Please consider signing this petition, initiated by our colleagues at the Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL).

Since 1989, the Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL) uses international law and institutions to protect the environment, promote human health, and ensure a just and sustainable society. CIEL is a member of the Bank on Human Rights Coalition, a newly formed global coalition of social movements, civil society organizations, and grassroots groups working to ensure that all development finance institutions respect, protect, and fulfill human rights.

About the petition

Dec. 10 is International Human Rights Day. On this day in 1948, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly. In honor of International Human Rights Day, join the movement to ensure that development respects human rights.

In July the World Bank, the world’s leading public development bank and a specialized agency of the United Nations, released the first draft of its revised safeguard policies—the policies designed to ensure that development projects don’t harm local communities or the environment.

While the new proposal contains positive elements, it rolls back hard-fought and essential protections for communities and the environment, and it undermines rights guaranteed under international human rights law. For example, it allows countries to “opt out” of required protections for indigenous peoples, such as requirements to obtain indigenous peoples’ free, prior, and informed consent before implementing projects that would affect them. The draft also fails to protect the rights of workers and eliminates protections for forests and forest-dependent peoples.

The cost of not sufficiently managing human rights risks in development projects is huge. Real human lives are at stake. Despite the legal, moral, and economic arguments in favor of the World Bank adopting human rights requirements, it often hides behind the dubious argument that a prohibition against interfering in a country’s political matters prevents it from considering human rights issues in its lending.

Today the World Bank is at a crossroads. Will it stake its claim as the leading public development bank by explicitly committing to respect human rights in its lending? Or will it shrink away from its responsibilities, lowering the bar to compete with other lenders for business and setting off a race to the bottom?

Your voice is needed. Tell World Bank President Jim Yong Kim that the time has come for the World Bank to respect and protect human rights in its lending.

The world is watching.

Use this link to sign the petition (text below).

To: World Bank President Jim Yong Kim

On this anniversary of International Human Rights Day, I write to express my concern over the proposed new World Bank safeguard policies. This draft proposal would undermine international human rights standards and erode protections for communities and the environment.

The safeguard review is a critical opportunity for the World Bank to ensure that its safeguard policies respect and uphold human rights. We urge the World Bank to

  • Make an explicit policy commitment not to finance projects or programs that would cause, contribute to, or exacerbate human rights abuses;
  • Undertake human rights due diligence for all World Bank–financed activities; and
  • Ensure that the safeguard policies are consistent with international human rights standards, including those for indigenous peoples and labor.


[Your name here]

Photo: World Bank President Jim Yong Kim Press Conference at the 2012 Tokyo IMF and World Bank Annual Meetings, by Ryan Rayburn/World Bank