Additional Resources on Accountability Mechanisms

CIEL works with partners around the world to provide support to communities in protecting their rights. When these rights have been violated, communities can use international accountability mechanisms (also called grievance mechanisms) to seek redress.  Some of our partners have produced a number of excellent resources to help you better understand and use these mechanisms.  Below, we present a diversity of tools- guides, brochures, websites and videos- that vary in substance, length and format.  We hope you find this information useful!

A Comprehensive Guide on Accountability

Accountability Counsel, a non-profit organization that works with communities around the world to find innovative ways to access justice and to ensure that communities’ voices are heard, offers an “Accountability Resource Guide.” It is a comprehensive guide for redressing human rights and environmental violations by projects sponsored by international and regional financial institutions (e.g. the World Bank, the Inter-American Development Bank, the Asian Development Bank, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the African Development Bank, the European Investment Bank and the Brazilian Development Bank), export promotion agencies (e.g. the Japan Bank for International Cooperation, the Nippon Export and Investment Insurance, the Export Development Canada, and the U.S. Overseas Private Investment Corporation), and private multinational corporations.

This Resource Guide was developed to assist community leaders, lawyers, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and individuals who may be or already are harmed by these projects to determine what rights they have and how to file a complaint through accountability mechanisms.  It is 114 pages and goes into great detail providing strategic considerations about using the mechanisms and what to expect after submitting a complaint.   In some sections, examples of real complaint cases are provided to illustrate why a complaint was filed and what subsequently happened.  Finally, the Guide also contains a description of the Equator Principles for private banks that currently do not have formal accountability mechanisms as well as trainings, consultations, useful web links to find additional information and contact information for NGOs who could offer further support.

In-depth website on Human Rights & Grievance Mechanisms

The Centre for Research on Multinational Corporations (SOMO), an independent, non-profit research that investigates multinational corporations and the consequences of their activities for people and the environment around the world, hosts a useful website on human rights and grievance mechanisms: Grievancemechanisms.org.

This site describes what a grievance mechanism is and when and why to use grievance procedures.  It also explains who can file a complaint and how to use grievance mechanisms.  This site offers an overview of international grievance mechanisms, regional multilateral development banks and regional human rights commissions.  It also covers news about non-judicial grievance mechanisms, including case updates, press releases, reports, and CSO letters. You can also sign up to receive periodic newsletters from SOMO’s Human Rights & Grievance Mechanisms Programme.

In addition, Grievancemechanisms.org presents resources in the form of brochures, guides, videos and newsletters on corporate accountability, dispute resolution mechanisms and access to justice.  For example:

With Accountability Counsel, SOMO has also produced four brochures on:

  • The World Bank’s Inspection Panel Brochure explains the Inspection Panel, the World Bank’s grievance mechanism. The brochure outlines the key World Bank rules that it must follow when the World Bank finances a project; the who, what, when, where and why of filing a complaint; and a step-by-step guide about how to file a complaint at the World Bank Inspection Panel.
  • The Compliance Advisor Ombudsman Brochure explains the grievance mechanism of the Compliance Advisor Ombudsman (CAO) that investigates complaints regarding whether the International Finance Corporation (IFC) or the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA) have followed their own policies.  (The IFC and MIGA are two World Bank bodies that directly finance the private sector in developing countries.) The brochure provides the key IFC and MIGA rules; the who, what, when, where and why of filing a complaint; and a step-by-step guide about how to file a complaint at the CAO.
  • The African Development Bank’s Independent Review Mechanism Brochure explains the Independent Review Mechanism (IRM), the grievance mechanism of the African Development Bank (AfDB). The brochure provides the key AfDB rules that it must follow when it finances a project; the who, what, when, where and why of filing a complaint; and a step-by-step guide about how to file a complaint at the IRM.
  • The Asian Development Bank’s Accountability Mechanism Brochure explains the accountability mechanism of the Asian Development Bank (ADB). The brochure provides the key ADB policies that must be followed when ADB finances a project; the who, what, when, where and why of filing a complaint; and a step-by-step guide about how to file a complaint.

Summaries of the International and Regional Financial Institutions and the Regional International Human Rights Mechanisms

Natural Justice, an international NGO whose mission is to facilitate the full and effective participation of indigenous peoples and local communities to achieve a conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity, is producing one page summaries of a range of grievance mechanisms including those of regional international human rights institutions, regional and international financial institutions and the United Nations Human Rights system.

The summaries include an overview of the accountability mechanism associated with particular treaties, institution, human rights system, and/or guidelines, important information (eligibility to file a complaint or a request, time, cost and confidentiality) and links to useful publications and resources. Some sections also include links to information that is particularly useful for NGOs (e.g. a link to a dedicated area of the African Development Bank’s website related to civil society).

UNDP's Social and Environmental Compliance Review and Stakeholder Response Mechanism

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) supports countries build and share solutions on sustainable development, democratic governance and peacebuilding, as well as climate and disaster resilience. When its support for 

undp brochure

projects and programmes causes harm, or is likely to harm an individual, community or the environment, UNDP has a Social and Environmental Compliance Unit and/or the Stakeholder Response Mechanism. UNDP has produced a brochure to provide information on the options and process for filing a complaint or grievance. It also includes links to key policies, guidance and tools. It is available in English, Spanish and French.