Category

United Nations

The Inaugural World Bank Group Sanctions System Annual Report FY18 Reveals a Sharp Rise in Settlements

By | Human Rights, International Organisations, Rule of Law, United Nations | No Comments

The World Bank Group (WBG) has published for the first time a joint report showing the key figures for debarments, cross-debarments and referrals made in the FY2018 under the WBG Sanctions System. The report collates the figures for sanctions, in particular the number and length of debarments, imposed through the means of settlements with the Integrity Vice Presidency (INT), determinations by the Suspension and Debarment Officer (SDO) and the decisions of the Sanctions Board. In addition, the report also contains figures for the last five years that reveal the increasing use of settlements to deal with fraud, corruption, collusion and obstruction infractions under the Bank’s Sanctions System.

Sanction settlements have multiplied from just seven to thirty-nine cases per year between 2014 and 2018, whilst the number of sanctions issued through the SDO’s determinations have fallen over the same period from forty-five to twenty-four cases. Disposals by the Sanctions Board have remained fairly constant over the five-year period with an increase of just one to twenty cases.

Neil Macaulay, Co-Head of Chambers at Bretton Woods Law, believes the continuing sharp increase in settlements over the last year may be readily explained since the vast majority of the shortest periods of debarment have been imposed through negotiated settlements. In other words settlements have become more attractive to those entities facing the sanctions process as the periods of debarment being negotiated with INT are increasingly considered acceptable.

The report helps to puts some statistical flesh on the bones. Of the twenty-nine cases with the shortest periods of debarment, those from one year and six months and below, only one was a result of a determination of the SDO, four emanate from the Sanctions Board and twenty-four were achieved by negotiation settlement with INT.
Significantly these lower penalty settlements also include five cases of ‘conditional non-debarment’ which permit the entities concerned to remain eligible for World Bank funded work provided they engage in remedial integrity compliance work. The growing attractiveness of settlements and the arrival of a new Vice President at INT, Pascale Dubois, is likely to be more than co-incidental, as she is keen to express in the report the benefits of settling sanctions matters in terms of the saving of resources and certainty of outcome for both the investigated party and the WBG.

Those companies that self-report misconduct receive particular praise from Dubois in the following terms:
“For example, two INT cases this year led to settlements with a sanction of ‘conditional non-debarment’ which means the sanctioned company remains eligible to participate in WBG-financed projects as long as it complies with certain obligations. This incentivises good corporate behavior as the companies in these cases came forward voluntarily and disclosed their misconduct. This approach also enables the type of responsible corporate citizens the Bank wants on its projects to continue to be eligible to contribute to the Bank’s mission.”

Ms. Dubois’ plainly incentive words regarding self-reporting appear to be backed up by the reported figures. All five of the cases listed as resolved by conditional non-debarment were arrived at through settlement with INT.

By stark contrast nearly all the cases resulting in the longest periods of debarment emanate from either the Sanctions Board or the SDO. Of the thirty-one most severe sanctions awarded, upwards from three years to ten and a half years debarment, only three arise from settlements and the bulk are divided between the Sanctions Board with nine disposals and the SDO with nineteen.

Overall the WBG report is to be commended as it provides a welcome degree of transparency into the current trends in disposals of sanctions cases by the three distinct limbs that comprise of the WBG Sanctions System and points towards the likelihood of a more favourable debarment outcome through settlement than the alternatives, even taking into account the additional co-operation requirements INT may require under a settlement. It therefore enables those who may be subject to an investigation by INT to make a more informed approach as to the relative merits of settling the case early or running through the SDO/Sanctions Board process.

Any companies, directors, consultants or individuals requiring assistance in dealing with the WBG Sanctions System are welcome to contact the experts in the BWL MDB Team through enquiries@brettonwoodslaw.com

Access The full WBG report >

bwl_vienna

Bretton Woods Law holds a Staff Rights Workshop in Vienna

By | Human Rights, International Organisations, Rule of Law, United Nations | No Comments

On Friday 14th September, Ludovica Moro of Bretton Woods Law delivered a one-day workshop to the Staff Council of the United Nations Office in Vienna (“UNOV”). The attendees included staff representatives and employees of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (“UNODC”) and of the International Atomic Energy Agency (“IAEA”).

The workshop focussed upon the latest changes within the United Nations’ internal justice system regarding UN salaries and entitlements. Of particular interest was the relevant recent jurisprudence of the Dispute Tribunal (“UNDT”) and Appeals Tribunal (“UNAT”) in the cases of Mirella et al. v SG, 2018-UNAT-842 and Lloret Alcaniz et al. v SG, 2018-UNAT-840.

The workshop considered the change in the approach of the UNAT judges with respect to the first tier judgments of the UNDT alongside other landmark cases regarding staff acquired rights. The discussion also included a comparison of the tests applicable to distinguish fundamental rights of employment from non-essential rights at the International Labour Organisation Administrative Tribunal (“ILOAT”), the World Bank Administrative Tribunal (“WBAT”) and the influence of these tribunal decisions on the UNAT judgments. The interactive discussion also included the new UN compensation package and the Global Service Delivery Model for the UN Secretariat. Ludovica addressed various strategies available to staff associations in conducting meaningful negotiations with management on staff rights and for the coordination of effective class actions.

Finally, the workshop concluded with a practical exercise on how to deal with the most recurring staff complaints from a staff representative’s perspective.

