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3rd ISSUE | View Archive
January - March 2010


Informal Discussions on Accountability Mechanism


Dr. Maartje van Putten
Dr. Maartje van Putten, a member of the Independent Compliance Review Mechanism of the African Development Bank and a leading expert in the field of accountability and compliance, gave presentations and held informal discussions on 5 and 8 March 2010 with the Board of Directors, Management and concerned operations staff of the Asian Development Bank (ADB). Dr. van Putten's visit to ADB was organized by the Office of the Compliance Review Panel (OCRP) as part of its outreach program on the ADB Accountability Mechanism. Dr. van Putten's presentation entitled "Current Issues and Future Challenges in Accountability" at the Informal Board Seminar provided ADB participants with a comparative analysis of the accountability mechanisms or dispute resolution systems of the multilateral development banks (MDBs) – for example, the presence or absence of a complaint handling function, the manner in which problem solving and compliance review are managed, and the role, if any, of the monitoring of remedial actions were some of the differences Dr. van Putten highlighted. Dr. van Putten also gave highlights of the reviews of the mechanisms of some of the MDBs i.e., African Development Bank, European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, European Investment Bank, and Inter-American Development Bank. She also discussed the emerging importance of such mechanisms in private sector financial institutions, as well as the likely future developments in the fields of accountability and compliance.


ADB staff during the informal discussion.
Dr. van Putten fielded questions during the open forums held at the end of her presentations and among the important issues raised were: the lack of understanding of accountability mechanisms by affected persons as well as by civil society in general, the replication of the mechanism for grievance redress to be established at the project level, application of the accountability mechanism to MDB-funded development programs and not only to projects, and problems that may arise where monitoring of remedial actions is conducted by a compliance review panel.

Dr. van Putten emphasized that accountability, compliance and governance in financing institutions is all about cultural change and these can be "learned by doing." It may be inevitable that people and institutions make mistakes in the workplace; but what matters is not so much that mistakes are made, but what is done to address those mistakes. Accountability is a learning process and there should no fear among the staff. On the contrary, the MDBs should take pride in having an accountability mechanism. Dr. van Putten's closing remark "No Fear, but Pride" captures her important message on accountability and compliance.

CRP Secretary's Visit to Australia


PSI participants
During 24 and 25 March 2010, the CRP Secretary, Bruce Purdue, participated in a workshop convened by Public Services International (PSI) in Sydney, Australia. This included a presentation on the Accountability Mechanism to representatives from six of ADB's Pacific Developing Member Countries (PDMCs) namely Cook Islands, Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Tonga and Vanuatu. (ADB has maintained a dialogue with PSI since 2005. PSI is a global union federation of more than 650 trade unions. PSI represents more than 20 million workers who deliver public services in 160 countries and is committed to building quality public services that meet the needs of workers and communities. Priorities include global campaigns for water, energy, and health services. PSI is officially recognized within ILO as a nongovernmental organization (NGO) for the public sector and has accreditation with UNESCO, ECOSOC, and UNCTAD. PSI's Asia Pacific Regional Organization covers 122 unions in 22 countries representing 2 million workers.) This was an ideal opportunity to explain the details of the ADB Accountability Mechanism, obtain feedback on OCRP's ideas for outreach to PDMCs during 2010 and to alert affected persons as to the initiation of the review of the Accountability Mechanism.

Mr. Purdue also had discussions with the NSW Ombudsman's Office, which has been involved with the Pacific Ombudsman Alliance (www.pacificombudsman.org), the Research Institute for Asia and the Pacific at the University of Sydney, Oxfam Australia and governance practitioners. Mr. Purdue also visited ADB's Pacific Liaison and Coordination Office.

OCRP and OSPF Meets with AIPP in Thailand


Asia Indigenous People's Pact
The Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact (AIPP) is a regional organization established by indigenous people's (IP) movement in 1992. It has 28 members located across 16 countries in Asia. The AIPP has also a strong network at the country level especially in Bangladesh, India, particularly in North-East, Indonesia, Nepal and the Philippines. It was also informed that there has been a growing NGO forum on IPs in Cambodia and Yunan, People's Republic of China. The AIPP informed that there are important challenges to reach the IPs, namely, (i) remoteness of IP's locations; (ii) language barrier; and (iii) security concerns.

During the meeting, the participants raised the following concerns on the ADB Accountability Mechanism, particularly the compliance review phase: (i) how to treat a non-material harm since most of the IP's concerns could not be treated as a material harm i.e., cultural heritage, (ii) what could the Compliance Review Panel do if ADB management does not implement the remedial actions; (iii) what had been done in introducing the Accountability Mechanism during project preparation; and (iv) how to treat confidentiality of IP complainants or requesters considering the remoteness of their location, language, and security.

Learning from the nature of the AIPP organization and its activities, the potential outreach on ADB Accountability Mechanism for IPs and IP groups could possibly be done through the following forum: (i) dissemination of information through AIPP's regular meetings, either by providing ADB Accountability Mechanism package or by conducting presentations; (ii) conducting special workshops in consultation with the IP network at the national level in a region where ADB's projects are concentrated, e.g. North-East India, Chittagong Hill tracts, Bangladesh; and (iii) disseminating Accountability Mechanism information through AIPP's website by requesting them to link to the ADB's Accountability Mechanism websites.

It is also necessary to explore an opportunity to work with AIPP, especially to reach the IPs and IP groups, to promote the use of the ADB's Accountability Mechanism in the Asia and Pacific region.

Newsbits

The BCRC Annual Report 2008-2009 was submitted to the Board Compliance Review Committee for comments on 26 February 2010. The report is due for release in the 2nd quarter of 2010.

The CRP’s fifth and last monitoring report for the Pakistan Chashma Right Bank Irrigation Project (Stage III) was submitted to the Board Compliance Review Committee on 15 March 2010 for review and comments.

On 19 March 2010, OSPF and OCRP gave a briefing to new staff on ADB’s Accountability Mechanism.

A prototype of the new Compliance Review Monitoring System was completed and circulated to selected ADB staff for review on 19 March 2010.

Preparations for the first online discussion in IAMnet are underway, and it will be launched in April-May 2010 prior to the IAMs Seventh Annual Meeting in June 2010.

Updates to the CRP website continue and among those completed during the first quarter are an email facility where internet readers can send direct communications to the CRP and sample letter requesting compliance review in various DMC languages.

The Accountability Mechanism and Compliance Review brochures in Hindi were completed on 26 January 2010.

Visitors for the 1st Quarter

  • Frank Schmidt, Regional Compliance Officer, Asia and Pacific, Siemens AG, 18 January
  • Rashmi Sharma, Senior Program manager, International Financial Institutions Director, Multilateral and Global Programs, CIDA, 9 February
  • Dr. Maartje van Putten, Member, Independent Compliance Review Mechanism, African Development Bank, 5-8 March
  • Harvey Himberg, Consultant, TA 6285-REG: Strengthening Country Safeguard Systems, 10 March
  • Michiyo Kakegawa, Ph.D Student, University of California, USA, 9 March
  • Sin Chhin and Im Serey Sras, Affected persons of Highway 1 project in Cambodia; Pieter Jansen, Both Ends; A. Sisah, NGO Forum on Cambodia; Sok Sokhom, CNRO Cambodia; and Kay Leak, CDCam Cambodia, 29 March
Compliance Review Quarterly is published by the Office of the Compliance Review Panel.  If you have comments or queries, please contact Teresita Capati at: tcapati@adb.org.