Skip to main content

Ahead of July 30 World Bank board meet, world opposition to "relaxation" in safeguards for poor grows

By Our Representative
The National Alliance for People’s Movements (NAPM), the apex body of India’s top rights bodies, has released fresh details on rising opposition by civil society organizations around the world decrying a leaked draft of the World Bank’s proposed new policies, which allegedly seek to “avoid” harmful impacts from the development projects that it finances. “As many as 97 NGOs and civil society networks and 17 distinguished individuals from Asia-Pacific, Africa, Latin America, North America and Europe sent a statement to the World Bank’s Board, demanding the draft be sent back and re-written with serious safeguards to protect the land, housing and livelihood the poor" (click  HERE to read), NAPM has said.
Even as the draft is to be discussed by the Bank’s board on July 30 ahead of public consultations,
Joji Carino, Director of the Forest Peoples Programme, UK, has said, “We have engaged with social and environmental safeguard development with the World Bank for over twenty years and have never seen a proposal with potential for such widespread negative impacts for indigenous peoples around the world. The proposed ‘opt-out’ for protections for indigenous peoples, in particular, would undermine existing international human rights law and the significant advances seen in respect for indigenous peoples rights in national laws.”
 Theodore Downing, President of the International Network on Displacement and Resettlement, a 14-year old network of involuntary resettlement professionals based in the United States, has contended, “The proposed changes eviscerate existing international standards - knowingly placing millions of people at risks of impoverishment.” 
 “The Bank is trying to exonerate itself from all responsibility for the devastating effects of the displacement it finances, while giving private equity funds to some of the world’s most abusive governments unfettered discretion to uproot the poor as they fit,” said David Pred, Managing Director of Inclusive Development International, US.
TepVanny, a community leader from Boeung Kak Lake, said, “Land titling projects are exempted from the coverage of the draft resettlement policy. This will leave affected communities completely unprotected from forced eviction by their government, as happened in the case of Cambodia’s Boeung Kak Lake community whose homes were demolished after they were deemed not to have ownership rights under a Bank-titling project. If this policy is adopted, many communities around the world will be forcibly evicted like mine was, and they will not be able to seek any recourse from the Bank.”
“Tep Vanny, a community leader from Boeung Kak Lake. After filing a complaint with the World Bank’s Inspection Panel about the controversial project, Tep Vanny and local organisations finally secured title for hundreds of families that were previously threatened with eviction. With the proposed changes to the Bank’s policy, that would not have been possible”, NAPM comments.
NAPM adds, “Despite the growing land-grabbing crisis displacing countless indigenous communities, small farmers, fisher-folk and pastoralists throughout the global south, the draft policy fails to incorporate any serious protections to prevent Bank funds from supporting land-grabs. 
 “In Ethiopia, World Bank funds have been used to facilitate one the world’s biggest land grabs, with the indigenous populations of entire regions being uprooted to make way for agro-industrial investments.We had hoped that the new safeguards would include strong requirements to prevent governments like Ethiopia from abusing its people with Bank funds, but we are shocked to see the Bank instead opening the flood-gates for more abuses,” said Obang Metho, Executive Director of the Solidarity Movement for a New Ethiopia.
“Not only is the current draft an unconscionable weakening, it is a complete misrepresentation of two years of consultations with civil society. The Bank's Board must not endorse this draft, and at a minimum must insist that these fundamental loopholes be addressed before the next round of consultations," said SasankaThilakasiri, Policy Advisor for Oxfam International.
NAPM’s Madhuresh Kumar believes, “This draft effectively winds back the clock to the 1970s, before the Bank had binding policies in place to protect the poor and the environment. We see nothing more than a naked attempt by the Bank to shield itself from accountability for the destructive impacts of the mega-projects it is planning.” He adds, “Most shockingly, the draft policies provide an opt-out option for governments that do not wish to provide essential land and natural resource rights protections to Indigenous Peoples.”
“The draft also weakens protections for people who will be evicted from their homes, land and livelihoods, increasing the risk that Bank-financed projects will impoverish people, exacerbate inequality and cause human rights violations. The proposal scraps critical rules that have been in place for thirty years requiring the Bank to take concerted measures to avoid and minimise displacement and for resettlement action plans capable of restoring the livelihoods of the displaced to be in place before committing funds to projects”, NAPM says.

