The World Bank’s board published its timeline and criteria for selection last week and it’s a cut and paste from the last time there was a proper selection process in 2012 (we won’t count 2016 as there was no pretense that anyone other than the incumbent should apply).
The main critique I made of the process in 2012 still stands now:
But here’s the most damning point. The list of qualifications for the job does not mention the need to know anything about developing countries, or anything about poverty reduction.
The obvious reason for this is that the US has a track record of finding it difficult to rustle up candidates who have this kind of experience – in this regard Jim Kim was a rare exception, even if his experience was very thin on other elements of the job description.
Prior to Kim, we had:
- Bob Zoellick (2007-12): US government trade rep, Goldman Sachs banker etc. Development experience: very limited
- Paul Wolfowitz (2005-7): US government official, academic, neo-con etc. Development experience: very limited
- James Wolfensohn (1995-2005): Investment banker, cello player etc. Development experience: extremely limited
- Etc etc
Here’s a list of past presidents. Some might say my assessment is a little generous (let me know if you think I’ve got any of the above wrong) but the main point is that a key factor is missing from the person specification. In practice however, if the US proposes a candidate that knows little about international development, as it has done so often in the past, this should greatly weaken their ability to force their candidate through. This could then end up being the biggest gift to those who are determined to ending the American monopoly on the post.