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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.
In any use of these materials, please acknowledge the source as being www.staff.city.ac.uk/p.willetts/PIE-DOCS/INDEX.HTM




Letter from InterAction, to James Wolfensohn,
President of the World Bank, signed by 22 NGOs, 14 April 2000


April 14, 2000

Dear Mr. Wolfensohn,

     The undersigned represent diverse groups that have been working for decades to improve the lives of the world’s 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 Bank’s progress in the following illustrative areas:

     A clear focus on poverty alleviation as the heart of the World Bank’s 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 world’s 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.