World Bank Must Ensure and Abide By Human Rights Obligations
On 6 March 2013, the Global Initiative for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (GI-ESCR) and Rights Action presented a brief to the Compliance Advisor Ombudsman (CAO) of the World Bank's International Finance Corporation (IFC) in reference to an ongoing audit the CAO is conducting of a $30 million loan to the Dinant Corporation, a Honduran African palm oil producer controlled by Honduras' largest landowner, Miguel Facusse. The World Bank loan was made in late 2009, to the military-backed regime that came to power in Honduras after the June 2009 military coup, and that was engaged in widespread repression and human rights abuses against the Honduran people.
The GI-ESCR / Rights Action brief explained that, as a Specialized Agency of the United Nations, the World Bank is obligated by international law to further the objectives of the United Nations Charter by Article 59 of the Charter, which mandates that "the creation of any new specialized agencies require[s] accomplishment of the purposes set forth in Article 55."
The purposes set forth in Article 55 include "universal respect for, and observance of, human rights and fundamental freedoms for all." Thus international human rights law must be used to interpret and define policies and directives of the Bank. Additionally, the Bank should defer to the mechanisms created to oversee compliance with international human rights law in order to determine if loans contribute to the violation of, or do not further the respect for, human rights.
Further, "The Member States within the World Bank are legally obligated to abide by their respective extra-territorial human rights obligations within the context of decisions and actions taken as such Member States." The brief concludes that the CAO must find Member States of the World Bank in violation of their respective human rights obligations with relation to violations that resulted from the Dinant Corporation loan. The CAO should find that the World Bank must ensure "that the victims are afforded just remedies and that those victims are allowed to actively, freely and meaningfully participate in any decision related to such accountability and remedies as well as any further projects aimed at development within their territories."
Even as the World Bank examines the loan, widespread violence and repression continues in the very region where the WB is invested in Dinant's African palm production. The day before Rights Action and GI-ESCR presented the brief, Honduran security forces opened fire against a group of campesinos from the Panama farm protesting the ongoing usurpation of their land by the Dinant Corporation.
Two weeks ago, Rights Action published a comprehensive report investigation documenting human rights violations by Honduran security forces, and private security forces hired by African palm producers, describing the murders of 93 campesinos and those perceived to be their supporters. The day the report was released, February 21, Yoni Adolfo Cruz and Ezequiel Guillen Garcia disappeared; their tortured bodies were found on February 24th.
Link to Bajo Aguan report: http://rightsaction.org/sites/default/files//Rpt_130220_Aguan_Final.pdf
The GI-ESCR / Rights Action brief can be seen HERE.
Demand that the World Bank, the U.S. and Canadian governments comply with international law and cancel the Dinant loan.
Ian H. Solomon
Office of the Executive Director of the United States
The World Bank
1818 H Street, N.W. (Mail Stop MC 13-1307)
Washington, DC 20433
f: (202) 477-2967
Secretary of the Treasury
United States Department of the Treasury
U.S. Department of Treasury
1500 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20220
Executive Director for Canada, Ireland and the Caribbean
The World Bank
1818 H Street, N.W.; Mail Stop MC 12-1206
Washington, DC 20433 U.S.A.
f: (202) 477-4155
Minister of Finance
Department of Finance Canada
140 O'Connor Street
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0G5