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IAMs – CSO Outreach Workshop in Turkey

Several Independent Accountability Mechanisms (IAMs) hosted a Civil Society Outreach Workshop in Istanbul, Turkey on May 12 – 13 with representatives from leading Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) from Turkey and other countries from the Eastern Europe and Central Asia (ECA) region. The purpose of the two-day workshop was geared to sharing information about the compliance work of the IAMs; listening to CSO experiences in engaging these mechanisms; and exchanging views and ideas on how to strengthen accountability principles and practices in the ECA region.

Staff from IAMs from the following international financial organizations participated: Inspection Panel and Compliance, Advisor, Ombudsman (World Bank Group - WBG), Complaints Mechanism (European Investment Bank - EIB), Project Complaint Mechanism (European Bank for Reconstruction and Development - EBRD), andAudit Department(Black Sea Trade and Development Bank - BSTDB). From the civil society community, over thirty CSO representatives from 13 countries (Turkey, Albania, Estonia, Hungary, Kazakhstan, Kosovo, Kyrgyz Republic, Latvia, Netherlands, Russia, Serbia, Tajikistan, and the United States) participated. The event was organized by the Inspection Panel in collaboration with the other IAMs and several national, regional, and international CSOs such as Organic Agriculture Association (Albania), Centre for Research on Multinational Corporations (SOMO - Netherlands) andBank Information Center (BIC - US).

The event opened with an introduction by the Executive Secretary of the Inspection Panel who highlighted the purpose and presented the agenda for the event. (Seeagenda). The first session comprised presentations by the five IAMs focusing on the commonalities and differences of their work throughout the ECA region. This was followed by a panel of CSO representatives who shared their experience in submitting complaints to the IAMs, participating in mediation efforts, and seeking redress for specific community or environmental harms. Over lunch participants heard from a representative from the Turkish Economics and Social Studies Foundation(TESEV) who discussed accountability policies and practices in Turkey. The second day began with mini-clinics on each IAM’s policies, procedures, and investigative case work load. The workshop closed with a combined panel of CSO and IAM representatives focusing on future trends and challenges for promoting increased accountability and compliance at the local, regional, and global levels. Several key issues emerged during the workshop. One was the general lack of information which exists in many countries about which projects are being funded by international financial institutions and whether project-affected people can submit complaints to the respective IAMs. Much of the discussion also revolved around the role of the IAMs; their power to investigate and secure redress from harm, as well as the limitations of their mandate to ensure that social and environmental standards are complied with. Specific issues were also discussed in response to project-related complaints received by the IAMs (e.g. labor rights, impacts from large extractive and infrastructure projects, and LGBT and discrimination issues). Overall, the workshop provided a valuable opportunity for the IAMs to share information about their work with local CSOs, and for these to raise concerns and make suggestions on how to strengthen the compliance role of the IAMs.Seephotos.