who will be next World Bank President What will they do


Hundreds more staff sign letter: World Bank governance agenda under threat. World Bank staff are continuing to make their views known. The staff letter we announced ten days ago now contains an additional 700 signatures of angry Bank staff. The staff concerned are working directly on good governance and anti-corruption. They argue that the present crisis is a critical test of the Bank’s own commitment to the principles of sound corporate governance. Yes, as the Bank already had very doubtful credbility in key circles, this may take ages to recover from.

I agree strongly with the letter's main point, but disagree with some of its logic. The Bank staff argue that they "are deeply concerned by the impact of the current leadership crisis on the Bank’s credibility and authority to engage with governments, non-government stakeholders, and donor partners on the Governance and Anti-Corruption agenda".

At the European Network on Debt and Development we have argued consistently that not just Wolfowitz but the institution as a whole carry heavy baggage which prevent it taking a major role in global anti-corruption activities. The Bank should focus on do no harm interventions rather than positioning itself as a major force for the good in the corruption area.

In a joint letter of July 2006 we stated:

"The World Bank has neither the mandate, the legitimacy nor the capacity to become a global arbiter on corruption. Whilst corruption is a concern in many developing countries around the world recent events in the UK (cash for peerages) and the US (Enron, Katrina relief) illustrate that it is far from being a ‘poor country problem’. The problem needs to be seen in the context of other challenges that countries face in building democratic developmental states and combating poverty. The World Bank should focus its energies on its own operations and not move into the role of a ‘global policeman’ on corruption. It cannot be both judge and jury of its own actions and is not a legitimate actor to lead the charge on issues of anti-corruption and much less in the field of governance".

We also said:

"The Bank needs to ensure that it is more transparent in its own decision-making processes and that it takes an approach which facilitates domestic accountability rather than taking a top-down approach to ‘fixing’ governance problems.

In short: the debate on what the Bank can and cannot do on governance will by no means end with the removal of Wolfowitz.


The World Bank staff letter has also been picked up in a Reuters piece by Lesley Wroughton

Following the rumours that key Wolfowitz appointees are threatening Bank staff's electronic postings, we have taken the precaution of posting a copy of the letter to this site (PDF). You may also want to take a look at the 17 April statement from Transparency International making similar points (strangely although the letter calls for a transparent and swift resolution of this issue TI don't seem to have issued anything since then).

Alex Wilks ~ May 07, 2007


All the letters originating with Nigerian names in support of Wolfowitz are obviously a repeat of the infamous Nigerian scam. Surely: the "authors" feel for Wolfie as one of them, and now have to look for another job!

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