Campaigners demand fair selection process after Strauss-Kahn resigns

With the resignation of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) Managing Director Dominique Strauss-Kahn, a global coalition of campaigners has called for an open and merit-based process to elect the next IMF head.

The early departure of Strauss-Kahn means the 187 member governments of the IMF will have to select a new managing director during a time of grave economic uncertainty. It also reopens the debate over an anachronistic and unfair selection process.

The campaigners, including the Bretton Woods Project, Oxfam, and the Third World Network, are calling for an end to the have end to the “gentlemen’s agreement” between Europe and the US, which ensures that the IMF Managing Director is always a European, and the President of the World Bank an American.

“The next IMF managing director must be chosen through an open, transparent and inclusive process, where selection is based on merit, not nationality, and with an effort to facilitate a leadership role from outside the European region,” said Bhumika Muchhala of the Third World Network. “It is time for the European and US governments to finally end the sordid tacit deal between the two regions that has maintained a de facto Northern leadership at both the Fund and the Bank.”

The campaigners called for an end to behind the scenes deals, a commitment to make sure votes are cast in public, and a requirement for the winning candidate to have the backing of a majority of member governments.

Oxfam spokesperson Sarah Wynn-Williams said: “The only way to give the new IMF head legitimacy and authority is through open voting, with the winner backed by a majority of countries, not just a majority of shares. The time has come for the IMF to accept an open and merit-based approach to choosing its leaders.”

Jesse Griffiths of the Bretton Woods Project said: “The head of the IMF must be – and be seen to be – independent of powerful governments, and well versed in the problems of low- and middle-income countries, where most IMF operations take place. They should display a commitment to reducing levels of global inequality and poverty.”

For information: Peter Chowla +44 (0) 7877 596 893 / pchowla@brettonwoodsproject.org / Jesse Griffiths +44 (0) 7968 041 747 / jgriffiths@brettonwoodsproject.org

Notes to editors

In 2009, the IMF agreed to “adopt an open, merit-based and transparent process for the selection of IMF management.” http://www.imf.org/external/np/cm/2009/100409.htm This confirmed a 2008 G20 commitment made in Pittsburgh that “the heads and senior leadership of all international institutions should be appointed through an open, transparent and merit-based process.” http://www.pittsburghsummit.gov/mediacenter/129639.htm

However, since then, two Deputy Managing Directors of the IMF have been appointed without such a process, both going to G7 country candidates.  In October 2010, Naoyuki Shinohara, a Japanese national and was appointed, and in February 2011, Nemat Shafik, a British-Egyptian national and permanent secretary in the UK Department for International Development was appointed. The first deputy Managing Director is John Lipsky a US national.

At the spring meetings of the IMF and World Bank in Washington in April, campaigners from more than 20 organisations published a paper entitled ‘Heading for the right choice? A professional approach to selecting the IMF boss’. The paper is at http://www.brettonwoodsproject.org/imfboss

http://www.imfboss.org is a new website tracking the IMF leadership selection process, keep checking back for regular updates.

8 thoughts on “Campaigners demand fair selection process after Strauss-Kahn resigns

  1. I fully agree that IMF president should be chosen from Third World where people from all over the world can participate and choose a person who is capable to take care of the rules and regulation of the system and save the interest of the organizations.

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  2. Peter:

    As a former Senior Economist who worked at the IMF for 32 years, I fully support an open and transparent process for the selection of the IMF’s Managing Director. I am afraid however that the Europeans are loathe to relinquish their hold over this position as has been the case all these years since the IMF was established. Today, the argument they are advancing is that the financial crisis in some of the Eurozone countries requires a widely respected economist from Europe with deep knowledge of the political and economic challenges facing those countries. But that argument may not hold water. The IMF’s debacle in the Asian financial crisis did not have much to do with the fact that the IMF was led by a non-Asian. It had everything to do with the fact that the IMF could not see past its policy orthodoxy when the need of the hour was to think outside the box. The IMF Managing Director should be an economist par excellence who is not only a great diplomat but a person of impeccable personal integrity who is not afraid to go against the grain if he is convinced that the situation calls for visionary leadership.

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  3. Shahid and ekoli thanks for your support! The main problems are not governments in the developing world, but in the developed countries. Over the coming weeks, campaigners will be putting pressure on these governments. Keep a look out for links to their work and petitions etc.

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  4. I fully agree that IMF president should be chosen from Third World where colonial plunder has made people impoverished. It should not be on the basis of shares. It’s nothing but disguised racism.

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  5. I was waiting for you guys to post this since I first heard about dsk being detained. Frankly, I think that a fair selection process for the new IMF head is the an opportunity – and perhaps the only one – to turn this whole sordid mess into an opportunity for justice.

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