The general assumption that violations of human rights are inevitable, even with the Asian Development Bank’s ‘sustainable’ projects, is met mainly with incredulity by SOMO researchers Mariëtte van Huijstee and Lydia de Leeuw. As experts in non-judicial mechanisms for grievances, both were present at the Annual Meeting of the Asian Development Bank in Frankfurt from the 2nd to the 5th of May.

Photo: SOMO

Glass Half Full?

The State of Accountability in Development Finance

“It’s certainly not inevitable!” says Mariëtte van Huijstee. “We were present here to draw attention to the publication Glass Half Full.”

Many of the recommendations in this study can be taken into consideration by development banks such as the Asian Development Bank. The ultimate goal is that people and communities whose rights are infringed should not only be offered aid after the deed, but should be involved even during the design and implementation of a project. “The attitude that ‘you can’t make an omelette without breaking eggs’ is unbelievable when human rights are the issue”, says Mariëtte.

During this Annual Meeting, a panel session was also organised by the grievance mechanism section of the Asian Development Bank. Mariëtte: “Dr Korinne Horta of Ungewald also attended the session. She referred several times to Glass Half Full and the recommendations it contains. This drew a lot of support from the audience. Afterwards, we spoke to many attendees who were also interested in having a copy of the report. The great interest in this report is encouraging and gives one a bit of confidence.”

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Every year, the grievance mechanism departments of the various development banks come together for their own annual meeting. SOMO and the co-authors of Glass Half Full have been invited to assist in formulating the agenda for the next annual meeting (Manilla, September 2016). Mariëtte: “The interest is there and the dialogue has begun; that is a small step in the right direction. And it is clear that Glass Half Full is already achieving widespread familiarity.”

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Ungewald organised a protest during the forum. SOMO participated in this.