We provide alternative perspectives on issues relating to the World Bank, International Monetary Fund and Export credit agencies (International Financial Institutions or IFIs), and issues including international debt, IMF and World Bank conditionality, environmental standards, human rights and international finance, IFI governance and accountability, corporate accountability.
The UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights held its first forum on December 4 and 5 in Geneva. The Halifax Initiative spoke at the forum on a panel concerning public financial institutions and human rights. ECA-Watch, CIEL and BankTrack disseminated the attached document at the forum containing analysis and recommendations regarding financial institutons and human rights.
Article prepared for the 'Global Capital, Global Rights' workshop convened by SFU and UBC. The text discusses civil society efforts in support of Bill C-300, legislation that sought to create accountability mechanisms regarding the provision of government support to Canadian extractive companies that operate overseas.
Statement by the Latin American Observatory of Environmental Conflicts concerning Barrick Gold's failure to secure financing from Export Development Canada and the U.S. Export-Import Bank for its Pascua Lama project on the border between Chile and Argentina.
The IMF has committed itself to ending European dominance of selection of its managing director, and introducing an open, merit-based and transparent process. This paper sets out the three key elements to ensuring a successful process next time: a focus on selecting the best candidate available; a clear, fair, and transparent process; and the legitimacy gained from the backing of a majority of countries as well as IMF voting shares.
Government’s new Toothless Review Mechanism Underlines why Responsible Mining Bill C-300 is Necessary
Ottawa, October 26, 2010 – One day before the third and final vote in the House of Commons on Bill C-300, the government has launched its Review Process, a dispute resolution mechanism whereby the Extractive Sector Corporate Social Responsibility Counsellor proposes to mediate between aggrieved communities and Canadian mining, oil, and gas companies.
Significant deficiencies render this mechanism inadequate to resolve serious community grievances: the dispute mechanism is voluntary in nature, lacks a transparent fact-finding function and will lead to neither recommendations to government nor to sanctions. Consequently, Bill C-300 remains an important piece of legislation.
Innovative mechanisms for financing development, and in particular the Financial Transactions Tax
by Fraser Reilly-King, Coordinator, Halifax Initiative Coalition
May 6, 2010
My name is Fraser Reilly-King and I am the Coordinator of the Halifax Initiative, a coalition of eighteen development, environment, faith-based, human rights and labour organizations. We focus on international finance issues, in particular with respect to the World Bank, International Monetary Fund and export credit agencies.
Submission by Civil Society Organizations to the International Finance Corporation
Commenting on The Social and Environmental Sustainability Policy, Performance Standards and Disclosure Policy
11 March 2010
The undersigned civil society organizations have prepared this joint submission to provide an overview of many of our concerns related to IFC’s Policy on Social and Environmental Sustainability, the Performance Standards, related guidance documents, and the Disclosure Policy. We believe these concerns should be explored and addressed further through IFC’s current consultation and review process.
Presentation regarding Bill C-300 - An Act respecting Corporate Accountability for the Activities of Mining, Oil or Gas in Developing Countries
Karyn Keenan, Program Officer, Halifax Initiative
October 22, 2009
The Halifax Initiative is a coalition of human rights, environmental, faith-based, development and labour organizations. Our objective is to transform public international financial institutions to achieve poverty eradication, environmental sustainability and the full realization of universal human rights.
My work focuses on the operations of public institutions that provide support to the private sector, in particular the International Finance Corporation of the World Bank Group and Export Development Canada. The latter, a Crown corporation, is Canada’s export credit agency and will be the focus of my comments this morning.
2010 will be a decisive year for Canada, and for the world. The deadline for meeting the world’s Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) is only five years away. Our decisions on economic reform and climate change will determine the success of world’s efforts to reduce poverty and reverse dangerous global warming for the next generation and beyond. As host of the next G8 and G20 Summits, Canada can make the difference between relegating these aspirations to a distant hope in an uncertain future and confirming the possibility of achieving these goals in our lifetime. The consequences of reneging on our promises are unthinkable for the millions around the world looking towards a new model of globalization that is socially responsible, economically sustainable and environmentally just.
