14 January 2019

Accountability Counsel Submits Joint Statement to World Bank’s Board of Directors on its Initial Review of the Panel’s Toolkit

Today, Accountability Counsel and 66 global partners submitted a joint statement to the World Bank Group’s Board of Directors, expressing disappointment that three important measures were not approved in the initial review of the Inspection Panel’s toolkit. Specifically, the Bank’s board postponed decisions for six months on critical changes concerning the monitoring of management action plans, the extension of the time limit on eligibility of requests, and the addition of a dispute resolution function that is independent of bank management. We and our partners are calling upon the Bank to ensure that the Panel has all the necessary tools to effectively address communities’ complaints, facilitate accountability, and remedy harm caused by the Bank’s projects.

Read our full statement below.


January 14, 2018
Via Electronic Mail

Civil Society Statement on the October 31 Decision of the World Bank’s Board of Directors on the Review of the Inspection Panel’s Toolkit

On October 31, 2018, the World Bank Group Board of Directors approved new additions to the Inspection Panel’s “Toolkit” and extended the review period for six months to further consider three additional measures. While the reforms adopted by the Board are welcome, they fall far short of the stated goal to “modernize” the world’s first independent accountability mechanism (IAM). We, the undersigned civil society organizations, wish to express our disappointment that three important measures—monitoring, dispute resolution, and extending the overly restrictive time limit on eligibility—were not approved within the initial timeline of the review, and urge the Board to use the additional time to ensure these measures are adopted. Now the only IAM that lacks monitoring and dispute resolution functions, the Inspection Panel can no longer be considered a leading innovation in development finance unless these changes are made.

The functions that were approved—including adding an advisory role to the Panel’s mandate and allowing the Panel to share additional information with Requesters—represent a commendable first step by the Board of Directors in demonstrating its commitment to enhancing accountability at the World Bank Group. However, adding monitoring and dispute resolution functions and extending the narrow time limit for Requesters to file a complaint, would have gone much further in addressing the serious deficiencies and conflicts of interest inherent in the current system. Putting off further discussion on these more important measures calls into question the Board’s commitment to strengthening the system overall and could undermine the effort entirely if they are not ultimately agreed upon.

While the Panel remains under-equipped as an independent accountability mechanism, the Board’s decision on October 31 did include language intended to bolster the management-controlled “Grievance Redress Service (GRS), including the ability to maintain a roster of expert mediators to facilitate resolution of complaints and to add a new escalation point to the World Bank’s CEO.” We are concerned that this indicates a misunderstanding of the purpose and practice of dispute resolution versus a management-led grievance office. While both have their strengths and important roles to play, dispute resolution and a management-led grievance office are very different and should not be viewed as interchangeable. In its Bank Procedure, the GRS is described as “led by Management,” and its mandate is to help Bank staff develop a response to concerns presented by project-affected people, either through a complaint or not. It is not an independent or voluntary dispute resolution process where the parties—the complainant(s) and the Bank’s client—may directly negotiate with each other to find a lasting solution to a conflict that will outlive the Bank’s involvement in the project.

As stated in civil society comments on the review of the Inspection Panel’s Toolkit, a high degree of independence from Bank management and the Bank’s client is also necessary to convene a dispute resolution process that communities will trust, like the dispute resolution processes convened by the Compliance Advisor Ombudsman (CAO), the IAM for the International Finance Corporation (IFC) and Multilateral Insurance Guarantee Agency (MIGA). As an extension of management and the CEO, the GRS is simply not designed to provide a neutral space for the parties to a dispute to negotiate a lasting agreement that engenders buy-in from all sides.

The Inspection Panel was once a leading innovation in development finance, giving communities a voice where it had not previously existed. We call on the Board to reinstate the Panel’s position as a leader by ensuring that all remaining recommendations below are implemented:

  1. The Panel should be authorized to monitor all instances of non-compliance to ensure that harm is remedied.
  2. The Panel should have a dispute resolution function similar to the CAO’s.
  3. The cut-off date for filing complaints should be extended to at least two years following project completion or loan closure, whichever comes later.

In the wake of the Inspection Panel’s 25th anniversary, we hope that the Board will renew its interest in ensuring that the Panel has the basic tools it needs to provide meaningful redress and institutional accountability.

Signatories

Africa
Dynamique pour la Promotion et la Protection de l’Artisanat Minier au Tchad (DYPRODAMIT), Chad
Justice Pour Tous, Democratic Republic of Congo
Observatoire d’Etudes et d’Appui à la Responsabilité Sociale et Environnementale (OEARSE), Democratic Republic of Congo
Action des Chrétiens Activistes des Droits de l’Homme a Shabunda (ACADHOSHA), Democratic Republic of Congo
Action Paysanne Contre la Faim, Democratic Republic of Congo
Conseil Regional des ONG de Développement, Democratic Republic of Congo
Jamaa Resource Initiatives, Kenya
Narasha Community Development Group, Kenya
Oxfam International, Kenya
Save Lamu, Kenya
Le Collectif des Organisations de Défense des Droits de l’Homme et de la Démocratie (CODDHD), Niger
Lumière Synergie pour le Développement, Senegal
African Coalition for Corporate Accountability (ACCA), South Africa
WoMin Alliance, South Africa
Foundation for Environmental Management and Campaign Against Poverty (FEMAPO), Tanzania
Learning Minds Africa (LeMA), Tanzania
Mazingira Network Tanzania (MANET), Tanzania
Tanganyika Law Society, Tanzania
Africa Centre for Policy Facilitation (ACPF), Uganda
Buliisa Initiative for Rural Development Organisation (BIRUDO), Uganda
Friends with Environment in Development (FED), Uganda
Initiative for Social and Economic Rights (ISER), Uganda
Uganda Consortium on Corporate Accountability (UCCA), Uganda
World Voices Uganda (WVU), Uganda

Asia

Access Bangladesh Foundation, Bangladesh
Equitable Cambodia, Cambodia
Centre for Financial Accountability, India
Oyu Tolgoi Watch, Mongolia
Rivers without Boundaries Coalition Mongolia
Pakistan Fisher Folks Forum, Pakistan
Participatory Development Initiatives (PDI), Pakistan
Umeedenoo, Pakistan
NGO Forum on ADB, Philippines
Centre for Environmental Justice, Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka Nature Group, Sri Lanka
Manushya Foundation, Thailand

Europe
EcoLur, Armenia
Eurodad, Belgium
Za Zemiata – Friends of the Earth Bulgaria
CEE Bankwatch Network, Czech Republic
Green Alternative, Georgia
Urgewald, Germany
National Society of Conservationists – Friends of the Earth Hungary
Bank Information Center Europe, Netherlands
Both ENDS, Netherlands
Centre for Research on Multinational Corporations (SOMO), Netherlands
SLUG/Debt Justice Norway
Focus Association for Sustainable Development, Slovenia
Ecoaction, Ukraine
Bretton Woods Project, United Kingdom
Forest Peoples Programme, United Kingdom
Gender & Development Network, United Kingdom

Latin America

FARN, Argentina
Foundation for the Development of Sustainable Policies (FUNDEPS), Argentina
Conectas Human Rights, Brazil

Middle East & North Africa
ArabWatch Regional Coalition for Just Development, Regional

North America
MiningWatch Canada
Accountability Counsel, United States
Bank Information Center, United States
Center for International Environmental Law, United States
Crude Accountability, United States
Friends of the Earth U.S., United States
Gender Action, United States
Inclusive Development International, United States
International Accountability Project (IAP), United States
International Labor Rights Forum (ILRF), United States
Sacharuna Foundation, United States