WASHINGTON – The World Bank said it would accept nominations from around the world for its next president starting next month, with a goal of having the new chief in office for the bank’s spring meetings in early April.
The bank announced its timeline and procedures for selecting its next president in a statement Thursday, two days after current President Jim Yong Kim unexpectedly announced his retirement from the world’s leading development-finance institution.
The selection of the bank’s next president could prove to be a test of President Trump’s international clout. The World Bank’s leader has always been an American, but many countries have been clamoring for the opportunity to pick a bank leader from somewhere else. The American lock on the position isn’t guaranteed, and the formal process announced Thursday welcomes nominations from other countries.
The bank said nominations for president would be open to candidates from any member countries from Feb. 7 to March 14, after which the directors will narrow the field to a shortlist of no more than three candidates.
The World Bank’s board of executive directors, which formally runs the selection process, is comprised of 25 representatives chosen from among the bank’s 189 member countries. The largest shareholders of the World Bank – including the US, China, Japan, and Germany – each have an individual director who represents their interests. Smaller countries share directors.
The US has the largest voting share of any individual country, at about 16%, but blocs of countries – including the European Union – have larger voting shares. Traditionally, the US picks the heads of the World Bank while Europe selects the chief of the International Monetary Fund.
In a statement, the World Bank’s directors said they were committed to an “open, merit-based and transparent selection process,” a phrase that has become a rallying cry for opponents of American hegemony of the presidency, who say that an open process would consider non-Americans, too.
The first competitive process for a World Bank president occurred in 2012, when Mr. Kim, a former Dartmouth professor nominated by President Barack Obama, was selected for the job. The US prevailed in selecting its preferred candidate over challengers from Nigeria and Colombia, but the process was grueling. US officials involved in the process said they expected American efforts to pick Mr. Kim’s successor to face even more challenges from the rest of the world.
The bank’s statement also said the new director should have “a firm commitment to and appreciation for multilateral cooperation,” a phrase that draws a contrast with the views of some Trump administration officials who have questioned the value of multilateralism, and of institutions like the World Bank. (WSJ)