How to prevent corruption – select based on merit, says World Bank…

Given common assumptions that the US will select the next President and there will be no merit-based selection process, I thought I’d check out what organisations that try to combat corruption thought of this idea.

Where better place to start than the institution that’s just launching a new governance and anti-corruption strategy, the same one that publishes worldwide governance indicators. Yes, it’s the World Bank. Continue reading

Timely history on international appointments – US likes to throw its weight around

Last week, an IPS article provides a timely history of how the US likes to throw its weight around in international appointments. It review some ongoing appointments at UN agencies and relates stories from the leadership of Boutros Boutros-Ghali at the UN Secretariat.From IPS:

Ertharin Cousin, a U.S. national, will be the new executive director in an organisation [World Food Programme] which in recent years has been dominated by the United States, the last two heads being Catherine Bertini and Josette Sheeran. Continue reading

The race begins

As speculation grows about the timing of Bob Zoellick’s departure announcement, it’s time to reflect on the process, and on the qualifications for his successor, independently of speculation on good or bad potential candidates.

In June 2007 the Executive Directors of the World Bank should have set in place their own oversight mechanisms, and procedures for evaluating Zoellick’s performance, and that of his management team. They didn’t do that.

A way to start would have been to get the a baseline measure of his skills as a manager and leader, from what he had done before in his long years in the US government, and his brief stints at Goldman Sachs and Fannie Mae. They didn’t do that.

They might also have agreed on a private annual feedback process from Board members, based on input from staff, senior colleagues, and clients on their interactions with him. They didn’t do that.

In 2007 very few anticipated the Great Recession, and its impact on both rich and poor countries, but they could have asked Bob Zoellick for his vision of the future of the World Bank Group, and his ideas for leading the organization and its stakeholders–including the Executive Directors–toward that vision.  They didn’t do that.

As Robert Zoellick prepares to move on, maybe, to use IDA tagline’s, “now is the time.”

I am a pessimist about leadership change at the IFIs

I am a pessimist about leadership change at the IFIs. I don’t know what is required to actually get change. At the IMF all the forms and papers were lined up to have a genuine change, but the emerging market economies could not get their act together; the Mexican Carstens bravely stood as a candidate garnering a full 2 votes; the Russians nominated a thief from one of their neighboring countries.

And of course the French marched out an impeccable candidate without a moment’s hesitation. I don’t think CSOs can do much more. On the World Bank Side, the US is so irritated with the behavior of the Europeans in the lead up to the 2010 summit in Korea—their absolute refusal to let go of even one of their 8 chairs, and then NO country supported the US in being in-the-face of the Europeans, that the US has decided no other country is willing to go to the line for major reforms in the IFIs, so the US needs to keep its veto at the IMF and in the WB IDA.

I wish it were not so, but it seems realpolitik continues to trump normative considerations. Despite my firmest desires, my bet is the US will continue to hold the WB Presidency. So, I will support efforts, while scanning the US horizon for an honorable and good person to lead the WB.

Clinton fights back?

Just heard from a very senior and well placed individual that Hilary Clinton is still campaigning for the job, but – get this – is also still keeping the option of running for US President next time round on the table. So that’d be 2 years max of Hilary… can this really be true?  Answers on a comment please….