In 1993, the creation of the World Bank Inspection Panel – the first independent accountability mechanism – marked a pivotal moment in development finance and international law. It was the first time communities negatively affected by international financial institution projects possessed an avenue to raise their concerns and the seek redress for harms.
More than twenty years later, the Panel has received nearly 100 requests for assistance from all over the world, and the innovation of the Panel has spurred the creation of similar accountability mechanisms at more than twenty other international development banks and bilateral investment institutions.
But accountability mechanisms can only be as good as the standards they enforce. The World Bank’s new environmental and social safeguard policies draft would roll back hard-won protections for communities and the environment – and therefore impact the ability of communities to seek redress for harms caused by development projects.
Nothing short of strengthening the Inspection Panel and ensuring that safeguards provide strong, enforceable protections will demonstrate a serious commitment to promoting shared prosperity at the World Bank.