A Focus on Poverty, Economic Reform and Climate Change
In 2010 Canada will play host to the world. The Vancouver Olympics and the G8 and G20 Summits in Muskoka and Toronto will draw the attention of millions to Canada, its geography, its values, policies and practices. If 2008 was the year of China, then 2010 can be the year of Canada. Around the globe, Canadians proudly sport the Canadian flag in traveling as a symbol of Canadian democracy, openness and concern for human rights. Yet our great international achievements of the past—Canadian contributions to the establishment of international peacekeeping, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Ottawa Treaty to Ban Landmines and the International Criminal Court—are today clouded by concerns about Canada’s current role in climate change negotiations, Afghanistan, reform of the global economy and addressing global poverty.
The Halifax Initiative is a coalition of human rights, environmental, faith-based, development and labour organizations. Our objective is to transform the international financial institutions to achieve poverty eradication, environmental sustainability and the full realization of universal human rights.
The Halifax Initiative supports the review of Export Development Canada’s Environmental Policy and disclosure practices, and is grateful for the opportunity to provide input to the review process.
1. Project environmental and social standards a. Compliance
The Export Development Act, which came into force in 1969, established Export Development Canada and continues to govern its operations. Section 25 of the statute mandates a review, every ten years, of the legislation’s provisions and its operation. No later than one year following the commencement of the review, the designated Minister must submit a report to Parliament, which is considered in committee.
This submission to the review, prepared by the Halifax Initiative, focuses on the environmental, social and human rights standards utilized by EDC when it assesses client proposals. The submission also examines the legislative provisions governing disclosure by the Crown corporation.
This paper examines international human rights law and officially-supported export credit agencies. It argues that under international law, specifically the principles of ‘state responsibility,’ the acts and omissions of export credit agencies are attributable to their states. States are therefore responsible under international law for the operations of their export credit agencies, including any ‘wrongful acts’ that these agencies may commit. Such wrongful acts may include violations of the state’s international human rights obligations. The paper argues that state obligations under international law are not currently being met in the provision of officially-supported export credit and investment insurance services. Moreover, the paper argues that through the operations of their export credit agencies, home states can be found complicit in the human rights violations of host governments.
The Canadian Network on Corporate Accountability (CNCA) commends the G8 for addressing the issue of corporate social responsibility (CSR) during its summit last week. The CNCA is encouraged that particular emphasis was placed on the operations of mining, oil and gas companies.
Allegations of serious human rights violations committed by Canadian extractive companies in developing countries have prompted Canadians to call for clear, legally-binding standards.
G8 leaders expressed concern that, “in some cases, (...) extraction and processing of resources are associated with misuse of revenues, environmental destruction, armed conflict and state fragility,” and identified the need for “further enhancing the contribution of mineral resources to sustainable growth.”
On April 26th, NSI President, Roy Culpeper, and KAIROS Canada's Global Economic Justice Coordinator, presented their views on the issues raised by the Government’s annual report on the Bretton Woods Organizations (the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank) before members of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development (SFAIT). The meeting was called by the Standing Committee in response to a request by the Halifax Initiative Coalition.
The Canadian Network on Corporate Accountability (CNCA) commends the Government of Canada for its ground-breaking consultation on Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and the Canadian extractive industry in developing countries. The process, which was led by a federal government Steering Committee, is an important step forward.
In 2005 donor governments committed to significant increases in the volume and quality of development aid. A large amount of this is likely to be delivered by the World Bank and the IMF, which are also very influential in the spending allocations of other agencies. However, economic policy conditionality imposed by the World Bank and the IMF on developing countries has harmed development in some of the poorest countries and remains a key challenge if aid effectiveness is to be taken seriously.
We welcome the Norwegian government’s decision to convene a Conference on Economic Policy Conditionality. It provides a unique opportunity to promote vitally important reform to help development in the poorest countries of the world.
