World Bank President Jim Yong Kim formally declared his intention to seek a second term, as the bank’s executive directors approved a new, three week process to select the institution’s next leader.
In a board meeting Tuesday, the bank’s executive directors expressed “unanimous support for an open, merit-based and transparent selection, with nominations open to all member countries and transparent consideration of all candidates by the board.” Countries will have until Sept. 14 to submit nominees to challenge Kim.
Although more open to outside input than in the past, the relatively short window for nominations seems to pave the way for Kim’s reappointment. It has disappointed critics within the bank who had called for a more competitive selection process.
“I have informed the dean of the board that I would be honored to be considered for a second term as head of the World Bank and continue to work with its dedicated staff,” Kim said in a statement.
Reports surfaced earlier this month that Kim asked the board to accelerate the appointment process, despite 10 months still remaining in his first term. That prompted a pointed letter from the World Bank’s staff association, decrying the “crisis of leadership” at the bank and urging the board of directors to open the presidential appointment process to broader competition and greater transparency. Others have since followed suit in pressing for a bolder commitment to reform in this appointment cycle.
The timeline agreed by the board will likely mean that the World Bank president is appointed before the U.S. presidential elections — and well before the next U.S. administration takes office.
In an unofficial agreement between the institutions’ largest shareholders, the World Bank president is chosen by the United States, while the Europeans select the managing director of the International Monetary Fund. Christine Lagarde was reappointed to that post in February, running unopposed. The IMF’s nomination window for that process was 20 days, compared to the World Bank’s 21 days for this one.
In 2011, the World Bank’s board signed onto an “open, merit-based, and transparent process,” and the 2012 appointment saw the first semblance of global competition for the post in the institution’s 70-year history.
Developing country candidates Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, the former Nigerian finance minister, and José Antonio Ocampo, the former Colombian finance minister, entered the race. Ultimately Kim, with U.S. backing, became the 12th American male World Bank president in a row.
According to the bank’s press release after Tuesday’s board meeting, the 2012 appointment was in keeping with the board’s commitment to opening up the process. “The principles were followed to conduct an open and transparent process in 2012, which resulted in the appointment of Dr. Kim,” the statement reads.
The board, in its 2011 agreement, spelled out the criteria by which they would evaluate any nominees.
They are: “a proven track record of leadership; experience of managing large organizations with international exposure, and a familiarity with the public sector; the ability to articulate a clear vision of the World Bank Group’s development mission; a firm commitment to and appreciation for multilateral cooperation; and, effective and diplomatic communication skills, impartiality and objectivity in the performance of the responsibilities of the position.”
Kim’s tenure has not been a smooth one. He has undertaken a massive reorganization meant to help the institution’s expertise move more freely across regions, simplify the bank’s internal bureaucracy, and cut $400 million in costs. That effort has generated significant “noise,” including an anonymous “yellow flyer” campaign of staff dissent, multiple senior staff reshuffles, and protests over executive bonuses.
“The board is committed to an open, transparent process, and I fully respect the selection principles adopted by our executive directors in 2011 and followed in 2012,” Kim said in his statement.
The nomination period opens on Aug. 25 and closes Sept. 14. At that time, the executive directors will publish the names of up to three shortlisted candidates, who will then be interviewed for the job.
Consideration of candidates will take two to three weeks, according to the bank’s press release — which would suggest an announcement just ahead of the bank’s annual meetings in early October.
Michael Igoe is a senior correspondent for Devex. Based in Washington, D.C., he covers U.S. foreign aid and emerging trends in international development and humanitarian policy. Michael draws on his experience as both a journalist and international development practitioner in Central Asia to develop stories from an insider's perspective.
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