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A Letter on Paul Wolfowitz

Sent to the Financial Tmes:

FT.com / World - Text of World Bank letter: Sir,

We are a group of ex-World Bank Group staff who occupied senior positions in the institution (MDs, Senior VPs, VPs, Directors), and write in our personal capacities. Some of us have worked under Paul Wolfowitz, some of us have not, but all of us are watching with great concern the ongoing events at the Bank because of their impact on development and the interests of the poor. At a time when fighting poverty remains crucial in building a more hopeful, more balanced, and more secure world, the World Bank must remain credible if it is to speak with the moral authority necessary to move the poverty agenda forward. For the Bank to succeed, it must be effective, especially on matters of good governance which Mr. Wolfowitz rightly emphasized as crucial to poverty reduction.

What staff objected to was not the principle -- which they applauded. Rather it was that the policy was implemented with no consultation, and little transparency or apparent consistency. Now, as a result of a process of broad consultation that he was forced to undertake by the Board, Mr. Wolfowitz has been able to forge a consensus on how to raise the bar on corruption in a practical way. It is this that can serve as a lasting legacy at the Bank.Mr. Wolfowitz says he believes in the mission of the Bank and wishes to continue. We believe that he can no longer be an effective leader. He has lost the trust and respect of Bank staff at all levels, provoked a rift among senior managers, developed tense relations with the Board, damaged his own credibility on good governance –his flagship issue, and alienated some key shareholders at a time when their support is essential for a successful replenishment of the resources needed to help the poorest countries, especially in Africa.

We have taken note of the fact that the ministers who met last weekend in Washington took the unusual step of expressing publicly their great concern about the situation in the Bank. And staff and some of our senior colleagues within the Bank have advised Mr. Wolfowitz that the best course of action for the future of the Bank would be for him to step down. This painful, unprecedented action was not a rash conclusion. We support it and salute the courage of our colleagues. Like them, we believe this is a regrettable but essential step to prevent the Bank’s effectiveness as a development institution, and its credibility as the international community’s trustee of resources for fighting poverty, from being fatally compromised. There is only one way for Mr. Wolfowitz to further the mission of the Bank: he should resign.

Gautam Kaji, former Managing Director; Peter Woicke, former Managing Director and EVP; Shengman Zhang, former Managing Director; Roberto Danino, former senior VP and general counsel; Gary Perlin, former Senior VP and CFO; Jean-Louis Sarbib, former senior VP; Shahid Javed Burki, former VP; Cesare Calari, former VP; David de Ferranti, former VP; Ian Goldin, former VP; Ian Johnson, former VP; Geoffrey Lamb, former VP; Johannes Linn, former VP; Callisto Madavo, former VP; Gobind Nankani, former VP; Christiaan Poortman, former VP; Jean-François Rischard, former VP; Jo Ritzen, former VP; Richard Stern, former VP; John Wilton, former VP; Michael Barth, former Director; Amar Bhattacharya, former Senior Adviser; Gerard Caprio, former Director; Michael Carter, former Director; Dennis de Tray, former Director; Paula Donovan, former Director; Marisa Fernandez-Palacios, former Director; Charles Griffin, former Director; Jean-Philippe Halphen, former Director; Ann Hamilton, former Director; Paul Isenman, former Director; Homi Kharas, former Regional chief economist; Harinder Kohli, former Director; Olivier Lafourcade, former Director; Philippe Liétard, former Director; Serge Michailof, former Director; Bernard Pasquier, former Director; Manuel Penalver Quesada, former Director; Enrique Rueda-Sabater, former Director; Alexander Shakow, former Director; Karl Voltaire, former Director