News / 14 februari 2014

Filing a complaint with the FMO

Our own Dutch development bank FMO recently introduced a complaints mechanism. This means that anyone adversely affected by a project supported by the FMO may file a complaint.


Amnesty International, Bank Track, Both ENDS and SOMO have contributed to the design of the complaints mechanism and have now issued a response to the final result.


Anouk Franck of Both ENDS has provided input into the complaints mechanism and explains why it is so important for institutions to have a good complaints mechanism.

 What exactly is the FMO?

"The FMO is the Dutch development bank and was established in 1970. The  full name of the bank is Nederlandse Financierings-Maatschappij voor Ontwikkelingslanden N.V.  In the past the bank was owned by the Dutch government, but today it is a so-called 'semi-public' institution. It is no ordinary bank, however: the FMO has a mandate to invest in projects that improve the lives of people in developing countries. The bank, like other development banks in the world, uses criteria that a project must meet to be eligible for funding. These criteria are not always observed and, moreover, it is sometimes difficult for the FMO to keep an eye on what is happening 'in the field."


What’s so special about the complaints mechanism?

"The FMO is, alongside the German development bank DEG, the first European bilateral development bank that has established an independent complaints mechanism. Hopefully other banks will follow this example. The complaints mechanism is open to communities affected by investments from the FMO. Their complaints will be verified independently and they have access to a mediation/arbitration process. Ultimately, the goal is the withdrawal of the FMO from all projects that might cause harm to people and their environment. Furthermore, we hope the mechanism will help the FMO in drawing lessons so harmful activities can be prevented from happening in the future."


Why did the FMO set up a complaints mechanism?

"One of the reasons is the construction of the Barro Blanco dam in Panama, which is co-financed by the FMO. A large section of the indigenous Ngäbe tribe will suffer major damage as a consequence of the construction of the dam. Parts of their land and many houses will be flooded, while the mandatory consultation process is not duly observed. Questions have been asked in the Dutch Parliament about this matter in the last months of 2012."


What do you think of the result?

"Some of our suggestions have been incorporated into the mechanism, so that's definitely positive. For example, the complaints register will be made public and the committee that looks into the complaints will operate independently of the FMO. To us this is an important provision. However, in our opinion there are also a number of missed opportunities, the most important of which is the failure to lower the admission criteria for filing a complaint. For example, a complaint needs to be filed on time, which is not always feasible if you are located at a great distance from The Hague. For the time being, this is a step in the right direction. But there is definitely room for improvement! "


Here you can find briefing of Amnesty International, BankTrack, Both ENDS en SOMO for a more detailed analysis of the complaints mechanism of the FMO.


Investigation of UN-rapporteur James Anaya (19 June 2013)

Anouk Franck on visit UN Rapporteur James Anayo to Panama (13 August 2013)



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