Ludovica and the Bretton Woods Law International Administrative Law (IAL) team have recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Staff Associations of the IAEA, UNODC and UNIDO to assist with the delivery of our expert legal services in the Vienna area.

Any International Organisation Staff Association or Staff Union wishing to enquire how the BWL IAL Team can assist them in providing advice, representation or a bespoke workshop is welcome to contact us through enquiries@brettonwoodslaw.com in the first instance.

UNICEF

Enhancing Children’s Rights in South Asia

By | Human Rights, International Organisations, Rule of Law, United Nations | No Comments

Whilst attending Law Asia’s Annual Conference in Colombo, Sri Lanka last summer, BWL’s Counsel, Rule of Law and Human Rights expert, Antje Kunst, met with the Rainbow Foundation Baddegama, an NGO which works with children with disabilities, their parents, as well as children in care, with the aim of creating opportunities for peer support. Through the Head of that NGO, Antje had the pleasure of getting to know a respected Buddhist monk who is engaged with such issues. The trio came up with the idea of bringing Janis McDavid, a young German student and motivational speaker who was born without arms and legs, to Sri Lanka.

Their goal was to change the perception of Sri Lankans towards children with disabilities and to advance their rights under international law, including the UN Convention of the Rights of the Child. The timing could not have been better, as Sri Lanka had just ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD)[1]

A few months later the team was joined by Lalith Ganhewa, a Sri Lankan radio journalist and producer from Berlin and the President of Lanka Help e.V. Deutschland, a humanitarian organisation helping inter alia persons with disabilities in Sri Lanka. After months of hard work involving civil society (e.g., NGOs, academia, media, business etc.), the government of the Southern Province and members of the diplomatic and donor community in Sri Lanka, a tour was organised. In December 2016 and January 2017, Janis delivered motivational speeches to Government officials, NGO representatives, youth leaders, university students, business leaders and other citizens, some senior officials within Embassies and the UN, as well as conducting interviews with the media.  The tour, in respect of which Antje played a crucial coordination, communication and planning role, was very successful.

In March 2017, a second tour took place and Janis provided a motivational speech before the Sri Lankan business community at a Rotary district conference. This time Antje, a former Senior Legal Adviser at the UN, was, together with UNDP Sri Lanka, involved in organising a motivational session in front of the staff of all UN Agencies, including their adolescent children.

The two tours motivated and helped raise awareness in mainstream Sri Lankan society as well as the UN and the diplomatic community in Sri Lanka, of matters important for the implementation of the UNCRPD and the UNCRC, including the importance of inclusive education and parenting.

To ensure the realization of the rights of children during adolescence, in December of last year the UN’s Committee on the Rights of the Child published a new General Comment [2] providing guidance to States on the necessary measures. The Committee stated “the potential of adolescents is widely compromised because States parties do not recognize or invest in the measures needed for them to enjoy their rights.” UNICEF South Asia’s goal to promote investment by state parties in the 340 Million adolescents in South Asia prompted the Deputy Head of the Regional Office South Asia to invite Janis to a conference held in May 2017 in Nepal. Janis opened the conference, which was attended by senior officials of all UNICEF South Asia’s country offices, with a keynote motivational speech which Antje helped to prepare, covering the topics of investment in, and fulfilment of, children’s rights, including in adolescence, leaving no child behind. His speech, which was widely disseminated in the social media and which was also addressed to the young people of South Asia, was focused on motivating that group to advocate for the realization of their rights.

Janis’ successful appearance in Nepal prompted the UNICEF Bangladesh country office to follow suit. In July 2017 Janis delivered motivational speeches to UNICEF’s HQ and field staff in and near Dhaka, the aim of which was to drive the achievement of results by its staff, including by ensuring the the fulfilment of rights of children. He also spoke to around 100 adolescent club members in the Mirpur slum with a view to enhancing their motivation to work as social change agents, which was supported by UNICEF.

The advancement of human rights, in particular of the most vulnerable members of society, i.e. children and young adults, including those with disabilities, requires a committed government machinery, supported by a motivated UN staff (e.g., of UNICEF), as well as motivated rights’ holders, e.g., the millions of adolescents and children and their caregivers in South Asia. Antje’s pro-bono work in South Asia was aimed at contributing positively to this noble endeavour.

Antje is very grateful to all those who helped to make this ambitious project a success, in particular to Martin Henrich – Rainbow Foundation Baddegama; Samitha Baddegama Thero; Lalith Ganheva – Lanka Help e.V. Deutschland; Zahabia Adamaly; Lasanthi Senarath Attanayake & colleagues, Kelaniya University and the International Centre for Ethnic Studies; Rakitha Karunaratne and his team, German Goethe Institute Sri Lanka; Senake Amerasinghe – former Rotary District Governor and his team; Banthe Devananda; Una Macauley, Dilupa Fernando and their team at UNDP Sri Lanka; Philippe Cori and his team at UNICEF Regional Office for South Asia; Sara Bordas Eddy and her team at UNICEF Bangladesh Country Office; and of course, Janis McDavid.

 

[1] The purpose of the convention is to promote, and protect the full and equal enjoyment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms by all persons with disabilities.

[2] General Comments provide authoritative interpretations of children’s rights under the Convention.

 

Antje Kunst

Counsel, Rule of Law and Human Rights Expert

antjekunst@brettonwoodslaw.com