Statement of Protest Issued at the ADB's orientation workshop on "The Consultation Phase of the ADB Accountability Mechanism and ADB's new Public Communications Policy (PCP)"
14th June 2006, Bangalore
We, the undersigned individuals, organisations and alliances, state our full protest to this workshop being organized by the ADB on its accountability mechanism and new PCP, here in Bangalore. The ADB says that the workshop objective is to orient project executing/implementing agencies and non-governmental stakeholders with the institution's accountability and public communications policies and their roles, rights and responsibilities therein. No attempt has been made to involve those from the project towns in Karnataka who have been directly affected by ADB-funded projects. No rationale has been provided as to why communities, citizens and elected representatives from towns suffering the ADB's mismanaged and poorly implemented urban infrastructure development projects in the State have not been invited to be part of such a critical process. Where are the elected representatives of project towns in these consultations? This workshop has yet again proved that the ADB's attempts at public participation and consultation are a farce and will not result in any substantive change to the undemocratic policies of an institution that is beyond reform.
In June 2004, representatives of several organisations boycotted a similar consultation organized by the ADB in Bangalore on its draft PCP. The boycott was to protest the undemocratic nature of the consultation to which project affected communities had not been invited and to reject the draft PCP for its failure to guarantee the timely disclosure of all relevant project information to communities and local elected representatives. Obviously, the ADB has not learnt from this as two years down, both its policy and process remain flawed.
The ADB's new PCP made effective in September 2005 has not incorporated several vital demands that were made by affected peoples from across Asia-Pacific. These had included demands that information disclosure be full; be directed towards the project-affected; cover information on projects implemented by public and private bodies; include all relevant and accurate financial information and provide recourse to an independent appeals body. By not including any of these critical demands in the new PCP, the ADB's lack of commitment to public accountability and transparency is exposed.
During its 39th Annual Governors Meeting at Hyderabad from 3rd - 6th May, the ADB resorted to several unwarranted and harsh measures to suppress dissenting voices (through the Peoples Forum Against ADB), which reflect rather poorly on its claims to support democracy, accountability and transparency. These included banning protests near the AGM venue, imposition of Section 144 throughout the city that prevented the assembly of more than 4 people at any given time, denial of permission to hold candle-light vigil and other peaceful forms of protest, posting Intelligence Department officers at the venue of all PFAADB events and sabotaging a film festival that was to screen films on the impacts of ADB financed mega projects on ordinary people. As the police and security officials of the Andhra Pradesh State government largely carried them out, the ADB might not consider itself directly responsible for these measures. We believe it must. Unable and unwilling to handle criticism and popular opposition to its destructive projects throughout Asia and the Pacific, senior executives of the Bank are guilty of deliberately painting their peaceful opponents as a bunch of violent saboteurs.
The above is ample evidence that contrary to its claims, the ADB is neither democratic nor accountable but rather secretive and non-transparent. Not only does it choose not to share the most significant information with the most deeply affected people, it chooses to suppress their voices of dissent and protest. Since it was founded, the ADB has been responsible for trampling on the democratic rights and aspirations of millions of people in the Asia-Pacific? region by destroying their livelihoods, natural resources and ways of life through badly designed projects and misguided development policies. The new PCP and accountability mechanisms that the ADB wishes to share with us will do little to redeem an institution that is being rejected by people across the region.
The above concerns have been voiced by civil society actors and project affected peoples in several countries and in several forums. It is indeed a matter of great regret that ADB has not found these concerns important enough to address. For these reasons, we the undersigned choose not to participate in this consultation. As the ADB has clearly failed in its claimed mission to fight poverty and promote economic development in the region, there is only thing left for it to do — QUIT ASIA PACIFIC!
Alternate Law Forum
Environment Support Group, Bangalore
Urban Research Centre, Bangalore
Peoples Forum Against ADB
Association for People's Social Action (APSA)
Tumkur Citizens Action Forum, Tumkur
Visual Search, Bangalore
People's Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL, Karnataka)