Category Archives: Advocacy news

In human rights, judge agrees World Bank is above the law

Article in French only, video has English subtitles.

« La SFI n’éradique pas la pauvreté, elle éradique la vie des pauvres ». Voici les termes d’un des fermiers de la région du Bajo Aguan au Honduras. Le procès « Juana Doe et al. contre SFI » est actuellement en cours aux Etats-Unis. Il oppose la Société Financière Internationale (SFI ou IFC en anglais), branche de la Banque mondiale en charge du secteur privé dans des pays en développement, à des familles paysannes honduriennes. La SFI a accordé des prêts de plusieurs millions de dollars à l’entreprise d’agro-alimentaire Dinant, productrice d’huile de palme. Celle-ci est accusée d’avoir agressé, torturé et même assassiné des paysans pour vouloir récupérer leurs terres et étendre leur exploitation.
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« Addax Bioenergy Project » ou l’art de justifier le land grabbing par le développement avec le soutien de la Banque mondiale

Video with English subtitles. The article is in French only. Pour la vidéo en français, changez votre langue principale (le bouton en haut à droite). Other options are available at our SJC Youtube page!

« Ils sont venus nous dire qu’ils voulaient nous extraire de notre pauvreté. Au lieu de ça, ils en ont ajouté. » Voici comment un habitant de Lungi Acre, village de Sierra Leone, résumait l’implantation d’un projet des biocarburants à l’occasion d’une réunion communautaire en 2010. Continue reading

Major companies unable to answer questions about their human rights policies

SJC survey on international businesses and human rights protection indicates that most companies are largely unprepared to answer questions about their human rights policies and practices.

Survey reportIn February and March 2017 a team at Social Justice Connection asked business professionals about their companies’ policies and practices with regard to human rights protection.
Invitations to take part advised potential participants that the survey questions focused on the human rights policies and practices in their businesses. It sought to identify the methods and procedures, if any, used in different businesses with regard to enforcing and managing human rights. A summary of the survey results is available here:  Survey report Continue reading

On poverty and the need for cooperation between the power players in global governance

Global poverty is the biggest human rights challenge we face. There has been progress as the world grows economically and many enjoy significant technological advances (especially in entertainment and social media!), so that the percentage of people in extreme poverty reduced significantly in the past twenty-five years. Yet 3 billion people still live in poverty (less than $2.50 a day), 1.3 billion in extreme poverty (less than $1.25 a day), the number of people with severe hunger has grown to more than 100 million, and the first famine in six years is underway. There are more people in slavery than ever before. We are in an age of seemingly endless war, yet war kills fewer people than unsafe water.

We may be outraged that some 60 people have more wealth than those 3 billion in poverty, but that does not begin to address the dynamics of power and exploitation than accompany poverty and drive social upheaval. To examine the dynamics of power and explore possibilities of dealing with these challenges, we need to consider how global power relationships work. Continue reading

The Gambia, and the pitfalls of ignoring human rights in development finance

The Gambia is the smallest country on the African continent, with fewer than two million people, most of them in deep poverty. From 1994 until this week, it was governed by the dictator Yahya Jammeh. He was intolerant of any form of criticism, so journalists and political opponents faced death threats, surveillance, arbitrary arrests and murder.

World Bank funding to The Gambia increased in recent years

World Bank financial support of The Gambia has increased in recent years.

Despite the rights abuse and pervasive corruption, the country is a destination for World Bank financial assistance. World Bank support of The Gambia (not including its private sector investments) has grown in recent years, even as other donors, like the EU and US, suspended aid because of rights abuse. Continue reading

Unequal standards when it comes to human rights and procurement

Human rights and procurement

ContractsDo governmental and international institutions meet the human rights standards expected of the private sector?

Not in terms of procurement and its social and human rights impacts, it appears to me. I admit I don’t have much background in this stuff. Procurement seems so distant from the gritty world of human rights abuse. But a quick look around opened my eyes to a few concerns. Continue reading

Businesses as human rights advocates?

The four basic human rightsWe no longer need to say that businesses should become engaged in human rights issues. That bridge has been crossed, starting with the widespread recognition of their responsibility to prevent abuse. Now, businesses are becoming human rights advocates.

