How the World Bank’s Dispute Resolution Services Should Benefit Affected Persons and Borrower States

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UNU Institute on Comparative Regional Integration Studies
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UNU-CRIS Working Papers
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The World Bank recently established the Dispute Resolution Services (DRS) to address complaints related to its projects through mediation, fact-finding, and similar methods. This paper evaluates how the DRS improves the right of access to a remedy for project-affected persons.  

First, the paper identifies the legal and policy standards against which the DRS should be evaluated. The right of access provided through the Inspection Panel’s compliance review process has three pillars: accessibility, efficiency, and independence. Since the DRS was intended to only improve this right in light of best practices regarding dispute resolution processes, the DRS should be at least as protective of affected persons as the Panel process is. 

Second, the paper suggests improvements to the DRS regarding the three pillars. To increase accessibility, the Bank should strengthen procedural protections and participation opportunities for affected people by providing a minimum standard of access to project-related materials. To increase effectiveness, the Bank should clarify the minimum threshold for acceptable remedies, and provide mandatory verification of the implementation of the parties’ agreements. To improve independence, the Bank should offer more options regarding sequencing the compliance review and dispute resolution processes, and provide funding to affected persons to support complaints.  

World Bank, Dispute Resolution Services, Law and Responsibility of International Organisations, Inspection Panel, International Accountability Mechanisms