Thursday, 7 August 2008

World Bank governance reform risks falling behind

Later this month a coalition of Oxfam International, Eurodad, Bank Information Center, Bretton Woods Project and the New Rules for Global Finance Coalition will appeal to World Bank President Robert Zoellick to use the actual opportunity for an ambitious reform of the institution. In an open letter the NGOs express concern that the governance reform process moving ahead at the World Bank risks falling very short of the imperatives of a new systemic reality. The letter says:

“We urge that any reform be substantial, resulting in fundamental changes that would allow the Bank to fight poverty in a far more effective, equitable and transparent manner. For this to happen there must be a true partnership between developing and developed countries.

Key to this is a commitment to parity of voice between developed, and developing and transition countries within an agreed timeframe. This would also need to be accompanied by other measures such as a transparent, merit-based election process for the president, and a consolidation of European power at the Bank’s board.

The quota reforms voted in at the IMF earlier this year were far from adequate. We believe it is important that any notion of parallelism between the IMF quota and World Bank votes be dropped in favour of the clear recognition that the World Bank has a very different purpose from the IMF. As the World Bank/IMF 2008 Spring Meeting Development Committee Communiqué stated, the Bank’s development mandate means it is distinct in nature.

Failure to achieve this deeper, systemic reform would leave the Bank vulnerable to irrelevance in the evolving structures of global financing and policy. For this reason, we urge you to use the Bank governance reform as an opportunity to promote a vision for the Bank which conforms more closely to the dramatically changed global context than the one currently being envisaged.”

Endorsements of the letter should be sent to Jeff Powell at Bretton Woods Project (

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