Many paths to modernity : human rights, development and the World Bank


University of British Columbia

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Document Type



Master of Laws - LLM




This thesis argues that development requires policies which promote comprehensive human development, rather than simple economic growth. While international law and the human rights system mandate that the individual be the central focus of the development paradigm, there are other reasons in addition to legal obligation to engage in people centred development planning. It also addresses the broad support for participatory processes found in the development planning literature. The World Bank is a multilateral development agency charged with providing low interest loans to developing nations. Frequently the development interventions financed by these loans violate the human rights of neighbouring residents. Such violations are contrary to the Bank's international legal obligations as a member of the United Nations system. This thesis enumerates steps the Bank must take to align its project planning and implementation policies with international human rights law. Chapter One summarizes World Bank history, addresses its structure, and discusses its lending policy then moves on to comment on the human rights system, providing the theory and methodology to be used throughout the thesis. The following chapters address specific Bank policies regulating project planning. Chapter Two discusses the policy regarding involuntary resettlement arising from development, and summarize the Bank's indigenous policy. Chapter Three concerns the Bank's environmental assessment policy. Chapter Four investigates two areas where no Bank policy has been developed, contrary to the requirements of the human rights system: formation of national development policies, and the detriments suffered by project affected people not covered by other policies. Each chapter discusses the nature of the relevant human rights issues, outlines Bank policy (where it exists), and recommends modifications and courses of action to bring the Bank into accordance with the human rights requirements. Chapter five reviews the conclusions reached in earlier chapters and offers a brief case study demonstrating how human rights can be practically applied in development projects. The World Bank must create policies consistent with international civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights to meet the challenges, and the legal obligations, of human development.


World Bank; Human rights -- Developing countries; Economic development projects -- Developing countries

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