World Bank: Ducking Human Rights Issues | Human Rights Watch.
Summary: (Washington, DC) – The World Bank has closed its eyes to risks to the human rights of the very people it seeks to benefit, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. The bank lacks adequate checks to guard against funding human rights abuse. The bank’s board will meet as part of its ongoing policy review, which provides an opportunity to remedy this policy gap, in Washington on July 23, 2013.
The 59-page report, “Abuse-Free Development: How the World Bank Should Safeguard Against Human Rights Violations,” draws on Human Rights Watch research from around the globe to document the harm caused to some of the world’s most vulnerable people by bank-financed programs. Human Rights Watch drew on three case studies, one from Vietnam and two fromEthiopia, to illustrate how the bank neither acknowledged the human rights risks of the programs it financed nor took steps to mitigate the problems.
“The World Bank pays tens of billions of dollars every year to support development efforts around the world,” said Jessica Evans, senior advocate on international financial institutions at Human Rights Watch. “But it needs to stop undermining its efforts by making sure it isn’t contributing to human rights abuses.”
The World Bank’s recently adopted goals to end extreme poverty and promote shared prosperity are inextricably linked to the right of everyone to an adequate standard of living, including adequate food, water, and housing, Human Rights Watch said. But the bank cannot meaningfully achieve these goals in complex environments without ensuring that it respects the rights of the people it is working to benefit.
The World Bank’s two year review and update of its safeguard policies, which began in October 2012, provides an opportunity for the bank to create a due diligence framework that will enable it to identify the human rights impacts of its activities. Such a framework would help the bank take measures to mitigate negative impacts, maximize positive impacts, and avoid financing projects and programs that will contribute to, or exacerbate, human rights violations. The World Bank should make human rights law a key component of its development manifesto.
In several cases, the World Bank has neither acknowledged nor mitigated human rights risks in its programs, Human Rights Watch found. As a result, for example, in Vietnam, the World Bank has funded programs in government drug detention centers in which Human Rights Watch has documented arbitrary detention, forced labor, torture, and other forms of ill-treatment.