(Washington, DC) – The World Bank should heed the call of 28 United Nations experts to respect and promote human rights, Human Rights Watch said today.

The World Bank is in the process of reviewing and updating its safeguard policies, which are intended to prevent harm to communities and the environment arising from bank projects. But in preparing draft standards, bank officials appear to have gone out of their way to avoid any meaningful references to human rights and international human rights law, the experts said in a December 12, 2014 letter to the World Bank president, Jim Kim.

“The World Bank’s update of its safeguard policies provided an ideal opportunity for the bank to finally ensure that it does not finance activities that result in human rights abuses,” said Jessica Evans, senior international financial institutions researcher at Human Rights Watch. “Instead, as the UN experts say, the bank has yet again turned its back on its human rights obligations and on the very communities it is meant to support.”

In their 17-page letter, the 28 United Nations special rapporteurs on human rights urged Kim to ensure that the bank’s new environmental and social policies are premised on a recognition of the central importance of respecting and promoting human rights.

The letter was the most extensive joint effort by the UN special rapporteurs to express their concerns about World Bank policy.