Ethical Performance
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IFC urged to place human rights at heart of standards


One of the world's largest non-governmental organizations has said the review of the International Finance Corporation (IFC) sustainability framework must incorporate human rights issues into its standards.

The Amnesty International charity wants the framework of the private arm of the World Bank, which the IFC uses to make investment decisions, to include much stricter and more integrated requirements on human rights, to the extent that the term should be included in the title of its 'policy on social and environmental sustainability'.

A review of the framework, which includes IFC policies and performance standards on sustainability and disclosure, was announced last year. Draft documents are out for consultation and the updated framework is expected to come into effect next spring.

Amnesty says the framework's present focus on environmental issues has ignored and distorted the human and social consequences of IFC-funded projects. It calls for a link between human rights and environmental sustainability, reflecting the human rights impacts of pollution and climate change, and more explicit policy on the issue.

It says the impact of all IFC-supported projects should be assessed against international human rights standards, and asks the IFC itself to undertake a full preliminary assessment of 'the human rights context and potential impacts of any proposed project before deciding how to classify it'.

Recommendations on indigenous issues are also made by Amnesty. The organization says: 'Where a project is to be located or resources developed on indigenous people's traditional lands, there should be a presumption that there will be adverse impacts for the indigenous communities.'

Customary rights, it says, should be considered in addition to legal ownership, and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples should inform other processes such as compensation and development.

The IFC is the world's largest multilateral source of loan and equity financing for private sector projects.

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