Principles of International Law for Multilateral Development Banks

Robert T. Coulter, Leonardo A. Crippa, Emily Wann

This paper provides legal support for the argument that multilateral development banks (MDBs) are legally obligated to promote and respect human rights.  Currently, MDBs claim that they are not legally obligated to abide by international human rights law, and they do not have to promote or respect human rights when implementing projects.  However, projects funded by MDBs, like the World Bank and Inter-American Development Bank, often have negative impacts on Indigenous communities and their lands, resources, and environments.  Such MDB projects are often carried out without community consent and in violation of Indigenous peoples’ fundamental rights, including their rights to land, territories, natural resources, self-government, and self-determination.