Panel takes aim at World Bank’s development legacy

February is International Development Month at York, and the Consortium on the Global South has organized panels, seminars, speakers and conferences to mark the occasion. Topics include UNESCO’s culture of peace campaign, the Chinese diaspora, Zimbabwe in crisis, Indian women and environmental justice, Chiapas and the Mexican left, and indigenous peoples around the world.

Tomorrow, Jan. 26, a panel on Bank Meltdowns: International Financial Institutions in the Global South explores how the market-oriented development agendas of the World Bank, IMF and other international financial institutions (IFIs) have affected Ghana, Guatemala and Laos. Chaired by geography graduate student Anne-Marie Debbane, the three-person panel examines the devastating effect IFIs have had on local populations, resistance to IFIs and building North-South solidarity in putting an end to harmful IFI policies.

Each panelist will describe one country’s experience.

Amin Alhassan, a professor who teaches in the York/Ryerson Graduate Program in Communication and Culture, gives a talk on The World Bank’s Strategies of Survival: The Ghana Story. Alhassan will focus on two cases – water privatization and telecom deregulation – to highlight the bank’s strategies of survival and will suggest ways to raise public awareness of the bank’s responsibility.

Human rights lawyer Grahame Russell co-directs Rights Action, a group that raises funds for community development and human rights advocacy projects in Mexico, Central America and Haiti.

Left: Chixoy dam in Guatemala

He gives a talk titled Guatemala: Global Impunity and the Chixoy Dam Reparations Campaign. Grahame will argue that the World Bank and International Development Bank and the governments that control them must be made accountable for the death of over 400 Mayan-Achi people and make reparations for loss of home, community and land associated with the construction of the Chixoy hydro-electric dam in Guatemala.

Grainne Ryder (MES ’96) is policy director at Probe International, a Toronto-based citizens’ group that investigates the environmental and economic impacts of Canadian aid and companies in developing countries. She will speak about Why the World Bank Should Be Shut Down: A 20-Minute Tour of the World Bank’s ‘Model’ Development Project in Laos. Her talk comes just as the World Bank is about to decide whether or not to finance Southeast Asia’s largest and most environmentally destructive hydro dam, expected to displace thousands and destroy their livelihoods.

Right: Theun Hinboun dam in Laos

The Bank Meltdown panel will take place Jan. 26 in Room 305, York Lanes, 2:30-4:30pm.