Holding Funders and Companies to Account
Litigation and Standards

by Nicholas Hildyard

first published 3 December 2005

As a result of pressure from grassroots movements and from national and international non-government organisations, the majority of the major international finance institutions (IFIs) -- such as the World Bank, large private banks and OECD national Export Credit Agencies -- have now committed themselves to ensuring that the projects they support comply with international environmental and social standards. In practice, however, those standards are frequently flouted to the detriment of local livelihoods, human rights and the environment.

This article presents a brief history of the methods used by NGOs to document such violations in two recent projects -- the proposed Ilisu Dam in the Kurdish region of south-east Turkey, and BP's Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline in the Caspian region. The case studies focus on the responses of the companies and IFIs involved, and the use made by NGOs of documented material to bring concerns to decision-makers and the wider public and to take legal cases to the European Court of Human Rights.

This paper was presented to the American Anthropological Association Annual Meeting, Washington DC on, 3 December 2005.