Advocating for the World Bank to Commit to Human Rights

A group of ESCR-Net members has begun a campaign to demand the World Bank make a commitment to not cause or contribute to human rights violations through any of its activities. The goal is to deploy a unified outreach and advocacy campaign to press the Bank to commit to respecting and protecting human rights and to amend their policies and practices to reflect that commitment. This would include new World Bank policy requirements to conduct human rights impact assessments (HRIA), in accordance with international human rights law and current leading HRIA tools and best practices.  Similarly, a commitment to human rights would involve improved access to effective remedy for people affected by Bank projects.  ESCR-Net is also collaborating with the Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL) and International Accountability Project (IAP) with their Bank on Rights 'Early Warning System' project, as a member of the Advisory Panel. The Early Warning System is designed to alert communities to projects funded by Multilateral Development Banks (MDBs) that may affect their rights. Armed with information about the project and the standards that apply to them, communities can demand that the MDBs respect their rights.  

In the lead up to the World Bank Spring Meetings in 2013, ESCR-Net contributed an online advocacy piece  to strengthen civil society awareness of the human rights responsibilities of the World Bank. At the meetings, ESCR-Net members lobbied senior management to make a commitment to human rights, developed new civil society partnerships, and strengthened relationships with key departments of the World Bank, including members of the office of the Inspection Panel.  At the meetings ESCR-Net joined with a group of other human rights organisations to call on the World Bank to incorporate a human rights commitment into their 2030 vision. As part of the World Bank's review of their safeguard policies, ESCR-Net also made a joint submission outlining how the World Bank could begin incorporating human rights into their policies and practices, particularly human rights due diligence procedures.  Moving forward, ESCR-Net is committed to strengthening the campaign leadership of Members from around the world, who often have direct experience in engaging the World Bank and confronting the human rights impacts of lending policies and practices.  

The Working Group welcomes your involvement.  To contribute to this emerging campaign or for more information, please contact Dominic Renfrey at: drenfrey [at]