Sunday, June 12, 2011

Leadership Crises, are they?

The Dominique Strauss-Kahn saga has left the International Monetary Fund (IMF) preparing for a new leadership by this month. The list of candidates is not long but there is a list. There was a rumour that Hillary Clinton would like to be next president of the World Bank. Although Hillary Clinton rubbished the rumour with the same speed as it emerged. The United Nations (UN), on the other hand, seems to be preparing for the continuation of Ban Ki-moon for another five years.

Bank of Mexico Governor, Agustin Carstens, and other contenders have been touring the world to mobilise support for the post. The southern part of the world, at least some of it, is not quite warm to the idea another European taking over the position as it seems imminent from the European bloc’s support to France’s Finance Minister, Christine Lagarde. As of now it seems she is likely to keep the post for Europe. In terms of support mustered so far, Agustin Carstens seems to be the only candidate from the Southern world who could offer her competition.

The European bloc through the European Union (EU) seems to suggest that a candidate from the Southern world can the IMF some other day because they need a European to help them deal with the current financial crisis in Europe. How far this argument can be held valid can be gauged from the fact that neither the EU nor any European country even once raised the issue of leadership by a region that is facing an economic crisis when Latin America was reeling under the debt crisis, the peso crisis damaged Mexican economy like nothing before and the whole of Asia suffered the financial crisis, Based on the justification being put forth by the EU, one can claim that the various economic crises mentioned earlier were perhaps worsened because they lacked ‘region-specific’ leadership. I don’t think so but stating so to demonstrate the ill-logic of the EU justification.
Another kind of bank,
not international, nor world but close to
the needs and for building financial discipline
Countries like Brazil, China, India, Russia, and South Africa had made their displeasure clear about the fact that the IMF has been led by Europe since its creation in 1946. But politics of leadership of the institutions like the IMF, the World Bank and the UN being part of the politics of the member states, it would not be surprising if these countries may warm up to Christine Lagarde. Sometime big sacrifices get made for small but immediate gains. My own view is not really firm, yet, though I am not really averse to Christine Lagarde. I believe in bringing in representative leadership. It is a fact that the international financial institutions have been macho outfits in terms of the way they have excluded certain groups of people from leadership. From this angle, the most underrepresented group by far is women.

The point of the above is that there is some level of competition and the countries and their candidates are trying to strengthen their positions.

In contrast, the UN seems to have agreed to another term for Ban Ki-moon. The four of the five Security Council members, namely, China, France, UK and USA, have already publicly voiced their support for the continuation of Ban Ki-moon. As of the 6th of June, no member state of the UN had come up with the name of a candidate who could be a contender to Ban Ki-moon. So given the fact that the Security Council recommends the secretary-general and the General Assembly approves the appointment and that there is no contender, Ban Ki-moon is set to remain in the position.

There is, indeed, a leadership crisis. But not because there are no people with the leadership qualities, rather because the old guard does not like change, and when it agrees to a change, it brings in a new leadership that is quite like itself.

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