We are contacting you to express our concerns regarding the final draft of the World Bank's proposed resettlement policy and its implications for indigenous peoples.
We are most concerned that the new language proposed by Bank management in the recently revised draft resettlement policy does not include clear protections for indigenous peoples. As it stands, the proposed policy is implicitly permissive of the forcible relocation of indigenous peoples even where it may result in "significant adverse impacts on their cultural survival" (para9: draft OP4.12).
We urge you to table specific amendments to the policy in order to ensure that there is clear protection for the rights of indigenous peoples and other disadvantaged social groups. We suggest that paragraph 9 of the resettlement policy is strengthened to read as follows
"Bank experience has shown that resettlement of indigenous peoples with traditional land-based modes of production is particularly complex and may have significant adverse impacts on their cultural survival. For this reason, the Bank will finance projects involving the resettlement of indigenous peoples or other ethnic minority communities only if the Bank can ascertain that:
(a) the resettlement is taking place with the free and prior informed onsent of indigenous peoples; and
(b) the compensation package includes land-based resettlement; and
(c) the compensation package incorporates other culturally compatible social and economic benefits."
This paragraph should also include a footnote to highlight the need to apply provisions of OD4.20.
The language suggested above is consistent with that utilized by the Inter-American Development Bank and would meet the recommendations of the World Commission on Dams.
The proposed draft does not incorporate the principle of prior, free and informed consent and so it is contrary to international human rights standards like those of the ILO and those being developed by the Organisation of American States (OAS) and the United Nations.
In Prague last year, the World Bank verbally committed to make explicit reference to human rights in Bank documents. it would be a mistake to allow the proposed draft language to be included in the policy, because that would signal that the bank is in fact falling behind international development standards and international human rights law. We urge the Bank once again to integrate reference to human rights law and international standards for development in its resettlement policy.
Furthermore, the final draft does not define 'voluntary resettlement'. This implicitly introduces a perverse incentive for project planners and borrowers who may be tempted to characterize relocation as 'voluntary' and thereby avoid any policy requirements . We insist that the policy clearly defines what is meant by "voluntary resettlment" with transparent procedures for verifying how genuine consent has been obtained by the Bank and its clients. The Bank should welcome and take advantage of this opportunity to provide standards for projects involving voluntary resettlement. These definitions and safeguards for voluntary resettlement should be added to the Annex of the OP and in the Bank Procedures 4.12 (BP4.12) part of the policy.
The draft policy does not require social and poverty risk assessments. These are only acknowledged as "good practice" (footnote 4: OP4.12). It also does not cover indirect impacts. both of these omissions are lost opportunitites for the bank to deal more effectively with known risks and impacts from involuntary resettlement. We therefore recommend that the policy require a social and poverty risk assessment for all Bank assisted operations involving or likely to cause resettlement in order to fully assess direct and indirect impacts.
We are counting on your support and request you to undertake any possible effort in your capacity as Executive Director to the World Bank to propose modifications to the relevant provisions of the draft policy in order to ensure that the policy includes a clear presumption against any forced relocation of indigenous peoples.
President James Wolfensohn: Fax: +1 202 522 3031
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World Rainforest Movement
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