Bank on Human Rights:: A Call for Human Rights in the New BRICS Bank

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Leaders of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, an economic and political grouping known as the BRICS, arrived in Fortaleza, Brazil this week for the 6th BRICS Summit. A focal point of the two-day meeting was the launch of the BRICS New Development Bank to rival the World Bank, International Monetary Fund and other pre-eminent international financial institutions. 

Civil society organisations from BRICS countries, including Bank on Human Rights Coalition member Conectas Direitos Humanos, are in Fortaleza to call for incorporation of human rights protections in the New Development Bank.

The realization of the New Development Bank could be an important step in institutionalising South-South cooperation and challenging the dominance of Western-led financial institutions such as the World Bank and IMF. Funded and administered by a coalition of emerging economies, the Bank could allow for countries in the Global South to have a greater say in addressing their own developmental needs. 

For Caio Borges, an attorney in the Business and Human Rights Program of Conectas, the New Development Bank responds to an urgent need for diversification and innovation in development finance. However, he cautions that “a BRICS bank won’t serve the real development needs of the people of the BRICS countries if it replicates the harmful strategies adopted by other Multilateral Development Banks during past decades.”


He adds that “the New Development Bank must ensure that all its policies and processes are designed with the objective of making people’s lives better and reducing social injustices. Concrete initiatives that are indispensable to achieve this aim include the creation of robust social and environmental safeguards which incorporate the highest standards of human rights protection according to international law, the establishment of sound transparency and access to information policies, consultation processes with affected communities and other stakeholders, and a grievance and redress mechanism with powers to provide compensation for those affected by the projects financed by the bank.”

Civil society organizations in BRICS countries are watching critically to see whether the New Development Bank will actually forge a new path that brings real rights-respecting development that benefits the poor, or just be more business as usual.

Stay tuned to www.bankonhumanrights.org for more analysis of the 6th BRICS Summit outcomes.

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