A week of action is planned to target the 60th anniversary spring meetings of the World Bank and IMF – April 16-25 have been declared international days of action. Campaigners will highlight the impact of their policies, programmes and projects and continue to press for global justice.
Civil society groups are rallying to challenge the official process. Based on their assessment that the changes in the Bank and Fund have been insufficient and sometimes counter-productive, campaigners are sending ‘unhappy birthday’ postcards and organising a large protest on 24 April. Among the slogans will be that the Bank and Fund “trap countries in a cycle of indebtedness and economic domination” and “facilitate corporate agendas”.
Other activities will include:
- a global justice film festival;
- an international day of action on farmers’ struggles;
- a conference on illegitimate debt, and;
- a series of speaker meetings with activists from across the world.
The official meetings are considering a surprisingly narrow range of topics. The Development Committee, the ministerial body which directs the work of the World Bank, is only due to give proper consideration to two items:
- monitoring the Millennium Development Goals, and;
- debt sustainability.
Other items which the Committee’s previous meeting had indicated should be discussed have now been relegated to just a brief mention rather than full discussion. Some issues, such as Bank/Fund governance, have been demoted because there is insufficient consensus among member governments.
- the World Bank’s infrastructure action plan;
- the Bank/Fund paper on development financing options including the International Finance Facility, and;
- a review of Bank-Fund collaboration.
The International Monetary and Finance Committee, which oversees the IMF will discuss the global economy, crisis prevention and low-income countries.
Some NGOs are holding meetings with Bank and Fund officials on these issues and other areas of concern, such as private sector policies and standards. Groups will also intensify their advocacy on issues such as the Extractive Industries Review and will hold a series of strategy meetings.
The Bank and Fund are downplaying this landmark year in their history, perhaps for fear of further provoking protesters.