"Development" versus "Sustainable Development"? (Re-) Constructing the International Bank for Sustainable Development

By Lorenzo, Johanna Aleria P. | Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law, March 2018 | Go to article overview

"Development" versus "Sustainable Development"? (Re-) Constructing the International Bank for Sustainable Development


Lorenzo, Johanna Aleria P., Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law


TABLE OF CONTENTS  I.     INTRODUCTION                             401 II.    THE WORLD BANK:        FROM INTERNATIONAL        FINANCIAL INSTITUTION TO        DEVELOPMENT        BANK TO SUSTAINABLE                      406        DEVELOPMENT AGENCY          A. Early Shift                         406            From Reconstruction            To Development          B. "Sustainable Development"           411            in World Bank            Documents III.   THE CONCEPT OF                           416        SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT:          A CONTEMPORANEOUS EVOLUTION          A. UN Initiatives and                  420             International             Instruments: From             Stockholm to          B. International Jurisprudence         424 IV.    IN DEFENSE OF                            427        WORLD BANK MISSION        RECONSTRUCTION          A. Mission Reconstruction,             427             Not Mission Creep          B. Teleological, Evolutionary,         431             and Contextual Approaches             to Constituent Treaty             Interpretation          C. Authority to Evolve                 437             and Expand             1. Economic-Political "Dichotomy"   437             2. Purposes                         440        D. Discretion to Evolve                  448           and Expand             1. Environment                      448             2. Governance                       453             3. Human Rights                     456 V.     MANAGING DISCRETION AND                  462        ACCOUNTING FOR        INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY        EXPECTATIONS:        A PROPOSED INTERPRETIVE        FRAMEWORK VI.    CONCLUSION: RECONSTRUCTING               472        THE WORLD BANK        AS A SUSTAINABLE        DEVELOPMENT AGENCY  "Sustainable development is about - if it is about anything - ensuring that legitimate human needs are met without sacrificing environmental resources in the process. If one is to believe that States have 'adopted' sustainable development as the way forward, this needs to be reflected in what goes on within international organisations of which they are a part. International organisations must be active, not passive, players in global developments reflecting the interests of their members. "A word is not a crystal, transparent and unchanged, it is the skin of a living thought and may vary greatly in color and content according to the circumstances and the time in which it is used. 

I. INTRODUCTION

"Keynes would be rolling over in his grave were he to see what has happened to his child." (3) Referring to the detrimental effects resulting from the structural adjustment programs that the International Monetary Fund (IMF; the Fund), together with the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD; the Bank; the World Bank), (4) supported in the eighties and nineties, former World Bank Chief Economist Joseph Stiglitz made this remark to criticize the so-called mission creep in the Fund, which has come to champion "market supremacy with ideological fervor" in spite of its being supposedly "[f]ounded on the belief that markets often worked badly." (5)

In a slightly similar vein, this Article begins with the observation that the World Bank of today, whose avowed mission is to "end extreme poverty within a generation and boost shared prosperity," (6) would be somewhat unrecognizable to participants at the Bretton Woods Conference as the same institution they created in 1944.

In contrast to Stiglitz, however, this Article contends that the mission reconstruction (1) in the Bank--meaning, the expansion and modification of its operational scope and organizational structure--is legally sound and normatively desirable, and should be maintained, if not enhanced and accelerated, to transform the World Bank into a sustainable development agency. In this regard, the policy proliferation associated with the Bank's assumption of new activities, particularly those that are non-economic in character, is sometimes referred to as "mission creep. …

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