What a strange paragraph to write, especially since I’m the director of a human rights advocacy NGO! Is it true? Are businesses really getting active on behalf of human rights, and moving from defense to offense when it comes to protecting rights? Will that engagement will be constructive for the largest number of people possible? Will it be informed and effective? Will it necessarily mean confrontation between business and governments? What forms of partnership will emerge? Continue reading

Compare World Bank standards with those of private corporations

World BankHow far have the expectations of corporate social responsibility surpassed those of the World Bank, whose policies set the standard for the global fight against poverty? Quite a bit!

How is it that world’s biggest organization charged with improving the lives of people in poverty, and doing so with public funds, can have such weak human rights standards compared to those set for and by private corporations? Continue reading

World Bank bows to repressive regimes, excludes human rights from its new social protection policy

World Bank president

Jim Yong Kim, World Bank president Photo: World Bank

World Bank management has presented its board of directors with a final draft of the new policy on social and environmental protection. The new policy confirms the World Bank’s refusal to recognize international human rights law, such as the UN Convention on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights or the conventions on the rights of women, children, people with disabilities or indigenous people. Continue reading

SJC launches LinkedIn discussion on corporate social responsibility & human rights

Beyond CSRThe SJC is starting a new LinkedIn group, called Beyond CSR.  Its purpose is to:

  • Explore how corporate social responsibility could expand to include working actively to eliminate poverty and promote human rights.
  • Identify how businesses, human rights advocates and development groups can cooperate and support a human rights-based approach to poverty reduction.

Continue reading

World Bank president dismisses human rights, accepts that bad stuff is part of World Bank work

Updates: The edited video we posted on Youtube was removed because of a copyright claim by Union Theological Seminary.

World Bank President Jim Kim set aside human rights concerns and accepted that certain “incidents” are unavoidable for hydroelectric development in a talk he gave at the seminary on April 6, 2016. (“You cannot do the kind of work we are trying to do and not have some of these incidents happen.”) Click here to see the full video of the talk on Youtube.

What did he mean by “incidents”? Was he refering to like the killing of rights activists? It seeemed so to us, but you can decide yourself. Continue reading

Religious leaders ask World Bank president to support human rights

Letter from religious leaders“As spiritual and religious leaders or organizations, we are writing you today regarding the needs of those who suffer discrimination and violence because of their expression of faith. Because this discrimination so often occurs in countries supported by World Bank funding, we urge you to consider the Bank’s obligations under international human rights agreements…”

People of various faiths around the world send a letter asking for protection of human rights in World Bank funding. (Organized by Social Justice Connection.)

Letter about human rights to World Bank president from journalists’ organizations

Letter to President Kim“As journalists, reporters and representatives of the media, we are writing you today regarding the needs of those who suffer discrimination and violence because of their expression of opinion. Because this discrimination so often occurs in countries supported by World Bank funding, we urge you to consider the Bank’s obligations under international human rights agreements, specifically Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights…”

Letter from journalists’ groups to World Bank President Kim 15 April 2016, (This letter was organized by Social Justice Connection.)

Six World Bank directors unite on rights

World Bank building sign

The World Bank building in Washington DC

Six of the twenty-five members of the Bank’s board of directors sent a strong message of support for an explicit human rights policy, In a confidential statement sent to a high-level committee of the World Bank.

Their statement was sent in June to the Committee on Development Effectiveness (CODE), which includes a mix of board members and senior management. This is the committee of the World Bank that determines broad policy directions and aspects of accountability.

The statement sent to CODE was direct in identifying where the latest draft of social protection policy was lacking – human rights standards: Continue reading

Latest World Bank policy draft weak on rights

Oscar Geovanny Ramírez

Oscar Geovanny Ramírez, 17 years old, murdered in Honduras by gunmen of a landowner who got millions of dollars in World Bank support.

The latest draft of social and environmental standards at the world’s largest development organization, the World Bank, has just been released. So how are they doing on human rights? Not so good…

This is a revised version of a draft that was issued a year ago, and provides the basic text that will go the Bank’s board of directors for approval after a final round of responses. Continue reading

SJC Input to World Bank consultation

Jan. 2015 The SJC declines participation in World Bank consultation in Ottawa about social safeguards. Instead, we sent our assessment of the flawed process and why the World Bank dodges its human rights obligations. It is available on the World Bank web site here (you can go to the document directly here).