The World Bank, Asian Development Bank and Human Rights
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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 5: Case studies: Human rights analysis of inspection cases of the World Bank and Asian Development Bank

Developing Standards of Transparency, Participation and Accountability

Sanae Fujita


In this chapter, two cases will be examined: the World Bank 1999 China Western Poverty Reduction Project (CWPRP) and ADB 2000 Samut Prakarn Wastewater Management Project. As will be seen, both projects have had a significant impact on the Banks’ accountability mechanisms. Clark and Treakle consider the CWPRP as “one of the most controversial projects in the history of the World Bank, and it generated an enormous internal crisis.” As explained earlier, until the second review of the World Bank inspection mechanism in 1998, the World Bank Inspection Panel (“the Panel”) could not carry out a full investigation due to interference by management throughout its action plan. In CWPRP, for the first time since the Arun case in 1994, the Board authorised the Panel to conduct a full investigation. This case had a long-term impact including “structural change at the World Bank; internal concern about the ‘cost of compliance;’ impacts on the Bank’s relationship with civil society; and the Bank’s relationship with China.” CWPRP raised many human rights issues. China’s policy on Tibet contained contravened minority and Indigenous People’s rights, such as cultural rights, the prohibition against torture, and freedom of religion. Therefore, the World Bank’s support for this Chinese policy through the project became the subject of criticism. Further, the CWPRP violated many human rights, including the three rights examined in the previous chapters. The Samut Prakarn project was the first inspection case in ADB. This claim compelled ADB to examine how its projects affected ordinary people.

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