Development, Finance, World Bank, and IFIs (LAW-726-001)
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The activities of multilateral development finance institutions (MDFIs) as international organizations affect people and nations daily through their influence on economies, governance, human capital, infrastructure, the environment, and other spheres of human development. MDFIs provide financial and technical assistance, convene knowledge exchange partnerships and platforms, and even facilitate economic and social reform. What is the legal personality of a MDFI? What are its powers? How does it derive its authority? What constrains it? What are its responsibilities? How is it held accountable?
This course presents students with an overview of the legal and institutional foundations and frameworks of multilateral development finance institutions. It focuses primarily on International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) and the International Development Association (IDA) and includes analysis of other prime sources of multilateral development finance notably emerging actors such as the Asian Infrastructure and Investment Bank (AIIB). The course will begin with consideration of the rationale for and genesis of these institutions, examining the context for their establishment and the legality of their structures, authority, functions, interactions, and accountability. The course will also examine the operations of these institutions as a means to explore some of the pertinent issues of the day including, climate change, disruptive technologies, and pandemics.
Course themes will include enumerated mandate versus implied powers, privileges and immunities versus responsibility, concepts of reputational versus legal risks, internal versus external accountability, legal personality in relation to member state sovereignty, and the interplay between politics, process and the apolitical character of these institutions. The course will ultimately interrogate where multilateral development finance has been and where it is headed.
By the end of this course, students will (a) have an increased understanding of the general nature of multilateral development finance institutions including key concepts of the law of international organizations broadly; (b) have a deeper appreciation of some of the debates that arise within the context of the existence and actions of institutions; (c) be able to apply their acquired knowledge to other institutional contexts; and (d) have improved their research, written and oral communication skills.
Textbooks and Other Materials
The textbook information on this page was provided by the instructor. Students should use this information when considering purchases from the AU Campus Store or other vendors. Students may check to determine if books are currently available for purchase online.
The primary texts for this course are: (1) IBRD Articles of Agreement; (2) IDA Articles of Agreement; (3) Agreement establishing the Inter-American Development Bank (1996 reprint); Agreement establishing the African Development Bank (2016 edition); and (4) AIIB Articles of Agreement. Other supplemental reading materials for each class are posted or will be distributed to students ahead of time online through Canvas.
Guest speakers are a crucial part of learning and will be invited to some class sessions to ground issues raised by assigned topics and bridge theoretical concepts to real world experience. To promote open exchange of ideas, all remarks are off the record and not for attribution. Note that the speaker’s views do not represent the views of your professor or those of the Washington College of Law. The list of guest speakers will be provided on the first day of class and will be confirmed prior to the scheduled date. The guest speakers’ schedule may impact the schedule of topics for this course, but any such impact will be minimal. Guest speak sessions will be in the format of a fireside chat (virtual or in-person), allowing for maximum interaction between the students and guest speaker.
First Class Readings
Trebilcock, M and Prado, Mariana Mora. Law and Development. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar Publishing Ltd, 2014. Part I, pp. 3-42.
UN General Assembly, Transforming our World: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, 21 October 2015, A/RES/70/1, available at: https://www.refworld.org/docid/57b6e3e44.html
UN General Assembly, Declaration on the Right to Development, 4 December 1986, A/RES/41/128, available at: https://www.ohchr.org/en/professionalinterest/pages/righttodevelopment.aspx
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