Independent People’s Tribunal report charges World Bank

Independent People’s Tribunal on the World Bank Group, September 21, 2008

After a year-long review, the Independent People’s Tribunal on the World Bank Group in Asia released its “Findings of the Jury” report on September 11, 2008. The purpose of the Tribunal, which took place over four days in September 2007, was to provide a “just and unbiased forum for people who have faced the impact of projects and policies funded or promoted by the World Bank Group.” The report leveled twenty-nine specific charges against the Bank, arguing that its projects and policies have caused “grievous and irreversible damage to those they intend to serve.”

NEW DELHI (21 September 2008) – A thirteen member panel consisting of prominent Indian and international jurists, economists, scientists, retired government officials, and social and religious leaders have found the World Bank guilty of harming the environment and lowering the standard of living for most Indians.

From 21 – 24 September 2007, the Jawaharlal Nehru University campus was the venue for an Independent People’s Tribunal on the World Bank Group in India. It was the first time a broad spectrum of Indian society has come together to look at the damage caused by the World Bank to the country as a whole. Affected communities, expert witnesses, and over 40 concerned groups presented testimonies in order to evaluate the impact of the World Bank across 26 sectors of social and economic development in India. After reviewing over a thousand pages of transcripts the jury has put together an extensive and substantiated list of twenty-nine specific charges against the Bank. These findings are of critical importance in light of the pace in which current development policies are changing the country.

Charges in the final report include: failure in its mission to reduce poverty, advocacy of policies which contribute to increased hunger, contributing to the agricultural crisis, and deliberate posting of former staff in the Indian bureaucracy in order to influence policy, and diluting Indian environmental legislation.

“The evidence and depositions we have witnessed presents a disturbing and shocking picture of increased and needless human suffering since 1991 among hundreds of millions of India’s poorest and most disadvantaged in rural areas and in the cities. It is clear to us that a significant number of Indian government policies and projects financed and influenced by the World Bank have contributed directly and/or indirectly to this increased impoverishment and suffering. All this has taken place while a minority of India’s population that constitutes the middle class and rich has enjoyed the fruits of an economic boom…… India and the international community must join to hold the World Bank accountable for policies and projects that in practice directly contradict its mandate of alleviating poverty for the poorest.”

– Preliminary Findings by the Jury of the Independent People’s Tribunal on the World Bank Group in India

We hope that such a strong statement from this distinguished group will contribute significantly to the debate on the legitimacy of the Bank’s operations in the country and as an institution. On the occasion of its anniversary please find attached the final jury findings of the Tribunal.

The impact of this Tribunal has already been significant. The Tribunal process quickly inspired similar processes in The Hague, Netherlands and in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Copies of this report have been sent to the World Bank, Members of Parliament, relevant government ministries and the newly formed US Congressional Committee on the World Bank. To ensure that these findings generate much needed debate we need your active support.

The World Bank tribunal was the result of the combined effort of over two hundred groups who mobilized for over two years to organise this People’s Tribunal and provide a just and unbiased forum for people who have faced the impact of projects and policies funded or promoted by the World Bank Group.

Read and download the full report:

Findings of the Jury, Independent People’s Tribunal on the World Bank Group in India, September 11, 2008 (Acrobat pdf, 234 KB)

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