Can the World Bank enforce its standards on indigenous peoples?

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Former World Bank official says bank shut down his efforts to defend rights of tribal group in Kenya

In public statements, the bank says it works hard to help indigenous groups preserve their rights and improve their lives. Among the examples it cites are an initiative in the Amazon region that led to the “collaborative mapping” of 2,344 indigenous territories and a new grant program for fighting forest loss that puts “project design and funding decisions in the hands of indigenous peoples.”

In the Sengwer case in Kenya, the bank has said in public statements that it’s not to blame for the evictions. It says it “acted swiftly” to deal with problems when they arose. It attributes many of the problems with the project to issues it had no control over, including “tension over historic land issues, longstanding grievances of indigenous communities, and unresolved conflicts between those communities and the Kenya Forest Service.”

Others—including the bank’s own internal Inspection Panel—argue that the bank mishandled the case, violating its own principles.

The behind-the-scenes story of the World Bank’s struggles in the Cherangani Hills reveals the frustrations of advocates—both inside and outside the bank—as they’ve tried to push the bank to live up to its commitments to defend indigenous peoples who live in the path of development initiatives.

World Bank projects used to evict indigenous peoples from conservation areas?

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