MENA Regional CSO Outreach Workshop
The Inspection Panel along with theCompliance Advisor Ombudsman (CAO) participated in a CSO Outreach Workshop in Beirut, Lebanon on September 20 and 21, 2015. The workshop was organized by theBank Information Center (BIC) in partnership with local CSOs, and brought together over 60 Civil Society representatives from six Middle East and North Africa (MENA) countries: Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Tunisia, and Yemen. The purpose of the workshop was threefold: i) allow CSOs to become better acquainted with the compliance work of the IPN and CAO; ii) provide CSOS with an opportunity to share their experiences in promoting accountability at the local level; and iii) allow an exchange of views on accountability trends in the MENA region.
The workshop opened with welcoming remarks by Chad Dobson, Executive Director of BIC, who noted the growing interest of Arab CSOs to engage with the Bank, and specifically with the Inspection Panel. Next, Serge Selwan, Inspection Panel Senior Operations Officer, provided an introduction to the World Bank Group, its history, structure, and projects. Zeinab Bashir el Bakri, Inspection Panel Member, spoke next on the origins, policies, and procedures of the Inspection Panel, as well as details on the Panel’s work in the MENA Region. (See presentation in Arabic). Daniel Adler, CAO’s Governance Specialist talked about the history and policies of the CAO, as well as on its recent case work in the MENA Region. Daniel Adler, CAO’s Governance Specialist talked about the history and policies of the CAO, as well as on its recent case work in the MENA Region.
This was followed by a CSO Panel in which a number of CSOs –Arab NGO Network for Development/ANND, (Lebanon), Association for Collective Rights (Egypt), and Observatoire Tunisien de la Citoyenneté Participative (Tunisia) – shared their experiences in engaging the Panel during past investigation cases, as well as the opportunities and challenges of promoting compliance and community redress in their countries. This was followed by a general plenary session in which a number of important issues where brought up: the challenges communities face in bringing cases to the two mechanisms due to lack of knowledge about their existence or operational procedures; lack of access to project-related documents in Arabic; fear of reprisals or other constraints faced by CSOs to fully participate in Panel or CAO investigations; and community frustration when expectations for grievance redress are not met. IPN and CAO staff held individual meetings the next day so CSOs they could discuss specific compliance concerns in their countries.