IFI governance

Commentary

More than 100 global campaigners call for fair appointment of IMF managing director

23 May 2011 | Press release

More than 100 global campaigners call for fair appointment of IMF managing director

Media statement, 23 May 2011

With the announcement of a process to select a new managing director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), a global coalition of more than 100 campaigners have written an open letter to the Fund’s Board of Governors asking that they choose a candidate who has the backing of the majority of IMF member countries, through an open, merit-based process.

The next IMF managing director must be chosen through an open, transparent and inclusive process

The campaigners, including the Bretton Woods Project, Oxfam, and ActionAid, urged the IMF to break with past practice and “ensure the selection of the best candidate with the legitimacy gained from the support of the wider IMF membership, not just a powerful minority of countries”.

Oxfam spokesperson Sarah Wynn-Williams said: “European countries are vastly over-represented on the Board, and the IMF’s archaic voting system discriminates against large developing economies. It’s no longer tenable for Europeans to anoint an IMF head behind closed doors. The IMF will undermine its legitimacy if it fails to have a selection process that better reflects the weight of countries in the global economy. Only a truly fair and democratic appointment system can ensure the IMF retains its legitimacy in the eyes of the world at this difficult time.”

Jesse Griffiths of the Bretton Woods Project said “The sordid backroom deal between yesterday’s powers that has pushed Lagarde forward makes a mockery of European commitment to reform. It is now up to other countries to rescue the process.”

The campaigners’ letter states that three things are essential to ensuring the selection of the best candidate, supported by the wider IMF membership: European countries must not agree a single candidate, the application procedure should be open, and the choice should focus on finding an independent voice to lead the IMF.

For information:

Peter Chowla,  +44 (0) 7877 596 893 / pchowla@brettonwoodsproject.org

Caroline Hooper-Box +1 (202) 321 2967 Caroline.Hooper-Box@Oxfaminternational.org

Notes to editors

Excerpts from the letter:

“First, the candidate must gain the open support from at least the majority of IMF member countries, with no single bloc wielding excessive power. The best way to ensure this is for the winner to be required to gain the support of a majority of both voting shares and member countries.”

“Second, the selection process should be strengthened. This should include having a public application procedure open to anyone to apply, and sufficient time to allow proper deliberation, interviews held in public, and open voting procedures.”

“Third, a clear job description and qualifications should be set out, building on the short version outlined in 2007. The right candidate needs to be – and be seen to be – independent, and able to work with a variety of stakeholders, including civil society groups.”

www.imfboss.org is a new website tracking the IMF leadership selection process, keep checking back for regular updates.

At the spring meetings of the IMF and World Bank in Washington in April, campaigners from more than 20 organisations published a paper entitled ‘Heading for the right choice? A professional approach to selecting the IMF boss’. The paper is at https://www.brettonwoodsproject.org/imfboss

In 2009, the IMF agreed to “adopt an open, merit-based and transparent process for the selection of IMF management.” [http://www.imf.org/external/np/cm/2009/100409.htm] This confirmed a 2008 G20 commitment made in Pittsburgh that “the heads and senior leadership of all international institutions should be appointed through an open, transparent and merit-based process.”

However, since then, two Deputy Managing Directors of the IMF have been appointed without such a process, both going to G7 country candidates.  In October 2010, Naoyuki Shinohara, a Japanese national and was appointed, and in February 2011, Nemat Shafik, a British-Egyptian national and permanent secretary in the UK Department for International Development was appointed. The first deputy Managing Director is John Lipsky a US national.

The process outlined in 2007 [http://www.imf.org/external/np/sec/pr/2007/pr07159.htm] had the following as its candidate profile:  The successful candidate for the position of Managing Director will have a distinguished record in economic policymaking at senior levels. He or she will have an outstanding professional background, will have demonstrated the managerial and diplomatic skills needed to lead a global institution, and will be a national of any of the Fund’s 185 members. As chief of the Fund’s staff and as Chairman of the Executive Board, (s)he will be capable of providing strategic vision for the work of a high quality, diverse, and dedicated staff; and will be firmly committed to advancing the goals of the Fund by building consensus on key policy and institutional issues, including through close collaboration with the Executive Board, under whose direction (s)he will fulfill his or her responsibilities. (S)he will have a proven understanding of the Fund and the policy challenges facing the Fund’s diverse global membership. (S)he will also be an effective communicator. Double majority voting would require the winner to gain the support of both voting shares and member countries. Such a change needs no formal procedure and could be implemented by an announcement from the IMFC.