A Trouble Shared is a Trouble Halved

How the Structure of Cooperation Matters for the Engagement of Responsibility in the World Bank Partnership Programmes

In: International Organizations Law Review
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  • 1 Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, Geneva

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The World Bank has a large partnership portfolio, including international organizations and private actors. Due to their diversity and to the ambitious programs they pursue, partners are highly exposed to financial and operational risk. Curbing this risk takes different shapes in the legal design of partnerships. In particular, partnerships differ in terms of the degree of legal continuity along the stages of decision-making, management of funds and program implementation. This configuration raises several problems for the attribution of international legal responsibility for partnership-related activities. In some cases, the problem is one of attribution of conduct at the level of the partnership’s governing body as well as at that of implementation. More broadly, the policy of risk management leads to a dilution of control within the partnership chain. This means that one can construe only certain partnership programmes, or certain segments of a partnership, as amassing enough control for responsibility to arise.