Development banks should respect human rights in their investments around the world and ensure their activities are not putting human rights defenders at risk, the Coalition on Human Rights in Development said on 14 July in a joint petition signed by 154 development, human rights, and environment groups.
Major development banks have long touted the importance of public participation for effective development, the organizations said. But a growing number of governments have been shrinking the space for safe and effective participation in development processes through criminalizing activities by land, environment, and human rights activists and adopting restrictions on nongovernmental groups.
“I hope that civil society will have the opportunity to contribute towards sustainable development,” said “Abhijeet,” an indigenous community member in Nepal who does not want his identity disclosed for security reasons. “Unfortunately, the fundamental human rights of many peoples are being systemically violated as a result of development projects. And when we help communities defend their rights we are met with threats and violent attacks.”
The petition is directed to international financial institutions (IFIs), including the World Bank, African, Asian, European, and Inter-American Development Bank, as well as the newest institutions, the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, and BRICS New Development Bank.