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Cut $1 Billion From Foreign Aid Budget, SJC Says

MONTREAL, QUEBEC--(Marketwire - Jan 21, 2013) - The Social Justice Committee of Montreal (SJC) suggests that Canada should withhold financial support from the World Bank until there is assurance that the funding complies with Canadian law. Since 1975 the SJC has been engaged in education and advocacy on human rights and economic development.

The SJC argues that the funding to the World Bank does not comply with the 2008 Official Development Assistance Accountability Act, which requires consistence with rights standards "that are based on international human rights conventions to which Canada is a party and on international customary law."

Canada provided World Bank programs with about $1.12 billion in 2011 - $440 million from CIDA and $675.5 million from the Department of Finance.

The World Bank has no human rights policies. It does not have to comply with human rights law nor take rights abuse into consideration, and it supports regimes where violations of human rights by state authorities are systemic.

For example, Uzbekistan authorities regularly jail and torture journalists and civil society activists, and there is no accountability because of the dysfunctional judicial system. The World Bank did not consider this abuse to be a factor when it committed $1.3 billion to the regime for 2012-15. When the Uzbekistan program was presented to the World Bank board of directors for approval, Canada voted to support it.

"Why should Canadians give a billion dollars to an international agency that has no human rights standards?" asks SJC Executive Director Derek MacCuish. "The intention of Canadian law is to promote human rights with our aid money, but the money that goes to the World Bank has no such strings attached."

The World Bank is now reviewing its policies, and human rights are part of those discussions, which include a consultation in Ottawa on Tuesday, Jan. 22. But until Canadians can be assured their money is used in compliance with law and in support of human rights, the SJC says the funding should be stopped.