The World Bank and the Internalization of Indigenous Rights Norms

28 Pages Posted: 27 Jun 2005 Last revised: 14 Dec 2011

See all articles by Galit Sarfaty

Galit Sarfaty

University of British Columbia – Faculty of Law


The World Bank has emerged as an important actor in the international law community by enforcing social and environmental standards in borrower countries. One such standard is its indigenous peoples policy, which the Bank attempts to incorporate into domestic law through binding loan agreements. This article presents a case study of a proposed Bank loan to Morocco in order to examine the difficulties of operationalizing the Bank's indigenous peoples policy. I argue that the transnational legal process by which the Bank internalizes indigenous rights norms into domestic legal systems is influenced by external factors (domestic political and legal constraints and the level of civil society activism)and internal factors (power relations within the Bank). Understanding the dynamics of norm emergence and internalization within this process is important to understanding the role of international institutions in promoting effective norm compliance.

Keywords: World Bank, international law, transnational legal process, legal process, human rights, indigenous, norms

Suggested Citation

Sarfaty, Galit, The World Bank and the Internalization of Indigenous Rights Norms. Yale Law Journal, Vol. 114, p. 1791, May 2005, Available at SSRN:

Galit Sarfaty (Contact Author)

University of British Columbia – Faculty of Law ( email )

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