Appointment of IMF Managing Director – campaigners demand open election

A global coalition of campaigners have called for an open process to elect the next Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund, and an end to the stranglehold that Europeans have had on the post since it was created.

The call comes ahead of the Spring meetings of the IMF and World Bank in Washington next week. The campaigners, including the Bretton Woods Project, ActionAid, Oxfam, and Eurodad, have demanded a fair, transparent and merit-based process for the selection of the next head of the IMF. They set out their demands in a new paper published today ‘Heading for the right choice? A professional approach to selecting the IMF boss’, endorsed by more than 20 organizations internationally.

Oxfam spokesperson Elizabeth Stuart 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 “gentlemen’s agreement” made between Europe and the US, made in the 1940s, is that the Managing Director of the IMF is a European, while the President of the World Bank is an American.

Anna Thomas, Head of Economic and Social Development at ActionAid said: “The election of a new IMF managing director is the best opportunity decision makers have to bring southern leadership to the institution.  This could bring much needed, firsthand experience of the challenges faced by low and middle income countries, where the majority of the IMF’s operations take place and also highlight the tough task of raising enough tax to finance health systems and education programs on the ground.”

Dominique Strauss-Kahn is set to continue as head of the IMF until 2012. In the event of his early resignation, the 187 member governments of the IMF will have to select a new head during a time of grave economic uncertainty, particularly for the poorest countries. Their decision will be the acid test of the IMF’s 2009 commitment to adopt an open, merit-based and transparent process for the selection of IMF management.

Notes to editors

In 2009, the IMF agreed to “adopt an open, merit-based and transparent process for the selection of IMF management.”

This confirmed a 2008 G20 commitment made in Pittsburgh that “the heads and senior leadership of all international institutions should be appointed through an open, transparent and merit-based process.”

However, since then, two Deputy Managing Directors of the IMF have been appointed without such a process, both going to G7 country candidates.  In October 2010 Naoyuki Shinohara, a Japanese national was appointed, and in February 2011, Nemat Shafik, a joint British- Egyptian national and permanent secretary in the UK Department for International Development was appointed. The first Deputy Managing Director is John Lipsky a US national.

The Civil society paper calling for an open, merit-based process for electing the next head of the IMF is at:

Contact information

For information: Jesse Griffiths +44 (0)7968 041 747 /