Doing it Quietly': The World Bank's Engagement with Human Rights
journal contributionposted on 29.10.2019, 08:39 by Rachel Ball
Since the World Bank was established, its approach to human rights has evolved significantly. In the past, the Bank has been restricted by narrow interpretations of the legal framework within which it operates. The Bank's increasingly sophisticated understanding of development has led to the broadening of its mandate. Human rights are now generally considered to fall, to some extent at least, within the lawful scope of its operations. The door has been opened for the Bank to make a meaningful commitment to international human rights law. The Bank has not yet given a clear indication of how it will make this commitment. However, recent formal and informal policy statements suggest that the Bank's intention is to engage with human rights, but to 'do it quietly'. Such an approach constitutes an inadequate recognition of the established link between human rights and development. It may also fall below the standard required of the Bank under international human rights law. It is argued that a more explicit commitment to human rights law should be made through the inclusion of human rights standards in the Bank's operational policies and guidelines. Such a course would assist the Bank in its mission to alleviate poverty and would ensure greater respect for the human rights of those people in developing countries who are the intended beneficiaries of Bank projects.