We call on our governments to strongly support the process and use this opportunity to formulate positions to end tying much-needed aid and debt relief to harmful economic policy conditions.
Professor John Ruggie
UN Special Representative to the Secretary General on Business and Human Rights
John F. Kennedy School of Government
79 John F. Kennedy Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
Dear Professor Ruggie
RE: General Principles on Human Rights Impact Assessments
We are sharing with you our collective views on general principles for a human rights impact assessment. These have arisen from a meeting on community-driven human rights impact assessments, convened by Rights & Democracy in Johannesburg, South Africa, 21-24 September, 2006.
Policy and Government Relations
Export Development Canada (EDC)
151 O'Connor Street
Ottawa, ON K1A 1K3
September 16, 2005
Re: Comments on EDC's draft disclosure and environmental review policies
Dear Director, Policy and Government Relations:
The Halifax Initiative Coalition is pleased to submit our comments on the new draft Environmental Review Directive (ERD) and Disclosure Policy. We are particularly pleased at this opportunity, as it was not afforded in 2001 when EDC first adopted its ERD. The early consultation, this comment period and some of the revisions made in the new drafts reflect the positive developments at EDC as it strives to do better business.
RE: Comments on Revised Draft Operational Policy on Indigenous Peoples (Revised Draft OP 4.10)
Dear Indigenous Peoples Coordinator,
Please find below our comments on the Draft Operational Policy on Indigenous Peoples (Revised Draft OP 4.10).
We the undersigned Canadian organizations and representatives are writing to highlight the need for the World Bank to strengthen its draft OP 4.10 in order to ensure that the policy sufficiently meets international standards and guarantees on the rights of Indigenous Peoples.
In our opinion, for the operational policy to be seen to be credible and effective it must contain mandatory provisions that:
KAIROS Statement on Global Day of Action Against Debt Domination
Dec. 8, 2004
Developing countries’ debts reached US$2.4 trillion at the end of 2003, almost four and a half times as much as what they owed in 1980 on the eve of the international debt crisis. Since then developing countries have paid about nine and a half dollars in debt service for every dollar owed in 1980. New loans have been used primarily to roll over old debts, rather than for meaningful investments in human or economic development.
As KAIROS observes the second annual day of action against unjust and illegitimate debts, we renew our call for the elimination of debts that have already been paid many times over. We also demand the release of impoverished countries from disastrous Structural Adjustment Programs (SAPs) imposed by their creditors.
Ottawa, October 25, 2004 – A Canadian coalition of groups hammered Export Development Canada (EDC) for poor transparency on the most controversial and risky projects it funds, the day before the Auditor General is set to release a report on the environmental and disclosure policies of the crown corporation.
“Three years ago the Auditor General identified public consultation and disclosure of environmental information as being essential to a credible review process”, said Fraser Reilly-King, Coordinator of the NGO Working Group on EDC, the coalition that released the report.
“Yet EDC still has no requirements to do either, and has not released a single environmental impact assessment for the potentially most harmful projects. Without greater transparency, EDC’s environmental review lacks credibility.”
“I have asked the Auditor General to undertake an audit two years after a revised framework has been adopted, to ensure that EDC has implemented the recommended changes in its design and operation.”
Pierre Pettigrew, Press Release, June 26, 2001
Following a two year review by Parliament of the Export Development Act (EDA) and Export Development Canada (EDC), Pierre Pettigrew, Minister of International Trade, held a press conference in June 2001 to highlight what changes EDC would make to its policies.
The press release noted the government commitment to, among other things:
* Take account of benefits to Canada and Canada’s international obligations in the area of human rights, core labour standards, and the environment
FINANCE: Groups Fear Canadian Funding for Romanian Mine
BROOKLIN, Canada, Nov 16 (IPS) - The World Bank's refusal to help fund a Canadian company's controversial development of a huge open pit gold mine in Romania has raised concerns the Canadian government will step in with money.
