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Human Rights Law


As the concept of development has evolved, human rights and international human rights law have become increasingly relevant to helping the Bank achieve its mission through supporting better development practices and more sustainable, equitable outcomes. Human rights offer a standard by which to assess progress and the efforts of those with obligations to achieve development targets and the Millennium Development Goals. Human rights address accountability in legal, social and political arrangements to secure rights and empower poor people.

Since human rights involve a strong legal element due to their source in core human rights treaties, the Environmental and International Law Unit of the World Bank’s Legal Vice Presidency provides advice and input to colleagues throughout the Bank on human rights as they arise in the operational, policy and research work. We aim to fulfill a facilitative role in supporting our clients realize human rights through sustainable development and ensuring against human rights related risk. We conduct research on human rights, including human rights indicators with the Danish Institute for Human Rights, and a new international law research project on climate change and human rights. We work collectively with a variety of international partners including the European Union, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Right (OHCHR), and other development agencies on the link between human rights and development. We participate actively in key international fora and partnerships relevant to human rights and development, such as the OECD DAC Human Rights Task Team, of which the Bank is currently chair, and the UN High-Level Task Force on the Right to Development, of which the Bank is a member.

Our work also includes advice on the Bank's policy on Indigenous Peoples OP 4.10. According to its text: "This policy contributes to the Bank's mission of poverty reduction and sustainable development by ensuring that the development process fully respects the dignity, human rights, economies, and cultures of Indigenous Peoples."

We have also worked with the IFC as they developed tools related to their new Performance Standards, including their Human Rights Impact Assessment Tool, and we continue to work to ensure coherence across the World Bank Group, including in joint projects. IFC Leads Development of a Guide to Human Rights Impact Assessment and Management (HRIA).


Useful Links

World Bank human Rights Resources

International Human Rights Resources

Regional Human Rights Resources


Last updated: 2012-02-07




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