The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) is an independent governmental agency that coordinates official development assistance (ODA) for the government of Japan. It is chartered with assisting economic and social growth in developing countries, and the promotion of international cooperation. In 2010, along with an updated version of their Guidelines for Environmental and Social Considerations, JICA launched their Objection Procedures. Objectives of these procedures are to, following an objection, investigate and ensure JICA’s compliance with the aforementioned guidelines and to encourage dialogue between the parties concerned in order to assist early resolution of disputes concerning specific environmental and/or social problems caused by the project where the non-compliance occurred.
Who can access it?
A complaint (Request) must be submitted by two or more residents of a country who have suffered actual damage or are likely to suffer damage in the future as a result of JICA’s non-compliance with the Guidelines regarding the project for which JICA provides cooperation.
If it is unavoidable in view of the particular circumstances of the region in question etc., a Request may be submitted by an agent, provided that in such cases the names of the principal (Requester) must be identified and that the agent has been duly authorized by the Requester.
How does it work?
A Request may be submitted with respect to the projects of (as covered by the Guidelines):
- Loan aid
- Grant aid (excluding projects executed through international organizations)
- Preliminary studies of grant aid undertaken by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs
- Technical cooperation for development planning
- Technical cooperation projects
To implement the Objection Procedures, JICA assigns two or three Examiners under the direct control of the President who are independent of the department responsible for individual projects and environmental analysis (Operational Department). The Examiners should be independent, impartial and neutral and their activities must, in principle, be open to the public and must contribute to the furtherance of JICA’s accountability. Each request submitted is taken charge of by one of the Examiners, and he/she will prepare a report of investigation after taking into account the views of the other Examiners.
When JICA’s non-compliance with the Guidelines on one of its projects has caused actual damage or is likely to cause damage in the future, an objection may be submitted. A request may be submitted in Japanese, English, or the official language of the relevant country and should state:
- Name of the Requester.
- Address or place of contact of the Requester.
- Project with respect to which the Request is submitted (including country, project name (if known to the Requester), project site and project outline).
- Description of actual damage incurred or likely to be incurred by the Requester.
- Relevant provisions of the Guidelines considered by the Requester to have been violated by JICA and the facts constituting such non-compliance.
- Causal nexus between JICA’s non-compliance with the Guidelines and the damage.
- Resolution desired by the Requester.
- Facts concerning the Requester’s consultation with the the entity that carries out the project (Project Proponent).
- Facts concerning the Requester’s consultation with the Operational Department.
- If a Request is to be submitted by an agent, the Requester must explain the necessity to submit the Request through an agent and attach evidence that the agent has been duly authorized by the Requester.
A sample request can be accessed on page 14 of the Objection Procedures.
The Objection Procedure consists of the following steps:
- Submission of a Request by post, e-mail or hand-delivery.
- Acceptance of a Request and notifications to the Requester and the Project Proponent (within five business days after the receipt of the Request).
- Preliminary investigation – The Examiner assesses the completeness of the Request, investigate whether the Requester is qualified to submit a Request, and checks the Request to confirm that it was submitted in good faith and adequately in conformity with the purpose of the Procedures. Within one month after the acceptance of the Request, the investigation will be completed.
- Decision to commence the procedures – If the Request satisfies the requirement to commence the procedure, the Examiner will inform the President, the Project Proponent, and the Operational Department of this decision and commence the procedure. If a decision is made not to commence the procedures, the Requester will also be informed of this an get the chance to submit his/her opinion.
- Investigation of the facts of compliance with the guidelines – As part of the investigation, the Examiner may meet with the Requester, relevant persons in the Operational Department and, if necessary, residents of the project area with different views than the Requester, the Project Proponent, specialists, and other persons concerned.
- Encouragement of dialogues in an attempt to resolve disputes - In order to resolve disputes, the Examiner may mediate for the purpose of encouraging dialogues among related parties or conduct individual interviews.
- Within two months after the commencement of the Procedure, the Examiner shall submit to the President a report that sets forth the results of the investigation of the facts of compliance with the Guidelines, the progress of dialogues, and the agreement between the parties concerned if a settlement is reached. If the Examiner determines that JICA has not complied with the Guidelines, he/she may recommend possible measures to correct such non-compliance. If the Examiner is unable to ascertain the facts on JICA’s compliance, or if the parties agreed to dispense with the investigation, he/she shall report to the President the progress of the dialogues and of said agreement. If the Examiner believes that more time is required for investigation or for the encouragement of dialogues, the Examiner may report to the President the particulars of further required activities and the reasons why such activities are indispensable.
- The Examiner’s report shall immediately be sent to the parties concerned, who may then submit to the Examiner their opinions on the contents of the report. The Examiner shall pay due respect to such opinions, and if he/she deems that the opinions contain matters useful for the monitoring of the project in question, he/she may transfer the opinions to the Operational Department.
- Within one month after the submission of the report to the President, the Operational Department shall submit to the President its opinion on the report and, in case of non-compliance, the measures to be taken to ensure future compliance.
During the process, the Examiner must handle the investigation and activities to encourage dialogue in a cautious manner. This may include suspension of the process, if a dispute concerning the project becomes pending in other dispute resolution proceedings, and if the issue in those proceedings and the issue in the Objection Procedures are substantially similar and it is not necessary to commence the Objection Procedures.
Any instructions issued by the President in consideration of the Examiner’s report, the opinion of the Operational Department, and the opinion of the parties concerned shall be implemented by the Operational Department.
Monitoring and Enforcement
The Examiner shall be informed of the Operational Department’s implementation status of the instructions issued by the President. When necessary, the Examiner will interview the Requester and other relevant persons in order to gather and report related information to the President in the annual report of activities. If the Examiner deems it necessary, he/she may report to the President, at any time, the Operational Department’s implementation status of the instructions issued by the President. In addition, on the basis of the investigation results of individual cases in which it was concluded that JICA did not comply with the Guidelines, the Examiner may state, in the annual report, his/her opinion of the measures to be taken to ensure JICA’s future compliance with the Guidelines and other matters.