Comments on Bank Operational Policy on Indigenous Peoples - February 28, 2005

February 28, 2005

Indigenous Peoples Coordinator
Mailstop MC5-523
World Bank
1818 H Street
NW Washington DC 20433 USA

RE: Comments on Revised Draft Operational Policy on Indigenous Peoples (Revised Draft OP 4.10)

Dear Indigenous Peoples Coordinator,

Please find below our comments on the Draft Operational Policy on Indigenous Peoples (Revised Draft OP 4.10).

We the undersigned Canadian organizations and representatives are writing to highlight the need for the World Bank to strengthen its draft OP 4.10 in order to ensure that the policy sufficiently meets international standards and guarantees on the rights of Indigenous Peoples.

In our opinion, for the operational policy to be seen to be credible and effective it must contain mandatory provisions that:

  • Are consistent with protections for Indigenous Peoples' rights under existing international human rights standards, in particular the right to self-determination;
  • Prohibit the World Bank from funding projects that risk contravening a borrower's obligations under international human rights and environmental agreements;
  • Prohibit forced relocation;
  • Recognise the right of Indigenous People to free prior and informed consent;      
  • Recognise and protect Indigenous Peoples' ownership and property rights over lands, territories and resources in accordance with their customary law, values, usage and customs;
  • Apply the right to self-identification as a fundamental element in determining the scope and coverage of the policy; and,
  • Ensure the coverage of the policy includes structural adjustment and programmatic lending and is not limited only to project-based lending.

The principles articulated above are consistent with demands that have been repeatedly made by Indigenous Peoples' representatives from around the world to the World Bank throughout the review of its Indigenous Peoples Policy. The December 2004 draft policy on Indigenous Peoples does not sufficiently address these requirements and we are calling on the World Bank to ensure that all of these provisions are included and mandatory in the operational policy. 


Michael Bassett
Coordinator of the Halifax Initiative Coalition

cc. Marcel Mass, Executive Director for Canada, World Bank

Halifax Initiative Coalition members:

 Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace
Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, Social Affairs Office
Canadian Council for International Co-operation (CCIC)
Canadian Friends of Burma
Canadian Labour Congress (CLC)
Canadian Lawyers for International Human Rights (CLAIHR)
CAW - Canada
CoDevelopment Canada
Democracy Watch
Falls Brook Centre
Friends of the Earth Canada
Kairos: Canadian Ecumenical Justice Initiatives
MiningWatch Canada
North-South Institute
Oxfam Canada
Rights & Democracy
Sierra Club of Canada Nuclear Campaign
Social Justice Committee
Steelworkers Humanity Fund
Toronto Environmental Alliance   
World Interaction Mondial

Other organizations that have endorsed this letter:

Canadian Friends Service Committee (Canada)
Friends of the Earth International
Amici della Terra (Italy)
Mensen Werken Voor Mensen (Netherlands)
COECOCeiba-FoE (Costa Rica)
LOKOJ Institute (Bangladesh)
Amis De La Terre (France)
Maryknoll Sisters Eastern U.S.A. Region (USA)