For Immediate Release

Peoples Movements and Civil Society Organisations Welcome the US Supreme Court’s Decision on the Absolute Immunity of the IFIs

March 1, 2019, New Delhi:Peoples movements and civil society organisations from across India welcomes the US Supreme Court’s landmark judgement that ends the absolute immunity of the international organisations like the World Bank Group.

The US Supreme Court, in its 7-1 verdict in the Budha Ismail Jam v. International Finance Corporation (IFC), had yesterday ruled that international organisations like the World Bank Group can be sued in U.S. courts.

Medha Patkar, a senior leader of the Narmada Bachao Andolan, reacting to the judgement, said “For long, the absolute immunity had encouraged International Financial Institutions to mindlessly finance massive projects in critical sectors without proper assessment of the environmental and social impacts, and due diligence of their financial and economic consequences. This judgement will force them to take their policies and laws of the land more seriously.”

Dr Bharat Patel General Secretary, Machimar Adhikar Sangharsh Sangathan and one of the petitioners in the case, said, “This is a victory of our relentless struggle to bring to justice the crimes committed by the Tata against the fishing community. The IFC aided the process by turning a blind eye to it.”

The construction of the IFC-funded Tata Mundra UMPP had destroyed marine fisheries resources and traditional fishing practices like the pagadia fishing, which has adversely affected the livelihood of the locals. The people had objected to the destruction of their coasts and sea in the name of development projects, and opening up of the coasts to polluting industries, particularly the thermal plants. Much of India’s polluting industries are concentrated around the coast and the new plan to industrialise the coast through port-led development will only intensify the resource grab and destruction of the livelihood of fishers and farmers.

Soumya Dutta, convenor of the Beyond Copenhagen Collective, said, “This judgement underlines that the IFIs can no longer get away with their reckless investment. Earlier, to earn profits, they would pay lip service to their social and environmental safeguard policies and invest in high-risk projects, despite themselves mentioning it in the project documents. With US Supreme Court’s decision to end absolute immunity of the IFIs, the banks will be more much careful now.”

Speaking on the judgement, Joe Athialy, Executive Director of the Centre for Financial Accountability, New Delhi, said: “This judgment will strengthen communities’ efforts to hold the Bank accountable and is a step in the direction of bringing accountability in financial institutions.”

Please visit here for more background on the case.

About Us:
WGonIFIs, a network of movements, organisations and individuals to critically look at and evaluate the policies, programmes and investments of various International Finance Institutions (IFIs), and joining the celebration of the people and communities across the world in resisting them. A list of the network is available here.

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