Samuel Lowenberg has an article in the Lancet:

The World Bank, the US Agency for International Development (USAID), and the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) have consistently failed to act on allegations of human rights abuses in Ethiopia, including ones that are tied to their aid programmes, according to new reports…

The reports raise troubling questions over alleged abuses—including beatings, rape, and murder—connected to the government’s villagisation programme…

The report by the Oakland Institute documents how officials from USAID and DFID, who were investigating claims of abuse, heard first-hand accounts from villagers recounting brutal treatment by Ethiopian authorities under the villagisation programme. But even after these reports the two agencies failed to act.

One renegade former World Bank economist comments:

In view of the long-running problems documented in Ethiopia, “the impunity of the donors astonishes me”…. Human rights are essential to development, so when a foreign donor finances a government that represses these rights, it does not help a country develop, it sets it back, he says.

Please read the whole article, it is essential reading for anyone who cares about development.

The World Bank has also had its own scandal featured on the front page of the New York Times. The charge was that they financed a project in Uganda in which poor people had their homes, cattle, and crops destroyed as the project forced them off their own land.  The World Bank promised an investigation, which inspired us to post a clock beginning at the time of the promise.*

The clock is now at 294 days, 17 hours, and 54 minutes. The investigation has been repeatedly stonewalled.  Unlike Penn State, no World Bank executives faced any consequences. Unlike Penn State, the victims have not been compensated. Unlike Penn State, no institutional reforms have taken place to make it less likely to happen again.

Why the different outcomes? I speculate the most single powerful difference is the state of public opinion as it affects the respective organizations’ reputations. The level of public outrage at Penn State was uber-many times greater than outrage at the World Bank for the respective transgressions. The offenses were different of course, but that alone does not explain the difference in outrage.

It is great that there are more people in rich countries than ever before that care about poor Ugandans. But the level of caring is still way too faint to force the World Bank to be held accountable when it does wrong to poor Ugandans.

*Relevant updates, which were mostly no news, were posted at this site.

Here at DRI, we must concede our longstanding strenuous effort to get the individual who has been World Bank President  to say the word “Democracy” has ignominiously failed. His term ends this weekend.

Alas, this is more than a game. Yesterday, the peaceful Ethiopian blogger Eskinder Nega was convicted of “high treason” and “terrorist acts”  for such nefarious activities as noticing there was an Arab Spring. (Nega should have followed the World Bank President’s exemplary speech on the Arab Spring that omitted the word “democracy” even in a purely descriptive sense. ) The World Bank has given Ethiopia’s government more than $2.5 billion (2007-2010) during Robert Zoellick’s term.

Of course, President Zoellick did have to obey China  the 1944 Articles of Agreement, which forbids interference in “the political affairs of any member.” But when Ethiopian rulers use the aid to give food relief to supporters and starve opponents, according to careful documentation by Human Rights Watch (HRW),  one begins to wonder if aid itself is political interference? Wouldn’t suspending aid be more consistent with the Articles in that case?

At least the Development Assistance Group for Ethiopia (which includes the US, Canada, the UK, and the EU, together accounting for another $6 billion to Meles Zenawi over 2007-2010) sternly commissioned a field investigation into the HRW charges. Which has since quietly been cancelled. A 2009 secret US cable released by Wikileaks said that donors to Ethiopian leader Meles Zenawi were already “keenly aware that foreign assistance … is vulnerable to politicization.”

Mr. Zoellick, you still have two whole business days to use some word form of democra____.    Maybe you could just casually mention the official name of North Korea?

By William Easterly

The new World Bank blog People, Spaces, Deliberation has already achieved one milestone: it covers exhaustively the field of “governance” with little or no usage of words that have historically been prominent in such discussions (see chart).

How to get these numbers: Click on one of these words in the list of “tags” and count the number of pages with search results. No tags existed on ‘consent’ or ‘liberty.’

We were inspired by the new blog to translate one historical document that is now badly out of date and frame it as a practical roadmap for further engaging civil society:

Original

Translation

We hold these truths to be self-evident The mainstream consensus among experts is
that all men are created equal, All efforts should be inclusive,
that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, Development as a Multi-Stakeholder Initiative must be Broad-based and Community-driven,
that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. Including Social Sector Goals, Participation, and the pursuit of Capacity-Building.

This community-driven participator is unfortunately not adhering to Governance best practices set out by the authorities.