The World Bank, Asian Development Bank and Human Rights

The World Bank, Asian Development Bank and Human Rights

Developing Standards of Transparency, Participation and Accountability

Sanae Fujita

The World Bank and the Asian Development Bank are two of the world’s major institutions conducting development projects. Both banks recognize the importance of transparency, participation and accountability. Responding to criticisms and calls for reform, they have developed policies that are designed to protect these values for people affected by their projects. This original and timely book examines these policies, including those recently revised, through the prism of human rights, and makes suggestions for further improvement. It also analyzes the development of the Banks’ stance to human rights in general.

Chapter 4: Human rights critique of the World Bank and Asian Development Bank’s inspection policy

Sanae Fujita

Subjects: asian studies, asian law, development studies, law and development, law - academic, asian law, human rights, law and development, private international law, politics and public policy, human rights


In 1993, the World Bank created the Inspection Panel (the Panel) to provide an independent forum for private citizens who believed that their interests had been, or could have been, directly harmed by a project financed by the Bank. The establishment of this mechanism was seen as a seminal event by people both inside and outside the Bank. Sabine Schlemmer-Schulte of the World Bank states that the Bank’s creation of the Panel to assess its work was an unprecedented step by an inter- national organisation and that it “proves how seriously the Bank takes its commitment to abide by its own standards”. Further, she states that the Panel contributes to the promotion of human rights because: “As an independent watch-dog mechanism driven by affected people’s initiatives, the Panel has been able to enhance the efficiency of Bank operations, thereby enhancing these operations’ contribution to the achievement of human rights.” However, weaknesses and limitations of the system have been recognised. For instance, it is reported that affected persons and NGOs believe that they are not getting what they are entitled to under the Resolution which established the Inspection Panel.6 The time for admiring the establishment of the Panel has passed and what is now needed is critical evaluation of the system if further improvement is to be achieved. ADB followed the World Bank by establishing an inspection mechanism in 1995. However, this system proved too complicated and was not used until the Samut Prakarn project case in 2001.

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