World Bank watch: Update on WB-IMF AGM and the 'black list'

Dear friends,

Reports of deportations, detentions, and voluntary cancellation of travel to Singapore are poring in. Organizations have started responding to the boycott call and we have seen copies of correspondence in which they inform the WB-IMF of their decision to boycott the official meetings due to the black-list. Below is some information that we have gathered since yesterday from contacts at the World Bank.

The Black-list: The WB-IMF can confirm that the list has grown to 28 individuals. They say they have contacted all 28 to let them know they might face deportation if they try to enter Singapore. In response to the news that the list might be growing, the Bank source said they don’t know how quickly the Singapore government is communicating the extension of the list (if that’s the case) to the Bank Secretariat. Wolfowitz arrived in Singapore last night and was briefed by his staff about developments on the black-list and CSO participation. He is meeting tomorrow with the Singapore Prime Minister and is expected to raise the issue of the black-list again with the PM but Bank staff are not hopeful that it will be withdrawn.

Boycott and CSO Participation: The Bank says thus far they have accredited 600 CSO representatives to the AGM. 90 more applications were being dealt with yesterday. They said this was the largest accreditation of CSOs for an AGM and the irony of the difficulties being faced by them is hugely apparent. Until yesterday, the Bank had only heard about the boycott and tried to confirm this with us but we responded vaguely. They have since received official letters of cancellation so they are well aware of the boycott action as of today. Their reaction to the boycott is one of regret and disappointment; they say they understand why this action is being taken, but they will go ahead with the civil society dialogues as planned. As for the suggestion/demand that the Bank-Fund cancel the meetings in Singapore and move them to another location, the response was that there are too many over-riding interests which are determining that things go ahead as planned. If member governments of those on the black-list were to make this call, then the Bank may take some action to this effect. The ban/black-list will however ensure that more safeguards are built into the MoU for Turkey; the decision re. next the AGM being hosted by Turkey in 2009 will officially be made at the end of the Singapore AGM.

Statement on black-list by Kevin Kellems, Acting VP for External Relations: Kevin Kellems issued the following statement today.

"This is a breach of the formal agreement we had with the Government of Singapore, in a September 23, 2003 Memorandum of Understanding. These individuals have been cleared by their respective home governments, and should not be excluded from our Annual Meetings. We work with these representatives of civil society and we value their role -- even when we disagree with what they say. We continue to urge the Government of Singapore to let them participate by 'assur(ing) expeditious entry procedures, including the issuance of visas ...for any observers and other persons ... who are accredited to or invited by the Organizations to be present for the Meetings.'"

-Kevin Shaw Kellems

Acting Vice President, EXT

Senior Advisor to the President

The World Bank Group

That’s all the news we have as of this afternoon. More to follow as soon as we hear anything. If you have any queries that you might like us to follow-up on, please let me know.

Best wishes and safe travels to all of you making your way to Singapore and Batam,

Mishka

Mishka Zaman

Manager, Asia Program

Bank Information Center

1100 "H" Street NW, Suite 650
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phone: 202-624 0622 (direct); 202-737-7752 (general)

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email: mzaman@bicusa.org

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The Bank Information Center (BIC) partners with civil society in developing and transition countries to influence the World Bank and other international financial institutions (IFIs) to promote social and economic justice and ecological sustainability. BIC is a non-profit organization and accepts no funding from any of the IFIs.