Accessible Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter July 29, 2017

Multilateral Development Banks and Sustainable Development: On Emulation, Fragmentation and a Common Law of Sustainable Development

Makane Moïse Mbengue and Stéphanie de Moerloose

Abstract

Multilateral Development Banks (hereinafter MDBs) have evolved from avoiding non-economic considerations, as required in most of their charters, to officially supporting sustainable development. This transformation is due not only to international law, civil society pressure or internal adjustments, but in part to the emulation phenomenon between the international effort for sustainable development made by international conferences and commissions and the sustainable development effort by MDBs. The paper first examines this emulation phenomenon and its strong impact on MDB creation of substantive instruments – the environmental and social safeguards – and of procedural instruments – the accountability mechanisms – for the integration of sustainable development. Following this discussion, the second part points out that MDBs’ environmental and social safeguards still differ substantially, revealing a fragmentation in MDBs’ normative understanding of sustainable development. After presenting the arguments supporting this fragmentation, the last part of the paper argues in favor of the harmonization of MDBs’ environmental and social safeguards, resulting in the creation of a common law of sustainable development, the promotion of international law and the facilitation of investments.

Acknowledgements

Research was supported by Fondation Ernest Boninchi. This paper benefitted from discussions at the “2016 Law and Development Conference: from the Global South Perspectives” in Buenos Aires in October 2016, where an early version was presented. The authors are grateful to Professor Y.-S. Lee, Director of the Law and Development Institute and Professor Mario Campora of Universidad de Buenos Aires, for their constructive comments. Yet the views expressed herein, as well as any errors or omissions, should be attributed solely to the authors.

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Published Online: 2017-7-29
Published in Print: 2017-9-26

© 2017 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Boston