Last Monday hundreds of people gathered outside Canadian embassies in major European cities, including Budapest, Amsterdam, Vienna, Bratislava and Prague, to protest the 400-million-U.S.-dollar Rosia Montana gold mine in Romania. · Export Development Corporation· Romanian NGO Alburnus Maior· Gabriel Resources
''The Canadian government has to act to stop this mine. It will destroy the homes, churches and livelihoods of my people,” said Sorana Ciura, a member of Alburnus Maior, the Romanian group spearheading the protests, speaking at a news conference in Ottawa..
Submitted to Department of Finance and CIDA before World Bank discussions at Fall 2003 meetings on Enhancing Voice and Participation of Developing Countries.
The Case for a New and Improved International Development Association
This discussion paper proposes that the International Development Association of the World Bank be transformed into an independent Secretariat that would act as a mechanism for disbursing development financing to the poorest countries. IDA-eligible countries could approach the IDA Secretariat for programme/project grant financing, in cooperation, if they choose, with one or more implementing agencies. Implementing agencies could include UN agencies, civil society and the multilateral development banks, dependent on priorities.
Tela sits astride a slow, meandering river of the same name. It looks out over a rim of white-sand beaches onto Tela Bay. A warm Caribbean sun forces you to lather up with sunscreen,and nolch back your pace a couple of strides per minute as you stroll around this small Honduran town.
A mixed population of Garifuna -or more properly Garinagu - a people with a unique blend of Carib Indian and African roots, and folk of Spanish ancestry call this century- old, clapboard,. tin-roofed port town home. It holds about the same population as the whole of the Yukon.
The government of Canada supports 100 percent cancellation of sovereign debt, including commercial sovereign debt, for the “poorest eligible countries.” To prevent future crisis, the government supports greater transparency in lending and fair lending practices.
The government of Canada supports the Heavily Indebted Poor Country (HIPC) Initiative program, coordinated by the World Bank and IMF, and has pushed for faster and deeper debt relief, and debt relief for a larger number of countries.
1818 H Street
Washington, DC, 20433
Halifax Initiative submission to consultation on draft information disclosure policy
“Whenever you are in doubt, apply the following test. Recall the face of the poorest man you have seen. Ask yourself if the step you contemplate is going to be of any use to him. Will it restore him to a control over his own life and destiny? Then you will find your doubt melting away”.
- Mahatma Gandhi
TO begin a transition from its role in financing conventional power loans to a new role in financing sustainable energy technologies the World Bank should :
CHANGE ENERGY POLICY:
1. Institute a Moratorium on Lending or Guarantees for any project that involves new exploration for fossil fuel reserves in natural forests, pristine and frontier areas.
2. Phase Out Lending and Guarantees for any World Bank project that involves coal and oil extraction.
3. Institute a Moratorium on Lending and Guarantees for fossil fuel power projects pending :
Evaluations of all current and future power projects in full consultation with the communities most affected by the project, respecting the right of the local populations to decline a project which may adversely impact them;
Submission to the International Development Committee, House of Commons
On the Relationship between the World Bank and Sustainable Development
October 25, 2002
1. The Halifax Initiative, a Canadian coalition of non-governmental organizations, would like to thank-you for your commitment as Parliamentarians to receive evidence on the actions of the international financial institutions, from a broad range of witnesses, in order to better assist in ensuring the institutions’ accountability. We welcome this endeavor, and will advocate for it to be replicated in our own Parliament.
Support for the Tobin Tax Growing Around the World
With the exception of Canada, which is backpeddling on its commitment to Tobin tax adoption in the motion passed on March 23, 1999, and the US, which is ideologically opposed to any control over “free” markets, the debate on the need for and feasibility of currency controls is growing globally. Below are some recent milestones.
Click here for the full report in pdf
Submission to the public consultations on EDC's Environmental Review Framework
The NGO Working Group on the Export Development Corporation welcomes the opportunity to provide comments on the Environmental Review Framework (ERF). We have been asking for this opportunity since April 1999 when EDC first released the ERF. It is our recommendation that the second version of the ERF be released in draft, before its adoption by the Corporation. Version 2.0 of the ERF will include such critical information as performance and process standards and EDC’s stakeholders should have an opportunity to comment on the specifics of the policy. This process has been followed by EDC in its release of the draft disclosure policy and subsequent comment period.
