Peter Willetts, Professor of Global Politics
Documents and Speeches on the Politics of International Economics
This collection is intended to be a useful archive of important primary materials. The texts of the documents has not been amended, but usually some copy-editing of the lay-out has been done.
Letter from InterAction, to James Wolfensohn,
April 14, 2000
Dear Mr. Wolfensohn,
The undersigned represent diverse groups that have been working for decades to improve the lives of the worlds poor. We are all members of InterAction, the association of United States NGOs that work in international relief and development. We are deeply concerned at the impression created by some of our NGO colleagues in the streets this week that the World Bank and the IMF are at serious loggerheads with the entire not-for-profit community.
While we may share with the protesters the belief that the World Bank should do more to address poverty and social justice, we have a very different perspective on recent positive directions taken by the Bank and appropriate next steps which it should take.
Specifically, we support the World Banks progress in the following illustrative areas:
A clear focus on poverty alleviation as the heart of the World Banks mission. This is manifest in a shift in lending to social sector programs such as health and education (from 5 to 25 percent since the 1980s). The new Poverty Reduction Strategy statements are still untested, but give promise of putting the poor at the center of the development effort. The World Bank has also championed the HIPC initiative which should result in increased debt forgiveness to the worlds poorest countries and free-up resources toward meeting basic human needs.
A more holistic view of the dynamics and complexities of the development process and increased attention to principles that we believe are essential to effective and sustainable development. These include: gender analysis and support for the role of women in World Bank programs; policies that promote participatory and demand-driven community development; a commitment to preventing corruption within World Bank-supported projects and the promotion of good governance in developing countries. We are pleased that the World Bank has increased selectivity in projects and enhanced controls specifically designed to reduce adverse environmental and social impacts.
Transparency of deliberations and greater willingness to engage with development partners. World Bank working papers are more available to the public and a concerted effort is being made to meet with a broad variety of interests. More than half of recently-approved World Bank-supported projects involved non-governmental organizations and civil society in some way. The new coordinating mechanism for planning country development being piloted by the World Bank (The Comprehensive Development Framework) envisions an expanded role for both external and internal partners.
Globalization is upon us whether we like it or not. Words and placards cannot make it go away. Rather than fight it, we should strive to harness it to advance the cause of development with equity. To avoid deepening the inequities between the haves and have nots, we believe it is the responsibility of the international community to ensure that all nations have the capacity to participate in that development in ways that improve the quality of life for all of their citizens. That will require purposeful action on the part of international leaders. We believe it is imperative that the World Bank and IMF exert that sort of leadership, not close its doors-as some of our colleagues have been suggesting.
We know that you are aware of the enormous diversity that characterizes the U.S. not-for-profit community. We trust you know that there are many institutions in that mix who deeply believe that the World Bank, especially with the direction you are taking it, is a critical component of efforts to make the world more just. We look forward to engaging with the World Bank in the months ahead to further that objective.
Academy for Educational Development, Stephen F. Moseley
Adventist Development & Relief Agency (ADRA) International, Ralph S. Watts
Aid to Artisans, Tom Aageson
Center for Development and Population activities (CEDPA), Peggy Curlin
Enterpriseworks Worldwide, Andrew Maguire
International Development Conference, Robert Berg
International Development Enterprises, Fritz Kramer
International Medical Corps, Nancy A. Aossey
International Youth Foundation, William Reese
Mercy Corps International, Neal Keny-Guyer
National Peace Corps Association, Dane Smith
Overseas Development Council, John W. Sewell
Pathfinder International, Kate Bourne
Population Communication, Robert W. Gillespie
Project Concern, Paul Thompson
Refugees International, Lionel Rosenblatt
Save the Children, Charles F. MacCormack
US Association for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, (USA for UNHCR), Jeffrey Meer
Winrock International, Frank Tugwell
World Education, Joel H. Lamstein
World Learning, Jim Cramer
World Vision, Ken Casey
Copyright Peter Willetts, 2001.
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Last updated on 22 August 2002.