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.
The State Department’s lobbying at TICAD and likely arm-twisting by President Obama at the G20, confirm how a hasty, suspect process bolsters a weak candidate who’s been lobbying for reappointment for quite some time. Dr Kim’s other opportunities are limited.
The White House is doing the next President a favor by making sure she can spend her early months in office focused on her agenda, dealing with Congress, and getting her Cabinet and senior officials confirmed, and not have to arm-twist about Dr Kim.
Still, in a country of more than 330 million people, there are many more qualified women and men, if the US still cares about the Bank. I used to give the White House and Treasury credit for more imagination and energy that they’re showing in this flawed process, in the dead of August, and with just a midnight email renominating Dr Kim.