WASHINGTON, December 12, 2022 – Following a global consultation, the World Bank Accountability Mechanism (AM) today issued its Operating Procedures that define how the Mechanism works and provides a roadmap for Requesters and Borrowers who choose dispute resolution to settle their differences. At the same time, the World Bank Inspection Panel also updated its existing Operating Procedures.
The Accountability Mechanism Operating Procedures and the Inspection Panel Operating Procedures were issued following consultation with the World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors and its management, and received input from nearly 80 community groups, civil society organizations, peer groups, academics, and other individuals, including former Panel members Comments from all stakeholders were carefully considered and where possible included within the new and revised procedures of the Accountability Mechanism and Inspection Panel, respectively. The consultative process lasted more than two months.
The Accountability Mechanism, which was established by the World Bank Board in 2020 and began operations in July 2021, is an independent complaints mechanism for people and communities who believe that they have been, or are likely to be, harmed by a World Bank-funded project. It houses two functions: the Inspection Panel, which was established in 1993 and is responsible for receiving complaints and carrying out independent compliance reviews, and the newly created Dispute Resolution Service, which facilitates an independent dispute resolution option for requesters and borrowers in the context of Requests for Inspection to the Panel.
Over the past year, the Dispute Resolution Service has operated under a set of interim Operating Procedures. The Accountability Mechanism Operating Procedures supersede these and apply immediately to new cases where dispute resolution is selected by Parties.
“We’re very happy to have received so much insightful input from communities, civil society members, other accountability mechanisms, and many in academia and inside the World Bank, to create this blueprint of how we will operate,” said AM Secretary Orsolya Székely. “In essence, these procedures strengthen accountability of World Bank projects. Now, we plan to disseminate the Operating Procedures as broadly as possible and carry out capacity building assistance to strengthen access to the Mechanism.”
Inspection Panel Chair Ramanie Kunanayagam called the “reform process challenging, as everyone had strong views not only on what tools should be added, but also on the structure to accommodate these additional tools.”
She added: "We are very pleased the Dispute Resolution Service is now part of the World Bank Accountability Mechanism as it gives requesters an additional choice on how they want their issues resolved, after the Panel has established eligibility for a review. We also believe strongly in the dual function of the Inspection Panel, serving both as a redress mechanism for affected communities as well as holding the World Bank accountable to its operational policies and procedures.”
The external input shaped the language in several parts of the Accountability Mechanism’s Operating Procedures, including: a provision allowing unresolved eligible issues following a partial dispute resolution agreement to return to the Inspection Panel for investigation, where there is agreement of all parties; a clarification that allows the Dispute Resolution Service to monitor agreement implementation; and an additional clause that calls for ensuring that people with disabilities have access to Dispute Resolution Service cases.
The revised draft of the Inspection Panel’s Operating Procedures took comments during both the 2021 open consultation period as well as between July and September this year.
The Panel’s Operating Procedures were updated in several ways, including: the ability for requesters to engage advisors; the conditions for how the Panel can accept issues that are not resolved through dispute resolution; conditions regarding collaboration with other independent accountability mechanisms; and a disclosure regime that is specific to Panel documents.
In addition, the Inspection Panel’s Operating Procedures are divided into three sections that clarify the relationship and the administrative working arrangements between the Panel and the Accountability Mechanism Secretariat; outlines and explains the different stages of the Panel’s process and how it works; and incorporates the additional functions or tools of the Panel that were approved by the Board under the toolkit process in September 2020.
Under the Board resolution creating the Accountability Mechanism in 2020, Requesters and Borrowers are offered the option of dispute resolution by the AM Secretary when the Board approves an Inspection Panel recommendation to investigate a World Bank-funded project.
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