Global Political Economy research cluster/Manchester Political Economy Institute seminar Wednesday 29th June 3-4.30 Arthur Lewis Building G.019
Susan Park (The University of Sydney) The Good Hegemon: How the United States Helps People to Hold the Multilateral Development Banks to Account
In 1994 the World Bank created a precedent under international law, opening itself up to being held to account by people negatively affected by the projects it finances in developing countries. It was the first time that a universal international organisation (IO) recognised that it had a non-contractual relationship with individuals. The creation of the World Bank’s Inspection Panel has been sufficiently covered in the academic literature. What remains unexplained is why, within a decade of the Inspection Panel, the other Multilateral Development Banks (MDBs) created similar accountability mechanisms. This norm of ‘accountability as justice’ has since spread to other development financiers including bilateral development agencies, export credit agencies and private banks. Although international law scholar/practitioners have expended considerable effort mapping the differences among the accountability mechanisms no explanation has been provided for their creation, for why they function the way they do, or why there are no assessments of their effectiveness in helping people hold the Banks to account. This book tackles all three questions and makes three central arguments: first, that the United States used its power and influence to push the MDBs to create accountability mechanisms against the interests of the Banks and the Banks’ borrowers; second, that the US used the same levers to demand the accountability mechanisms be reformulated when they proved to be dysfunctional; and third, the book reveals the limits of US power and influence in the ensuring the effectiveness of the mechanisms it created because it relies on proxy indicators of effectiveness backed by bureaucratic oversight procedures and NGO scrutiny.
Susan Park is an Associate Professor in International Relations at the University of Sydney. She focuses on how state and non-state actors use formal and informal influence to make international organisations, particularly the Multilateral Development Banks, greener and more accountable. She has published in numerous journals, most recently in Global Environmental Politics. Her book The World Bank Group and Environmentalists: Changing International Organisation Identities was published by Manchester University Press in 2010 and she has co-edited two books. Susan is co-convenor with Dr Teresa Kramarz (University of Toronto) of the Earth Systems Governance Task Force ‘Accountability in Global Environmental Governance.’