Global Policy Forum

NGOs Call to End EU-US Carve-Up


Jubilee Debt Campaign
March 26, 2004

With the recent early resignation of IMF managing director Horst Koehler, a window of opportunity has opened up to challenge the regional bias with which the appointment of the post is done. On the 2 April, ECOFIN (the EU Economic and Finance Ministers' Council) is due to put forward its nomination for Mr Koehler's successor. It will only be a matter of days after that that the IMF Board makes the final decision and appoints it's head (usually just rubber stamping the European recommendation). A speculative list of candidates includes several well-known Europeans, while potentially better-suited candidates from developing countries are conspicuously excluded.

The Jubilee Debt Campaign, as part of a larger movement of NGOs including Action Aid, CAFOD, Oxfam and Save the Children UK, are calling for an end to the long-standing process of unquestioningly appointing a European head of the IMF while leaving the World Bank top post to an American. This process dates back to the Second World War, and is certainly not in line with the Fund's own recommendations to its borrowers of transparency and good governance. Among those who are urging for change are members of the IMF's own board of directors and the issue is also included in wider debates of IMF governance reform proposed by some Western, as well as Southern, governments.

In a letter sent last week to Gordon Brown, Chancellor of the Exchequer, the JDC and other NGO signatories highlighted the UK government's commitment to chose "the best candidate regardless of nationality" to head the International Financial Institutions. In light of this, it is high time to democratise the selection process of the IFI top posts, opening up the nominations to all nationalities, and let the IFIs take action to improve their own governance.

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