Agency chief calls for end to unwritten rule

Updated 2017-11-22 11:32:12 China Daily

World Bank has always been led by aU.S.citizen since 1945

World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim believes the next head of the agency should be decided on merit rather than nationality.

The global financial institution, formed in 1945, has always been headed by a U.S. citizen, just as the International Monetary Fund is always headed by a European. The unwritten rule has drawn sharp criticism, especially from developing countries.

While saying that he has no influence over who will be the next president, Kim said the board should choose the best candidate.

"I think leadership could come from anywhere," said Kim, who became the 12th World Bank president in 2012. The bank's main mission is to tackle global poverty and health issues.

Born in South Korea in 1959, Kim immigrated with his family to the United States at the age of 5 and grew up in Muscatine, Iowa.

He served as the president of Dartmouth College from 2009 to 2012 before becoming the World Bank president. Before that, he worked at the World Health Organization.

He was a co-founder and executive director of Partners In Health and chair of the Department of Global Health and Social Medicine at Harvard Medical School.

Kim believes the issue has to be resolved despite the informal division of positions in the world in the past 70 years.

"I think that no matter what your citizenship is, if you care about these issues, if you care not to learn languages, if you care not to spend time in Africa, South Asia, that whatever your nationality, your ability to embrace the entire world, should be the top criterion for becoming president of the World Bank," he said on Monday at the National Press Club in Washington after giving formal remarks on global economic trends.

In the Cold War era, the World Bank was used as a tool by the U.S. to counter the Soviet Union, and the U.S. also by far had the largest investment in the bank.

But the Cold War is long over, and the U.S. paid-in-capital also has dropped from 74 percent in 1950 to 18 percent in recent years, according to Michael Clemens, a senior fellow at the Washington-based Center for Global Development.

Clemens and many others have supported Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, who served as Nigerian finance minister and also managing director of the World Bank, to become the institution's president.

"If this problem is left unresolved, it will threaten the relevance and legitimacy of the world's leading development institution," Clemens wrote in September last year, when it was announced that Kim would receive a second five-year term, starting on July 1.

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