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Strengthening Prevention of Gender-Based Violence (GBV): Contractor Accountability and Disqualification


Addressing gender-based violence, Sexual Exploitation and Abuse (SEA), and Sexual Harassment (SH) more generally in the context of its development work is a priority for the World Bank.  The Bank continues to take concerted measures to strengthen its approach to management and prevention of SEA-SH risks.

The strengthened requirements in works procurement are guiding borrowers in the assessment of bidders’ responsiveness and competence to comply with specific SEA-SH-related obligations during the bid evaluation process. They also set clear expectations in contract conditions by stipulating obligations to manage GBV/SEA-SH risks that are within the contractors’ control. Enhanced procurement documents provide clear, strong basis for borrowers to prevent, mitigate and manage SEA-SH risks and exercise appropriate remedies.

Building on these efforts, and following extensive engagement with a broad range of stakeholders including contractor and engineering associations, development partners, country counterparts, shareholders, and CSOs,  the Bank is ready to  implement the final recommendation of the GBV Task Force to hold contractors (and any non-compliant subcontractor) accountable for fulfilling their SEA-SH obligations during contract implementation through enhanced Bank remedy for non-compliance. The Bank is the first Multilateral Development Bank (MDB) to implement measures which ensure that contractors and subcontractors who don’t comply with these critical requirements will not receive further Bank-financed contracts anywhere in the world for a period of two years.

Applying the Remedy

The remedy applies to procurement of works under Projects assessed as high-risk of SEA-SH, that apply Standard Procurement Documents (SPDs), based on FIDIC General Conditions (International Federation of Consulting Engineers). Currently, these SPDs are: Requests for Bids-Works; Requests for Proposals-Works: Design and Build, Design Build and Operate, and Engineering Procurement and Construction (EPC), and the Standard Bidding Documents-Works. The mechanism applies to all such procurement/contracts whose procurement process is initiated after January 1, 2021.


The Bank’s decision to disqualify a contractor/subcontractor will leverage tested contractual mechanisms, including application of Dispute Avoidance/Adjudication Board (DAAB/DAB), and will be made in an expedient manner, taking a maximum of four months, while ensuring fairness and strong due process for contractors.

The DAAB is a standard feature in Bank’s SPDs for works that apply FIDIC General Conditions. The Bank requires that three members are appointed for works contracts with estimated costs higher than US$50 million. In the interest of proportionality, contracts with estimated costs between US$20M and US$50M the DAAB may comprise three members or a sole member, and for contracts with estimated costs less than US$20M, the Bank recommends a sole member. The DAAB has both an informal role in assisting parties to avoid disputes, and a binding adjudication role where it decides on non-compliance of either party.

While the DAAB reviews every aspect of contractual compliance, the new remedy leverages the role of the DAAB by specifically including review and decisions on contractor’s non-compliance with SEA-SH prevention and response contractual obligations. This is applied using well-regulated contractual mechanisms. The DAAB does not get involved in determining the factual aspects or assessing the merits of any underlying allegation of SEA-SH.

The Borrower or the Contractor may appeal the DAAB decision if they are dissatisfied with the determination. Without extinguishing the right for a full arbitration, in the interest of expediency, the applicable arbitration rules also provide for emergency arbitration.

The Borrower notifies the Bank of the DAAB decision and outcome of any emergency arbitration. Where the DAAB has determined that the Contractor (and any subcontractor) is not in compliance with its SEA-SH contractual obligations, the Bank conducts a procedural review of the DAAB decision and may disqualify the Contractor (and any non-compliant subcontractor), unless the emergency arbitrator grants an order in favor of the Contractor. The disqualification period from being awarded a Bank-financed contract is for two years unless the contractor receives an arbitration award in its favor within the two year period.

This is separate from the Bank’s Sanctions regime and Grievance Redress Service (GRS). This mechanism focuses purely on whether the contractor complied with its contract obligations to prevent SEA-SH and respond accordingly.



The World Bank was one of the first multilateral institutions to confront heads on GBV-SEA-SH risks drawing on lessons learned from two Inspection Panel cases (in Uganda and DRC) and its extensive experience with mitigating social risks and protecting disadvantaged communities. Starting in 2017, the Bank took quick, concerted measures to further strengthen its approach to prevention and mitigation of SEA-SH risks in Bank-financed operations.

A comprehensive Action Plan informed by the recommendations of an independent panel of experts (the July 2017 GBV Task Force Report), set out a multi-pronged approach to ensure that all involved and affected parties collaborate as accountable partners in addressing SEA-SH risks. The Action Plan set out robust measures to identify and mitigate SEA-SH risks as integral elements of the Bank’s Environmental and Social Framework (ESF) as well as specific enhancements in operational processes and guidance such as a Good Practice Note on Addressing Gender-Based Violence in Investment Project Financing Involving Major Civil Works.

The Bank is the first MDB to introduce the disqualification remedy which relies on the enhanced standards for GBV/SEA-SH prevention and mitigation introduced by the Bank into its procurement requirements and social and environmental aspects of its work over the past three years. In designing the remedy, the Bank  has engaged extensively with a broad range of stakeholders including contractor and engineering associations, development partners, country counterparts, shareholders, and CSOs. The initiatives are expected to enhance the Bank’s efforts in working with all stakeholders, including contractors, as responsible partners to  prevent and minimize  the risks of GBV/SEA-SH in the context of development work. 


Please visit this page on our Procurement website to view the Works Standard Procurement Documents (SPDs) to be used starting January 1, 2021.

Last Updated: Aug 10, 2022