Government of Canada Response Re: Cancelling NGO/Press pass at Annuals - September 24, 2004

Sep 24 2004

Mr. John Mihevc Chair

Halifax Initiative Coalition

104-153 Chapel Street Ottawa, Ontario



Dear Mr. Mihevc:


Thank for your letter of August 10, 2004 expressing your concerns over the World Bank and International Monetary Fund decision to cancel the NGO/PRESS pass for this year's Annual Meetings. As you note, security is a particular concern this year. However, to my understanding, this was not the main motivation for the discontinuation of this pass. World Bank management has explained that their intention was to create a more even playing field among the various civil society organizations (CSOs) participating. In the past, some CSOs holding an NGO/PRESS pass used their access to the pressroom primarily to brief the media, rather than to work as journalists. As the vast majority of CSOs would not qualify for the NGO/PRESS pass, this presented the potential for a substantial inequality of treatment.


The Bank and the Fund have made significant efforts to improve the access of all CSOs to both the media and to officials. This year, for the first time, all accredited CSOs will have use of a workroom adjacent to the pressroom and be able to attend press conferences on a space available basis. All communiques and other press releases as soon as they become public and available to journalists will be distributed in the CSO workroom.


There will also be a series of Policy Dialogue Sessions for interested CSO representatives organized around the 2004 Annual Meetings between Wednesday, September 29 and Tuesday, October 5. The Program of Seminars creates another forum during the Annual Meetings for private sector representatives, government delegates, CSOs, and senior World Bank Group and International Monetary Fund officials to engage in dialogue on finding solutions to the major financial and development challenges confronting the international community. To facilitate participation by CSOs, this year a number of complimentary passes for the program of seminars will be available.


I appreciate that many CSOs provide insightful and thorough reporting on the discussions and challenges at the Bank and the Fund, and I hope that this year's arrangements will allow this level of reporting to continue. I would encourage you to contact our Executive Director at the Bank, Marcel Masse, after this year's Annual Meetings with any concerns you have based on your members' experiences under the new procedures.


Yours sincerely,


Ralph Goodale

c.c.:   The Honourable Marcel Masse, Executive Director, World Bank Group