Appointment of next World Bank head – campaigners demand fair selection process

Campaigns and Advocacy article written on the 16 Feb 2012

Reacting to the announcement that Robert Zoellick is stepping down as World Bank President, a global coalition of campaigners has called for an open and merit-based process to elect the next World Bank leader, and for developing countries to determine the selection.

The campaigners, including Oxfam, Eurodad and the African Forum and Network on Debt and Development (Afrodad), have also asked the US to announce that it will no longer seek to monopolise the Presidential position.

A “gentlemen’s agreement” between Europe and the US dating back to World War II ensures that the President of the World Bank is always an American, and a European IMF Managing Director.

Oxfam Australia’s director of policy, James Ensor, said the way the World Bank picks its president needs to change. “The Bank only operates in developing countries, so any candidate not supported by a majority of these countries would plainly lack legitimacy.”

In an open letter to World Bank governors, the campaigners demanded that:

  • The new President is selected by a majority of World Bank member countries, not just a majority of voting shares – the majority of these are from low and middle-income countries.
  • The selection process is open to anyone to apply, with interviews held in public and with open voting procedures.
  • A clear job description and required qualifications is set out, and that these include a strong understanding and experience of the particular problems facing developing countries.

Jeroen Kwakkenbos of Eurodad said: “The next World Bank chief can’t be selected in a behind-the-scenes carve-up. The second wave of global economic crisis is almost certainly going to start hitting poor countries very hard, very soon. The World Bank needs to be geared to respond with credible, legitimate leadership in place. The US should no longer seek to monopolise this position.”

Collins Magalasi of Afrodad said: “It’s a World Bank, not a US Bank. It needs the best candidate to get the job with support of wide Bank membership, not just the US”.

Notes to editors:

The open letter is available on

For interviews or more information contact Oxfam Australia Media Coordinator Chee Chee Leung on 0400 732 795