Inspection Panel Marks its 25th Anniversary
The Inspection Panel celebrated its 25th anniversary as the first independent accountability mechanism (IAM) at the international financial institution with a ceremony and reception at the World Bank on November 14, 2018.
The event was attended by members of the Bank’s Board of Executive Directors, Bank management and staff, former and current Panel members and staff, and representatives of civil society and other IAMs. The latter group was in Washington for the 15th Annual Meeting of IAM Network, which the Panel hosted. The network now numbers 18.
James Wolfensohn, World Bank president from 1995-2005, had expected to attend the ceremony but was unable to travel to Washington at the last minute and was represented by his wife, Elaine. Mrs. Wolfensohn was presented with a book published by the Panel to mark its 25th anniversary and signed by current and former members in acknowledgement of Mr. Wolfensohn’s strong support of the Panel in its early years.
World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim told the gathering the Panel plays a “vital role” in helping the World Bank improve the lives of its clients and achieve its twin goals of ending extreme poverty by 2030 and boosting shared prosperity.
“I think the Inspection Panel has shown that it’s possible to democratize the oversight and accountability process, and hold ourselves accountable to the people we serve,” Kim said. “Regardless of the challenges we will face over the next quarter century, I’m confident that the Panel will continue to help us meet the highest standards of transparency and accountability.”
The event’s keynote address was given by Albie Sachs, who was appointed by then President Nelson Mandela in 1994 and served 15 years as a judge on South Africa’s Constitutional Court. Mr. Sachs, who was a chief architect of the country’s constitution, said there’s “no doubt that people in different parts of the world, poor people, have been assisted very directly” by the Inspection Panel process.
But equally important, he said, the Panel’s existence has “changed the very culture and methodology of the World Bank,” an evolution that leads to better projects.
“It’s not just the cases where there are complaints. It’s the matters now that don’t end up in complaints because new routines, new methodology has evolved,” Sachs said. “For me, that’s a huge achievement of what the Panel has done, not just for the immediate beneficiaries but for the Bank.”
Sachs said he was unaware of the existence of the Panel before being asked to speak at the anniversary celebration but added: “It’s such a joy to come across an organization, a set of people, and a community who believe in humanity … and (have) a respect for ideas, for evidence, for truth.”
To watch a video of the event, click here.
To watch a short video of the Panel’s history and legacy, click here.
To access the Panel’s 25th anniversary book, click here.