Quasi-Judicial Bodies as Procedural Innovations: The World Bank Access to Information Appeals Procedure

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Abstract

The World Bank Access to Information Appeals Procedure, a quasi-judicial two-stage process to hear appeals from decisions denying access to information, is a procedural innovation for various reasons. Before July 2010, the date the procedure was launched, there was no mechanism at the World Bank to hear appeals of decisions denying access to information. The World Bank had to create ex nihilo a mechanism capable of, in the one hand, satisfying external pressures for openness and transparency and, on the other hand, avoiding the spread of sensitive information. The procedure to be followed by the two stages of the process is thus unique and custom-made for the Bank needs. The Bank had also to find a balance between internal and external members in the composition of the two parts of the process, ie the Access to Information Committee (first stage) and the Appeals Board (second stage). It led to the creation of an innovative institutional process with a first stage conducted exclusively by Bank’s staff members, and a second stage in which independent external experts are deciding. It is argued in this chapter, that this configuration is problematic as only the first stage of the process is allowed to hear claims for a public interest override, a procedure by which management may decide to disclose restricted information if it determines that the overall benefits of such disclosure outweigh the potential harm to protected interests. A closer look at the decisions rendered by the Committee confirms a tendency of the Bank’s staff to deny access for public interest overrides, even in convincing cases, and then calls for the inclusion of external inputs.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationInternational Law and Litigation
Subtitle of host publicationA Look into Procedure
EditorsHelene Ruiz Fabri
PublisherNomos Verlagsgesellschaft
Pages551-567
Number of pages17
Volume15
ISBN (Electronic)978-3-8452-9905-1
ISBN (Print)978-3-8487-5742-8
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2019

Publication series

NameStudies of the Max Planck Institute Luxembourg for International, European and Regulatory Procedural Law

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