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Behind Closed Doors

Secrecy in International Financial Institutions

edited by Catherine Musuva

This report comprises the findings of a study led by the Institute of Democracy in South Africa (IDASA), in collaboration with civil society organisations in five countries – Argentina, Bulgaria, Mexico, Slovakia and South Africa, to monitor public access to information held by the International Financial Institutions (IFIs). The study was commissioned by the Global Transparency Initiative, a network of civil society organisations promoting openness in the IFIs, such as the African Development Bank, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund.

The results conclude that the case for reforming these institutions cannot be understated. They illustrate how the international financial institutions wield significant powers and influence – in secret. By lending to borrowing governments, they are effectively binding populations to terms and conditions about which they are unaware. And although they publish copious information, affected people are excluded from participating in decision-making processes.

The investigations further reveal opacity around the disclosure of information, low quality information, a poor commitment to promoting the right to know, and inadequate communication and information sharing between the international institutions and borrowing governments. They show that although Freedom of Information Acts have provided an alternation avenue for access to information, domestic challenges to implementation still persist.

ISBN 9781920118211 | 56 pages | 297 x 210 mm | 2006 | Idasa, South Africa | Paperback




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