenders in Development campaign work:
- read the report "Uncalculated Risks: threats and attacks against human rights defenders and the role of development financiers"
- find out more about our work on press freedom and civic space
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.
How to Get Involved
Tools for Security and Protection
The Defenders in Development campaign asupports human rights defenders at risk through its Security Working Group, comprised of staff of 12 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 toolkits and resources for human rights defenders at risk:
Reports and advocacy resources
- Report: Front Line Defenders Global Analysis 2020
- Report: Defending Tomorrow, by Global Witness (2020)
- Action Plan: Human Rights Defenders World Summit 2018
- Report: UN Special Rapporteur on Indigenous Peoples - Report on Criminalization of Indigenous Peoples
- Report: UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of HRDs working in the field of business and human rights (English, Spanish, French)
- Report: UN Special Rapporteur on violence against environmental defenders (English, Spanish, French)
- Report: At Your Own Risk: Reprisals against Critics of World Bank Group, by Human Rights Watch
- Report: Multilateral institutions and their effect on assembly and association, by UN Special Rapporteur Maina Kiai
- Flyer: Defenders in Development English version
- Flyer: Personas Defensoras En El Desarrollo Spanish version
- Visit the Coalition's resource page for more information on development banks and how to file complaints
News, webinars and letters to the banks
- Finance in Common: read more about our campaign ahead of the first global gathering of all public development banks (November 2020)
- Press Release: Defenders in Development Campaign Welcomes IFC Position Statement on Reprisals
- Letter: to States and Development Banks, December 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 it's proposed sustainability policy and human rights position