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 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 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 →
Do 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 →
We 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 →
How 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 →
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 →
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 →
“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.)
“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…”
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 →
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 →
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).
Dec. 2014 UN experts send letter of concern to World Bank president about its new social standards. “…we believe that it is imperative that the standards should be premised on a recognition of the central importance of respecting and promoting human rights. But there is no such provision in the current draft.” Continue reading →