BWP’s reaction to the resignation of World Bank’s President David Malpass

World Bank President David Malpass’s surprise resignation, which will take place by 30 June, comes as the World Bank shareholders are reviewing its draft ‘Evolution Roadmap’ aimed at expanding the Bank’s lending capacity and improving its ability to respond to global challenges, including climate change, fragility and growing global health threats. The process by which the World Bank selects Malpass’s replacement will speak volumes about the degree to which discussions about a World Bank ‘evolution’ go beyond superficial reforms underpinned by additional resources – and premised on increased expansion of the Bank’s preference for private sector-led development.  Discussions about equipping the institution to better respond to global challenges and support the provision of global public goods cannot be taken seriously without an end to the gentleman’s agreement that has ensured a US monopoly on the presidency of the World Bank, with all of the Bank’s presidents to date being men.  

As global civil society and social movements have long demanded, a new president should be appointed through a merit-based, transparent process with criteria publicly available and candidates being able to present their platform. The new process should at the very least mirror the process used to select the UN General Secretary, where candidates respond publicly to questions from civil society and social movements. 

On the occasion of the 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and as the World Bank works to align its activities with the Paris Agreement this year and the United Nations works towards the Summit of the Future in 2024, it is essential that any candidate for the World Bank’s presidency demonstrates a commitment to human rights. This is required to ensure that any ‘evolution’ of the World Bank enables it to fulfil its development mandate, respond to multiple crises and to support a truly green and just transition.   

World Bank President blog is back

As World Bank’s President David Malpass announces his unexpected resignation, effective by the end of the fiscal year, World Bank Prez blog is now back. We are opening this space for partners, academics and anyone interested to push once again for an end to the gentleman’s agreement, the unjust and undemocratic selection process that has characterised the leadership ‘race’ at the BWIs for decades.

We hope that the readership will enjoy a lively discussion about the characteristics required of the Bank’s new leader and ensuring the process is finally democratic and transparent.

We will continue to provide the most active forum for democratic debate about this deeply undemocratic institution, feed journalists tips for stories, inspire activists to ramp up their challenges, and embolden more officials to speak out.

If after decades you don’t succeed…

Dear readers and contributors,

Despite the professed commitment of the World Bank’s executive directors and our best efforts to ensure an open, transparent and merit-based process for the selection of the World Bank president, the multilateral institution is once again led by a US national. This follows the highly illegitimate process that saw the US candidate run unopposed, keeping the 75-year-old ‘Gentleman’s Agreement’ firmly intact.

This was a “race” steeped in geopolitics with little incentive for Southern (or other) candidates to put their name forward to compete with the US nominee.

 World Bank Group President David Malpass and International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine Lagarde at Spring Meetings 2019
Photo: World Bank / Simone D. McCourtie

While we will say farewell for now, we hope to count on your continued support in holding Mr. Malpass and the World Bank generally accountable for their actions (or omissions).

As you also know, whatever the challenges and geopolitical realities, we strongly believe that the World Bank and IMF must change their leadership selection processes so that both institutions have leaders with the required skills and experience, selected through an open, fair and transparent process.

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World Bank president selection: ‘Gentleman’s agreement’ alive and well

After the unexpected resignation of World Bank President Jim Yong Kim in January, the selection of his successor was subject to considerable scrutiny. Over 150 civil society organisations, academics and other individuals calledon the Board to live up to its commitment following Kim’s departure to an open, transparent and merit-based process. The call was echoed by the demands outlined in a January letter by the Bank’s own staff association. These demands are not new and resonate with long-standing calls to end the so-called ‘gentleman’s agreement’, which ensures that the IMF managing director is a European and the World Bank president a US national. They also reflect the calls made as far back as 2012, not by civil society activists or ‘disgruntled’ governments from the Global South, but by senior Bank staff. Former Chief Economist Joseph Stiglitz and Senior Vice-Presidents François Bourguignon and Nicholas Stern argued in a 2012 Financial Times article that the process is “not only hypocritical, it also destroys the trust and spirit of collaboration needed to manage the profound problems facing the world.”

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