2010 Reviews of OPIC’s Environmental and Social Policy

OPIC has its own set of policies that it has committed to following when it makes decisions to give financing or insurance to corporations. OPIC substantially revised its operational policies in 2010 with Accountability Counsel feedback through OPIC’s notice and comment period.

On 20 March, 2010, Accountability Counsel submitted comments to OPIC regarding its draft environmental and social policy statement.

On 10 September, 2010, Accountability Counsel submitted comments to OPIC regarding its draft human rights and labor policy statement .

On 15 October, 2010, OPIC released its final environmental and social policy statement, abandoning many of the advances in the draft human rights and labor policy in favor of merging less specific human rights language into the existing environmental and social policy.

We remain concerned that OPIC chose not to improve upon its draft, but rather to weaken it in the following ways:

  • We are concerned that the current policy provides insufficient guidance for both OPIC staff and clients regarding how to identify, analyze and address human rights risks and impacts. Notably, the ESPS retreats on the position taken in the labor and human rights draft policy that OPIC would conduct an independent project review of human rights impacts.
  • While the ESPS suggests that OPIC conducts its own reviews, the policy does not clarify whether these are reviews of human rights risks in particular and, if so, why and when such reviews are triggered. Only review of client-provided data and consultation with the Department of State is accounted for in the ESPS itself.
  • Sections 3.2 and 3.5 of the ESPS leave a number of questions unanswered. For example, if the ESPS allows for self-serving documents to provide the basis of further OPIC review, it is unclear to what extent human rights risks and impacts will be part of the client information provided and based on what criteria and guidance. It is also unclear when OPIC would choose to challenge such information and what criteria they would use in their evaluation.

Accountability Counsel and others provided detailed analysis of this issue in our comments on the labor and human rights draft policy to improve on that draft so that the criteria and duties of both OPIC and its clients would be more clear. We are concerned that not only are the duties and responsibilities less clear in the final ESPS, but that the criteria used for evaluation of human rights risks are now absent entirely.