As Robert Zoellick announced that he is stepping down as World Bank President on 30 June, a global coalition of campaigners issued an open letter to World Bank governors calling for an open and merit-based process to elect the next World Bank leader, and for developing countries to determine the selection.
15 February 2012
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.
Endorsed by the following organisations
Endorsed by the following individuals: