Tuesday, December 4, 2018
In a publicly released letter, last week the Defenders in Development campaign called on the U.S. State and Treasury Departments to take steps to protect human rights defenders. According to the letter sent to Secretaries Pompeo and Mnuchin,
"As owners and shareholders of development banks, the US and other governments must do more to ensure that DFIs [development funding institutions] are fulfilling . . . human rights obligations and promoting sustainable development.While we welcome steps taken by the US to support HRD protection, we are concerned that the United States may actually be undermining these efforts through the actions of its bilateral development cooperation, multilateral banks, and other DFIs in which we participate. Given the alarming increase in attacks on defenders within development activities, we urge you to bring more attention to this issue and to the critical role of DFIs in the following ways:
Take urgent action toward enacting the reforms identified above and promoting an enabling environment for human rights and meaningful public participation in development processes;
Use the anniversary of these important human rights milestones to bring attention to the critical role that human rights defenders play in ensuring effective, equitable, and sustainable development; and
Make a public commitment to take all measures necessary to ensure that the US’ development policies, investments, cooperation, and other activities respect, protect, and fulfill human rights, prevent reprisals, and safeguard defenders.
To advance this commitment, the 20 signatory organizations below call upon the United States to lead by example making a commitment to ensure that US international development interventions respect human rights, promote an enabling environment for public participation in development decisions, and safeguard defenders. In particular, we call upon the Administration to include specific reference to protection for human rights defenders in the context of development interventions in a statement commemorating the December 2018 anniversaries of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders. We also request an opportunity to meet with your offices to discuss this issue and how the US can signal this critically important commitment."