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Board Approves Resolutions to Establish the World Bank Accountability Mechanism, Add Tools to the Panel

The World Bank Board of Executive Directors on September 8, 2020, approved a resolution formally establishing the World Bank Accountability Mechanism (AM) that will house the Inspection Panel to carry out compliance reviews and a newly created Dispute Resolution Service (DRS), which will give complainants another way to have their concerns addressed.

The Board also approved an updated Inspection Panel resolution that adds functions to the Panel and consolidates text from the original Panel resolution in 1993 and Board clarifications to the resolution in 1996 and 1996. When it was created, the Panel was the first independent accountability mechanism at an international financial institution; today there are 20 members of the Independent Accountability Mechanisms Network. In approving the updated Panel resolution, Executive Directors reaffirmed the importance of the Panel’s function, its independence and integrity. 

Additionally, the Board approved the terms of reference for the AM secretary, who will also head the DRS, and the procedures for filling the position. The AM and DRS will become operational in the next few months after the AM secretary is hired and begins work. 

The AM secretary will report to the Board and operate independently of World Bank management. Inspection Panel members and the Panel chair will continue to report to the Board and be independent of management. They will coordinate with but not be subject to the supervision of the AM Secretary.

The AM and Inspection Panel resolutions formalize decisions made by the Board in October 2018 and March 2020 during its three-year review of the Panel’s toolkit that began after the Bank approved its new Environmental and Social Framework. In March, in addition to agreeing to establish the AM and DRS, the Board agreed to allow communities more time -- up to 15 months after the closure of new projects -- to file complaints and the gave the Panel the authority, with Board approval, to verify the implementation of Management Action Plans (MAPs) in some cases. Earlier in its review, the Board had permitted the sharing of the Panel’s Investigation Report with complainants before it is considered by the Board to allow them to be more meaningfully involved in consultations on the development of the MAP, and authorized the Panel to provide advisory services in the form of lessons from its cases to support institutional learning. 

“These changes are important for project-affected communities and for social and environmental accountability at the World Bank,” Panel Chair Imrana Jalal said. “The Inspection Panel looks forward to working with all stakeholders as part of the new World Bank Accountability Mechanism to continue to provide a way for communities adversely affected by Bank projects to have their voices heard at the highest levels of the institution.”

Click here to read a World Bank statement on Board’s decisions. Click here to access the four documents approved by the Board.