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Written by Louay Safi   
Jan 05, 2000 at 07:00 PM

In a letter sent today to the president of the World Bank, CBD director pointed out the need for the world bank to live up to its declared mission and the objectives of its widely publicized Comprehensive Development Framework.

In his letter, Dr. Safi condemned the Russian aggression against Chechnya and warned that, given the circumstances, the World Bank's loan would more likely contribute to invigorating Russian military war machines, and assisting a government bent on self-destruction and the destruction of others.

Following is the text of CBD director's letter to the World Bank president:

January 6, 2000

Mr. James Wolfensohn
The World Bank
1818 H Street, NW
Washington, DC 20433

Re: The forthcoming $100 million disbursement under the World Bank’s structural adjustment loan to the Russian Federation.

Dear Mr. Wolfensohn

We are writing to you to ask you to withhold the disbursement of $100 million as part of the Bank’s structural adjustment loan to the Russian Federation. We are aware that the forthcoming disbursement is part of an agreement between the Bank and the Russian government, and that the Bank would naturally want to fulfill its agreements. However, given the genocidal aggression of the Russian Federation, the Bank is under greater moral and legal obligations to use the leverage it has to put pressure on the Russian government to end its genocidal war in Chechnya.

We believe that the Bank is not only justified in freezing its economic assistance to the Russian Federation, but is morally and legally obliged to do so. The Bank’s stated mission requires that its loans be spent with the aim to fight poverty, to build capacity, and  to empower peoples and develop their resources. In addition, the Comprehensive Development Framework, which the Bank promotes, takes a holistic approach to development. The Bank’s Comprehensive Development strategy commits it to support only those developmental efforts that seek “a better balance in policymaking by highlighting the interdependence of all elements of development - social, structural, human, governance, environmental, economic, and financial.” The behavior of the Russian government in Chechnya is at odd with the Bank’s declared objectives, as it is in open violation of international law’s provisions and treaties.

Evidently, the war in Chechnya has gone far beyond its declared objective of fighting terrorism, and has turned into an appalling genocide against the entire Chechnyan nation. The war in Chechnya is no more a war against a small band of terrorists, but has already become a terrorist war using the most destructive war machines, forcing civilians out of their homes, destroying their towns and farms, and wiping out every living thing that stands in front of the advancing Russian army. Grozny has been already turned into ruins, and it will require hundreds of millions to rebuild it.

Instead of concentrating on rebuilding its ruined economy and helping its people fight rampant poverty, the Russian government has chosen to feed a military apparatus and the egos of ambitious politicians and generals at the expense of a small impoverished nation. This is not an image of a government concerned with construction and development, but one that is bent on self-destruction and the destruction of others. Those of us who have been following the latest news from Grozny can only be appalled at the ruthlessness with which the Russian army has chosen to prosecute the war.

Given the circumstances outlined above, it is clear that any financial support given to the Russian government will only feed the Russian war machine, and will hence contribute to the destruction of life rather the its development. We therefore call upon you to use your good office to freeze any further loan payments to the Russian Federation, and to use your relationship with the representatives of the Russian government to help ending an indiscriminate destruction and the shedding of innocent blood in Chechnya.



Louay M. Safi
Center for Balanced Development

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