Friday, March 23, 2012
Obama nominates Jim Yong Kim as U.S. choice for World Bank president
The only other candidate in the running at present is the Nigerian Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala. In a surprise move another top candidate Jeffrey Sachs withdrew and threw his full support behind Kim.
By tradition since 1944 an American has always been head of the World Bank and a European head of the IMF. This year there is a more open nomination and selection process. However, it looks as if the tradition will probably prevail. Sachs had the support of many developing nations. Perhaps many of them will now back Kim.
Jim Yong Kim was never a top candidate of those mentioned as being considered by Obama. Lawrence Summers was thought to be the likely U.S. candidate. However many were critical of the choice including some Europeans. Europe is expected to support the U.S. choice.
According to this BBC article Kim is a leading figure in global health. He worked in the WHO as director of the HIV/Aids dept. He also founded a health charity. Kim moved to the U.S. when he was five and grew up in Muscatine Iowa. He has an MD and PhD in anthropology from Harvard. He became president of Dartmouth College in 2009.
The choice is welcomed by many. It is certainly a victory for those who did not want to see Summers become bank president. Others see it as more than that. See this article. Robert Naiman wrote this to me in an email:""If you care about access to basic health services in poorcountries, it's a big victory. If you care about breaking down barriers to access to essential medicines in poor countries, it's a big victory." We will see.
I just wonder what Sachs' aim is in all this. He touted himself as eminently qualifiied for the job and had others write glowing reviews about his qualifications but then at the last moment he withdraws and supports Kim! Were there behind the scenes negotiation? Meanwhile there is one developing world candidate, the finance minister of Nigeria still in the running but she may turn out to be another part of what seems to be a concerted effort to show that the tradition has really changed while in fact she has no chance of winning. She is supported by three African countries. For more see this article.