Human rights and the IFIs

The policies of international financial institutions (IFIs) have forced governments to cut expenditures on key essential public services, such as health care, education, public transit, water, sanitation and access to fuel and electricity, to cut subsidies and introduce user fees. Macroeconomic fiscal and monetary policies have also had unnecessarily restrictive deficit-reduction and inflation-reduction targets. Such measures have disproportionately disadvantaged the poor and vulnerable groups in developing countries and have undermined the ability of country governments to meet their own human rights obligations.

At the same time, private sector investments that are supported by the IFIs are often associated with negative human rights impacts, and in some cases, severe human rights violations. IFIs have facilitated corporate activity that is associated with the forced displacement of local populations, paramilitary and police repression, workplace injuries, state-sponsored intimidation and censorship, exposure to environmental contaminants and biological pathogens, and the destruction of sacred cultural sites, among other adverse human rights impacts.
The states that own and govern these institutions have obligations under international law to respect, protect and fulfil individual and collective human rights.  However, export credit agencies and the World Bank Group lack the policies and practices needed to safeguard against the violation of international human rights law by their clients - both states and private corporations. There is growing recognition that states must do more to ensure that public financial institutions protect human rights.

We work to:

  • encourage an explicit human rights-based approach to the implementation of Canadian multilateral aid spending and development policy at the international financial institutions (IFIs) and to project finance;
  • press, in collaboration with Northern and Southern partners, for the adoption of policies and practices by the IFIs that are protective of human rights.
  • expose the negative human rights impacts of IFI-supported investments and support the adoption of mechanisms that hold IFIs accountable to international human rights standards.

General Resources

Human Rights -Related