Center for Human Rights and Humanitarian Law

Project on Public Finance and Human Rights

The Project on Public Finance and Human Rights is a joint initiative between the University of Pretoria’s Centre for Human Rights, the University of Connecticut’s Business and Human Rights Initiative, and American University Washington College of Law's Center for Human Rights & Humanitarian Law. The Project supports research and scholarship on the the intersections between human rights and central banking, international financial regulation, development finance, and sovereign debt.  The Project also supports a network of scholars, practitioners, civil society activists, and policy makers interested in reexamining the relationship between all aspects of public finance, human rights, and environmental and social sustainability.  The Project hosts public roundtables, invitation-only workshops, and working group meetings designed to convene subject matter experts to interrogate issues, concepts, and ideas arising in this groundbreaking new area of study.

Project Partners


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Roundtable Discussion on "What Role Should Central Banks Play in Dealing with Environmental and Social Challenges like Climate Change and Inequality?"

October 22, 2021

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A presentation and discussion on the Financial Services Human Rights Benchmark by: David Kinley (University of Sydney Law School) and Kym Sheehan, with a response by: Ariel Meyerstein

September 23, 2021

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"The Financial Services Human Rights Benchmark Project and its Potential Applicability to South Africa's Financial Sector"

September 15, 2021

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"Unavoidable Power and Unaccountable Impacts? The Roles and Responsibilities of Central Banks in Global Economic Governance"

October 22, 2020


  • Online workshop on central banks and international human rights
    • October 1, 2020
  • Expert Reference Group meeting on central banks and human rights responsibilities 
    • March 27, 2019
  • Expert Working Group on international finance and human rights
    • April 17, 2017


Publication Distrust, Disorder, and the New Governance of Sovereign Debt This article examines the use of creditor committees in the current era of sovereign debt, focusing on factors that influence the conduct of debtors and their creditors vis-à-vis each other. Drawing on our observations, we consider the potential value and limitations of creditor committees in the context of sovereign debt governance.
Publication The Multilateral Development Banks and the Management of the Human Rights Impacts of their Operations Because the MDBs’ projects are similar to those undertaken by private financial institutions and contractors, understanding how MDBs deal with the human rights issues that arise in their operations can help deepen our understanding of the human rights responsibilities of these other actors, thereby adding a useful input to the broader ‘business and human rights’ debate to which this volume is dedicated.
Publication Why Central Banks Need to Take Human Rights More Seriously This article briefly describes how central banks have human rights responsibilities. Second, it describes how both their monetary and financial operations have unavoidable human rights impacts, which need to be incorporated into their decision making and governance procedures.