The World Bank, human rights and oil: the role of the World Bank as a lender and moral guarantor demonstrated and the Chad-Cameroon petroleum development and pipeline project

Thumbnail Image
Huber Grabenwarter, Georg
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
This paper argues that the World Bank has to be more forthcoming with respect to human rights. The paper argues that the Bank’s position to be prohibited by its constituent document to adopt a general human rights policy and to take the human rights record of a borrowing country into account when deciding to finance is legally untenable. Moreover, the paper argues that the adoption of such a policy is not only a matter of discretion for the Bank, but a matter of compliance with its international obligations. Such human rights obligations can be mainly deduced from the Bank’s status as an international legal subject and as a specialized agency of the United Nations and oblige the Bank to respect and, to some extent, also to protect human rights. The paper also argues that, although the Bank has established the so-called Inspection Panel, the legal possibilities to hold the Bank accountable in the case its activities have adverse effects on the livelihood of local populations remain limited. One of the main reasons for this is that the Board of Executive Directors, which disposes of the final decision power whether any and which remedial steps will be taken, is an institution incapable of providing negatively-affected people with effective remedies. By focusing on the Chad- Cameroon Pipeline Project, the paper argues that the consideration of the human rights record of a borrowing country and the adoption of a general human rights policy are of immense significance. Moreover, it will be argued that the Bank cannot overtake a “moral guarantor” role in large infrastructure projects without ensuring that negatively affected people have sufficient possibilities for redress. To overcome shortcomings in the Bank’s developmental approach, the paper proposes the adoption of a comprehensive human rights policy and a reform of the Inspection Panel.
Second semester University: Université Libre de Bruxelles
human rights, petroleum, Cameroon, Chad, World Bank