Appointment of the World Bank president

Open letter to all governors of the World Bank

15 February 2012 | Letters

15 February 2012

Dear Governors

Appointment of World Bank President

As you will soon have to make a decision about a successor to Robert Zoellick as World Bank President, we are writing to urge you to push for the selection of the best candidate through an open, merit-based, transparent process, and to ensure that developing countries play a central role in the selection process.

As you know, the Development Committee has endorsed an “open, merit-based and transparent selection process”, most recently in April 2011. This underscored previous commitments by the G20, and if implemented would mark a vitally important break with past practice. To ensure the selection of the best candidate, with the legitimacy gained from the support of the wider World Bank membership, not just a powerful minority of countries, we believe three things are essential.

First, the candidate must gain the open support from at least the majority of World Bank member countries, and from the majority of low and middle-income countries. As the Bank only operates in developing countries, and has most impact in low-income countries, any candidate that was not supported by these countries would seriously lack legitimacy. In addition to encouraging developing countries to nominate their own candidates, the best way to ensure that developing countries play a central role throughout the selection process is for the successful candidate to be required to gain the support of a majority of both voting shares and member countries. This need not require any formal changes to the Bank’s articles of agreement, but could simply be agreed by the Board, to build on the limited proposals agreed in April 2011. To make this work, countries would need to vote independently, not through their constituencies, and declare their support publicly. It is time for the US to publicly announce that it will no longer seek to monopolise the Presidential position.

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

Third, a clear job description and required qualifications should be set out, building on the short version outlined in 2011. Given that the World Bank has a mandate to focus on eradicating poverty and only works in developing countries, the new President should have strong understanding and experience of the particular problems facing those countries. 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.

The World Bank needs serious and genuine reform. The selection of the new President is an essential place to start. We trust that you will take a leading role to ensure that promises for reform are honoured.

Yours sincerely

Endorsed by the following organisations

  1. AFRODAD (African Forum and Network on Debt and Development), Africa region
  2. Idasa – Economic Governance Programme, Africa region
  3. Jubilee Australia, Australia
  4. RESULTS International – Australia, Australia
  5. KOO, Austria
  6. Equity and Justice Working Group, Bangladesh
  7. VOICE, Bangladesh
  8. 11.11.11, Belgium
  9. CNCD – 11.11.11, Belgium
  10. Halifax Initiative, Canada
  11. IBIS, Denmark
  12. CEE Bankwatch, Europe Region
  13. Eurodad, Europe Region
  14. INKOTA-netzwerk, Germany
  15. WEED, Germany
  16. National Insurance Academy, India
  17. Public interest research centre, India
  18. INFID, Indonesia
  19. ActionAid International, international
  20. Americans for Informed Democracy, International
  21. CIDSE, International
  22. Civicius, International
  23. Gender Action, International
  24. ITUC, International
  25. New Rules for Global Finance Coalition, International
  26. Oxfam International, International
  27. Tax Justice Network, International
  28. Third World Network, International
  29. WFM – Institute for Global Policy, International
  30. Debt and Development Coalition, Ireland
  31. CRBM, Italy
  32. JACSES, Japan
  33. Fundar, Centro de Análisis e Investigación, México
  34. Both Ends, Netherlands
  35. Norwegian Forum for Environment and Development, Norway
  36. The Norwegian Coalition for Debt Cancellation (SLUG)
  37. Changemaker
  38. Diakonia, Sweden
  39. Action For Global Health, UK
  40. Bond, UK
  41. Bretton Woods Project, UK
  42. CAFOD, UK
  43. Christian Aid, UK
  44. Compass, UK
  45. Fairtade Foundation, UK
  46. Health Poverty Action, UK
  47. HelpAge International, UK
  48. Jubilee Debt Campaign, UK
  49. new economics foundation, UK
  51. Stop AIDS Campaign, UK
  52. Center of Concern, USA
  53. Friends of the Earth US, USA
  54. Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers, USA
  55. RESULTS Educational Fund
  56. Sisters of St Joseph of Springfield, USA
  57. Ethical Markets Media, USA & Brazil
  58. Centre For Social Concern, Malawi
  59. Third World Network, Malaysia

Endorsed by the following individuals:

  1. Donald Sherk
  2. Dr Robin Broad, International Development Program, American University
  3. Hazel Henderson
  4. David Shaman, B-SPAN Coalition
  5. Prof Longyue Zhao
  6. Dr Vrajlal Sapovadia