• 10 October 2016

    World Bank Official Agrees to Meet With ATI Community

    By Toby McIntosh A top World Bank official promised Oct. 7 to meet with representatives of the access to information community early in 2017 to discuss World Bank activities in the ATI area. The Bank remains committed to ATI, with regional and national Bank offices now taking the lead, said Debbie Wetzel, Senior Director of […]

  • 5 October 2016

    Kim Dodges Question About World Bank ATI Capacity

    By Toby McIntosh World Bank President Jim Yong Kim Oct. 5 dodged a question about why the Bank decimated its staff capacity to work on access to information issues. The president sidestepped the inquiry at a public meeting with civil society organization by saying the Bank never had “an access to information unit” and so […]

  • 5 October 2016

    World Bank Board to Decide On Releasing 1971 Document

    The World Bank Board may soon decide whether to release the full transcript of a 1971 meeting. Five pages on an unknown topic were blacked out from the 18-page, 45-year-old document requested by FreedomInfo.org. The transcript is of the 1971 meeting of the Bank Executive Directors. There were about agenda items, including one about an […]

  • 12 September 2016

    World Bank Invites Comment About Governance Report

    The World Bank has requested public comment — by Sept. 16 — on a new version of a controversial report about the role of power imbalances in development policy. The “Green Cover” version of the 2017 World Development Report (WDR), posted Sept. 9 on the Bank website, addresses the general topic of governance. It “seeks […]

  • 11 September 2016

    UN Rapporteur Exploring Access to Info Among IOs

    In an unprecedented “call for submissions,” intended to lay the basis for a major report in 2017, a UN Special Rapporteur has asked all UN bodies and other international intergovernmental organizations about their policies on public access to information. The request came from David Kaye, the UN Special Rapporteur on the protection of the right […]

  • 1 September 2016

    UNESCO Outlines Ways to Measure ATI Implementation

    In preparation for a Sept. 19 “expert” meeting in Indonesia, UNESCO has outlined potential methodologies for measuring the implementation of access to information (ATI) laws (text). Measurement of implementation is necessary as part of the Sustainable Development Goals process. Indicator Goal 16.10.2 states: “Number of countries that adopt and implement constitutional, statutory and/or policy guarantees for […]

  • 1 September 2016

    BRICS Bank Issues Interim Disclosure Policy

    The New Development Bank (NDB) has issued an interim information disclosure policy. The policy (text) appears generally similar to those of other international financial institutions, stating, “The Bank is committed to a policy of information disclosure in order to promote transparency and enhance accountability in its operations.” This commitment is recognized in the Article 15 of the […]

  • 19 August 2016

    World Bank to Consult on Report About Governance

    The World Bank in early September will seek public comment on a major report about the role of power imbalances in development policy. The initial draft of the report, known as the “yellow cover” version, made its way outside the Bank informally in June as it was being reviewed internally. (See previous FreedomInfo.org report.) The […]

  • 12 August 2016

    World Bank VP Blasts Draft Governance Strategy Report

    The World Bank vice president who oversees strategy on governance issues has criticized a draft report recommending that the Bank focus more on unequal national political power as a key inhibitor of development. Jan Walliser expressed “strong reservations” about the report in a four-page memo obtained by FreedomInfo.org. He asks that “the conceptual framework” of the […]

  • 10 August 2016

    UNESCO Drafting Standard For Disclosure of Information

    By Toby McIntosh UNESCO, the agency whose portfolio includes advocating for freedom of information laws internationally, is preparing its own FOI policy, according to a UNESCO official. UNESCO already has some internal rules on what should be confidential, but there is no disclosure policy resembling a national FOI law. “We … have nothing similar to […]

  • 1 August 2016

    Draft World Bank Report Stresses Governance Role

    By Toby McIntosh A draft World Bank report stresses that more attention be paid to national political dynamics and power sources when designing development programs. “Policies can be blocked, captured, or rendered ineffective because their design did not account for asymmetries in bargaining power,” the report emphasizes, calling for more intensified and sophisticated evaluation. The 415-page report, […]

  • 28 July 2016

    NGOs Critically Examining Bank Governance Strategy

    By Toby McIntosh The World Bank’s emerging thinking on governance issues is receiving somewhat critical early reviews from non-governmental organization leaders. Clues about Bank’s potential directions in this area are coming from selectively circulated drafts of the Bank’s World Development Report 2017 (due out later this year). The report’s theme is “rethinking the role of […]

  • 7 July 2016

    World Bank Reducing Support for GPSA Fund

    By Toby McIntosh The World Bank is halving its contribution to the Global Partnership for Social Accountability (GPSA), a multi-donor fund that supports transparency and accountability initiatives, according to new budget figures. The Bank’s cutback has particular significance because a top Bank official recently cited the Bank’s support for the GPSA as evidence of the […]

  • 29 June 2016

    NGOs Seek More Information About World Bank ATI Plans

    The World Bank needs to provide more concrete answers about its stated commitment to access to information, according to the leader of an ad hoc coalition of 130 nongovernmental organizations. The Bank has eliminated the three staff positions of persons who worked on global freedom of information issues, sparking a letter of concern from the […]

  • 20 June 2016

    World Bank Official Says Bank Committed to ATI Work

    The World Bank “remains fully committed to the implementation of access to information in client countries, notwithstanding internal organizational changes that you refer to,” a top Bank official said June 18. The commitment came in a reply to a June 6 letter from more than 130 nongovernmental organizations that expressed concern that the Bank has […]

  • 6 June 2016

    NGOs Protest Cutbacks in World Bank FOI Effort

    Some 130 organizations have written to World Bank President Jim Yong Kim to express concern that the Bank “has significantly downgraded its capacity to pursue a global right to information agenda at a time when the World Bank’s role in this area is needed more than ever before.” The letter initiated by the Africa Freedom […]

  • 2 June 2016

    New Asian Bank Adopts Interim Disclosure Policy

    The new Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank has an interim policy on disclosure of information. The Public Information Interim Policy pledges the disclosure of a variety of basic institutional information, but also contains several quite broadly worded exemptions and does not yet include a formal request system. “In a nutshell, they’ve taken almost verbatim the World […]

  • 26 May 2016

    World Bank Cuts FOI Staff; Trio of Veterans Leaving

    By Toby McIntosh The World Bank has decimated its capacity to pursue a global freedom of information agenda. Three veteran staffers who encouraged the creation and implementation of national FOI laws are leaving the Bank following a reorganization. Departing are Marcos Mendiburu, Luis Esquivel and Victoria Louise Lemieux, essentially the entire staff working on FOI […]

  • 19 May 2016

    World Bank Records Diminishing Requests

    The number of requests filed through the World Bank’s Policy on Access to Information declined from 700 in 2010 to 474 in 2015, “due to the Bank’s proactive and systematic efforts to disclose information online,” according to the Bank’s fifth Access to Information Annual Report and a blog post about it by Hannah George. More than […]

  • 12 May 2016

    Canadian Court Upholds World Bank Immunity

    The Canadian Supreme Court has found that the World Bank’s immunity shield protects it from having to produce certain files from its bribery probe in Bangladesh that led to Canadian criminal charges against three former employees of SNC-Lavalin Group Inc., the country’s largest engineering firm. The April 29 decision is described in Lawyers Weekly, CTV News […]


In this column, Washington, D.C.-based journalist Toby J. McIntosh reports on the latest developments in information disclosure in International Financial and Trade Institutions (IFTI).
Contact: freeinfo@gwu.edu or
1-(703) 276-7748