Zoellick eyes another American for World Bank president

Robert Zoellick, outgoing World Bank president. Photo by: Sebastian Derungs / World Economic Forum / CC BY-SA

Emerging nations want to break tradition at the World Bank, but the institution’s outgoing president is hinting he prefers to keep the status quo.

Robert Zoellick said on Saturday (Feb. 25) that he wants the United States to “feel a sense of responsibility” to the international system. He said that a “right” American candidate “can be good” for the country and the World Bank.

Zoellick’s remarks come on the heels of his announcement that he will be stepping down from the multilateral funding agency’s top post in June. He believes an American should take the helm at the lending institution, particularly since Americans do not hold top posts at the United Nations, World Trade Organization and International Monetary Fund, among others, Reuters reports.

But Zoellick’s words also ring true for other nations, including Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. BRICS leaders believe it is time the bank’s next head be chosen based on merit and not on nationality.

“It is time we break the traditions of the US and Europe sharing the two seats,” South Africa’s Minister of Finance Pravin Gordhan said, as quoted by The Economic Times.

Gordhan, who was at an informal G-20 meeting in Mexico, was referring to the long-contested tradition of an American and a European holding the top posts at the World Bank and IMF. India, meanwhile, has proposed setting up a multilateral bank exclusively funded by developing nations. The plan comes as the bloc’s leaders seek a bigger role in running multilateral bodies such as IMF and the World Bank, Bloomberg reports.

The World Bank launched the nomination process for its next president last week. Member countries are welcome to submit candidates for the job until March 23.

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About the author

  • Jenny Lei Ravelo

    Jenny Lei Ravelo is a Devex Senior Reporter based in Manila. She covers global health, with a particular focus on the World Health Organization, and other development and humanitarian aid trends in Asia Pacific. Prior to Devex, she wrote for ABS-CBN, one of the largest broadcasting networks in the Philippines, and was a copy editor for various international scientific journals. She received her journalism degree from the University of Santo Tomas.