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Panel Celebrates 30th Anniversary with an All-day Event at American University


The Inspection Panel celebrated its 30th anniversary with a special all-day commemorative event jointly hosted by the American University, Washington College of Law, University of Pretoria at the American University, Washington College of Law, on April 6th. 

The morning session, which was held under Chatham House rules, brought together a diverse set of stakeholders to engage on diverse perspectives on accountability, the historical role of the Panel and its influences, its strength, and weaknesses and what its future could look like in a changing world. 

The afternoon public events brought together a “community of practice” of more than 100 people with a professional interest in independent accountability mechanisms (IAMs) for reflection and discussion on the Panel’s accomplishments, challenges, and prospects and some of the broader accountability issues in a changing world. 

Among the participants who joined in person or online were current and past Panel Chairs and Members and Executive Secretaries, members of the World Bank Board, senior World Bank officials, IAM practitioners, academics and transparency advocates from nongovernment organizations, and researchers and students. Professors David Hunter (American University) and Daniel Bradlow (University of Pretoria), renown global experts on IAMs, joined Panel Chair Ramanie Kunanayagam and the Dean of Washington College of Law, Roger Fairfax, in welcoming participants.

The public program included two panel sessions, the first of which addressed development lessons from the IAMs, with a focus on formal advisories and informal action taken by the World Bank on learnings generated through the Panel’s case investigations. A second panel explored the topic of accountability and search for remedy for those who have suffered harm. Both panels featured representatives of civil society organizations, academia, IAMs and the United Nations. 

The two panel discussions were followed by remarks delivered by Dominique Michel Favre, World Bank Executive Director, and Chair of the Board Committee on Development Effectiveness. Favre hailed the vital role of the Panel in strengthening accountability to people and communities affected by World Bank-financed activities. Next, Professor Bradlow held a “fireside chat” with Catherine O’Regan on accountability in international development. O’Regan, a former judge on South Africa’s Constitutional Court, and currently Director of Oxford University’s Bonavero Institute of Human Rights, connected the Panel’s work with broader concepts of international law and sovereignty in her replies to questions from Professor Bradlow and the engaged audience. 

Participants then moved to an early evening reception, where Adriana Kugler, United States Executive Director to the World Bank Group, noted her government’s early support for creation of the Panel, highlighted the Panel’s key responsibilities and achievements, and emphasized the importance of the Panel’s structure, of having a sitting Panel made up of three members independent members reporting directly to the Board, as well as the Panel’s role of holding the World Bank to account and contributing to institutional learning. 

The program concluded with the announcement of the Sandra N. Smithey Fellowship in Equity and Accountability, which – with support from the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation - will provide advocates from around the world with the opportunity to share their experiences and lessons learned with the development community.