Using the World Bank Inspection Panel to Defend the Interests of Project-Affected People

By Hunter, David | Chicago Journal of International Law, Spring 2003 | Go to article overview

Using the World Bank Inspection Panel to Defend the Interests of Project-Affected People


Hunter, David, Chicago Journal of International Law


On the banks of Argentina's Parana River, local brickmakers took advantage of the unique qualities of the river's sand and mud to build sustainable, small-scale businesses. Over time, the brickmakers built networks of clients and suppliers-a social fabric that allowed them to carve out comfortable lifestyles. In the 1980s, this social fabric was destroyed, inundated by the rising waters behind the massive Yacyreta Dam.1

For centuries, thousands of impoverished people scraped out a living on the shifting sand islands (known as chars) located in Bangladesh's Jamuna River. The so-called Char people are among the poorest in Bangladesh. Although under normal circumstances, chars might remain for years or decades, in 1999 thousands of the Char people faced losing their homes due to flooding caused by the construction of the Jamuna Bridge project. None of the Char people was scheduled to receive any compensation for the loss of their homes.2

In a remote village one thousand kilometers from Delhi, thousands of rural farmers who live in the Singrauli coal-mining region have seen their villages uprooted and resettled, sometimes more than once. Resistance has been met with police brutality and violence.3

What these communities have in common is that their misfortune resulted from development projects funded by the World Bank-projects ironically aimed at benefiting just such poor and disempowered communities. None of these rural communities was informed of, or allowed to participate in, the decisions that would fundamentally change their lives. The underlying Bank projects were typically designed in closed consultations between their country's finance ministries and World Bank economists.

These communities also have another thing in common: they organized against these development projects, seeking the support of the international activist community, and ultimately bringing claims before the World Bank Inspection Panel ("Panel"). These communities benefited from remarkable local activists who ably linked these communities with international nongovernmental organizations ("NGOs") active in reforming the World Bank. Oscar Rivas and Elias Dias Pena in Paraguay, Majibul Huq Dulu in Bangladesh, and Madhu Kohli in India were key links in the chain of support that allowed the local communities first to learn about their rights under World Bank policies and then to assert those rights at the Panel.

My work at the Center for International Environmental Law ("CIEL") privileged me to be another link in that chain. My colleague Dana Clark and I advised these and other similarly affected people on how to file claims with the Panel. This Essay reflects my experience as an NGO lawyer in pushing for the creation of the Panel, supporting project-affected people in bringing their claims, and then defending the Panel against attacks emanating from inside the World Bank. At times this work has seemed far from the realm of public international law, but that is in fact the point of the Panel-it is a substantial departure from traditional public international law.

Operationalizing the Panel took the active participation of many different players, but the original vision and conceptualization of the Panel came from outside the World Bank-from critics who were looking for ways to make the Bank accountable to the poor communities it was created to serve.4 The Panel was thus created to bridge the gap between international institutions and the people they serve. It was the first international institution that allowed citizens to bypass their national governments in lodging formal complaints that addressed how an international institution affected their lives. Citizens, and the lawyers that represented them, were given direct access to an international forum to press rights-based arguments regarding whether the institution had met its responsibilities. The Panel, then, reflects a citizen advocacy model that has no precedent in international law, outside of a few human rights tribunals. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Using the World Bank Inspection Panel to Defend the Interests of Project-Affected People
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.