The next head of the World Bank

Moisés Naím (picture moisesnaim.com)

The World Bank needs a new manager.  Robert Zoellick is leaving, so the search is on for a replacement.  Tradition has it that the role is always filled by an American (the Europeans have the IMF) but, as a surf of this website will reveal, you are in the wrong place for a determined defence of tradition.

Moisés Naím, writing here in the FT, highlights five mistakes to avoid in appointing Mr Zoellick’s successor, mistakes that have not always been avoided in the past.  Despite its name, the World Bank is not a bank.  It is much better thought of as part of the system of government (or governance, if you prefer a more precise term) and needs to be led accordingly.

This website has warned in the past of a further error.  Again, let us hope that the lesson can be learned here, too.  The concern is not merely that the person appointed be capable and competent, but that s/he can prove it.  The accountability of the post is as crucial as the delivery.  That accountability at the World Bank, as in other global institutions, is often lacking.

Ideally, there would be a UN Parliamentary Assembly of some sort to ratify the appointment – it should not be left to governments alone.  But in the absence of such a global parliamentary forum, the nominee for the World Bank could create one.  By appealing to the world’s parliamentarians, as opposed to its diplomats, a new dynamic could be created both for development issues and for the public’s comprehension of those issues.

It is not enough to be competent, it is also necessary to be understood.

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