UK committee criticises Bank and Fund over conflict roles

15 September 1999

The UK International Development Select Committee of MPs has criticised the IMF and Bank for failing to raise concerns with the Rwandan government about the discrimination and intimidation of Tutsis prior to the civil war. The Committee remarked that:

“as two of the most powerful international institutions in contact with the Rwandan Government their concerns if expressed early enough might have proved important interventions. Neither organisation recognised the direct link between growing social tension, human rights abuses and the subsequent destruction of the entire economic infrastructure.”

The Committee recommended that:

  • conflict impact assessments be undertaken before any introduction of IMF and World Bank adjustment programmes;
  • the Bank country assistance strategies take explicit account of risks of conflict and how they can be mitigated;
  • that the IMF and the Bank provide for the monitoring of programmes to ensure that social, poverty and conflict indicators are continually taken into account; and
  • that programmes are designed so as to be flexible where necessary.

The Committee also recommended that future UK Government Annual Reports on Human Rights include an assessment of the human rights record of the IMF and World Bank. The Committee also recognises that human rights and good governance are not only essential for conflict prevention but also for economic sustainability and that economic and political rights should not be separated. It recommends that:

“The UK Government press the Bank and Fund to adopt a detailed conflict-prevention strategy which will include greater sensitivity and engagement with issues of good governance and political and human rights.”

International Development Committee Sixth Report, on Conflict Prevention and Post-Conflict Reconstruction is available on: www.parliament.uk or from the Stationery Office Bookshop, tel: 0645-58-54-63

For NGO contacts working on World Bank, IMF and conflict issues, contact the Project.