"promoting peace activities informed by peace research"
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GRANT AWARDEE: Svetlana Luca, Moldova


PROBLEM: While promoting members’ economic and social development, World Bank (WB) officials assert that the Bank maintains a position of neutrality in interactions with its recipients. This policy of neutrality results from the clauses in the WB charter and policies stating that WB officials take into account only economic considerations in developing its activity and stay politically neutral in the recipient country’s affairs. Another perspective on the bank’s position is that instead of following the policy of neutrality in the country’s affairs, including in the internal political conflict, WB plays an active role of a neutral between the conflicting parties.

RESEARCH METHODS: Consideration and analysis were given to the values behind the policy of neutrality, the attitude of the country regarding the WB involvement, the nature and reasons to address the conflict and the necessity beyond the country’s domestic borders for settling the conflict. Also examined were the risks for involvement in settling the conflict for the WB and its leverage to make a change in settling the conflict. In conducting the research policies, documents and studies were used to reflect on the definition and application of the WB neutrality policy. Mass media articles and documents provided information on the activity of the WB, the negotiation process, and the positions of parties in conflict.

Interviews were conducted to explore underlying reasons behind the official positions in regard to issues of neutrality or conflict. Exploring perceptions and interpretations necessitated interaction with the officials for specifications, explanations, and clarifications to better understand their meanings. Given that the usual interpretations of positions in an official setting is uniform among officials, a number of interviews had to be adapted based on qualitative rather than quantitative collection of information. Five representatives of the Moldovan side and three representatives for the Trans-Dniester region were interviewed. The nature of the political issue, both related to the conflict and the WB activity in Moldova made it difficult to have the parties discuss open ended questions. The interviewees frequently had to be asked to specify what they meant through a general statement. In many instances they were hesitant to be specific, although they did open up more in the second half of the interview.

RESULTS: The information gathered was based on limited data provided from a case study and is not a finite analysis of the discussed issues. The recommendation and the findings are intended to be suggestive, not conclusive. Further research is required on case studies and analysis on the policies of the WB and their implication for effectiveness for its member’s development, the nature of the conflict, and the contribution of WB in conflict.