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IFC and Human Rights: the Path Forward?

Sponsors: World Resources Institute (WRI), Bretton Woods Project (BWP), Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL), Indian Law Resource Center

Speakers:

  • Rachel Kyte (Vice President, Business Advisory Services, IFC)
  • Motoko Aizawa (Advisor, Corporate Standards, IFC)
  • Audrey Gaughran (Director, Global Thematic Units, Amnesty International)
  • Arvind Ganesan (Director, Business and Human Rights Program, Human Rights Watch)
  • Amy Lehr (Attorney, Corporate Social Responsibility practice, Foley Hoag LLP)
  • Andrea Repetto Vargas (Operations Analyst, IFC Compliance Advisor Ombudsman)

Chair: David Hunter (Professor of Law, American University)

For many years, the World Bank Group (WBG) has considered human rights to be outside of its development mandate, on the grounds that this would interfere with the sovereignty of member governments. Human rights issues are not discussed openly, even though most of the WBG's member governments have ratified at least one human rights treaty.

The International Finance Corporation (IFC) is currently revising its 2006 Environmental and Social Sustainability Framework to reflect changes in the world over the past five years. One major development in the international debate on business and human rights has been an emerging consensus that corporate actors have a responsibility to respect human rights in their operations. Many have also argued that the governments that sit on the IFC's Board of Directors cannot leave their human rights obligations behind when they act through multilateral institutions.

As part of its review process, the IFC is considering how to integrate human rights into its Sustainability Framework. The outcomes of this process remain unclear, as many governments on the IFC Board of Directors remain concerned about sovereignty issues. This panel will discuss the prospects and challenges for adopting a more explicit approach to human rights at the IFC, and suggest concrete ways to move forward.

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