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2017 marks the 50th anniversary of the Asian Development Bank (ADB), the second largest source of development finance in the Asia-Pacific region, next to the World Bank Group. In the last five decades, the ADB has moved more than USD 250 billion in a bid to promote economic growth, facilitate regional trade integration, and expand opportunities. However, for many civil society groups, social movements, and communities affected by ADB financing, the institution has been an agent of inequitable development, fostering inequalities and mis-governance. The ADB has enjoyed the highest degree of immunity as guaranteed by its own charter. This means that it is immune to legal liabilities and accountability to national laws for problematic investments, faulty policy advice, violation of people’s rights and livelihoods, and destruction of the environment.

Focus has long been researching and sharing analyses of the negative impacts of ADB operations, calling for an end to the ADB’s immunity and lack of accountability. In 2017, we join people’s movements and civil society in building a region-wide challenge to the ADB’s immunity

On the occasion of the 50th Annual Governors’ Meeting of the ADB which is happening in Yokohama, Japan from May 4-7, 2017, Focus on the Global South is releasing this special newsletter highlighting the Asian people’s resistance against the Bank. Earlier writings and materials on the ADB produced by Focus can be found here:

Read the Newsletter


A set of previously secret documents, obtained via the Freedom of Information Act, offers clear evidence of a remarkable, far-ranging and expanding network of outposts strung across the continent. In official plans for operations in 2015 that were drafted and issued the year before, Africa Command lists 36 U.S. outposts scattered across 24 African countries.

General Thomas Waldhauser sounded a little uneasy. “I would just say they are on the ground. They are trying to influence the action,” commented the chief of U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) at a Pentagon press briefing in March, when asked about Russian military personnel operating in North Africa. “We watch what they do with great concern.”

And Russians aren’t the only foreigners on Waldhauser’s mind. He’s also wary of a Chinese “military base” being built not far from Camp Lemonnier, a large U.S. facility in the tiny, sun-blasted nation of Djibouti. “They’ve never had an overseas base, and we’ve never had a base of… a peer competitor as close as this one happens to be,” he said. “There are some very significant… operational security concerns.”

Human Rights Watch believes it is important for UN experts to ground their work on IFIs in the human rights obligations of these institutions. With the exception of the European banks, IFIs often argue that they are bound only by their own internal standards, rather than international human rights standards. In our view it is essential to counter this.

Read the responses

MEPs are pushing the EU Commission to re-assess which countries should be included on the blacklist of uncooperative money laundering jurisdictions. A joint vote of the Economic and Monetary Affairs (ECON) and Civil Liberties (LIBE) committees asked the Commission to rethink the list in a resolution on Wednesday. The resolution will now be put to a vote in the upcoming plenary.

The EU Commission identifies high-risk third countries which are then subject to increased customer due diligence measures. The most recent blacklist from July 2016 includes eleven countries. In January 2017, the European Parliament rejected a Commission Delegated Act to remove the State of Guyana. The Commission now proposes simply following the recommendations of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), the international forum against money laundering and terrorist financing, and replacing Guyana with Ethiopia. ECON and LIBE today rejected this copy pasting as insufficient.

Illicit financial flows (IFFs) from developing and emerging economies kept pace at nearly US$1 trillion in 2014, according to a study released today by Global Financial Integrity (GFI), a Washington, DC-based research and advisory organization. The report pegs illicit financial outflows at 4.2-6.6 percent of developing country total trade in 2014, the last year for which comprehensive data are available.

Titled “Illicit Financial Flows to and from Developing Countries: 2005-2014,” the report is the first global study at GFI to equally emphasize illicit outflows and inflows. Each is found to have remained persistently high over the period between 2005 and 2014. Combined, these outflows and inflows are estimated to account for between 14.1 and 24.0 percent of developing country trade, on average.


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