Global Policy Forum

The World Bank Needs its Own Lionel Messi to Come Off the Bench

In this blog-post from Voices of the South, former executive director of the Argentinean Centre for Human Rights and Environment (CEDHA) Jorge Taillant illustrates with a witty analogy why it is so important for the future World Bank’s (WB) president to be from a developing country. In soccer, so Taillant states, “when your front runners simply aren’t cutting the mustard, the coach looks to the bench for new and energetic blood.” The WB urgently needs its own Lionel Messi to come off the bench and work development magic.   

By Jorge Daniel Taillant

February 27, 2012

In most sports, when your front runners simply aren’t cutting the mustard, the coach looks to the bench for new and energetic blood, mostly to radically change the way in which the strategy is being executed, an altercation to the tactics that are simply not working. It is not surprising that radical changes to the business as usual line up often leads to early
entry success and can fundamentally change the game play.

In this regard, we’ve had enough of industrialized country leadership (in fact, practically of single country leadership) of largely fledgling international finance corporations such as the IMF and in many ways, also the World Bank, both historically aligned along the Washington Consensus and both dominated by European and US intervention. And both, with little to show in terms of success.

We need a Lionel Messi to come off the bench and work development magic, and while that may not be an Argentine in this case, it should be a candidate from a developing country, one that has shown the ability to make bold and assertive decisions to address modern development challenges. One that can assume the responsibilities of leadership while attending to the real and profound needs of still underdeveloped countries, and not one that works to advance the politics and the consultant contracts granted to G8 consulting firms. One that will not bend to the private sector pressure exerted through agencies like the IFC. One that understands the dynamics of poverty because he or she has lived that dynamic, and not merely studied it in graduate school.

We need a woman, who will certainly not be accused of violating hotel maids or being part of prostitution rings, and one that is not extracted from the politics of war out of some of the world’s most aggressive war lobbies and machinery.

Brazil? Chile? An African or Asian country candidate? A woman? Or even a human rights advocate and former President, like Mary Robinson. Now that would be something wouldn’t it.


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