CSO letter raises concerns about World Bank security personnel safeguards

3 July 2017

In March the International Corporate Accountability Roundtable (ICAR), a project of the San Francisco-based Tides Center, submitted a letter to the World Bank Safeguards Team about safeguarding provisions on the use of public and private security personnel in its projects. The letter expressed concern that the World Bank’s new Environmental and Social Framework’s ESS4 is “unnecessarily vague about the prevailing standard of care associated with such activities” and in particular that, without greater clarification, it “could lead to inappropriate use of force in the context of Bank-financed activities”. The Bank recently faced a law suit on behalf of several Honduran farmers over the actions by private security forces working for Dinant, an agribusiness corporation the Bank financed (see Observer Autumn 2013, Spring 2016 and Spring 2017).

In the letter ICAR recommended that any Guidance Note the Bank produces on this issue reference existing international consensus on applicable norms, such as the 2008 Montreux Document on state international legal obligations in relation to private military and security companies operating in armed conflict, the International Code of Conduct for Private Security Providers Association, and the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights. The Bank was also “encouraged to … require additional assurances in high-risk situations, defined as those where loan-related activities are being conducted in countries that are not participating … [in] initiatives to manage public and private security risk”.