We, representatives from peoples' movements, national and international non-governmental organizations, students' and workers' unions, and solidarity groups gathered in Istanbul on the occasion of the Asian Development Bank's (ADB) 38th Annual Governors' Meeting (AGM), express our continuing opposition to the actions of International Financial Institutions (IFIs) such as the ADB, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. Despite their repeated rhetoric, it is clear that these institutions have neither the interest, nor the institutional commitment to reduce poverty and promote sustainable development. On the contrary, their actions have deepened poverty, destroyed environments, resulted in insurmountable debt burdens and undermined the livelihoods and security of millions of people across the world.
The ADB's operations in the Asia-Pacific region have been marked by a shocking lack of public accountability, poor governance and massive corruption. Of particular concern, is the ADB's massive support for fossil fuels, specifically coal fired power plants, which has contributed significantly to severe climate impacts in Asia, such as more intense droughts and storms. ADB projects have undermined national and local governance and in many instances, resulted in the violation of human rights among project-affected communities. The policy conditionalities that accompany ADB loans and grants have corrupted national democratic processes and weakened democratic institutions. ADB's unstinting support for private sector development and the privatization of public goods and services have resulted in the transfer of collective societal wealth and assets into the hands of multinational corporations and national elites. Likewise, the ADB does not support the development of a responsible and accountable domestic private sector.
IFIs have long supported dictatorial regimes. Experiences over the past fifteen years further show – as in Cambodia, Timor L'este, Afghanistan and Iraq— that IFIs are increasingly expanding their operations into post-conflict, -war and -disaster reconstruction. IFI-led reconstruction programmes serve the military and economic interests of wealthy nations and corporations of the North and undemocratic regimes of the South. They do not contribute in any meaningful manner to the rebuilding and rehabilitation of the lives of affected peoples and communities.
Project affected communities and people's organisations frequently encounter a lack of responsiveness and respect from ADB staff and management when they bring concerns about projects and policies to their attention. In the Melamchi Water Supply Project in Nepal , senior project officers repeatedly refused to explain how water rights of the local community would be guaranteed, what specific mitigation plan would be implemented and why they claimed that available alternatives in Kathmandu are not appropriate. Communities affected by the Southern Transport Development Project in Sri Lanka have engaged in all available ADB processes for the past five years. The issues they raised were deemed “inspectable” by the ADB and the communities have jumped through every Bank hoop and hurdle, but to date, nothing has changed in the project. The ADB cannot wash its hands off its responsibility in the projects it supports and use project-affected peoples as guinea pigs.
By virtue of their founding charters, IFIs enjoy full immunity from all national and international court jurisdictions, and are not financially liable for any material harm resulting from their failed projects, policies and programmes. Such immunity is unthinkable in today's world where even crimes committed by Heads of States are being prosecuted in international tribunals, and flies in the face of current global talk about “good governance” and the “rule of law.” According to communities affected by the Chashma Right Bank Irrigation Project in Pakistan , they decided to stop engaging with the Bank because it refused to accept responsibility for the wrongs and crimes committed against them.
As in previous AGMs, the 38 th AGM was characterised by themes constantly rehashed but never substantially realized such as development effectiveness, governance, accountability, environmental protection and poverty reduction. The only difference in this AGM was the presence of a new ADB President, Haruhiko Kuroda. Whether the new President offers opportunities for any fundamental change in the institution remains to be seen.
In its current form and direction, the ADB fails to address the most urgent development needs and priorities in the Asia Pacific region. In collusion with borrowing governments, the ADB disregards the rights of communities to choose their own paths to development, and robs them of access to and control over their resources. Public-private partnerships promoted by the ADB boost the private sector at the expense of the public. Despite strong evidence of negative impacts on peoples and the environment, ADB continues to finance destructive large infrastructure projects (for example, large dams and transportation projects), fossil fuel power and extractive industries, without serious commitments towards developing appropriate alternatives. Renewable energy resources are abundant but the ADB has chosen to ignore it.
The ADB must not be allowed to continue business as usual, and get away scot-free for damages it causes.
In solidarity with peoples and communities resisting the destructive activities of the ADB and other IFIs, we commit to intensify our challenge against these institutions.
Asienhaus ( Germany )
Bank Information Center
Both Ends (The Netherlands )
Bureau for Human Rights and Rule of Law ( Kyrgyzstan )
Center for Environmental Justice ( Sri Lanka )
Ciftci Sendikalari Konfederasyonlasma Platformu ( Turkey )
Coastal Development Partnership ( Bangladesh )
Devrimci Sosyalist Isci Partisi (DSIP) ( Turkey )
Environmental Law Centre ( Uzbekistan )
Focus on the Global South ( Thailand , India , Philippines )
Freedom from Debt Coalition ( Philippines )
Friends of the Earth International
Greenpeace Southeast Asia
Human Development Centre, “Tree of Life” ( Kyrgyzstan )
Kazakhstan International Bureau for Human Rights and Rule of Law ( Kazakhstan )
Mauj , Pakistan
NGO Forum on ADB (International)
Nukleer Karsiti Platform ( Turkey )
Ozgurluk ve Dayanisma Partisi (ODP) ( Turkey )
Philippine Rural Reconstruction Movement (PRRM)
South Asian Solidarity for Rivers and Peoples (Regional)
Sri Lankan Working Group on Trade and IFIs
Tüketiciyi Koruma Dernegi (TUKODER) ( Turkey )
Tunceli Dernekleri Federasyonu ( Turkey )
Urban Research Center ( India )
Water and Energy Users' Federation-Nepal