How To File a Complaint

CAO works with communities and civil society organizations worldwide to help resolve issues concerning IFC and MIGA projects. Interested parties can file complaints. Complaints must be submitted in writing and may be in any language. For guidance on how to write a complaint, download the Complaint Letter Template in the documents tab. The frequently asked questions section below highlights key details of the process.

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How We Determine Eligibility


IFC & MIGA Projects

The complaint relates to an IFC or MIGA project


Environmental & Social Issues

The complaint relates to social or environmental issues associated with that project


Affected Individual or Community

The complainant believes they are, or may be, affected by the social or environmental issues raised

Our Approach to Reprisals

Addressing issues concerning threats and reprisals is at the forefront of our work.

How We Process Complaints

  • Assessment
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    Once a complaint is found eligible, we conduct an assessment of the conflict. This vital step empowers parties to decide how to best address their concerns.

  • Dispute Resolution
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    Dispute Resolution

    Issues between project-affected people, IFC and MIGA clients, and other relevant stakeholders are resolved through flexible, collaborative, problem-solving processes. 

  • Compliance
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    Investigations into the environmental and social performance of IFC and MIGA ensures compliance with relevant policies and commitments, for better outcomes. 


Frequently Asked Questions

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  • The office of the Office of the Compliance Advisor Ombudsman (CAO) is the independent accountability mechanism for projects supported by the private sector arms of the World Bank Group—the International Finance Corporation (IFC) and Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA). IFC and MIGA promote development and poverty reduction through private sector operations in countries around the world. When people believe they may be affected negatively by an IFC or MIGA project, they can request help from the CAO to address their concerns. The CAO works with all key parties involved in a project to find real solutions that improve social and environmental outcomes and impact. 

  • Any individual, group, community, or party can file a complaint to the office of the CAO if they believe they are, or may be, affected by an IFC or MIGA project. A representative or organization can also make complaints on behalf of those affected.

  • The CAO has 3 simple eligibility criteria for a complaint to move on to assessment:

    1. The complaint relates to an IFC or MIGA project
    2. The complaint relates to a social or environmental issue associated with that project
    3. The complainant believes they are, or may be, affected by the social or environmental issues raised
  • Yes. We take confidentiality extremely seriously. If requested, we will not reveal the identity of any complainant. If confidentiality is requested, a process for handling the complaint will be jointly agreed upon by the CAO and the complainant. In addition, materials submitted on a confidential basis will not be released without consent.

  • The CAO will acknowledge receipt of the complaint in the language it was submitted. Within 15 working days (not including the time required for the translation of complaints and supporting documents), we will inform you if the complaint is eligible for further assessment. If eligible, you will receive information explaining how the CAO will work with you to help address the issues raised, and a CAO specialist will contact you personally.

  • The CAO follows specific procedures for every complaint and is committed to addressing complaints in a timely manner. Once a complaint is found eligible, we conduct an assessment. The purpose of the assessment is to:

    • Clarify the issues and concerns raised
    • Gather information on how other stakeholders view the situation
    • Help stakeholders understand the recourse options available to them, and to determine whether they would like to pursue a collaborative solution through our Dispute Resolution function, or whether the case should be reviewed by our Compliance function. As per CAO’s Operational Guidelines, the steps highlighted in our intake and assessment process are typically followed in response to complaints received.
  • Complaints must be submitted in writing and may be in any language. Complaints can be sent by e-mail, fax, mail, or delivered to the CAO Office in Washington, DC. For guidance on how to write a complaint, see the ‘Complaint Letter Template’ in the document section below.


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