Guard Against Human Rights Abuses
April 19, 2013
Protecting poor people’s rights to land, food, healthcare, and education are crucial to helping them escape poverty and to ensuring the Bank’s projects do not harm people they are meant to help. By putting human rights at the heart of its 2030 vision, the Bank can ensure that its money does not fund projects that force poor people from their land.
Hannah Stoddard, head of Oxfam’s land campaign

(Washington, DC) –The World Bank’s vision” statement will be undermined if it fails to recognize the importance of human rights, nine organizations warned. The human rights and development groups called on President Jim Kim to make a firm commitment to respect, protect, and fulfill human rights in all of its activities.

“Protecting poor people’s rights to land, food, healthcare, and education are crucial to helping them escape poverty and to ensuring the Bank’s projects do not harm people they are meant to help,” said Hannah Stoddard, head of Oxfam’s land campaign. “By putting human rights at the heart of its 2030 vision, the Bank can ensure that its money does not fund projects that force poor people from their land.
Foreign ministers and central bankers will meet in Washington, DC April 19 through 21, 2013, to discuss the World Bank Group’s new vision statement. This statement is currently missing a commitment to rights.

“For too long the World Bank has used the cloak of its ‘mandate’ to avoid human rights,” said Jessica Evans, senior international financial institutions advocate at Human Rights Watch. “It’s high time the World Bank makes clear that it will not support so-called ‘development’ strategies that run roughshod over rights.”

The groups are Oxfam; Human Rights Watch; CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation; Center for International Environmental Law; Bank Information Center; International Network for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights; Inclusive Development International; International Accountability Project; and Bretton Woods Project.

The groups urged the World Bank to:

  • Make a commitment not to support activities that contribute to or exacerbate human rights violations.
  • Assess the human rights impacts of all World Bank activities and ensure that its safeguards are in line with international human rights standards.
  • Ensure that anyone harmed by World Bank-funded activities has access to effective remedy. The World Bank should take responsibility where harm occurs and take whatever measures are necessary to provide redress.

This call has been reiterated by the United Nations Special Rapporteurs on extreme poverty, indigenous peoples, and the right to food and foreign debt in their April 18 statement.

“Development should be about freedom from fear and freedom from want,” said Mandeep Tiwana, policy and advocacy manager at CIVICUS. “It is critical that the World Bank pursues a vision of development that goes hand in hand with democracy and human rights.”