African Development Bank (AfDB) | Independent Review Mechanism (IRM)
The African Development Bank (AfDB) is the parent organization of the AfDB Group, a regional development bank for Africa.
African Development Bank (AfDB)
Created In: 1964
Headquarters: Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire
Member Countries: 81
Largest Shareholder: Nigeria
Mission: The overarching objective of the African Development Bank (AfDB) Group is to spur sustainable economic development and social progress in its regional member countries (RMCs), thus contributing to poverty reduction.
The Accountability Office: Independent Review Mechanism (IRM)
Established in: 2004
Functions: Compliance Review, Problem Solving/Mediation, Advisory
Projects funded by the AfDB must follow the AfDB’s Integrated Safeguards System, which includes policies on environmental and social assessments, involuntary resettlement, labour, and biodiversity, among others.
The AfDB also has a policy on disclosure and access to information, which governs public access to information related to the AfDB’s operations and AfDB-funded projects.
The Accountability Office
The AfDB’s Independent Review Mechanism (IRM) applies to both private- and public-sector AfDB operations and has both compliance review and problem-solving functions. The IRM may choose to employ one function or the other, both (simultaneously or sequenced), or neither. The IRM is housed in the AfDB’s Compliance Review and Mediation Unit (CRMU), which evaluates the AfDB’s operations.
Submit a complaint to the AfDB’s IRM if:
- You and at least one other person are located in a country where an AfDB project is located; and
- Your rights or interests have been, or are threatened to be, directly, adversely, and materially affected by an AfDB project.
The IRM will review your complaint and either register the complaint, reject it, or request more information. Taking your preference into consideration, the IRM will decide whether a complaint will be dealt with as a problem-solving initiative or compliance review. The problem-solving process involves a dialogue or mediation between you, the bank, and other interested parties. A compliance review will ask whether the AfDB obeyed its policies in designing, implementing, and supervising the project.
If a compliance review is initiated, an IRM expert will conduct an investigation with support from the CRMU. After the review process is concluded, a report will be issued documenting the findings and any potential recommendations to remedy non-compliance. The CRMU will monitor any measures implemented as the result of either the compliance review or problem-solving process.
Accountability Counsel has been instrumental in pushing the IRM to operate according to best practices, including active participation in reviews of the accountability office’s policies. As a result of our advocacy, we have seen improvements to the IRM’s independence, accessibility, and effectiveness.
Along with our partners, we have continued to advocate for the IRM to fully implement its policy and improve operations, and for the AfDB to play a constructive role in the complaint process. In May of 2018, we were in Abidjan for the AfDB’s Civil Society Forum, where we engaged with the bank’s board members, staff, and accountability office to call for improvements in institutional accountability. Prior to forum, we met with over 40 civil society partners to develop strategies for future engagement with the AfDB and other financiers operating in Africa.
In November 2017, October 2018, and November 2019, Accountability Counsel participated in the annual African Coalition for Corporate Accountability (ACCA) General Assemblies in Pretoria, South Africa, Nairobi, Kenya, and Abidjan, Ivory Coast, respectively. ACCA is a coalition of organizations from African countries that supports African communities and individuals whose human rights are adversely impacted daily by the activities of corporations, both multinational and domestic. During the gatherings, we met with partners and stakeholders to share our work on accountability offices, including the AfDB’s IRM, and discuss strategies to hold corporations accountable for harms on the continent. Additional AC reflections on the 2018 the General Assembly can be found here.
In February 2019, we and 33 global partners sent joint recommendations to the AfDB’s Board of Directors, calling for the Board to ensure that the consultation process for the upcoming review of the IRM avoids the missteps of the 2014 IRM review, and is transparent, meaningful, and inclusive. In response, the AfDB committed to a participatory process that includes two rounds of public consultations on key documents.
After a significant delay, the review was finally launched in December 2019 and is expected to run until January 2021. Accountability Counsel will continue to work with our partners to ensure that the IRM is a robust and effective avenue for remedy for communities negatively impacted by AfDB projects.
- Past Advocacy
Documents by Release Date
Feb 2019 – Accountability Counsel and partners sent joint recommendations to the AfDB Board of Directors, calling for a transparent, meaningful, and inclusive consultation process for the upcoming review of the IRM.
Jan 2015 – AfDB Board of Directors approved the revised version of the Resolution establishing the IRM and its operating rules and procedures.
Oct 2014 – Accountability Counsel and partners submitted a joint letter to the AfDB regarding the inadequate public comment process and timeframe, and provided additional input to the proposed changes to the IRM policy.
Sep 2014 – After much pressure from civil society, AfDB publicly posted its proposed amendments to the IRM policy and allowed a short nineteen-day time frame for additional comments.
Aug 2014 – Accountability Counsel, and 12 partner organizations, submitted joint comments on the second review report of the IRM and the IRM policy. Accountability Counsel also endorsed additional comments prepared by the CSO Coalition on the ADB.
Jun 2014 – AfDB undertook its second review of the IRM. An independent consultant hired by the AfDB prepared a draft second review report with recommendations for improvements to the IRM.
Dec 2013 – AfDB released its Policy Statement and Operational Safeguards
May 2012 – AfDB released its Disclosure and Access to Information Policy
Oct 2009 – Accountability Counsel and partners submitted a letter to the AfDB with suggestions for the review of the IRM.
Sep 2009 – AfDB undertook its first review of the IRM. An independent consultant hired by the AfDB prepared a draft review report with recommendations for improvements to the IRM.