NGO Working Group
on the Export Development Corporation
A working group of the Halifax Initiative
for the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade Hearings on Bill C-31 on the Export Development Act
October 15, 2001
The NGO Working Group on the Export Development Corporation is a coalition of 17 Canadian non-governmental organisations concerned about the social, human and environmental impacts of export credit agencies. The NGO Working Group has been participating fully in the legislative process on the Export Development Act since 1999, including the SCFAIT hearings in 1999, the public consultations on the EDC’s disclosure policy and environmental review framework, and the international campaign to reform export credit agencies which has focused on the OECD’s Export Credit Guarantees process.
The Dakar Declaration for the Total and Unconditional Cancellation of African and Third World Debt
Dakar 2000: From Resistance to Alternatives
Dakar, Senegal | 11-17 December 2000
We, participants at the "Dakar 2000 meeting for the cancellation of Third World debt", representing African people's civil societies, supported by civil societies from Latin America, Asia, Europe and North America, from the analysis of the debt issue, of structural adjustment plans (SAPs) and development.
Third World debt to the North is at once fraudulent, odious, illegal, immoral, illegitimate, obscene and genocidal;
The Dakar Manifesto
Africa: From Resistance to Alternatives
Dakar 2000: From Resistance to Alternatives
Dakar, Senegal, 11-17 December 2000
The Dakar 2000 conference brought together leaders of NGOs and social movements from all over Africa to analyze the debt crisis and the impacts of IMF/World Bank Structural Adjustment Programmes on African populations. Conference participants also considered strategies for resistance to the neoliberal model and highlighted alternative approaches.
Click here for pdf EDC and Disclosure: Letting the Sun Shine In: A submission to EDC consultations on disclosure, this report makes a case for increasing disclosure and bringing EDC under the Access to Information Act.
In many ways, it can be seen as the end of the beginning, rather than the beginning of the end.-Roy Culpeper, President the North-South Institute
The Köln Initiative, measured by its rhetoric, is two steps forward, one step backwards. In reality we may not have moved much at all.- Derek MacCuish, Programme Coordinator, Social Justice Committee of Montréal
The Halifax Initiative, a broad-based coalition of Canadian non-governmental organizations, welcomed the desire to improve the HIPC Initiative by the G7 governments expressed in the Köln Debt Initiative. Unfortunately, this welcome is qualified by the concern that two major issues remain unresolved, so that the effort to lift the debt burden of the poorest countries remains insufficient. The welcome is also qualified due to a wariness of the gap between what the G7 may wish and what the IFIs may do.
The Halifax Initiative Coalition members include development, human rights, environment and church organizations. In Canada, it is the main voice for reform of the international financial institutions so that they better serve the poor.
Like many others, the Halifax Initiative Coalition initially extended a tentative welcome to the Poverty Reduction Strategy Process, hoping that the language of "country ownership" and "civil society participation" would, in time, result in some level of empowerment of people affected by IFI policies and programs.
This submission analyses the report of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade (SCFAIT) entitled "Exporting in the Canadian Interest: Reviewing the Export Development Act". Our recommendations are primarily concerned with Chapter 9 of the Report on the Review of the Export Development Act (hereinafter the Gowlings report).
In 1999, Amnesty International raised alarms about the killing of four indigenous people protesting a hydroelectric dam in Colombia that has devastated their food source and, if completed, would flood most of their land.
In 1998, an accident at a mine in Kyrgystan resulted in two tons of cyanide entering a river. A lack of an emergency response plan worsened the disaster, leaving two people dead and over 600 hospitalized.
In 1995, a gold mine in Guyana spilt 3.2 billion litres of cyanide and heavy metal effluent into the country’s main waterway, endangering the health of 23,000 people and killing thousands of fish.