Developing Standards of Transparency, Participation and Accountability
The World Bank and ADB are powerful institutions and their operations have enormous influence over people in recipient countries, as high- lighted in Chapter 5. Actions by these institutions have a direct impact on people’s human rights and as a result, they should be held accountable, although current international human rights law does not provide any adequate mechanism for this purpose. Human rights standards are currently addressed to States, but these banks have comparable power to States over people’s lives. The author submits that human rights standards should therefore be extended to apply to IFIs. As mentioned in Chapter 1, campaigners have criticised the IFIs and called for greater transparency, democratic decision-making and accountability. This arises from the general realisation that these institutions are extremely influential and as such, there is an urgent need for democratic control of their power. In response to such criticism, the attitude of the World Bank to human rights has been developing, albeit gradually, over the last 50 years. The Bank used to avoid discussion on human rights, but now it has become more open to debate on such issues, perhaps because it can no longer ignore criticism about its activities. Nevertheless, the Bank has taken some important steps to respond: one such step is the establishment of the Inspection Panel (discussed in detail earlier in this book) which is one of the positive outcomes as a result of calls for greater accountability for IFIs towards those people most affected by its policies.
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