Campaigners demand fair selection process on Strauss-Kahn resignation

IMF Executive Board in session.
(Photo: IMF)

Sources: Press release from the Bretton Woods Project.

Dozens of civil society organizations launched a campaign calling for an open and merit-based process to elect the next International Monetary Fund (IMF) Managing Director, after the resignation this Wednesday of Dominique Strauss-Kahn, accused of sexual abuse.

The campaigners, including the Bretton Woods Project, Oxfam, Social Watch, the Third World Network and Alliance SUD, are calling for an end to the "gentlemen's agreement" between Europe and the US, which ensures that the IMF managing director is an European citizen, and the president of the World Bank an American.

The early departure of Strauss-Kahn means the 187 member governments of the IMF will have to select a new managing director during a time of grave economic uncertainty and reopens the debate over an anachronistic and unfair selection process, warned the Bretton Woods Project in a press release.

"The next IMF managing director must be chosen through an open, transparent and inclusive process, where selection is based on merit, not nationality, and with an effort to facilitate a leadership role from outside the European region," said Bhumika Muchhala of the Third World Network. "It is time for the European and US governments to finally end the sordid tacit deal between the two regions that has maintained a de facto Northern leadership at both the Fund and the Bank."

The campaigners called for an end to behind the scenes deals, a commitment to make sure votes are cast in public, and a requirement for the winning candidate to have the backing of a majority of member governments.

Oxfam spokesperson Sarah Wynn-Williams said: "The only way to give the new IMF head legitimacy and authority is through open voting, with the winner backed by a majority of countries, not just a majority of shares. The time has come for the IMF to accept an open and merit-based approach to choosing its leaders."

Jesse Griffiths, of the Bretton Woods Project, said: "The head of the IMF must be --and be seen to be-- independent of powerful governments, and well versed in the problems of low and middle-income countries, where most IMF operations take place. They should display a commitment to reducing levels of global inequality and poverty."

More information: 

Communiqué of the IMF on the seleccion of its management (October 4, 1999)

Bretton Woods Project report (April 6, 2011) 

Dominique Strauss-Kahn's resignation note

Do you agree? Ask the campaigners: Peter Chowla <> and Jesse Griffiths <>