Leadership Changes Prompt New Calls for a World Bank Overhaul

The imminent departure of World Bank President Paul Wolfowitz on June 30, leaves open many questions about the institution’s operating effectiveness.  Many groups are calling for a thorough reassessment of the 63-year-old bank.  Last week, the bank and Mr. Wolfowitz parted ways over an ethics violation for which both parties assumed partial responsibility, but neither acknowledged fault.  Longtime critics, such as the US Network for Global Economic Justice, are renewing their challenges of bank structural health and its staff morale.  Njoki Njehu is the Executive Director of the US Network’s “50 Years is Enough” movement.  She says that the selection process for a successor to Paul Wolfowitz should signal a change in overall bank policy and attitudes toward developing countries.

“They can find the best president of the World Bank.  I don’t know who that person is.  But there needs to be a change of policy.  There needs to be a change of the attitude of the institution in terms of their know-it-all kind of attitude, where they give governments and countries time to shape their own future.  There needs to be a change, and it can’t be done by one person,” she says.

Njehu says she does not believe the ouster of Mr. Wolfowitz represents an attack on US interests, even though Washington has traditionally been the power entrusted with naming the president of the bank.

“It’s not an international attitude towards the United States.  I think there was a lot of agreement, even in the United States, about how poorly qualified Mr. Wolfowitz was, and I think that whoever is the next president of the World Bank, there’s a lot of talk about this being the moment to break the tradition and get someone from the global south.  I think they should be under a great deal of scrutiny, to make sure that they’re both qualified to do the job, but also that they would do the job that needs to be done,” she said.

Bank critics have charged that former Deputy Defense Secretary Wolfowitz was too closely identified with US government policy to play an objective role in relations at the World Bank.  But Njehu of “50 Years is Enough” says his departure was caused most likely by the perception of corruption at the international institution.

“I think he was done in by his own corruption.  He did represent the relationship with the Bush Administration.  He was a failed assistant defense secretary, and they rewarded him.  It’s a really messed up system where when you screw up in one position, you are rewarded by being given a bigger job and a bigger profile,” she said.

The US Network for Global Economic Justice is a coalition of more than 200 US grassroots, women's, solidarity, faith-based, policy, social- and economic-justice, youth, labor and development organizations dedicated to transforming the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF).  Executive Director Njehu says an addition of new blood at the helm of the lending institution could help reverse a bank tradition of prosperous societies marshaling resources and dictating terms to help relieve the poverty of disadvantaged, developing nations.

“I am a very strong believer in that if Africa is going to get out of poverty, it is because they are doing it themselves.  It’s not because of how world administrators and policy makers make decisions because for the most part, people living in London, or in Washington, or in Tokyo for that matter have no idea of what the reality for poor people in Africa is.    I believe that Africa’s future and Africa’s coming out of poverty and impoverishment will be done by Africans themselves.  If it could be done by outsiders, for goodness sake, it would have happened by now,” she says.  

This forum has been closed.
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against ISi
November 24, 2015 3:04 AM
The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against IS

The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Americans Sharpen Focus on Terrorism

Washington will be quieter than usual this week due to the Thanksgiving holiday, even as Americans across the nation register heightened concerns over possible terrorist threats. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports new polling data from ABC News and the Washington Post newspaper show an electorate increasingly focused on security issues after the deadly Islamic State attacks in Paris.

Video World Leaders Head to Paris for Climate Deal

Heads of state from nearly 80 countries are heading to Paris (November 30-December 11) to craft a global climate change agreement. The new accord will replace the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change that expired in 2012.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

Video Creating Physical Virtual Reality With Tiny Drones

As many computer gamers know, virtual reality is a three-dimensional picture, projected inside special googles. It can fool your brain into thinking the computer world is the real world. But If you try to touch it, it’s not there. Now Canadian researchers say it may be possible to create a physical virtual reality using tiny drones. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video New American Indian Village Takes Visitors Back in Time

There is precious little opportunity to experience what life was like in the United States before its colonization by European settlers. Now, an American Indian village built in a park outside Washington is taking visitors back in time to experience the way of life of America's indigenous people. Carol Pearson narrates this report from VOA's June Soh.

Video Even With Hometown Liberated, Yazidi Refugees Fear Return

While the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar has been liberated from Islamic State forces, it's not clear whether Yazidi residents who fled the militants will now return home. VOA’s Mahmut Bozarslan talked with Yazidis, a religious and ethnic minority, at a Turkish refugee camp in Diyarbakır. Robert Raffaele narrates his report.

Video Nairobi Tailors Make Pope Francis’ Vestments

To ensure the pope is properly attired during his visit, the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops asked the Dolly Craft Sewing Project in the Nairobi slum of Kangemi to make the pope's vestments, the garments he will wear during the various ceremonies. Jill Craig reports.

Video Cross-Border Terrorism Puts Europe’s Passport-Free Travel in Doubt

The fallout from the Islamic State terror attacks in Paris has put the future of Europe’s passport-free travel area, known as the "Schengen Zone," in doubt. Several of the perpetrators were known to intelligence agencies, but were not intercepted. Henry Ridgwell reports from London European ministers are to hold an emergency meeting Friday in Brussels to look at ways of improving security.

Video El Niño Brings Unexpected Fish From Mexico to California

Fish in an unexpected spectrum of sizes, shapes and colors are moving north, through El Niño's warm currents from Mexican waters to the Pacific Ocean off California’s coast. El Nino is the periodic warming of the eastern and central Pacific Ocean. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this phenomenon thrills scientists and gives anglers the chance of a once-in-a-lifetime big catch. Faith Lapidus narrates.

Video Terrorism in Many Forms Continues to Plague Africa

While the world's attention is on Paris in the wake of Friday night's deadly attacks, terrorism from various sides remains a looming threat in many African countries. Nigerian cities have been targeted this week by attacks many believe were staged by the violent Islamist group Boko Haram. In addition, residents in many regions are forced to flee their homes as they are terrorized by armed militias. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Study: Underage Marriage Rate Higher for Females in Pakistan

While attitudes about the societal role of females in Pakistan are evolving, research by child advocacy group Plan International suggests that underage marriage of girls remains a particularly big issue in the country. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports how such marriages leads to further social problems.

VOA Blogs