UN Special Rapporteurs call for space for human rights defenders at Finance in Common Summit, November 9-12

Published by Brent Patterson on

Clockwise: Mary Lawlor, Anita Ramasastry, Livinstone Sewanyana, Saad Alfarargi, Jose Francisco Cali Tzay, and David R. Boyd.

In this open letter to the Secretary General of the Finance in Common Summit, six United Nations rapporteurs and experts have expressed concern about the lack of a human rights focus at an upcoming meeting of public development banks.

The Finance in Common Summit, to be convened on November 9-12 both virtually and in person in Paris, will bring together public development banks which function in relation to Canada’s export credit agency Export Development Canada (EDC) and the development finance institution FinDev Canada, a wholly owned subsidiary of EDC.

Their letter notes:

Bearing in mind that the main duty to fulfill human rights rests with States, we believe public development banks, as state-owned institutions, have an important positive role to play in the promotion of human rights across the globe.

We note with concern the absence of any explicit mention of human rights in the publicly available literature detailing the purpose and plan for the Summit.

We also note with concern the lack of reference to the responsibilities of financial institutions, and their clients and investees to respect human rights, as set out the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.

We strongly encourage the organisers to create a space for civil society, human rights defenders and affected communities to meaningfully participate in and provide input to this conference, so as their knowledge of the potential human rights impact of public development finance may be included in the deliverables of the Summit…

Similarly, Peace Brigades International has also signed this letter noting: “The activities of PDBs [public development banks] have repeatedly exacerbated poverty, widened inequalities and fuelled human rights violations (such as reprisals, land grabbing and forced evictions) without access to any useful remedies for affected communities.”

That letter, signed by more than 200 organizations, also calls on the French Development Agency (AFD) to prioritize human rights, including the UN recognized right to free, prior and informed consent, at the summit.

Additionally, PBI-Canada supports these key demands made by Oil Change International, Above Ground and Environmental Defence to the Government of Canada calling on it to end EDC support for fossil fuels and highlighting that corporations with a record of human rights violations, including violations of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, should be denied support from EDC.

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