Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Adopted
On June 29, the Human Rights Council – the new United Nations Human Rights Commission – finally adopted the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, twenty-two years after it was first drafted by the UN Working Group on Indigenous Peoples.
Is Wolfowitz Gathering his Forces?
On June 16, 2006, former Spanish Foreign Minister Ana Palacio was appointed Senior Vice President and World Bank Group General Counsel. Ms. Palacio’s appointment is perhaps not surprising given her support for the US-led invasion of Iraq. Her role under Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar’s government in fact was essential to establishing good ties with the US. But at the same time, her appointment is controversial because she continues a legacy of appointments made by President Paul Wolfowitz of a few close, like-minded allies that are forming an inner cabinet, and ostracizing other long-time and upper-level staff members from Bank decision-making (See Issue Update Vol 2, No. 1, 2006). The appointment has sparked public debate on how senior management posts are filled.
Prepared by Özgür Can and Sara Seck, for the ECA-Watch, Halifax Initiative Coalition and ESCR-Net
International human rights law has traditionally focused on establishing the obligations owed by states to individuals. Much recent attention has been given to the question of whether non-state actors, such as transnational corporations, can be considered subjects of international law and as such duty bearers of international human rights obligations. However, less attention has been given to the equally significant question of whether financiers of transnational corporate activities have an obligation to ensure that the activities they support comply with international human rights norms. This paper will explore the international human rights obligations of one type of financial institution: officially supported export credit and investment insurance agencies (Export Credit Agencies or ECAs). ECAs are primarily public or publicly mandated institutions that support and subsidise national trade and investment activities, particularly in developing and emerging markets.
IFI War on Corruption Falls Short
Over the past two months, both the World Bank and Export Credit Agencies (ECAs) have been focusing on tackling corruption issues. Bank President Paul Wolfowitz has attempted to demonstrate his "zero tolerance" for bribery by freezing new loans to many countries including India, Yemen, Argentina, Uzbekistan and the Democratic Republic of Congo, and getting the Inter-American and African Development Banks to commit verbally to fighting corruption. While this focus is welcome, civil society and the media have both found Wolfowitz's new interest to be both arbitrary and lacking due process. A $100 million loan for new schools in Iraq, for example, was not scrutinized, nor any of the new large infrastructure projects in India. In response to the criticisms, Wolfowitz's office is developing an anti-corruption framework.
NGOs welcome changes to policies at Export Development Canada - Implementation still a concern
Tuesday, November 8, 2005 (Ottawa) - A coalition of 23 non-governmental organizations today welcomed the changes Export Development Canada made to its revised policies for taking account of the environment and disclosing information to the public. Five years ago the Halifax Initiative Coalition exposed countless environmentally devastating projects being financed by the Crown Corporation. At that time, EDC had no environmental policies in place.
"EDC has taken some positive steps forward in terms of transparency and addressing the environment over the past six years," said Catherine Coumans of MiningWatch Canada, a member of the Halifax Initiative, "and they should be congratulated for those changes."
New agreement for financing renewable technology a Trojan horse for environmental destruction, NGOs say
September 7, 2005 Brussels, Belgium - A new agreement to finance renewable energy projects could be a Trojan horse that will lead to environmental destruction rather than environmental sustainability, warns a new NGO report. NGOs say the inclusion of large dams under the agreement is a betrayal of an otherwise positive effort to promote sustainable energy technologies like wind, solar, and geothermal.
"By extending special export subsidies to large dam projects, the OECD governments are turning an environment initiative into a Trojan horse for environmental destruction," said Peter Bosshard, Policy Director of International Rivers Network and co-author of the report.
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.