Human Rights and Multilateral Development Banks

It’s time for the IDB to make good on its pledge and respect the rights of indigenous peoples

It’s been two years since the Executive Board of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) pledged to review and update its Indigenous Peoples Policy – part of the response to the Center’s complaint against the IDB-financed Mareña Renovables Wind Project in Oaxaca, Mexico. The project had drawn intense opposition from indigenous communities that feared the wind turbines and infrastructure would interfere with their cultural traditions, including limiting access to their sacred sites and damaging the fishery – their principal source of food and income. The IDB’s Directors have acknowledged that for the bank to work more effectively, it must ensure the "institutional and regulatory framework of projects involving indigenous communities be based on international best practices." The IDB’s current Indigenous Peoples Policy dates back to 2006. Since then, both the United Nations and the Organization of American States have both adopted declarations on the rights of indigenous peoples. The Center and many major indigenous organizations in Mexico and Central and South America are pushing the IDB to review and update its Indigenous Peoples Policy in consultation with indigenous peoples. We are bringing the IDB’s attention to the policy’s main shortcomings with respect to the legal standards set by the declarations

Ensuring all businesses and banks respect indigenous rights

The Indian Law Resource Center is working to include indigenous peoples’ collective rights and the human rights obligations of public sector financial institutions in a new treaty to govern transnational corporations and other business entities. Center staff, Chris Foley, delivered a statement to the UN Working Group on Oct. 24, 2016, in Geneva. The future international legally binding instrument is meant to address gaps in international law and in the voluntary guidelines of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.

Panel Discussion Highlights Need to Safeguard Indigenous Peoples’ Collective Ownership Rights

On October 9, the Center hosted a panel discussion to highlight Indigenous Peoples’ land rights and the impacts of development activities financed by the World Bank. The event, “Indigenous Peoples’ Lands and Development: World Bank Interventions and Lessons Learned”, was held at the World Bank headquarters in Washington, DC.

Inter-American Development Bank to Investigate Harmful Wind Power Project in Mexico

A massive wind farm project, partially funded by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), is under investigation by the IDB’s Panel of Investigators for negatively impacting seven indigenous communities in Oaxaca, Mexico. The Center is providing legal assistance to the communities to ensure that there is an independent investigation of the project and that their concerns are properly addressed by the IDB’s Board of Directors.

Center urges World Bank to ensure indigenous peoples’ participation in policy review

On November 15, the World Bank held its first consultation with civil society organizations as part of a two-year process to review and update its social and environmental policies. The Center participated in the consultation to advocate for stronger protections for indigenous peoples and to urge the Bank to ensure that the experiences and recommendations of indigenous peoples are able to play a leading role in shaping any new policy framework.

Bringing Indigenous Rights to Rio+20

Securing an approach to development which respects the rights and protects the livelihoods of the world’s indigenous peoples is one of the Center’s core goals. In March, Washington Office Director Armstrong Wiggins and staff members Gretchen Gordon and Karla General joined with indigenous peoples’ organizations at the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD) to advocate for indigenous rights protections.

Center's REDD-related Comments on FPIC Guidelines; Benefit and Risk Assessment Tool

The Center has filed additional comments related to REDD+ in our continued efforts to raise awareness of the importance of indigenous peoples’ rights in all efforts to combat climate change. We submitted comments to the UN-REDD Programme on two draft policies: the Draft Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) Guidelines and the Draft Principles and Criteria and Benefit and Risk Assessment Tool.

The Center Responds to Potential Policies Impacting Indigenous Peoples’ Human Rights

The International Finance Corporation (IFC) is the private sector lending arm of the World Bank.  It has some of the greatest impacts on indigenous communities around the world because it funds numerous multi-national companies and private actors.  The IFC is reviewing its processes in regards to Sustainability Framework, including the Policy on Social and Environmental Sustainability, Performance Standards, and the Policy of Disclosure of Information.

Multilateral Development Banks

Multilateral development banks (MDBs) and some national development banks play a central role in the approval of large-scale development projects, such as dams and forestry initiatives, which have had devastating effects on indigenous peoples and other local communities. The Center works to ensure that these financial institutions respect the environment and human rights of indigenous peoples in all their development activities.

Multilateral Development Banks and Human Rights Responsibility

This article analyzes whether international tribunals can find Multilateral Development Banks (MDBs) liable for human rights violations that occur in developing countries as a result of projects financed by these MDBs. It seeks to address the gap under international law concerning direct responsibility of MDBs, as well as to provide legal approaches for the progressive development of an applicable international legal framework. 

Comments and Recommendations on the IFC’s proposed Policy on Social and Environmental Sustainability and Performance Standards

The Indian Law Resource Center responds to the proposed International Finance Corporation policy that affects Indigenous peoples’ human rights.


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