Guest Announcement: The World Bank Office of Suspension and Debarment’s Fifth International Debarment Colloquium

Today’s guest post is from Alexandra Manea, Legal Counsel at the World Bank’s Office of Suspension and Debarment.

The World Bank Group (WBG) sanctions system is a critical part of the institution’s multi-faceted anticorruption effort. Comprised of independent decision-makers, the sanctions system investigates allegations of misconduct in WBG-financed projects and, if those allegations are substantiated, can debar culpable companies and individuals from engaging in any WBG -financed activity for a period of time. The impact of a WBG-imposed debarment is amplified through a cross-debarment agreement with other Multilateral Development Banks (MDBs), including the African Development Bank Group, the Asian Development Bank, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, and the Inter-American Development Bank.

With the unprecedented amount of multilateral financing and public spending going toward crisis aid and recovery efforts, governments and aid agencies can use debarment to ensure that they work only with reliable and ethical business partners. In times of crisis, it is crucial to facilitate knowledge-sharing among stakeholders to increase the impact of connected efforts to fight fraud and corruption.

During a series of webinars over five consecutive weeks starting on September 22 (this coming Tuesday), the WBG’s Office of Suspension and Debarment (OSD) will host the fifth edition of its International Debarment Colloquium series, a flagship event that showcases developments in debarment systems worldwide and examines the various uses of debarment in the procurement and anticorruption contexts. Representatives from multilateral organizations, government, private sector, non-governmental organizations, and academia will discuss:

  • How is debarment used by countries, the private sector, and state-owned enterprises (Roundtable 1). Drawing on the efforts of the OSD-led Global Suspension and Debarment Survey, panelists will examine the different ways that procurement systems and governments utilize debarment to reduce corruption risks, and will discuss to what extent private and state-owned entities have greater flexibility than governments to decide their business partners.
  • The importance of transparency in the context of efforts to enforce debarment decisions (Roundtable 2). Panelists will discuss how different debarment regimes ensure that debarred suppliers do not receive future contracts and to what extent the public nature of a debarment decision enhances the broader due diligence efforts of government agencies and third parties.
  • Other grounds for debarment, such as performance- and capacity-based debarments (Roundtable 3). While in the international context, debarment is often viewed as a tool to address fraud and corruption, many debarment systems around the world address a wide range of reasons, not all of which relate to a supplier’s integrity. Panelists will discuss some of the advantages and challenges associated with these other uses of debarment.
  • The growing relevance of competition law in the context of debarment systems and international development (Roundtable 4). Collusive behavior has long been a common reason to exclude a supplier from the procurement market. At the same time, the decision to debar a supplier can itself impact the competitiveness of the market and the availability of contractors. Panelists will discuss whether the potentially anti-competitive effects of debarment impact the broader goals of procurement, and will address the main challenges facing procurement systems, both at the national level and among MDBs.
  • Managing integrity events in MDB-financed private sector operations through debarment vs. contractual remedies (Roundtable 5). MDBs in their in private sector operations (in contrast to their sovereign operations) have privity of contract with the entities that implement projects. This enables MDBs to resort to both contractual remedies and debarment to address misconduct. Panelists will discuss hypothetical cases to illustrate when one remedy is preferred over the other and the practical challenges involved in the implementation of each remedy.

 Additional details about the agenda and registration requirements are available on the event’s website. Participation is free, but prior registration is required. Participants will be able to submit questions through the chat during the live discussions. For those unable to attend the live discussions, the roundtables will be recorded and available on the website.

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