Co-Chairs Urge Incorporation of Human Rights Standards in World Bank Safeguards Policies
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Today, Congressmen James P. McGovern and Joseph R. Pitts, Co-Chairs of the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission, issued the following statement urging the World Bank to incorporate robust protections for human rights into its social and environmental safeguard policies:
"This month, as the World Bank concludes an unprecedented review of its environmental and social safeguard policies, we strongly encourage President Jim Yong Kim and the World Bank Board to incorporate robust protections for human rights.
"Although World Bank projects can contribute to the advancement of human rights, many have entailed devastating human rights abuses. In the past, the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission has heard testimony on World Bank projects that have led to or perpetuated forced displacement, forced labor, and violent repression of peaceful opposition, as well as the destruction of the environment and natural resources on which many of the poorest and most vulnerable people depend.
"The safeguards review offers a singular opportunity for the Bank to put in place policies and procedures for identifying and mitigating human rights risks linked to the implementation of its development projects. Over the last four years, as the World Bank has reexamined its social and environmental safeguards, human rights experts, civil society organizations and affected communities have strongly advocated for the incorporation of human rights standards in the updated policies. The current draft policies, however, include only a single general reference to human rights in the introductory “Vision Statement.”
"We urge the World Bank to do more to heed the calls of stakeholders. The World Bank should make explicit that it will respect human rights in all of its operations by incorporating references to relevant international human rights instruments in the updated safeguards policies, and ensuring that human rights risks and impacts are analyzed and mitigated throughout the Bank’s due diligence processes.
"Governments and the multilateral agencies they create should always seek to ensure respect for human rights in all their activities. Ensuring that the World Bank’s social safeguard policies incorporate a deep respect for human rights standards would be an important step in the right direction."