US water multinational Bechtel Corporation dropped its $50 million legal case in January against the people of Cochabamba for ending its contract to provide water to the citizens of Bolivia’s third-largest city. In April 2000, the company was forced to leave following massive protests against average rate hikes of over fifty per cent. In 2002, the company filed the legal action against Bolivia at the World Bank’s International Center for the Settlement of Investment Disputes (see Update 27). NGO The Democracy Center says this sends a message to other corporations that “we will make you defend your actions in the court of world opinion, not behind closed doors where only a handful of lawyers has a voice”.
After 4 years of on-off negotiation and public opposition, the government of Egypt has signed a loan deal with the IMF whose impacts civil society fears will encroach upon human rights, social protection and social provision, like health and education, upon which the poorest depend.
Investments by the World Bank-hosted Global Financing Facility (GFF) do not reflect the family planning priorities identified by developing countries and local communities. The GFF also continues to suffer from a lack of transparency and meaningful civil society participation, raising doubts about the new mechanism’s effectiveness.
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