What does civil society want now that Malpass will be World Bank President?

Cartoon, Smiley, Questions, PuzzleIn the past, civil society has been quite forceful about what they want in terms of process for selecting a World Bank President, basically it can be summed up as anyone but an American. That battle has been lost.

But now that it is certain that David Malpass will be World Bank president, perhaps NGOs and other civil society groups should think what stance they want to take to the Malpass Presidency. Civil society organisations probably have many different opinions of this – reflecting back on the welcoming reception some of the health-oriented groups gave to the nomination of Kim in 2012. CSOs have always been a diverse bunch.

How will World Bank watchers respond? Will they turn back to 1990s style anti-World Bank opposition at all costs? Will some of them continue trying to work with power rather than against it? Will there be efforts to influence the politics at the board to reduce the harm of the Malpass presidency? Or perhaps they will step back and watch, as they hope the World Bank crumbles into irrelevance under inept and politicised leadership?

A look back at their stances from the beginning of the process may be instructive:

Bank Information Center: focussed on asking for “a clear vision of the World Bank Group’s development mission.” And they wanted that vision to have four qualities: community-driven, reducing inequality, sustainable, and fulfilling human rights. Malpass may try to increase the Bank’s focus on political rights, but the other three seem to be a stretch. Will BIC, a small DC-based NGO, return to using Congress as its main cudgel, influencing the Bank through appropriations conditions?

Oxfam: The head of the Oxfam DC office wanted the next president to have : “a demonstrated commitment to fighting poverty and inequality, with a commitment to human rights principles, who cares about the planet we’ll leave behind for future generations, who believes in multilateral cooperation, and who will put women and communities first.” Malpass seems to hit none of those. What will Oxfam – one of the most influencial development NGOs globally – do?

Bretton Woods Project and European groups: just last week a group of 31 NGOs called for the Bank’s board “to prioritise the Bank’s role in combating climate change in the selection of the next World Bank Group president.” Little chance Malpass will be taking much climate change action.

NGOs are pretty consistent on the human rights and sustainability front. But on generalities they agree with 188 of the 189 World Bank member countries. That doesn’t set political strategy, however.

If you think you know what civil society should do, put it in the comments!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *