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The exact contours of international organizations’ (IO) responsibility have not yet been clearly defined. While IOs – and international financial institutions (IFIs) in particular – have in the past avoided drawing those contours in more certain terms, this position is slowly changing: IFIs have been changing expectations about their standards of conduct, as reflected in their evolving operational policies and procedures (OP&P). This report provides an overview of the content, formulation, adoption, amendment and enforcement of OP&P at multilateral development banks (MDB) (a subset of IFIs). It highlights the impact of three developments that are strengthening the normative significance and enforcement potential of the OP&P, namely: broadening stakeholder participation in OP&P revision processes; ‘hardening’ or legalization of OP&P through the compliance procedures of independent accountability mechanisms (IAM) – now widely established at MDBs; and the emerging enforcement potential of the IAMs.

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