Its a question of what passport do you have

I think this year is quite a significant year for international diplomacy and global development. I say that If only because its the first time ever we have a woman, and an African, to ever be nominated to head any major international institution; the position of President of the World Bank Group.  True, the usual international hypocrisy will most likely not pick her for the position despite her impeccable credentials and because she does not have the “right passport” , never the less, I think its worth taking a closer look at this woman and her background:

6 thoughts on “Its a question of what passport do you have

  1. The contribution “A Bank Insider” cites by Uri Dadush and Moises Naim, who left the World Bank in 2002 and 1992, respectively, is rightly labeled “opinion”. Particularly the part about nationality quotas for ‘staff three levels down’.

    I’m sure they have their sources. Maybe even “A Bank Insider” has views to advance.

    It is certainly true that the Bank pays attention to the nationality diversity of all its hires, as it is obliged to under its Articles of Agreement. And it is also the case that executive directors look very closely at the staff numbers, in the name of ‘diversity’, which in fact is “how many of my own nationals work here?”

    There have long been ‘unwritten’ conventions that the executive head of IFC is a European (always has been) and of MIGA, a Japanese national. But below that, aside from the recent (met) demand by African board members that the new regional vice president be an African, and a francophone African at that, there are no quotas. During the Zoellick years the Bank has done rather well on nationality diversity at the Vice President level.

    There are targets for women, laid down by Robert Zoellick. Good progress has been made against having half the management cadre women by the time of his departure end-June. As at many organizations, this is creating problems among male senior staff of calibre, who are passed over, and sometimes watch the newly appointed women’s former manager retained as a retiree consultant to shadow his protegee.

    I’m curious that all the fuming commentariat on the World Bank succession in the last 36 hours are economists, and men.

    Are their women less exercised by a US nominee who meets pretty well Naim’s criteria for World Bank president ( http://www.moisesnaim.com/writings/critical-tips-choosing-world-bank-head ) that he so kindly suggested earlier this month? Against those criteria, Jim Kim fares rather well and the others, well, offer what Naim said wasn’t urgent.

  2. And I would add to Moisés Naím’s good criteria, the one of not being prone to be entrapped by groupthink or, much worse, being a promoter of a groupthink.

    While being an Executive Director of the World Bank, 2002-2004, the search for a new Chief Economist was announced, and we directors were told that although it was obviously quite a delicate task, it should not take too long, as the search had to be carried out within “quite a small and exclusive community of development economists”… and I immediately reacted with a “hold it there!… being in the hands of a small and exclusive community of development economists sounds like something really frightening and unhealthy to me.

    One of the reasons why I support Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala is precisely because I remember her, in the context of a very risk-adverse World Bank, to be more willing to discuss new ideas in delicate issues than most of her peers. This does of course not mean that any of the other two candidates, whom I do not really know, would not be capable of doing that as well.

  3. Ocampo has by far more policy making, technical and diplomatic experience and skills than the other two candidates. As many observers and serious economists have commented, if the decision is based on true merits and capabilities due the demands and challenges the post represents, Jose Antonio Ocampo must be the next president of the World Bank.

  4. Ocampo has by far more policy making, technical and diplomatic experience and skills than the other two candidates. As many observers and serious economists have commented, if the decision is based on true merits and capabilities due the demands and challenges of the post, Jose Antonio Ocampo must be the next president of the World Bank.

  5. “its the first time ever we have a woman, and an African, to ever be nominated to head any major international institution”.

    And here I thought that Christine Lagarde was a woman (albeit not an African).

    Even aside from Madame Lagarde, we have numerous female heads of international institutions, including Michelle Bachelet (Head of UN Women), Alicia Bárcena (Head of CEPAL-ECLAC), Christiana Figueres (head of UNFCCC), etc.

    • Luis is right. Ngozi follows in the footsteps of many other successful women who led/lead international organizations with distinction, without the benefit of having worked here for 22 years.

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