As the custodian of the Bank’s legal and policy framework, the Legal Vice Presidency, acting through its Operations Policy Practice Group, plays several important roles to facilitate the proper functioning of the Bank’s sanctions process, without, however, direct participation in the process itself.
First, the Legal Vice Presidency develops, drafts, issues and maintains the legal framework for the sanction process, notably the Sanctions Board Statute and the IBRD/IDA Sanctions Procedures, together with the Sanctions Manual and other guidance for actors in the sanctions process.
Second, the Legal Vice Presidency plays an advisory role for the Integrity Vice Presidency (INT), the Bank's Office of Suspension and Debarment (OSD) and the Sanctions Board in interpreting the Bank’s relevant legal framework, both procedural and substantive, as set forth in Section 1.02(b) of the Sanctions Procedures:
(iii) Questions as to Proper Interpretation. If any question arises as to the proper interpretation of any provision of these Procedures or of the Procurement, Consultant or Anti-Corruption Guidelines, the Evaluation Officer [now Suspension and Debarment Officer] or the Sanctions Board may consult with the Bank Group General Counsel for advice.
The advice of the Legal Vice Presidency may be requested or given in the context of a particular sanctions case, when an issue of first impression arises (see Section 4.3 of the Sanctions Manual) or outside the context of a particular sanctions case, when an issue of general application arises. In this role, the Legal Vice Presidency issues Advisory Opinions of the General Counsel, which are made publicly available.
In providing legal advice in connection with a particular sanctions case, the Legal Vice Presidency limits its advice to legal principles, and therefore refrains from expressing any opinion as to the outcome of the case or on the weight or credibility of the evidence. Given its institutional role, the advice of the Legal Vice Presidency is authoritative to the extent it relates to the Bank’s legal framework or matters of legal policy. Importantly, the Legal Vice Presidency has no authority to influence, interfere with, or overrule the determinations of the Suspension and Debarment Officer or the decisions of the Sanctions Board, which determinations or decisions are taken independently, fairly, and impartially, solely on the merits of the case.
Third, the Legal Vice Presidency plays an approval or clearance role in a number of ancillary processes envisaged by the Sanctions Procedures and related internal protocols, as set out in the Sanctions Manual. Notably, the Bank Group General Counsel advises on decisions as to the application of sanctions to affiliates or successors and assigns of debarred parties (see Section 8.8 of the Sanctions Manual), provides the no-objection to decisions by the Integrity Compliance Office as to the compliance by Respondents with conditions for release or conditions for non-debarment (see Section 9.10 of the Sanctions Manual), clears all settlement agreements before their submission to the Suspension and Debarment Officer (see Section 11.2 of the Sanctions Manual), and advises INT whether there are any legal impediments to the enforcement of debarment decisions by other multilateral development banks (see Section 12.3 of the Sanctions Manual).
Consultation with other Bank Group Legal Offices. The legal offices of the International Finance Corporation (IFC) and Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA) play similar roles to those described above in respect of sanctions cases governed by the IFC and MIGA Sanctions Procedures. In addition, the Legal Vice Presidency consults with other legal offices in the Bank Group, as appropriate, in playing its role in respect of the IBRD/IDA sanctions process. Appropriate circumstances for such consultation include issues of general application, changes to the legal framework or guidance materials, advice provided in particular sanctions cases where the special private sector expertise would add significant value to the legal analysis.