CPDE Asia members gathered in Taipei, Taiwan last October 7 to 8, 2019 for a regional meeting and policy workshop on engaging international finance institutions (IFIs).
The event began with a multi-stakeholder dialogue with Vice President Jin-ho Song of Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) and some members of Taiwan’s academe, on the subject of how mechanisms of IFIs and the private sector aid the shrinking and closing of civic spaces.
Participating CPDE members argued that many development projects funded by the private sector have led to human rights violations, land aggression, and conflict within the communities of the poor, marginalized, and vulnerable. They called for the private sector to be held accountable and to heed the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.
Moreover, they stressed that governments should foster an enabling environment for civil society and communities, where they can develop their capacities for empowerment, freely assert equal partnership, and engage all development actors to push for people-powered and rights-based approach to development.
Capping the day was the launch of the publication Assessing Aid and Militarism in Asia (see p. 9).
The dialogue was followed by panel sessions and workshop dubbed “Asserting Democratic Space amidst Corporate Capture of Development,” where participants discussed country experiences on corporate capture of development, and sectoral experiences on the attacks on people’s rights in order to draw lessons, develop recommendations, and reaffirm solidarity among CSOs in the region.
Kariyawasam Thilak of Sri Lanka Nature Group, Jennifer Guste of Council for People’s Development and Governance, and Farida Abdyldaeva of Public Association The Right Step discussed the collusion of IFIs and governments to steer development toward profit-oriented projects mainly through neoliberal policy reforms.
Urantsooj Gombosuren of Centre for Human Rights and Development, for her part, talked about another dimension of corporate capture – via manipulation of democratic institutions, thus, affecting peoples’ rights. Meanwhile, Aid Watch Palestine’s Abed Al-Salehi reported on the decreasing and securitization of aid in occupied Palestine and how this pushes communities to utmost poverty and marginalization. Finally, David Hesaie of Pacific Islands Association of NGOs shared how CSOs in Fiji still struggle to engage with their national government against the latter’s lack of transparency and accountability.
CPDE sectoral representatives then discussed the corporate capture of development at the country-level, with Jenison Urikhimbam of Youth Forum for Protection of Human Rights, Kurniawan Sabar of Institute for National and Democracy Studies, Shanta Shrestha of Beyond Beijing Committee, and Rey Asis of Asia Pacific Mission for Migrants sharing their particular struggles such as violence against women and children, labor rights violations, land-grabbing, and forced displacement.
These struggles, the delegates argue, persist because the agenda of corporations and governments do not actually support peoples’ rights. They called for accountability and reforms, and for duty-bearers to stop the attacks on peoples’ rights and end the culture of impunity.
The delegates were tasked to create advocacy plans and policy recommendations on specific projects financed by three major IFIs: Asian Development Bank (ADB), Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), and International Monetary Fund-World Bank (IMF-WB).
Jiten Yumnam of Center for Research and Advocacy Manipur provided the state of play of these IFIs to level off all delegates in the workings, projects, and impact of the three development banks. Delegates were grouped into ADB, AIIB, and IMF-WB. Each group listed the projects of the development bank assigned to them and planned opportunities of engagements accordingly.
Final copies of the advocacy campaigns and policy recommendations will be the basis of CPDE Asia engagements with IFIs for 2020. #