Open letter to the World Bank Group Board of Executive Directors

Appointment of the new World Bank Group President

The selection of the new World Bank president takes place amid a crisis of multilateralism reflected in the ascent of anti-establishment and nationalist parties and increased trade tensions. These arise from persistent challenges to the world economy ranging from the growing inequality crisis, the increasing importance of finance, financial markets, and financial institutions in the economy, a looming debt crisis and increased corporate capture that is resulting in the erosion of states’ sovereignty and their ability to meet their human rights obligations. These trends are exacerbated by the quickly evolving climate change crisis, which threatens the livelihoods of the poorest around the globe.

The World Bank requires a leader able and willing to critically assess the role the Bank can play in challenging the failed model that has led us here. The next president must ensure the institution leads by example and uses its privileged position to articulate the need for radical change. More than ever the World Bank requires a president who is qualified to lead what is still the world’s principal public development bank.

It is therefore imperative that the selection process results in the appointment of the best candidate, chosen from a wide-ranging pool of people with the background and experience required.

One thing is certain, at a time when the legitimacy of international institutions is increasingly under attack, reliance on the previous process, where the US and its European allies work behind closed doors to ensure the selection of a US World Bank president in exchange for the European leadership of the IMF will only further erode confidence in the multilateral system. It is of vital importance therefore that the next president has the support of the majority of low and middle-income countries, to which World Bank lending is restricted.

We are pleased that the Board has already affirmed its commitment to an “open, merit-based and transparent process”, and that it has outlined some broad job requirement criteria. The application of these principles in practice during the present selection process is made more relevant by the World Bank’s stated commitment to the Sustainable Development Goals, which call for “effective, accountable and transparent institutions” and “responsive, inclusive, participatory and representative decision-making at all levels.”

We think, however, that these must be significantly strengthened by including five main points:

  • Candidates must have proven knowledge of – and experience working on – development issues and a commitment to the public interest. This includes a demonstrated understanding of, and experience in working to address, the challenges to transformational change faced by developing countries.
  • Candidates must commit to ensuring that the World Bank engages, at all levels, with a wide variety of parties of divergent views – including critical academics, social movements and civil society organisations in World Bank programme countries – to consider approaches anchored in existing human rights law.
  • Candidates must be committed to a multilateral system explicitly designed to support the poor and marginalised to avail themselves of their human rights. They must be able to articulate how they would address increasing inequality, corporate capture, erosion of policy space and related social polarisation and disenfranchisement.
  • Candidates must be required to outline their strategies for ensuring the World Bank takes – as a matter of utmost urgency – immediate steps to align all aspects of its lending and activities with the Paris Climate Agreement and the Sustainable Development Goals.
  • Finally, the selection process must also require candidates to detail how they would address the increasing exclusion of civil society from decision-making, violation of human rights, violence against environmental and human rights defenders and the ongoing erosion of social and environmental standards by states and institutions, which is exacerbated by competition for private sector finance.

The Board must ensure that the next World Bank president assumes leadership in ensuring the end of the current revolving door between World Bank staff and the private sector and related conflicts of interest.

Recognising that this process is already underway and that the US has officially announced its nominee, we strongly urge the Board to encourage and consider other nominees, particularly from the Global South.

In that regard we also reiterate the calls made by civil society organisations during the 2012 selection process and demand:

  1. A process that actively encourages applicants from the Global South and borrower countries in particular;
  2. A process that allows sufficient time for robust deliberations and includes an opportunity for an open discussion between nominees and members of civil society;
  3. Contrary to the requirement that candidates be nominated by executive directors, the process should be open to any applicant;
  4. A process that ensures the selection of the candidate who receives a double majority of votes, that is, the support from a majority of voting shares AND member states; and
  5. A transparent vote by member states (rather than constituencies), including a public declaration of member state preferences.

We note that the demands above reflect some of the calls made by the World Bank’s own Staff Association, which recorded its disapproval of Dr. Kim’s selection process and insisted in an open letter on January 10 that this time the Board implement “a truly open, merit-based, and transparent process—in line with calls from Governors and staff alike—with sufficient time to get the job done right.”

The world urgently needs the World Bank to assume its global responsibility and lead by example. This means supporting a transformative global development agenda rooted in international human rights law that addresses growing inequality, climate change, and social justice challenges.

We look forward to discussing the proposal above in more depth and await an opportunity to do so as soon as possible.