It adds, the draft “provides multiple opportunities for borrower governments, or even private intermediary banks, to use their own standards for impact assessment, compensation and resettlement, without clear criteria on when and how this would be acceptable.”
---
Also read:

Comments

TRENDING

India under Modi among top 10 autocratizing nations, on verge of 'losing' democracy status

By Rajiv Shah
A new report, prepared by a top Swedish institute studying liberal democracy, has observed that there has been a sharp “dive in press freedom along with increasing repression of civil society in India associated with the current Hindu-nationalist regime of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.” The report places India among the top 10 countries that “have autocratized the most”. Other countries that have been identified for rolling towards autocracy are -- Hungary, Turkey, Poland, Serbia, Brazil, Mali, Thailand, Nicaragua and Zambia.

Savarkar 'criminally betrayed' Netaji and his INA by siding with the British rulers

By Shamsul Islam*
RSS-BJP rulers of India have been trying to show off as great fans of Netaji. But Indians must know what role ideological parents of today's RSS/BJP played against Netaji and Indian National Army (INA). The Hindu Mahasabha and RSS which always had prominent lawyers on their rolls made no attempt to defend the INA accused at Red Fort trials.

Border conflict? RBI nod India's 'brotherly' help to China internationalise its currency

By Bhabani Shankar Nayak*
In the middle of a global pandemic, China started an unprovoked border conflict with India. It unraveled trust deficit and ties between the two neighbours. As thousands of Chinese troops tried occupying Indian territory, the Narendra Modi-led BJP government directs the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to allow the Bank of China to start regular banking services in India. The Bank of China will now operate in India like any other commercial banks.

RSS supremo Deoras 'supported' Emergency, but Indira, Sanjay Gandhi 'didn't respond'

By Shamsul Islam*
National Emergency was imposed on the country by then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi on June 25-26, 1975, and it lasted for 19 months. This period is considered as ''dark times' for Indian democratic polity. Indira Gandhi claimed that due to Jaiprakash Narayan's call to the armed forces to disobey the 'illegal' orders of Congress rulers had created a situation of anarchy and there was danger to the existence of Indian Republic so there was no alternative but to impose Emergency under article 352 of the Constitution.

Letter to friends, mentors: Coming together of class, communal, corona viruses 'scary'

By Prof (Dr) Mansee Bal Bhargava*
COVID greetings from Ahmedabad to dear mentors and friends from around the world…
I hope you are keeping well and taking care of yourself besides caring for the people around you. I’m writing to learn how is the science and the society coping with the prevention and cure of the pandemic. I’m also writing to share the state of the corona virus that is further complicated with the long-standing class and communal viruses.

Clean chit to British rulers, Muslim League? Karnataka to have Veer Savarkar flyovers

By Shamsul Islam*
The BJP government of Karnataka led by BS Yediyurappa is going to honour Hindutva icon VD Savarkar by naming two of the newly built major flyovers in Bangalore and Mangalore after him. There was a huge uproar against this decision of the RSS-BJP government as many pro-Kannada organisations with opposition parties and liberal-secular organizations questioned the logic to ignore so many freedom fighters, social reformers and others from within the state.

Hurried nod to Western Ghat projects: 16 lakh Goans' water security 'jeopardised'

Counterview Desk
Taking strong exception to "virtual clearances" to eco-sensitive projects in the Western Ghats, the National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM) in a statement has said urged for a review of the four-lane highway, 400 KV transmission line and double tracking of the railway line through the Bhagwan Mahavir Wildlife Sanctuary and Mollem National Park in Goa.

Disturbing signal? Reliance 'shifting focus' away from Indian petrochemical sector

By NS Venkataraman*
Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL), a large Indian company, has expanded and grown in a spectacular manner during the last few decades, like of which no industrial group in India has performed before. RIL is now involved in multi various activities relating to petroleum refineries, petrochemicals, oil and gas exploration, coal bed methane, life sciences, retail business, communication network, (Jio platform) media/entertainment etc.

Case for nationalising India's healthcare system amidst 'strong' private control

Counterview Desk
A draft discussion note, prepared by Dr Maya Valecha, a Gujarat-based gynecologist and activist, sent to the People's Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) as also a large number of activists, academics and professionals as an email alert, is all set to create a flutter among policy experts for its strong insistence on nationalizing India’s healthcare system.