Haitian mining sector : Calling on the World Bank’s accountability

FIDH and more than 80 civil society organizations from around the world issue a letter to demand that the World Bank be accountable for the unbridled development of the extractive industry in Haiti and its impacts on affected communities.

On February 6, 2015, the Inspection Panel of the World Bank rejected a request seeking to hold the World Bank accountable for violations of its social and environmental safeguard policies, especially on public consultation and participation, within its support for the development of the Haitian mining sector. The request was filed on January 7, 2015 by the Mining Justice Collective (“the Collective"), with the support of the NYU Global Justice Clinic and the non-governmental organization, Accountability Counsel, as well as in collaboration with a network of mining-affected Haitian communities.

The complaint alleged that the technical assistance provided by the World Bank to the Haitian government, especially in the framework of the Law reform process of mining sector, was inconsistent with its safeguard policies, particularly in terms of transparency, consultation and participation. Indeed the Draft Mining Law, to which the World Bank has contributed, disregards human rights and environmental protection and has been implemented without any prior or ongoing consultation process with stakeholders, including affected communities, contrary to what is recommended by the safeguard policies.

In its notice of non-registration of the case rendered on February 6, 2015, the World Bank Inspection Panel argued that technical assistance allocated to Haiti’s mining sector, through the EI-TAF (Extractive Industries Technical Advisory Facility) trust fund aiming at developing the mining industry of developing countries, was financed through a particular fund - the Bank-Executed Trust Fund (“BETF”) – not requiring per se any compliance with the World Bank’s Safeguard Policies and other operational policies and procedures.

However, social and environmental standards must be constantly applied and not be left behind : such protections are required to prevent potential and current impacts affecting communities, which may be accentuated by the ongoing liberalization of the extractive sector in a country like Haiti, with a weak mining-related governance. Given that the World Bank has an obligation to respect and implement its safeguard policies so as not to harm people or environment, FIDH calls on the World Bank to undertake a review of the policy framework applicable to BETF so as to bridge the accountability gap and to prevent the discretionary application of social and environmental standards.

Previously, FIDH had already expressed its concerns about the World Bank’s safeguards policies and had highlighted the weak monitoring of its investments (for example, see the serious violations of human rights committed by the Dinant company in Honduras).

The letter co-signed by several civil society organizations including FIDH, aims to draw the attention of the World Bank on the adverse human rights and environmental impacts of projects endorsed as part of its financing activities and the need to respect its Safeguard Policies within a responsible approach, as well as to reduce its loopholes.

Read more