Because everyone is so concerned with the financial situation, little attention has been paid to the other aspects of the World Bank and IMF meetings last weekend.
The Development Committee Communique says:
An additional Board seat for sub Saharan Africa on the Bank’s Board will be created. DTC voting shares in IBRD and IDA will increase, giving special emphasis to small members. … There is considerable agreement on the importance of a selection process for the President of the Bank that is merit-based and transparent, with nominations open to all Board members and transparent Board consideration of all candidates.
These are very welcome steps towards making the World Bank more accountable; but they are small steps so it encouraging that the communique refers to further reforms to come. (Bank President Zoellick has established a new High Level Commission chaired by Ernesto Zedillo to look at improvements to governance.)
I suspect that there is an inwardness to the phrase “there is considerable agreement on the importance of …”. This looks to me like a carefully-chosen form of words that masks a failure to agree stronger language that would firmly commit the Bank’s shareholders – particularly the United States – to an open competition for the Bank’s President in future. Nonetheless, it is a step forward.