How to file a complaint

The World Bank

The World Bank Accountability Mechanism (AM) is the World Bank’s independent complaints mechanism. Its mandate is to ensure that the voices of people who may be adversely affected by Bank-financed projects are heard, and to promote accountability at the Bank.

The AM houses the Inspection Panel, which carries out compliance reviews, and the Dispute Resolution Service (DRS), which provides communities and the borrower with another way to address their disagreements.

Complaints are filed to the Inspection Panel, a non-judicial body that acts independently, impartially and objectively in evaluating the process followed by the Bank. The Panel does not investigate unless it receives a formal, written complaint, known as a Request for Inspection. The World Bank Accountability Mechanism utilizes two email addresses – and – for the submission of Requests for Inspection to the Panel and for receiving other communications relevant to the Accountability Mechanism Secretary and/or the Dispute Resolution Service.

The Panel has the power to review Bank-funded projects and determine whether Bank management is following the World Bank' s operational policies and procedures, which were put in place in order to provide social and economic benefits and avoid harm to people or to the environment.


Who Can File?

The Panel will review complaints from:

Any group of two or more people in the country where the Bank-financed project is located and who believe that, as a result of the Bank’s violation of its policies and procedures, their rights or interests have been, or are likely to be, adversely affected in a direct and material way. They may be an organization, association, society or other group of individuals.

A duly appointed local representative acting on explicit instructions as the agent of adversely affected peoples.

In exceptional cases, a foreign representative acting as the agent of adversely affected peoples.

A World Bank Executive Director in special cases of serious, alleged violations of the Bank’s policies and procedures.



The Requesters need to show in writing that:

They live in the project area (or represent people who do) and have been or are likely to be adversely affected by project activities.

They believe that they may suffer actual or future harm resulting from a failure by the Bank to comply with its policies and procedures.

Their concerns have been brought to the attention of Bank management, and they are not satisfied with the outcome.



Requests should be submitted in writing in any language, and no specific form or format is required. The Request should be dated and signed by the Requesters or their representative, and may be submitted via mail or electronically, with any supporting documentation. Requesters may ask for confidentiality in the handling of the Request.

The Inspection Panel is not authorized to proceed with requests under certain conditions.

If a Request is determined to be eligible, complainants and the borrower will be given the option to enter into dispute resolution. If they both agree, the case is referred by the AM Secretary to the DRS. If the parties agree to dispute resolution, the Panel will suspend compliance review until the dispute resolution process is concluded. If the parties reach agreement, such agreement is memorialized in a Dispute Resolution Agreement and the case is closed. However, if the parties do not agree to dispute resolution or if dispute resolution is not eventually successful, the case will be taken up by the Panel for compliance investigation.


The World Bank Accountability Mechanism utilizes two email addresses – and – for the submission of Requests for Inspection to the Panel and for receiving other communications relevant to the Accountability Mechanism Secretary and/or the Dispute Resolution Service.

What happens when you file a complaint?

  • 1
    Receipt of Request and Decision on Registration
    • The Inspection Panel notifies the public that it has received a Request for Inspection through a Notice of Receipt.
    • Within 15 business days after receiving the Request, the Panel decides whether to issue a Notice of Registration or a Notice of Non-Registration. (A Notice of Non-Registration closes the case.)
  • 2
    Eligibility and Panel Recommendation
    • Bank Management responds within 21 business days after registration. 
    • Panel conducts a field visit if needed. 
    • Within 21 business days after receiving the Management Response,  the Panel recommends to the Board of Executive Directors whether to investigate. 
    • Board decision on Panel recommendation (usually within 10 business days). 
    • The case will close if th Board approves the Panel's recommendation not to investigate
  • 3
    Referral to Dispute Resolution (DR)
    • If an investigation is approved, the World Bank Accountability Mechanism Secretary offers the option of dispute resolution facilitated by the Dispute Resolution Service to the Requesters and Borrower.
    • If the parties agree to DR, the Panel holds its investigation in abeyance. 
    • The maximum length of the DR process is one year (extendable by  six months).
    • If the parties reach agreement through DR, the Panel does not investigate.
  • 4
    • If the parties do not choose DR or if DR is unsuccessful, the Panel commences its investigation. 
    • Panel conducts investigation visit. 
    • The Panel submits its Investigation Report to the Board of Executive Directors (aims to complete it within six months after posting its Investigation Plan).
  • 5
    • The Panel meets the Requesters in person to share the Panel's Investigation Report and its findings on confidential basis. 
    • Bank Management consults with the affected parties and prepares the Management Action Plan (MAP). 
    • Bank Management submits its Report and Recommendation, including the MAP, to the Board (within six weeks after the submission of the Investigation Report to the Board). 
    • Board meets to consider the Investigation Report and discuss and approve the MAP.
  • 6
    Verification of MAP Implementation
    • Based on risk-based proportionality criteria and modalities, the Panel, with input from Group Internal Audit (GIA), may recommend for Board approval verification of MAP implementation. 
    • With approval, the Panel verifies the implementation of Management actions that address Panel findings; GIA verifies Management actions addressing the Bank’s governance. 
    • The Panel submits a verification report to the Board.
    • Management submits its follow-up to the Board, indicating its views of the Panel’s findings.