The World Bank rejected a complaint issued by Haitian communities regarding the new mining law, due to a technicality. The Haitian communities’ complaint highlighted a fear that an increased investment in the mining sector will consequently create adverse environmental and social ramifications. Although the World Bank has provided technical assistance to the Haitian government in rewriting its mining laws for the past two years, the technical assistance mechanism is not subject to the World Bank’s safeguard policies, allowing the Inspection Panel to refuse to hear the complaint. New York University’s Global Justice Clinic and Accountability Counsel, which supported the Haitian communities’ complaint, believes the World Bank should not have discretion to avoid complaints involving blatant human rights and environmental risks.
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On a Technicality, World Bank Rejects Complaint on Support for New Mining Law
Center for Economic and Policy Research
February 18, 2015
A complaint from Haitian communities and supported by New York University’s Global Justice Clinic and Accountability Counsel has been rejected by the World Bank on technical grounds. The groups had asked for the Bank’s Inspection Panel to review whether assistance the Bank is providing to the Haitian government follows Bank guidelines relating to transparency and environmental safety.
Since 2013, the World Bank has provided technical assistance to the Haitian government in rewriting its mining laws, leading to a new mining law being drafted in 2014. Though Haiti has not seen large-scale commercial mining for decades, the government awarded multiple concessions in 2012 over opposition protests. In 2013, following a forum on mining sponsored by the World Bank, then Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe declared that to advance Haiti’s development, “we are counting heavily on the contribution of the mining sector.”
The Haitian communities’ complaint [PDF] states:
- Complainants fear that, due to the government’s weak capacity and the law’s inadequacies, this increased investment in the mining sector will result in serious social and environmental harms, including contamination of vital waterways, impacts on the agriculture sector, and involuntary displacement of communities. Complainants are also concerned about the exclusion of Haitian people from the law reform process, particularly when contrasted with the reported regular participation of the private sector in drafting the new law. Further, Complainants fear that the government of Haiti lacks the capacity to regulate and monitor mining company activity.
In its response, the World Bank’s Inspection Panel says that it “has decided not to register the case.” The Panel acknowledged that the issues raised were “serious and legitimate,” and agreed that the new mining law could “have significant and considerable adverse environmental and social consequences.”
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