Ayanna Nahmias, Editor-in-ChiefLast Modified: 00:16 AM EDT, 17 April 2012
WASHINGTON, DC – The World Bank announced today that they selected President Barack Obama’s nominee Jim Yong Kim to serve as its president. Mr. Kim has been selected to replace the out-going president Mr. Robert B. Zoellick.
Mr. Kim, a Korean-American doctor, will be the first leader of the institution who doesn’t come to the post with a financial pedigree. He successfully challenged the Nigerian nominee, Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, and Colombia's former finance minister and development expert, Jose Antonio Ocampo.
“During the bank’s 68-year history, an American has always headed the institution, while the top job at its sister organization, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), traditionally goes to a European. But emerging economies have recently been contesting that informal arrangement at both the IMF and the World Bank and presenting their own candidates.” (Source: VOA)
Although, some of the Bank’s 187 members have expressed concern that Kim lacks the requisite financial acumen to head the institution, other view his tenure as the director of the World Health Organization and a co-founder of global non-profit Partners in Health as vital to his understanding of the needs of the countries to which the World Bank provides financial and technical assistance.
President Paul Kagame of Rwanda gave a ringing endorsement of Kim, as he reflected upon the dedicated support he provided in helping Rwanda to restore its health system. He went so far as to say, “Kim is a true friend of Africa and well known for his decade of work to support us in developing an efficient health system in Rwanda."
When Kim headed the World Health Organization he successfully implemented a program to increase access to affordable HIV drugs in the developing world. He was tenacious in his efforts to extend treatment for HIV and AIDS to over 7 million people in developing nations.
Kim’s nomination has become controversial, with opponents angered by the upset of the pro forma appointment of wealthy nominees being selected to lead the institution, and in the process enrich themselves and their cronies; and proponents who believe that it is time for a new selection process and applaud the US' bold move in nominating an unlikely candidate.
It is fitting that President Obama would take the bold step of appointing an outsider to ‘change’ an entrenched culture and reform an organization which has lost sight of its mission to assist countries better support and improve the lives of their citizenry.
Kim will begin his five-year tenure in July 2012.
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