On March 9, 2017 a group of peasant farmers from Honduras launched a suit in US federal court against the World Bank (WB) Group’s International Finance Corporation (IFC). The suit alleges the IFC and WB are “knowingly profiting from the financing of murder.”
The lawsuit is over the IFC’s financing of the Dinant Corporation, a company that owns palm oil plantations in the Bajo Aguán valley of northern Honduras. In 2009 the IFC provided $15 million directly to Dinant. In 2011 the IFC channeled $70 million to a Honduran bank that was one of Dinant’s largest financiers. The farmers are seeking compensation for violence allegedly carried out by Dinant’s private security forces, this includes alleged attacks and killings that occurred when the farmers tried to block expansion of Dinant’s plantations. In recent years, approximately 133 killings have been linked to land conflicts in the Bajo Aguán valley.
This is the second lawsuit of its kind that has been filed against the IFC in US court. In 2015 a case was filed against the IFC over the financing of a coal-fired power plant in India that allegedly destroyed the livelihoods of local fishermen. The lawsuit was rejected based on the 1945 International Organizations Immunities Act, a US federal statute that grants international organization's immunity privileges similar to those of foreign governments.
The WB and IFC have been accused of numerous human rights offences not just in Honduras but around the world. In April 2015 an investigative project by The Huffington Post and The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) found that between 2004 and 2013 an estimated 3.4 million people around the world were “forced from their homes, deprived of their land or had their livelihoods damaged because they lived in the path of a World Bank project”. This is in contrast to the WB’s goals to “reduce poverty and support development.”
Overall, this issue has not been covered by corporate media. There were articles in The Huffington Post and Financial Times about the specific court case concerning Honduras, but the findings of the ICIJ investigation into the World Bank’s global abuses have only been reported on by The Huffington Post. The article in The Huffington Post was written by Katie Redford, the co-founder and director of EarthRights International, the NGO that filed the suit on behalf of the Honduran farmers.
Chavkin, Sasha. “Evicted and Abandoned: How the World Bank Broke Its Promise to Protect the Poor.” The Huffington Post and The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists. April 15, 2015
Chavkin, Sasha. “Lawsuit: World Bank arm aided firm that hired ‘death squads.’” March 8, 2017,
“Honduran farmers accuse World Bank arm of ‘profiting from murder.’” The Financial Times. March 8, 2017,
Lakhani, Nina. “Honduras and the dirty war fuelled by the west’s drive for clean energy.” The Guardian. January 7, 2014, https://www.theguardian.com/global/2014/jan/07/honduras-dirty-war-clean-energy-palm-oil-biofuels.
Provost, Claire. “Farmers sue World Bank lending arm over alleged violence in Honduras.” The Guardian. March 8, 2017, https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2017/mar/08/farmers-sue-world-bank-lending-arm-ifc-over-alleged-violence-in-honduras.
Redford, Katie. “Honduran Farmers to the World Bank Group: ‘See You in Court.’” The Huffington Post. March 8, 2017,
Kennard, Matt. “Fishermen and farmers sue World Bank lending arm over power plant in India.” November 10, 2015,
World Bank. “What We Do.” World Bank, accessed March 13, 2017.
Student researcher: Janelle Blakley (University of Regina)
Faculty evaluator: Patricia Elliott (University of Regina)