The more things change… We’re back

It is true that Kim’s term does not expire for nearly another year, so what compelled the return of everyone’s favourite blog covering the latest developments on the coronation, er… we mean nomination of the next World Bank president just now?

The impetus for the revival of the blog was the World Bank Board’s announcement last week that it had opened a three-week nomination process for its new president. The nomination process closes on 14 September and the Board has pledged to take a decision within weeks of that date. The US administration nominated Dr. Kim for a second term within the first few hours of the opening of the process in a move that the NY Times noted was “intended to discourage would-be rivals”.

The Board has thus ignored long-standing calls from global civil society, and also recently from the Bank’s staff association, for a transparent, merit based selection process for the selection of the next World Bank president. The Financial Times reported in early August that the Bank’s staff association had sent a letter to the Board stating “We preach principles of good governance, transparency, diversity, international competition, and merit-based selection. Unfortunately, none of these principles have applied to the appointment of past World Bank Group Presidents … Instead, we have accepted decades of backroom deals which, twelve times in a row, selected an American male. This must change.” 

To be honest, when the blog went into hibernation in 2012, we had hoped that during the next selection process for World Bank president, the blog would be used by contributors to debate the relative merits of various well-qualified candidates proposed by a number of the Bank’s members. We had, perhaps foolishly, hoped assurances of a new merit-based process that finally did away with the perpetual American monopoly on the post would have been in place.  We had hoped this forum could contribute to a debate about the qualifications of a suitable list of candidates, including various contenders from the Global South, that would be evaluated against well defined parameters through a transparent process. The blog would therefore make an important contribution to  a  selection process based solely on the merits of the various contenders, versus, by way of random example, the person’s nationality…

Alas, as it is said, ‘the more things change, the more they stay the same’… So, here we go again… At the closing of the blog in 2012 we noted that “the final word goes to the G24 group of developing countries at the World Bank.  This is from the communiqué they issued …

We recognize that for the first time in the history of the World Bank there was an open process for the selection of the President that involved a debate on the priorities and the future of the institution.

Future selection processes must build on this process, but must be transparent and truly merit-based.

It seems a very opportune time, given what we know about the proposed process for the selection of the next World Bank president, to consider how well it meets the requirement outlined above.

Let the discussions begin…

We look forward to a repeat of the lively discussions and exchanges that took place during the previous selection processes and invite you to contribute by writting posts or comments and to share any information that you think relevant.

Race over, blog bows out. Until next time

With the dust settling after the first contested World Bank Presidential selection process, this blog will be bowing out. We hope we’ve added some transparency to a pretty intransparent process, and will definitely be back next time to demand more change, share ideas and open space for public debate.

The final word goes to the G24 group of developing countries at the World Bank.  This is from the communiqué they issued last Friday:

We recognize that for the first time in the history of the World Bank there was an open process for the selection of the President that involved a debate on the priorities and the future of the institution.

Future selection processes must build on this process, but must be transparent and truly merit-based.

 

 

Some Reactions

AFP: Nigeria World Bank candidate salutes Kim, calls for change

FT: World Bank picks Kim as next head

Economist: Kim for president

The Atlantic: Shocking News About the Next World Bank Boss

BBC: Africa’s World Bank hopes dashed as Okonjo-Iweala loses

The Telegraph: A 20th century bank facing 21st century problems

Irish Times: World Bank accused of lack of transparency after US chief chosen

The Conversation: Three-Card Trick: Kim is new World Bank President


Jim Yong Kim’s statement after his appointment

From Lima, Jim Kim has been gracious and forward-looking in his official statement after his appointment was announced.

Let’s hope that the owners and the World Bank’s board will not again waste five years trying to forget what they did wrong this time in the appointment process, so that progressive voices will not have to again sit out a fulsome and reasoned discussion of the candidates’ merits.

But let’s not spend the next two years whining about this process.  Even a flawed process can have a good outcome.

Oxfam sums it up

 

Oxfam’s Elizabeth Stuart said: “Dr. Kim is an excellent choice for World Bank president and a true development hero. But we’ll never know if he was the best candidate for the job, because there was no true and fair competition.”

“The world deserved better than a selection process with a forgone conclusion. Poor and emerging countries are insisting the Bank be more accountable and open in how it does business. This sham process has damaged the institution, and sullied Dr. Kim’s appointment.”

Why Jim Kim should consider resigning as World Bank president-designate

The situation for the many constituencies hopeful about Jim Yong Kim’s ‘election’ as World Bank president is comparable to early 2009.

Recall, Barack Obama entered a US presidency suffering institutional crisis and faced an immediate fork in the road: make the changes he promised, or sell out his constituents’ interests by bailing out Wall Street and legitimizing a renewed neoliberal attack on society and ecology, replete with undemocratic, unconstitutional practices suffused with residual militarism. As president-elect, surrounding himself with the likes of Larry Summers, Tim Geithner, Paul Volcker, William Gates, Rahm Emmanuel and Hillary Clinton, it was obvious which way he would go. Continue reading

Final Hours; or The Progressive’s Dilemma

Well folks today is the day.

It seems that the unnamed “A Bank Insider,” the most frequent poster to this blog, has taken off the gloves, with his declaration — not even couched as a prediction — that a Kim presidency would be “ineffective and tarnished” and would mean that the process in “now completely tarnished.”

So let me add a few words on behalf of those who have felt the process has been “completely tarnished” all along. I’m dragging out the overused “progressive” label as a convenience to describe those in NGOs/civil society who have been advocating for reform (or in some cases abolition) of the World Bank for many years.

For us, whichever way the decision goes represents a partial victory. If Ngozi is chosen it will be a victory for overturning the process, particularly if the US is defeated in procedural vote. It would change forever the assumptions of how the Bank is run, and hopefully would mean change in the quota system that governs how other high-level positions are chosen.

But it would also be a victory for the status quo. Continue reading