The groups who experience direct impacts of development projects are generally known as ‘affected people’. This category is gaining traction in the governance of international financial institutions (IFIs) and is arguably becoming ubiquitous in contemporary development discourse. In this paper I investigate what ‘affectedness’ means, and also what it should mean in development context. The aim is to examine the grounds based on which the scope of affected people can be ascertained, and to underline the conceptual but also practical difficulties associated with this exercise. The proposed analysis is predominantly theoretical. It builds on the debate about the ‘all-affected principle’, as well as the theory of democratic inclusion by Iris Marion Young. My main argument is that currently the idea of affectedness functions as a boundary of inclusion/exclusion in the governance of development projects. I therefore suggest that leaving this category entirely open-ended also leaves it exposed to arbitrariness of decision-makers. This is problematic, because generally consultations that include affected people are seen as conveying legitimacy and proving social support to development initiatives. Without principled approach to affectedness, this process of selecting who should be consulted and who should not, enables an unjustified exclusion of the most vulnerable communities. This paper suggests that in the context of international development the most plausible ground for inclusion is vulnerability, which can be articulated by using the notion of structural social groups developed by Iris Young. These two concepts combined offer a principled enough approach for decision-makers to identify the minimal scope of affected persons.
World Development, Volume 126, February 2020, 104700
Introduction to Symposium on the World Bank Environmental and Social Framework in Leiden Journal of International Law (2019), 32, 457–463
Building on the Brunnée and Toope’s theory of interactional law and its use of Fuller’s criteria of legality, this paper argues that the World Bank safeguards, especially their reincarnation through the Environmental and Social Framework (ESF), is a source of law that is binding on all international legal subjects. The paper criticises categories such as ‘internal law’ and ‘soft law’ that are traditionally used to describe the status of non-treaty rules, arguing that such categories are theoretically opaque, thus leading to a ‘dead-end’ in the discussion about sources of normativity beyond the Article 38 of the ICJ statute. The core aim of this paper is to demonstrate that international legal obligations such as those created by the ESF can be understood in dynamic terms, and that we can only ascertain their legal nature by observing their impacts, operation and authoritativeness in practice.
VRÜ Verfassung und Recht in Übersee / Volume 51 / Issue 1 / 2018 / pp. 78-102
This paper argues that there can be no category of ‘affected people’ without a decision-making process that triggers affectedness in the first place. In that sense, affectedness is a category that is by default, although not irreversibly, ‘tied’ to a certain institutional context. In this paper, I examine such ‘tied’ quality of affectedness by focusing on the benefits and dangers of the affectedness paradigm to grassroots organisations in the context of World Bank projects. Whilst in principle the category of ‘affected people’ seems to empower the grassroots, this article argues that the danger of institutional co-optation in this context is also high. The World Bank and its borrowers have full discretion to include, but also to exclude, people from this category. Therefore, the voices of grassroots organisations relying on this paradigm can be instrumentalised and distorted. This article suggests that mediation can help to ‘untie’ affectedness from the top-down institutional discourse, in order to create space for a more balanced dialogue between resistance groups and decision-makers.
Third World Thematics: A TWQ Journal / Volume 3 / Issue 5-6 / March 2019 / pp. 703-724