Africa Human Rights Body Rejects New World Bank Proposals*
The social and environmental safeguards proposed by the World Bank will override regional and international indigenous protection laws.
New World Bank policies “render the protection of our fundamental rights as optional” warned an African human rights organization Thursday. Peter Kitelo from the Forest Indigenous Peoples Network in Kenya said the bank must listen to the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR), which recently rejected the plans.
His remarks were backed up by Joji Carino, Director of the Forest Peoples Programme, who added that
“the international human rights community could not be clearer” about the need to stop the World Bank’s so-called “alternative approach,” which “poses a risk to internationally agreed indigenous peoples’ rights.”
Included in the new standards is a clause which proposes that borrowers – both public and private – offer World Bank funded development projects an “alternative approach” whereby they can opt-out of legal requirements designed to protect indigenous people. This would allow them to avoid both regional and international indigenous rights laws, which have taken years to establish.
In February, the ACHPR met in Gambia for a special meeting where they discussed the new environmental and social standards being proposed by the World Bank. They fear these will allow borrowers to bypass indigenous protection laws.
The African human rights commission concluded by calling on all
“international organizations to further promote human rights on the continent and abstain from taking initiatives that could have a negative impact on policies for the promotion and protection of the rights of indigenous peoples.”
Joji Carino said there is growing momentum against the World Bank moves stating that first the U.N. Special Rapporteurs and now this critical statement from the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights – we hope the Bank is listening.”