The World Bank has just forwarded its revised draft resettlement policy to the full Board of Executive Directors for discussion and approval. Starting August 20th, Executive Directors will be returning to their offices from a two week recess, and it is crucial to capture their attention immediately about the resettlement policy. We believe that it will be placed on their agenda shortly after the recess.
Thanks to the strong public mobilization on earlier drafts of this policy, the Bank has responded to some concerns by defining more terms and removing some offensive language of its previous document.
In this “revised” policy there are still many fundamental problems that will violate the rights of indigenous peoples and other vulnerable groups. Most alarming is the fact that the proposed policy will still permit the forcible relocation of indigenous peoples even where it may result in "significant adverse impacts on their identity and cultural survival”. A complete study of these two key substantive areas --indigenous peoples and "voluntary" resettlement-- was carried out by the Forest Peoples Programme and the Center for International Environmental Law.
There is one last chance to demand substantive changes in the resettlement policy before it is approved. The Executive Directors of the Bank in each country should be contacted, faxed or phoned and concerns about this policy should be expressed. It is urgent to persuade them to make amendments to the policy and to adopt a clear presumption against any forced relocation of indigenous peoples.