The World Bank is expected this week to approve its New “Environmental and Social Framework”. Many groups are alleging this would weaken human rights protections and / or even endanger the very communities these new rules were intended to protect. Apparently, a series of contradictions that allegedly strengthens the oversight authority of those local governments that are pushing large development projects despite opposition of their own poor and indigenous communities is at the root of the objections to these new rules.
Would the MENA region, which having directly or indirectly benefitted from decades of positive cashflows be also in the whirlwind of debates generated by such rules?
Meanwhile, CommonDreams.org published this article on the new World Bank rule book titled
“Environmental and Social Framework” that shifts responsibility for enforcement of World Bank regulations on human rights and environmental protections to the borrowing nations themselves — leading observers to wonder if the bank is attempting to absolve itself of responsibility for the negative impacts of the projects it funds.
Essentially, the new rules will allow “borrowers, regardless of their track record of corruption or human rights violations, to bulldoze their way through projects without community consent, participation, or oversight,” teleSUR argues.
“Thus, a borrowing country like Uganda, with a long history of LGBTQ human rights abuses,” the Human Rights Campaign notes, “would be responsible for ensuring that LGBTQ people are not harmed by a bank project.”
Moreover, Human Rights Watch reported that “sources inside the World Bank told Human Rights Watch that World Bank management opposed language that would require the bank itself to respect human rights throughout its operations.”
“The bank has effectively dismantled thirty years of environmental and social protections for the world’s most impoverished and vulnerable peoples,” said Stephanie Fried of the Ulu Foundation, a U.S.-based environmental organization, to the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ).
In a press statement, a group of international human rights organizations sounded the alarm about the new rules:
“At a time when the bank intends to finance more high-risk projects in high-risk contexts, the safeguards should provide heightened protection and vigilance. Instead, the bank has proposed increasing ‘flexibility’ and relaxed requirements,” the groups warn.
They welcome the addition of some new provisions on labor and non-discrimination, but say these gains have been “undermined by the replacement of clear time-bound requirements with vague language, loopholes, flexible principles and reliance upon ‘borrower systems’ instead of bank safeguards to determine what social and environmental standards a project must meet.”