Journal Issue

Report’s director defines need for accountability, ownership of structural adjustment programs

International Monetary Fund. External Relations Dept.
Published Date:
January 2000
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Palmason: The Human Development Report identifies basic rights rooted in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948. How does one define economic rights?

Fukuda-Parr: The Universal Declaration of Human Rights defines rights as entitlements to all human beings. While the domain of civil and political rights deals with such issues as freedom from torture and freedom of expression, economic rights relate to freedom from want. This translates into rights for food, clothing, and shelter. The declaration also refers to economic rights in the context of the right to hold private property, the right to work, and the right to social protection for the unemployed. While welfare states in advanced market economies or centrally planned economies have held themselves responsible for meeting many economic rights, resource constraints necessitate notions such as a “progressive realization of rights” and the need to establish priorities in meeting basic economic and social rights. Hence, we are not suggesting that developing countries need to adopt the welfare state instantly.

Palmason: How does the debate over conditionality and structural adjustment programs fit into the context of this report?

Fukuda-Parr: I am more concerned with the process than the content of structural adjustment and conditionality. The report deals at length with democracy and notes the need for democratic accountability and ownership of structural adjustment programs. It discusses examples, such as India, where widespread ownership has helped maintain continuity in the economic program despite frequent changes in government.

Palmason: The importance of growth and good governance is increasingly recognized. How does that affect the development and rights debate?

Fukuda-Parr: The debate on human rights is intricately linked to good governance. The report notes the importance of independent institutions, separation of powers, and open monitoring mechanisms against corruption and other abuses of power. Sound institutions facilitate meeting economic and political objectives. By making institutions open and accountable, the likelihood of increasing and sustaining growth is increased.

Palmason: The IMF has committed considerable resources to the HIPC Heavily Indebted Poor Countries] Initiative, the Poverty Reduction and Growth Facility (PRGF), and the poverty reduction strategy papers. How do these efforts correspond with the debate on rights to development and human rights?

Fukuda-Parr: Human rights groups and others have emphasized the need to accelerate and deepen initiatives like the HIPC. The basic argument is that HIPC countries cannot expand the social investments they need because of debt-servicing obligations. Most complaints have been about the slow pace of the HIPC. On the PRGF and poverty reduction strategy papers, the main issue is to avoid separate agency programs on poverty and to develop these initiatives in collaboration with governments, other international agencies, and civil society in an open and participatory manner.

Palmason: The report finds more convergence between the development and rights debates and between the development community and institutions concerned with macroeconomic policies. Has the collaboration between international institutions become more effective?

Fukuda-Parr: There is much greater convergence than in the past. This is evident in the degree to which many of the issues raised by the Human Development Report have been integrated into the work of other international agencies. Over the next few years, there is considerable room for cooperation in governance, and social and economic policies. There are, however, important distinctions in some areas. Financial institutions are unlikely to undertake political reforms, build human rights institutions, and take on other work of this nature. At the same time, while the divide between economic and social policies narrows, there are important alliances to be made between UN agencies and international financial agencies.


In the table on IMF credit outstanding for financial years 1997/2000 that appears on page 9, the unit statement should be billion SDRs and not million SDRs.

In the table of IMF quotas that appears on page 10, footnote one should read “Member has not consented to the increase in its quota.” This footnote applies to Brunei Darussalam, Haiti, the Lao People’s Democratic Republic, and Marshall Islands. Footnote two applies to Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Iraq, Liberia, Somalia, and Sudan. St. Vincent and the Grenadines was incorrectly labeled as not having completed payment of its quota increase.

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