With each new resignation at the helm of the IMF or of the WB (and these are increasingly frequent: Köhler in 2004, Wolfowitz in 2007, De Rato in 2007), the issue of the famous tacit agreement that the WB’s Chair should go to the US and the IMF’s Director should belong to the EU is raised again.
There is no written text to support this intolerable rule that has, however, been implemented since the twin institutions were created in 1944. During the talks that led to the appointment of Robert Zoellick as president of the WB last May it is well known that the principle of this outrageous division was reasserted.
This means that Dominique Strauss-Kahn’s candidacy for managing director of the IMF, supported as it is by the EU, stands good chances of being accepted even though names from other continents can be put forward as diversions. The EU has in fact responded with great alacrity and reached a unanimous agreement within a very short time to avoid accusations of antidemocratic dealings.
The CADTM would like to remind people that the IMF is an institution that for over 60 years has been demanding with the utmost brutality that leaders of so-called developing countries implement economic measures serving the interests of rich creditors and TNCs. To this end, over the last decades the IMF has given crucial support to several corrupt and dictatorial regimes, from Pinochet in Chile to Suharto in Indonesia, from Mobutu in Zaire to Videla in Argentina, and still currently from Sassou Nguesso in Congo-Brazzaville to Déby in the Chad, and ever so many others. Since the crisis of the debt in the early 1980s the IMF has enforced structural adjustment programs with tragic consequences for peoples in the South: drastic reduction of social budgets and of subsidies for essential survival commodities; opening up of markets, thus introducing unfair competition between small producers and TNCs; export-geared production and relinquishing of the principle of food sovereignty; massive privatisations, taxes that deepen social inequalities, etc.
This is why many countries now refuse the tutelage of the IMF since its tainted remedies no longer deceive third-world peoples who know all too well the sufferings they entail and have bled themselves dry to pay back an immoral and largely odious debt.
In such conditions the CADTM demands a democratic debate on the international financial architecture that is needed to provide fair and sustainable solutions to the hundreds of thousands of people who are stuck in utter poverty because of the economic orientations the IMF has decided on. Of course choosing an IMF director from a country of the South would not in itself provide any assurance that things would change. But for us, choosing Dominique Strauss-Kahn, or indeed any other executive who would run the institution on the same ultraliberal basis, is in no way acceptable.
For the CADTM the priority is to abolish the current IMF that has largely proved that it could only fail in terms of human development, and to replace it with a transparent and democratic institution, whose main mission would be the guarantee of fundamental rights. Its director’s nationality would then be irrelevant.