Civil Society Organisations

80:20 Educating and Acting for a Better World Ireland
ActionAid International South Africa
Africa Development Interchange Network (ADIN) Cameroon
African Women’s Economic Policy Network (AWEPON). Uganda
African Monitor Uganda
AFRODAD Zimbabwe
Alliance Sud, the Swiss Coalition of Development Organisations Switzerland
Arab NGO Network for Development (ANND) Lebanon
Arab Watch Coalition Morocco
Association for Promotion Sustainable Development India
Association pour l’Integration et le Developpement Durable au Burundi (AIDB) Burundi
Bank Information Center – BIC – Europe Netherlands
Bond UK
BothENDs Netherlands
BRAC Bangladesh
Bretton Woods Project UK
Buliisa Initiative for Rural Development Organisation (BIRUDO) Uganda
CAFSO-WRAG for Development Nigeria
CEKOR Serbia
Centre for Budget and Governance Accountability India
Centre for Human Rights and Climate Change Research
Centre for Human Rights and Development Mongolia
Centre national de coopération au développement, CNCD-11.11.11 Belgium
Centro Latino Americano de Ecología Social (CLAES) Uruguay
Centro de Derechos Económicos y Sociales (CDES) Ecuador
Cesta Friends of the Earth El Salvador
Christian Aid UK
CIDSE Belgium
Civil Society Coalition on Sustainable Development Nigeria
Coalition of Civil Society Organizations of Liberia (NACCSOL) Liberia
Congregation of Our Lady of Charity of the Good Shepherd France
Corporate Accountability USA
Crude Accountability USA
CUTS International India
Debt Free Greece Greece
Debt Justice Norway Norway
Derecho Ambiente y Recursos Naturales (DAR) Peru
Development Alternatives with Women for a New Era (DAWN) Fiji
Diakonia Sweden
EarthRights USA
Ecumenical Academy Czech Republic
Entwicklung braucht Entschuldung (Jubilee Germany) Germany
Eurodad Belgium
Federation of Environmental and Ecological Diversity for Agricultural Revampment and Human Rights (FEEDAR & HR) Cameroon
Financial Justice Ireland Ireland
Forest Peoples Programme UK
Friends of the Earth USA
Friends with Environment in Development (FED) Uganda
Fundación Mexicana para la Planeación Familiar Mexico
Gender Action USA
Gestos, Brazilian CS Working Group for the 2030 Agenda Brazil
Greenpeace International International
Initiative Citoyenne pour l’Environnement et le Développement Durable- ICED Burundi
Institute for Ecology and Action Anthropology – INFOE Germany
Institute for Economic Justice South Africa
Institute of Global Responsibility (IGO) Poland
Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary USA
Jamaa Resource Initiatives Kenya
Jubilee Debt Campaign UK
KULU-Women and Development Denmark
Latindadd Peru
LDC Watch India
Lumiere Synergie pour le Developpement Senegal
Maria Ebun Foundation Nigeria
Medicus Mundi Spain
Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate USA
National Coalition of Civil Society Organizations of Liberia (NACCSOL) Liberia
National Society of Conservationists – Friends of the Earth Hungary
Norwegian Churh Aid Norway
Oikos – Cooperação e Desenvolvimento Portugal
Oxfam International International
Public Services International (PSI) France
Religious of the Sacred Heart of Mary NGO USA
Radha Paudel Foundation Nepal
Rural Area Development Programme (RADP) Nepal
Sisters of Charity Federation USA
Society for International Development (SID) Italy
Stamp Out Poverty UK
Tax Justice Network UK
Tax Justice Network Africa (TJNA) Kenya
Tearfund and Tearfund Nigeria UK/ Nigeria
UndebtedWorld Greece
Urgewald Germany
Women Engage for a Common Future Netherlands
Wemos Netherlands
Zimbabwe United Nations Association Zimbabwe


Andrea Lampis University of São Paulo Brazil
Andrés Ernesto Ferrari Haines Federal University of Rio Grande do Norte Brazil
Boris Vallaud Member of the French Parliament France
Christine Pires Beaune Member of the French Parliament France
Claudine Lepage Senator France
Cristina Fróes de Borja Reis Federal University of ABC Brazil
Daniela Gabor University of West England, Bristol UK
Diane Elson University of Essex UK
Eduardo Gudynas Centro Latino Americano de Ecología Social (CLAES) Uruguay
Elen Riot Université de Reims Champagne Ardenne France
Elena Valenciano Member of the European parliament Spain
Elisa Van Waeyenberge School of Oriental and African Studies UK
Enrique Guerrero Salom Member of the European parliament Spain
Eugen Freund Member of the European parliament Austria
Evelyn Regner Member of the European parliament Austria
Freund Eugen Member of the European parliament Austria
Georgi Pirinski Member of the European parliament Bulgaria
Gilad Isaacs Co-Director, Institute for Economic Justice South Africa
Gita Sen Harvard University and Indian Institute of Management India
Helène Conway-Mouret Vice-President of the French Senate France
Ilene Grabel University of Denver USA
Isabelle Thys Saint Jean President of “Sauvons la Recherche” France
Jean-Yves Leconte Senator, France France
John Langmore University of Melbourne Australia
John Weeks Coordinator, Progressive Economy Forum and Professor Emeritus, School of Oriental and African Studies UK
Jorge Garcia-Arias University of Leon Spain
Kavaljit Singh Director of Public Interest Research Centre, New Delhi India
Killian Stokes University College Dublin Ireland
Kunibert Raffer Retired Economist – University of Vienne Austria
Markus Kaltenborn Director of the Institute of Development Research and Development Policy (IEE) Germany
Martin Edwards Seton Hall University USA
Melissa Siegel Maastricht University Netherlands
Noemi Levy Orlik National Autonomous University of Mexico Mexico
Oscar Ugarteche National Autonomous University of Mexico Mexico
Patrick Bond University of the Witwatersrand South Africa
Shepard Forman Founder/Director Emeritus, Center on International Cooperation USA
Sir Richard Jolly Institute of Development Studies, Sussex UK
Spyros Marchetos Aristotle University of Thessaloniki Greece
Stephany Griffith Jones Columbia University USA
Thomas Marois School of Oriental and African Studies UK
Thomas Pogge Yale University USA
Tom Kruse USA
Vera Mshana USA
Vincent Peillon Member of the European Parliament France
Zita Gurmai Member of Parliament Hungary


One thought on “Open letter to the World Bank Group Board of Executive Directors

  1. Pingback: World Bank president selection: 'Gentleman's agreement' alive and well | World Bank President

Comments are closed.