Long-awaited accountability reforms announced by World Bank board

7 April 2020

On 9 March, the World Bank board approved a package of reforms for the Inspection Panel (IPN), its independent accountability mechanism (IAM), concluding a lengthy review process that began in 2017.

The package includes measures for the IPN to be given an independent dispute resolution function, powers to monitor management action plans and an extension of the timeline for affected communities to file complaints. These reforms reflect long-standing civil society calls for the World Bank to raise accountability standards in line with the IAMs of other development finance institutions (see Observer Winter 2018). The package also includes the creation of an accountability office, called the World Bank Accountability Mechanism, which will include the IPN and the new dispute resolution office.

The board’s decision in March, which was initially expected in October last year, followed a two-year deadlock between board members over proposed reforms (see Observer Winter 2019).

Civil society organisations issued a joint statement in response in March, stating that they “cautiously welcome” the reform package, but stressed that its effectiveness remained dependent on the World Bank’s “commitment to ensuring the independence of the new Accountability Mechanism.”