who will be next World Bank President What will they do


A medieval process. The World Bank needs a new leader at the same time as the World Trade Organisation. Comparisons between the processes followed by these two powerful public institutions are instructive. Despite all its talk of good governance for others, the Bank's approach is medieval.

The World Trade Organisation (WTO) has many flaws and its negotiations are riddled with power-plays. Poorer countries have to work extremely hard to form coalitions to get their views across, as at the Cancun negotiations in 2003. But its negotiations are at least based on a one country one vote approach which does give such opportunities for weaker countries to exert themselves.

By comparison the World Bank is a completely closed shop - with minimal efforts to claim that counties are being somehow "consulted" about the US government's choice of candidate. A European official quoted by Reuters yesterday was only able to bleat that they: “hoped the head of the bank would be chosen based on the candidate's qualifications, not along political lines".

Governments have put forward four candidates for the race to become the next head of the WTO, including three from developing countries. They are Jaya Krishna Cuttaree, Mauritius foreign affairs and trade minister, Carlos Pérez del Castillo of Uruguay, Luiz Felipe de Seixas Corrêa of Brazil and former European Commission trade commissioner Pascal Lamy of France. The term of the current head - Supachai Panitchpakdi - term expires on 31st August.

There will be a meeting of the WTO’s general council on 26 January for the four candidates to present themselves formally to the member countries. The Daily Times this week ruled the race “too close” to call. New rules have, however, been introduced to prevent the deadlock which in 1999 resulted in the failure of WTO member governments to agree on one candidate and a compromise to allow each of the two to serve three year terms.

In 2003 the World Health Organisation also gave a positive example of how an international public service organisation should be run. It organised public hustings where the prospective candidates announced what they would do if they headed the organisation and fielded questions from interested parties.

For all its talk about good governance for developing countries the World Bank is medieval in its approach to selecting its own leader, with the appointment remaining the gift of the US Administration. Other organisations have shown that there are other ways.

Further analysis and links on World Bank governance (Bretton Woods Project).

Alex Wilks ~ January 05, 2005

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