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LJD Week 2021 | Advancing Racial Equity to Aid in the Attainment of Global Development Objectives

November 11, 2021

Virtual | Live Broadcast & Recorded



This event has now concluded.

Session Summary

By enabling all persons to realize their full potential, racial equity enhances benefits for society as a whole and aids in the attainment of the World Bank’s development objectives.

In this closing keynote session, high-level panelists covered specific lessons-learnt from Costa Rica, Singapore, Mexico, and the United States, and examined how laws, policies, and targeted programs can best address issues of racial inequity, poverty eradication, and intersectionality in key areas such as health, economic empowerment, and education. The First Vice-President of Costa Rica opened by stressing that strong democracies in Latin America and beyond cannot be achieved without racial justice and the interlinkages between race and poverty are absolutely conspicuous. She further underscored the importance of ethnic and racial statistics, differentiation in policies, and quotas in labor markets and education to foster racial equity. The Minister for Home Affairs and Minister for Law of Singapore shared the country’s continuous approach towards ensuring racial harmony and fostering social inclusion through legislation, policies and ground actions, including the taking of further steps to strengthen racial harmony and address feelings of racial inequality. This included a forthcoming Maintenance of Racial Harmony Act.

President of the First Chamber of the Mexican National Supreme Court of Justice stressed that the voices of indigenous people cannot be omitted from the conversation. Accordingly, it is pivotal to consider indigenous people’s voices in national laws and policies, particularly in those that are more likely to affect indigenous people. Prof. Randall Kennedy added that when everyone is given an opportunity, we all do better. Whilst if certain groups are denied opportunities because of their racial background, a disadvantage is created for society as a whole. It is essential to capture and cultivate all human talent and one of the ways to do so is to create laws and habits that undergird racial justice.

This session also addressed the World Bank Group’s commitment to advancing racial equity globally and examined what racial equity efforts could mean for World Bank Group projects and operations. In closing, Senior Vice President and World Bank Group General Counsel Sandie Okoro announced the public launch of the World Bank’s Anti-Racist Charter, published in eight different languages. The Charter sets out the World Bank’s zero-tolerance towards racism and its overall stance on how to tackle this insidious and pervasive phenomenon.

Key takeaways:

  • The fight against racism is not a sprint but a marathon. Meaningful change cannot be made overnight.
  • Laws and policies alone will not lead to racial harmony and social cohesion. People need to genuinely believe in, and accept, multi-racialism and multiculturalism.
  • Advancement of racial equity requires not only the implementation of guardrails restricting discriminatory actions but also the implementation of proactive policies to build social consensus.
  • Advancement of racial equity plays a fundamental role in achieving the World Bank’s objectives of combatting extreme poverty and promoting shared prosperity.
  • It is not enough for the World Bank to be a non-racist organization, it must be an anti-racist organization not only within its institutional affairs but also within its operations, so as to be mindful that its projects do not invertedly create any form of racial inequity.
  • Speakers


    H.E. Epsy Campbell Barr

    First Vice-President, Costa Rica

    Epsy Campbell Barr is the First Vice President of the Republic of Costa Rica (2018-2022). She is an economist with Master's Degrees in International Cooperation for Development, and Advanced Management Techniques in Political Decision. She served as a Member of Parliament during the periods 2002-2006 and 2014-2018.  H.E. Campbell Barr was a member of the Advisory Panel for UNDP’s 2016 Human Development Report for Latin America and the Caribbean titled, “Multidimensional Progress: Well-Being Beyond Income” and coordinated the 2016 Meeting of Parliamentarians and Political Leaders of African Descent of the Americas and the Caribbean.  She has spoken at numerous academic, governmental and civil society events in the United States and the Caribbean.  H.E. Campbell Barr is particularly concerned with human rights, issues related to women, indigenous and afro-descendant people, poverty, social development and the environment.


    H.E. K. Shanmugam SC

    Minister for Home Affairs and Minister for Law, Singapore

    As Minister for Law, H.E. K. Shanmugam SC made significant changes to enhance the criminal and family justice systems. He also oversaw changes to Singapore’s legal profession, to build a more vibrant legal sector. As Minister for Home Affairs, he has made clear the Government’s resolve against religious extremism and actions which harm racial harmony, including through the upcoming Maintenance of Racial Harmony Act. Prior to entering Cabinet, H.E. K. Shanmugam SC was a Senior Partner at Allen & Gledhill LLP, and Head of Litigation & Dispute Resolution. Allen & Gledhill was then the largest law firm in Singapore. He was in practice for over 20 years, and was appointed Senior Counsel in 1998.


    Hon. Ana Margarita Ríos Farjat

    President of the First Chamber, National Supreme Court of Justice, Mexico

    Hon. Ana Margarita Ríos Farjat has served as Justice of the Supreme Court of Mexico since December 2019, she is currently President of it’s First Chamber. During most 2019 she was head of the Mexican Tax Administration Service, in that time in office, she initiated a frontal fight against tax evasion and promoted equal tax treatment. For over 20 years she has practiced law, first as a litigation attorney at a transnational firm and later on as an independent consultant. She was also an editorialist and a social activist interested in governance and compliance. She has received several awards for her professional career, including a Honorary Doctorate degree from her Alma Mater.


    Ed Mountfield

    Vice President, Operations Policy and Country Services

    Ed Mountfield is Vice President for Operations Policy and Country Services (OPCS) at the World Bank. In this role, he works across all regions on the programming, coordination, and delivery of the Bank’s country services, including project and program financing, and advisory services and analytics. He oversees the World Bank’s corporate policies on operations and country engagement and supports the management of risks in operations. A British and Irish national, he has over 25 years of professional experience in development, economics, finance, policy making and leadership. His experience in regional operations and finance spans over 30 countries and all seven regions of the World Bank.


    Randall Kennedy

    Michael R. Klein Professor, Harvard Law School

    Randall Kennedy is Michael R. Klein Professor at Harvard Law School where he teaches courses on contracts, criminal law, and the regulation of race relations. He was born in Columbia, South Carolina. For his education he attended St. Albans School, Princeton University, Oxford University, and Yale Law School. He served as a law clerk for Judge J. Skelly Wright of the United States Court of Appeals and for Justice Thurgood Marshall of the United States Supreme Court. He is a member of the bar of the District of Columbia and the Supreme Court of the United States.


    Sandie Okoro (moderator)

    Senior Vice President and Group General Counsel, Vice President for Compliance, World Bank

    Sandie Okoro is Senior Vice President and General Counsel for the World Bank Group, and Vice President for Compliance at the World Bank. She is also Chair of the World Bank Group Anti-Racism Task Force. A British national and the first black woman to hold this role, Sandie Okoro is the principal advisor and spokesperson on all legal matters for the world’s leading development finance institution. She also heads the Compliance Vice Presidency that is responsible for developing and overseeing the World Bank data privacy framework based on the World Bank Group Policy on Personal Data Privacy. The two Vice Presidencies are separate and distinct. In her role as Chair for the World Bank Group Anti-Racism Task Force, Sandie Okoro is bringing the topics of race and racial equity at the forefront of Bank Group staff and operational matters, convening discussions and proposing action steps to help ensure racism and racial inequalities have no place in the institution, its operations, and the countries it serves.


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