Monthly Issue Update - October 31, 2010

Victims of Kilwa Massacre Seek Justice in Canada
Congolese nationals have launched a class action law suit in a Montreal court against Canadian mining company, Anvil Mining. At least 73 civilians were killed in 2004 when the Congolese Armed Forces attacked residents in the town of Kilwa. A UN investigation revealed that planes, vehicles, personnel and food controlled by Anvil Mining were used by the army during the attack (see IU Oct. 31, 2008).

A military court in the Congo acquitted the company’s former general manager, a Canadian national, who was charged with aiding and abetting the army. Irregularities associated with the judicial proceedings were widely criticized. Survivors of the attack and relatives of the victims now seek justice in Canada. Anvil denies all claims.

In 2004, prior to the massacre, the Multilateral Guarantee Investment Agency (MIGA) granted Anvil a US$13.6 million guarantee against the risk of war and civil disturbance for its Congolese mine. MIGA, which is part of the World Bank Group, facilitates private sector investment in developing and emerging markets. Unfortunately, there is a lack of effective accountability mechanisms regarding the operation of this public institution.

Given the recent defeat of Bill C-300 in the House of Commons, Canada still lacks an effective, independent complaint mechanism regarding the overseas operations of our extractive companies. Congolese and other foreign citizens have little choice but to avail themselves of our courts in their search for justice.

ASADHO, ACIDH, RAID, Global Witness and CCIJ press release:

IMF Governance Reform  
Pressure has been mounting to establish a more even playing field for developing countries and emerging markets in IMF/World Bank governance structures. A set of proposed IMF reforms was partially agreed upon when G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors met in South Korea on October 22, in preparation for the G20 Summit. According to their communiqué, key elements of the agreement include shifts in quota shares to dynamic emerging markets and developing countries. These reforms would increase the share of dynamic developing countries’ quotas (voting power) by more than six percentage points. Such a move would see the large emerging markets of Brazil, China, India and Russia take their place among the ten most influential members of the IMF. The rise in emerging market power is to be balanced by a corresponding decrease in European representation. However, most of the six per cent increase would actually come from other developing countries. In an additional bid to make the institution more democratic, it is also proposed that the entire board of directors be elected, as opposed to the current situation, wherein five of the directors are appointed.  

The proposed reforms will not address the on-going power imbalance within the IMF, particularly as the US will retain its veto power by holding over 15% of voting shares. The proposed changes, once agreed, would not come into play until the 2012 IMF/World Bank Annual Meetings.

October 22 Communique
Bretton Woods Project

Packing for South Korea – G20: Take Action on FTT
As heads of state prepare to meet in Seoul, South Korea for the G20 summit on November 10, civil society organizations continue to push for the adoption of a Financial Transaction Tax. The tax aims to minimize volatile market activity and generate funds for developing countries. In July 2010, a group of international finance experts from the Leading Group for Innovative Financing for Development confirmed the viability of such a tax. Meanwhile, the European Commission is examining the option of introducing an FTT at the EU level, following a show of support for the initiative by the European Parliament earlier this year.

Having long advocated the benefits of an FTT, the Halifax Initiative, together with its many international partners, urges ministers to tackle this issue at the G20 in Seoul. Read the civil society G20 statement, Take Action on FTT, supported by organizations from twenty-three countries, which outlines the importance of adopting an FTT.

G20 Statement: Take Action on FTT

Notice Board – This month…

New Publications

Upcoming Events

  • Human Rights Impact Assessments for Trade and Investment AgreementsRoundtable and video conference with Olivier De Schutter, UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, Nov. 16, 10:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m., U of Ottawa,  Fauteux Hall (FTX 550)

Just the Facts: How Canada is represented at the World Bank and IMF
See PDF version for organigram.