Latin American CSOs hold WB EDs to account for their vote

Below is a guest post by María José Romero of the Latin American network of NGOs Latindadd, with its secretariat in Lima, Peru.

In a letter sent on April 5 to World Bank Executive Directors representing Latin American countries, Latin American NGOs Fundar, DAR and Latindadd asked about the criteria for the selection of the new President of the institution. José Antonio Ocampo, the Colombian candidate to lead the World Bank has already met 18 of the 25 Bank’s Executive Directors and on Tuesday 10 April (today) the Board of Executive Directors as a whole will interview him.

In an ideal world each and every Latin American country should support Ocampo’s candidacy. As Kevin Gallagher says, “if the decision is finally based on merit, as it should be, Ocampo will win: he is far and away better than any on the list of credible names, including President Barack Obama’s nominee, Jim Yong Kim.”

According to Professor Griffith –Jones, Ocampo “provides the rare combination of an experienced and successful policy-maker at the highest level (he was Minister of three portfolios in Colombia, finance, agriculture and planning), an outstanding international civil servant again at the highest level, including as Under Secretary General at the United Nations, as well as Head of the UN Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean and a leading academic researcher in key issues relating to development and macro-economic policy.”

There is also a strong debate on the expectations regarding the role of the new president to guide the institution into a path of structural reforms not only in terms of governance but also the fundamental changes on the vision of a sustainable development. In this field Ocampo has also something to offer, as he is one of the leading academic economists in the field of development.

In support of Ocampo’s candidacy, three letters were sent to the Bank’s Board of Directors highlighting Ocampo’s credentials. As a whole more than 300 reknowned academic economists and researchers from Latin America, Colombia and across the world, together with members of the Colombian business community and the civil society, former Central Bank governors, and the heads of international agencies, have endorsed his candidacy for President of the World Bank.

However, Ocampo’s own government is not fully supportive. Colombia’s finance minister said Ocampo’s bid was not “politically feasible” because Bogotá is pushing a candidate to head the International Labour Organisation (ILO).

Ocampo is aware of the difficulties of the fight, “the US is putting all the pressure. The success will depend on the will of developing countries and emerging markets to keep an unified voice and that most of European countries do not follow the US. By now, I think that latter is more likely than the former.”

We are waiting for the answers from our representatives in the Board. For most of us the time has come to open up the international financial institutions to a new development thinking. It is also time for developing countries to demonstrate their capacity to talk with a unique voice to finally break the status quo.

9 thoughts on “Latin American CSOs hold WB EDs to account for their vote

  1. As a Latin American, and as a Latin American former Executive Director of the World Bank (2002-2004), I would of course be glad to see a Latin American as the next president of the World Bank. Although I personally support the candidacy of Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, I believe Jose Antonio Ocampo could be a good president too… but as indeed Jim Yong Kim could also be.

    But I do not understand a post like this that calls on regional solidarity, above all, when what is at stake, is achieving that a World Bank president gets to be selected by merit and merit alone,

    The only reason why I would support a president because he is from a developing country, is because this particular time that represents in essence a symbol of the change, but, in the long run, what I want is of course that the best candidate, no matter where he comes from, gets to be selected, and to that extent that the Executive Directors, responsible as individuals, cast their vote exclusively based on who they would think would be best from the Bank, no matter where the candidate comes from.

    We do not need a president of the World Bank who represents the interest of some specific geographical areas, what we need is a president of the World Bank who represents the World, currently the most unrepresented entity in the World Bank.

  2. Then you are in luck because, on merit alone, Ocampo is the best of the candidates, so you should be suppoting him instead. With your statement, you are dismissing that Ocampo has great qualifications for the job, independent of being Latin American, and compare his experience with that of Kim’s, which, as we have learned, is limited to health. That is really far reaching.

    Nonetheless, I really find funny that you say the WB does not need a president who supports a specific region of the world when Ms. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala constantly mentions how good for Nigeria and the african countries her appointment would be, and how much she would help that region. Furthermore, who are her backers? Oh yes, African countries! Ooops.

  3. Although, overall I would agree with Mr Kurowski on his argument, I also think that, unfortunately, this idealistic approach (the president should be elected by his/her merits) has not been what neither the U.S. nor EU have used until now. So, when Ms Romero says Latin American countries should act as one, she is just inviting them to give up their local political differences in order to face the historically monolithic behavior of the major blocks.

  4. Oh come on, just because I am supporting Ms. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, with my real name by the way, I am NOT saying that Ocampo does not have great qualification for the job… and of course I am not supporting Ngozi because she is African … but this comment of yours in particular state that we should support Ocampo because he is from Latin America.

  5. This issue of rigionalism aren’t going to better the world in any way.MERIT remains the watch word and Ngozi is that merit

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