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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.
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Chapter 1: The World Bank, Asian Development Bank and human rights

Sanae Fujita


This chapter examines the relationship between human rights and the World Bank and Asian Development Bank (ADB). Human rights issues facing the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) have been discussed in several UN human rights meetings. In reply to those criticisms, the World Bank has quoted from section 10 of the Articles of Agreement Article IV, which specifies that “The Bank and its officers shall not interfere in the political affairs of any member … Only economic considerations shall be relevant to their decisions …”. This means the World Bank’s interpretation of the terms “political affairs” and “economic considerations” affects its attitude to human rights issues. Both the World Bank’s interpretation of these terms and its attitude towards human rights has changed dramatically during the past 50 years. This book sets out the development of the World Bank’s attitude towards human rights from the 1960s to the present and submits that it can be divided into four stages.

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