The World Bank is planning to include a policy against discrimination in its new social safeguard standards. This is a big step forward for the institution, because it has refused to adopt explicit commitments to protect human rights in the past.
“Consulation” no longer good enough:Consent of local indigenous people now required for commercial projects
The World Bank division that funds private sector projects, the International Finance Corporation (IFC), recently revised its operating guidelines to require the “free, prior and informed consent” (FPIC) of indigenous people for projects affecting them. This replaces a much-criticized policy that only required “consultation” with local people.
Human rights groups are pleased with the change, for which they have lobbied for years, but are concerned that the new policy – set out in what are called “Performance Standards” – does not go far enough and that the IFC will limit its use. In February, several international NGOs sent a letter to the IFC claiming, among other things, that the “IFC’s current approach does not include a clear commitment to ensuring that human rights are respected and protected in the context of its activities. IFC’s approach is also inconsistent with, and undermines, the emerging international consensus on the responsibility of companies to take concrete actions to ensure that they respect human rights.” Continue Reading
eye on the World Bank and IMF:Experts assess compliance by Department of Finance with law requiring human rights in international aid
In 2008, the Canadian government passed the Official Development Assistance (ODA) Accountability Act in order to increase the effectiveness of Canadian aid money in developing countries. The Act stipulates that through its ODA, Canada must contribute to poverty reduction, take into account the perspectives of the poor, and be consistent with international human rights issues.
10% of Canadian ODA is channeled to the World Bank by way of the Department of Finance. While the World Bank claims that it informally supports human rights, there is no operations policy that enforces them; the Bank claims that human rights is a political issue that falls beyond the scope of its mandate.
So, how does Department of Finance plan to uphold the Act with regards to human rights standards? Continue Reading