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101 organizations and individuals endorse a letter to the World Bank President on disability and Safeguards.
On February 27, 2012, the Lebanese Physical Handicapped Union (LPHU), a grassroots organization based in Lebanon, launched a global campaign to integrate disability rights standards into the World Bank’s Safeguards by sending a letter, signed by 101 organizations and individuals, to the World Bank presidency asking for the mandatory inclusion of disability into the Bank’s operations. This campaign comes as an important step towards consolidating the voices of disability groups and supporting human rights networks to advocate for integrating disability rights into World Bank operations.
The letter comes in advance of the World Bank’s Safeguards review process through which the institution will be reviewing its social and environmental Safeguard policies over the upcoming two years. The Safeguards are a set of policies designed to protect affected communities and the environment that the Bank and borrowing governments have to adhere to when designing and implementing Bank projects and programs. Given this opportunity, global civil society has begun playing an active role to influence this review process and to push the Bank towards expanding the scope of the review to include such issues as gender, land rights, labor rights and the rights of persons with disabilities.
The letter highlights the importance for the World Bank to pursue a systematically inclusive development approach across all its operations. It argues that a Safeguard policy, as opposed to guidelines or best practices, is the best way to guarantee that Bank projects are inclusive in process, design and implementation and that persons with disabilities are involved as equal and active participants in the development process. The signatories argue that as the leading multilateral development institution and a standard-setter for other development institutions, the Bank has a responsibility to uphold the highest social standards.