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Whose World Bank?

NEW YORK – US President Barack Obama’s nomination of Jim Yong Kim for the presidency of the World Bank has been well received – and rightly so, especially given some of the other names that were bandied about. In Kim, a public-health professor who is now President of Dartmouth College and previously led the World Health Organization’s HIV/AIDS department, the United States has put forward a good candidate. But the candidate’s nationality, and the nominating country – whether small and poor or large and rich – should play no role in determining who gets the job.

The World Bank’s 11 executive directors from emerging and developing countries have put forward two excellent candidates, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala of Nigeria and Jose Antonio Ocampo of Colombia. I have worked closely with both of them. Both are first-rate, have served as ministers with multiple portfolios, have performed admirably in top positions in multilateral organizations, and have the diplomatic skills and professional competence to do an outstanding job. They understand finance and economics, the bread and butter of the World Bank, and have a network of connections to leverage the Bank’s effectiveness.