In January, the World Bank’s accountability mechanism, the Inspection Panel (IP), declined a request by three Uzbek NGOs: the Uzbek-German Forum for Human Rights, Association for Human Rights in Central Asia and Ezgulik, the Human Rights Society of Uzbekistan to investigate the use of forced and child labour in cotton harvesting linked to a Bank-funded agricultural project in Uzbekistan (see Bulletin Feb 2014). In December 2013 the IP concluded that it is “plausible that the Project can contribute to perpetuating the harm of child and forced labour”. However, a year later it announced a postponed decision not to investigate. Its reasons included that “the Bank has made considerable progress in its dialogue with the government of Uzbekistan … in addressing the systemic issues necessary for the eradication of child and forced labor in Uzbekistan’s cotton sector”. Although it committed to set up a complaints mechanism to monitor the labour system with the International Labour Organization (ILO) and to suspend loans if it found evidence of this, none of these measures have yet been implemented. Umida Niyazova, of the Uzbek-German Forum commented: “The Bank decision is shocking… [It] is also a message to the Uzbek government that it can continue its forced labour system”.
Originally created to help the poor escape poverty and deprivation, the World Bank became the most important advocate for the commercialised microcredit model. Yet, critics argued it undermined the chances of sustainable and equitable development to create a poverty trap of historic proportions.
While the World Development Report (WDR) 2018 on education has some redeeming features, it is part of the Bank's longstanding very narrow view of education, and is silent on education financing.
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