In 1996, the Board reviewed the Resolution establishing the Panel. On October 17, 1996, it issued the Clarification reproduced here.
The Resolution establishing the Inspection Panel calls for a review after two years from the date of appointment of the first panel members. On October 17, 1996, the Executive Directors of the Bank and IDA completed the review process (except for the question of inspection of World Bank Group private sector projects) by considering and endorsing the clarifications recommended by Management on the basis of the discussions of the Executive Directors' Committee on Development Effectiveness (CODE). The Inspection Panel and Management are requested by the Executive Directors to observe the clarifications in their application of the Resolution. The clarifications are set out below.
The Panel's Function
Since the Resolution limits the first phase of the inspection process to ascertaining the eligibility of the request, this phase should normally be completed within the 21 days stated in the Resolution. However, in cases where the Inspection Panel believes that it would be appropriate to undertake a "preliminary assessment" of the damages alleged by the requester (in particular when such preliminary assessment could lead to a resolution of the matter without the need for a full investigation), the Panel may undertake the preliminary assessment and indicate to the Board the date on which it would present its findings and recommendations as to the need, if any, for a full investigation. If such a date is expected by the Panel to exceed eight weeks from the date of receipt of Management's comments, the Panel should seek Board approval for the extension, possibly on a "no-objection" basis. What is needed at this preliminary stage is not to establish that a serious violation of the Bank's policy has actually resulted in damages suffered by the affected party, but rather to establish whether the complaint is prima facie justified and warrants a full investigation because it is eligible under the Resolution.
Panel investigations will continue to result in "findings" and the Board will continue to act on investigations on the basis of recommendations of Management with respect to such remedial action as may be needed.
Eligibility and Access
It is understood that the "affected party" which the Resolution describes as "a community of persons such as an organization, association, society or other grouping of individuals" includes any two or more persons who share some common interests or concerns.
The word "project" as used in the Resolution has the same meaning as it generally has in the Bank's practice, and includes projects under consideration by Bank management as well as projects already approved by the Executive Directors.
The Panel's mandate does not extend to reviewing the consistency of the Bank's practice with any of its policies and procedures, but, as stated in the Resolution, is limited to cases of alleged failure by the Bank to follow its operational policies and procedures with respect to the design, appraisal and/or implementation of projects, including cases of alleged failure by the bank to follow-up on the borrowers' obligations under loan agreements, with respect to such policies and procedures.
No procurement action is subject to inspection by the Panel, whether taken by the Bank or by a borrower. A separate mechanism is available for addressing procurement-related complaints.
Management will make its response to requests for inspection available to the public within three days after the Board has decided on whether to authorize the inspection. Management will also make available to the public opinions of the General Counsel related to Inspection Panel matters promptly after the Executive Directors have dealt with the issues involved, unless the Board decides otherwise in a specific case.
Management will make significant efforts to make the Inspection Panel better known in borrowing countries, but will not provide technical assistance or funding to potential requesters.
Composition of the Panel
No change in the composition of the Panel is being made at this time.
Role of the Board
The Board will continue to have authority to (i) interpret the Resolution; and (ii) authorize inspections. In applying the Resolution to specific cases, the Panel will apply it as it understands it, subject to the Board's review. As stated in the Resolution, "[t]he Panel shall seek the advice of the Bank's Legal Department on matters related to the Bank's rights and obligations with respect to the request under consideration."
October 17, 1996