Civil society calls for greater independence of Inspection Panel

3 July 2017

In April, Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) wrote a letter to the World Bank executive directors calling for the inclusion of “independent external stakeholders on the selection committee” of the Inspection Panel (IPN, the Bank’s independent complaint mechanism). This was in response to a vacancy on the Panel created by the departure of Zeinab Elbakrin, which is yet to be filled.

In the letter CSO’s argued that “to properly perform its work and be recognised as legitimate, it is vital that the Inspection Panel be independent”. The report Glass Half Full? The State of Accountability in Development Finance, presented the inclusion of external stakeholders on the selection committee such as academics and NGOs as best practice. Currently, the selection committee is composed of two board members and two members of Bank management. As outlined in the letter, CSOs consider the current composition of the Panel problematic and have requested the inclusion of an independent external stakeholder in the selection committee.

Lori Udall, of Montpelier Consulting, claimed that “since management is the party under investigation in Inspection Panel cases, they should not have seats on the Panel selection committee.” Erika Lennon, of Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL), outlined that “once again, the Board has failed to respond to calls from civil society to change its procedures within the selection committee so as to ensure the independence of the Inspection Panel. Despite the good example set at the IFC’s [(the International Finance Corporation, the World Bank’s private sector lending arm)] Compliance Advisor Ombudsman [(CAO, the IFC’s accountability mechanism)], the World Bank board has yet to recognise the value of inclusion and the legitimacy that comes with a more open selection process.” Previously, the Panel was criticised by CSOs for creating a new pilot scheme, in 2013, which they argued had weakened the accountability of the Bank (see Update 68 and Update 64).