News / 2 December 2008

Expert meeting and Political Café: Testing the waters

Each year Both ENDS organises Political Cafés and expert meetings on development issues. Our work with Southern Civil Society Organisations often makes us aware of the negative effects of the policies of Multi Financial Institutions (MFIs), such as the World Bank and the IMF. The Political Cafés and expert meetings often focus on making these institutions more transparent. Working with our Southern partners we recently addressed the issue of the human right to water and sanitation, by holding a Political Café on this issue at the World Bank's headquarters in Washington DC.


On 17 September 2008 Both ENDS co-organised an expert meeting with the human rights NGO COHRE and the Freshwater Action Network (FAN), on the human right to water and sanitation (RTWS). The objective of the meeting was to clarify how work on RTWS could be part of the World Bank's contribution to realising Millennium Development Goal number 7, which aims to ensure environmental sustainability.


This successful meeting was attended by 26 people from different NGOs, ministries and the World Bank. It focused on developing specific recommendations based on the inputs and knowledge of southern NGOs, who were represented at the meeting by Both ENDS' partners Umbalazo We Jubilee (South Africa), ANEW (Kenya) and FANCA (Costa Rica).

The meeting's outcomes were then fed into a Political Café on the Right to Water and Sanitation, which was held at the World Bank's headquarters in Washington DC on 9 October 2008. This was the first time that Both Ends has organised a Political Café as part of the civil society events around the World Bank Annual Meetings, and the debate was open and inspiring, with three persuasive civil society panellists. The key concern was the absence of any explicit focus on the realisation of human rights in the World Bank's current policies. However, the Dutch representative at the World Bank, Herman Wijffels, voiced his doubts about the Bank being a driver of RTWS.


When human rights are legally established, people and communities are better able to challenge institutional and political neglect. A rights-based approach helps to focus on the poorest who have least access, and RTWS is based on the principle of non-discrimination. It also provides a platform for participation and the deepening of democracy, allowing people to engage much more effectively, rather than just voting in periodic national elections.


Both the expert meeting and the Political Café on the right to water and sanitation were organised by Both Ends' MFI Information Centre. For more information please contact Anouk Franck.


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