Historic Supreme Court Win: World Bank Group Is Not Above The Law

In a historic 7-1 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court decided in Jam v. IFC that international organizations like the International Finance Corporation of the World Bank Group do not enjoy absolute immunity.

The Court’s decision marks a defining moment for the IFC – the arm of the World Bank Group that lends to the private sector. For years, the IFC has operated as if it were “above the law,” at times pursuing reckless lending projects that inflicted serious human rights abuses on local communities, and then leaving the communities to fend for themselves.

US Supreme Court’s Verdict

Press Release: Historic Supreme Court Win: WB Group Is Not Above The Law

Press Release: MASS Welcomes The US Supreme Court’s Decision To End The Immunity Of The World Bank Group

Press Release: Peoples Movements and Civil Society Organisations Welcomes the US Supreme Court’s Decision on the Absolute Immunity of the IFIs

Analysis of the Judgement

The Supreme Court Rules in Jam v. International Finance Corporation (Lawfareblog.com)

Opinion analysis: Justices hold that international organizations do not have near-complete immunity (Scotusblog.com)

Wake Up World Bank (Down To Earth)

US Supreme Court Construes Scope of Immunities in Jam (Lexology.com)

No Longer Above The Law, The World Bank Faces Fight Of Its Life (International Consortium of Investigative Journalists)

The World Bank Must Clean up its Act (Nature)

Media Coverage of the Ruling

Gujarat Farmers Win The First Round Against World Bank (Bloomberg Quint)

No Absolute Immunity For World Bank Affiliate: US Supreme Court (Down To Earth)

World Bank Affiliate Is Not Shielded From All Legal Action, Supreme Court Rules (Washington Post)

US Supreme Court Revives India Power Plant Lawsuit (MoneyControl.com)

World Bank’s Legal Immunity Stripped, Opening Door for Lawsuits (International Consortium of Investigative Journalists)

अमेरिकी सुप्रीम कोर्ट में मुंद्रा के मछुआरों के एक संगठन ने कैसे विश्‍व बैंक को दिखा दी औकात (Mediavigil.com)

US Supreme Court Order “Clears Way” To File Case On IFC Funding Of Tata Mundra Plant (Counterview.net)

Calls for Stronger Accountability After IFC Supreme Court Ruling (Devex)

What does the US Supreme Court’s decision on IFC impunity mean for Indian fishermen? (Business and Human Rights Resource Centre)

Photos: Tata Mundra


Tata Mundra UMPP(CGPL)

Coastal Gujarat Power Limited (―CGPL or the ―company) will build, own and operate a 4,000MW (5 units of 800 MW each) ultra mega‘ supercritical technology based power plant at the port city of Mundra in the Kutch district of Gujarat, India (the ―project). CGPL is sponsored by Tata Power Company Limited (―Tata Power) who owns 100 per cent of CGPL. In May 2011, CGPL announced the successful completion of the steam blowing process at Unit 1. The four remaining units will be commissioned at subsequent intervals of four months each. The total project cost is estimated at about US$4.14 billion. IFC invested $450 million of its own capital in this project, which IFC has classified as a category A project, signifying that IFC believes there are potentially significant adverse social and environmental impacts that may be diverse or irreversible.

Financiers: A consortium of Banks including multilateral agencies and Exim Banks invests in this project which costs the US $4.14billion. Financing comprises of the equity of INR 42.50 billion, External Commercial Borrowings (ECB) of up to USD 1.8 billion and Rupee Loans of up to INR 55.50 billion. The ECBs include the International Finance Corporation, the Export‐Import Bank of Korea, Korea Export Insurance Corporation, the Asian Development Bank and BNP Paribas. National financial institutions (FIs) involved are SBI, the India Infrastructure Finance Company Ltd., Housing and Urban Development Corporation Ltd., Oriental Bank of Commerce, Vijaya Bank, State Bank of Bikaner & Jaipur, State Bank of Hyderabad, State Bank of Travancore and State Bank of Indore.

Challenging IFC’s immunity in US Federal Court:

In 2015, Fishing communities and farmers from India filed a suit against the International Finance Corporation (IFC), the private lending arm of the World Bank Group, in federal court in Washington, D.C. In the suit, titled Jam v. IFC, the fish workers alleged that the IFC caused the loss of their livelihoods, destroyed their lands and water, and created threats to their health by funding the Tata Mundra coal-fired power plant in Gujarat, India. Earths Rights International is representing the fish workers community.

Engagement with Accountability Mechanisms:

Compliance Advisor Ombudsman:

Compliance Review Panel:

Assessments:

  • Comprehensive Environment Impact Assessment (CEIA):
  1. Volume I: http://www.cenfa.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/Comprehensive-EIA-CGPL-Vol1.pdf
  2. Volume II: http://www.cenfa.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/Comprehensive-EIA-CGPL-Vol2.pdf
  3. Volume III: http://www.cenfa.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/Comprehensive-EIA-CGPL-Vol3.pdf
  • Rapid Marine Environment Impact Assessment (RMEIA):
  1. Volume I: http://www.cenfa.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/Rapid-Marine-EIA-CGPL-Vol1.pdf
  2. Volume II: http://www.cenfa.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/Rapid-Marine-EIA-CGPL-Vol2.pdf
  3. Volume III: http://www.cenfa.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/Rapid-Marine-EIA-CGPL-Vol3.pdf
  4. Volume IV: http://www.cenfa.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/Rapid-Marine-EIA-CGPL-Vol4.pdf
  5. Volume V: http://www.cenfa.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/Rapid-Marine-EIA-CGPL-Vol5.pdf
  • Supplemental Environmental Impact Assessment:
  1. Volume I: http://www.cenfa.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/Supplemental-EIA-CGPL-Vol1.pdf
  2. Volume II: http://www.cenfa.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/Supplemental-EIA-CGPL-Vol2.pdf
  3. Volume III: http://www.ifc.org/ifcext/spiwebsite1.nsf/0/4FD3C63990A4CDA3852576BA000E32F8/$File/Supplemental%20EIA-CGPL%20Vol3.pdf
  4. Volume IV: http://www.cenfa.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/Supplemental-EIA-CGPL-Vol4.pdf

Other Publications:

In a historic 7-1 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court decided in Jam v. IFC that international organizations like the International Finance Corporation of the World Bank Group do not enjoy absolute immunity.

The Court’s decision marks a defining moment for the IFC – the arm of the World Bank Group that lends to the private sector. For years, the IFC has operated as if it were “above the law,” at times pursuing reckless lending projects that inflicted serious human rights abuses on local communities, and then leaving the communities to fend for themselves.

This will be the first time the US Supreme Court has addressed the scope of international organisations’ immunity.

Visit here to know all about the case.