On April 27, we participated in a discussion with civil society organized by the Independent Consultation and Investigation Mechanism (MICI) of the IDB, on the occasion of the recent inauguration of its new director, Andrea Repetto. Civil society organizations, individuals and people from the public and academic sectors from different countries participated. One of the main points of discussion revolved around the evaluation of the Mechanism’s operation recently carried out by the Office of Evaluation and Oversight (OVE) of the IDB Group.

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The Independent Consultation and Investigation Mechanism (MICI) was established in 2010 as an instance of last resort so that people who consider themselves affected by projects financed by the IDB Group can turn to the mechanism in search of a solution. In this regard, it should be noted that the complaints submitted must relate to non-compliance with the bank’s operating policies and not to other national and / or international regulations.

At the beginning of the discussion, the new director introduced herself personally, conducted a review of the most outstanding events of 2020 and indicated what the priorities of the mechanism will be during 2021.

Case management in times of COVID-19 and management priorities during 2021

In 2020, the MICI took actions to mitigate the impacts of the pandemic on claims management. Managed a total of 21 claims from communities potentially affected by projects financed by the IDB Group in 9 countries: 17 claims refer to IDB projects with the public sector and four to IDB Invest operations with the private sector. In addition, the MICI began, for the first time, a completely remote dispute resolution process in Colombia (Ruta del Cacao).

Similarly, with the recent assumption of Repetto as director, 2 priority areas were identified during 2021: on the one hand, the opening of the mechanism, seeking to make it more accessible to the communities that need it and, on the other, institutional learning, with The objective of adding more value to the IDB Group and reinforcing its accountability and sustainability.

OVE’s evaluation of the MICI

OVE carried out a first evaluation of the MICI in 2012 and identified significant problems in terms of its policy, structure and operation, recommending ending the pilot phase of the MICI and reformulating its policy and structure. Thus, in December 2014, the Bank’s Board of Directors approved a new policy and structure for the mechanism and, since the beginning of 2016, the MICI is also responsible for managing requests related to IDB Invest operations, that is, the private sector.

In the following evaluation (2015-2020), 19 cases were analyzed (between December 2014 – June 2020) and it was concluded that the MICI, in general, is operating in accordance with the principles established in its policy: independence, objectivity, impartiality, transparency and efficiency and that the current policy corrected important issues identified by OVE in its 2012 evaluation as limiting the proper functioning of the MICI. Similarly, there was greater consistency between the policy, the guidelines developed, and the associated processes. OVE also highlighted the consolidation of capacities in conflict resolution within the MICI.

However, there is still room for the MICI to deepen its efforts to maximize its contribution to the IDB Group’s system of safeguards and environmental and social standards.

A key issue that remained pending is judicial exclusion, which continues to be an important factor limiting the effective and efficient functioning of the MICI.

OVE also found that some requirements to access the mechanism are difficult for applicants to meet, such as the need to present their concerns to management before resorting to the MICI. In this regard, it should be mentioned that the difficulty of complying with the requirement of prior contact with the administration had to do, to a large extent, with the lack of a complaints management system within the IDB Group during the period under evaluation (2015 -2020) and one of the OVE evaluation recommendations points towards that goal.

Promotion of access and risk of retaliation

OVE indicated that the mechanism is not yet well known despite the important efforts of the MICI to make it known, including important work in the area of ​​attention to the risk of retaliation that has important implications for safe access to the mechanism. Nor is it clear that at the institutional level there is consensus on the importance of publicizing the mechanism and how to achieve it. Not a minor issue, since access to the MICI depends on the knowledge that people have about the existence of the mechanism.

Finally, another point that the evaluation indicates that should be strengthened is the independence of the mechanism, a fundamental issue since the credibility of the mechanism depends on its ability to work independently. Although the MICI is an arm of the Board of Directors, its added value depends on the extent to which it can present you with frank and honest reports on complaints associated with IDB Group projects.

Based on these and other observations, OVE made 5 recommendations, directed both to the MICI and to the administration and the Boards of the IDB Group. These include: 1) implementing the management system for environmental and social claims of the IDB Group’s administration so that it is articulated with the MICI, 2) nullifying the judicial exclusion, 3) reinforcing the independence of the MICI, 4) ensuring the adoption of corrective measures when there are findings of non-compliance with the policies and related damages and, finally, 5) strengthen the internal capacities of the MICI.

One might wonder, however, if the limitations of the current policy can be remedied by incorporating OVE’s recommendations or if these limitations, on the contrary, necessitate a new comprehensive review of the policy, a measure that OVE has ruled out in its evaluation.

At Fundeps, we believe that this type of instance is essential to exchange opinions and positions in relation to how the Mechanism could be even more efficient and effective in its interventions to the problems that arise in our region. Likewise, we consider that a strengthening of the mechanism translates into an improvement in the accountability system of the IDB Group as a whole.

We hope that these instances will continue to be repeated over time and we celebrate that the MICI is willing to receive feedback from those who position themselves as users of the mechanism, being able to glimpse the shortcomings that the processes may have.

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  • Camila Victoria Bocco
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