What is the Bank of the South?
On December 9th, 2007, representatives from Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Ecuador, Paraguay, Uruguay, and Venezuela met in Buenos Aires, Argentina, to launch “el Banco del Sur” or the Bank of the South (BoS). With the creation of the Bank, the leaders of Latin America envisaged a new development institution to help promote growth and tackle poverty. The BoS was originally proposed in 2006 by Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez. Chavez, along with other South American leaders, wanted a Bank that would allow them to assert their political and financial independence from traditional international financial institutions (IFIs), like the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank, and put an end to decades of structural adjustment policies imposed by the IFIs on countries in Latin America.
What is the Bank of the South?
IMF back in business, but still politically bankrupt
Even before US President George Bush announced plans for next month’s G-20 Summit on the financial crisis (see “Just the Facts”), International Monetary Fund (IMF) Managing Director Strauss Khan has been pushing for the IMF to be front and center in addressing the crisis. In a complete about-face from one year ago, Strauss Khan now sees the IMF not just fighting fires through new flexible emergency loan arrangements to address food, fuel and finance crises, but as a “global regulatory coordinator” or world central bank.
Bank pulls out of disastrous Chad-Cameroon pipeline
In early September, in a rare move, the World Bank pulled out of the $4.2 billion Chad-Cameroon pipeline due to ongoing tensions with Chad over oil profits the government had promised to spend on social programs. The exit was finalized when Chad prepaid the outstanding $65.7 m balance of its $140 m loan.
MPs, CSOs demand government response to Consensus Report on Extractives
Earlier editions of this publication reported on the National Roundtables on Corporate Social Responsibility and the Canadian Extractive Industry in Developing Countries (See IU Vol. I No 10; Vol. II Nos 6, 9, 11; Vol. III, Nos 3 and 6). The cross-country consultation process was a constructive, multi-stakeholder dialogue on the overseas operations of Canadian oil, gas and mining companies. Remarkably, it culminated with the release of a consensus-based action plan for the Canadian government to improve the accountability of Canadian extractive companies overseas. The plan, which is outlined in the Advisory Group Final Report, was endorsed by participating representatives from industry, civil society and academia. That was in March. Eight months later, there is still no response from the federal government.
The Halifax Initiative would like to thank John Foster, North-South Institute, for his help in developing these FAQs
Revised November 2007
World Bank’s long term strategy – business as usual?
100 days into his term, World Bank President Bob Zoellick has outlined his vision for an inclusive and sustainable globalization that seeks to “overcome poverty [and] enhance growth with care for the environment”. Importantly, it also seeks to better integrate the activities of the World Bank Group (WBG) and build a more financially robust and flexible institution. And it occurs at a time when the Bank is desperate to recapture new borrowers and build new markets in an environment that has a wealth of new sources of development finance.
Civil society/Industry make unprecedented joint recommendations on mining, oil and gas
Canada could become a world leader on Corporate Social Responsibility if the federal government and other stakeholders accept and act on the recommendations of a groundbreaking report released on Parliament Hill on Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and the Canadian extractive industry in developing countries. The Report outlines a set of consensus-based recommendations for the Government of Canada, core among which is the implementation of a Canadian CSR Framework (see “Just the Facts” below). If implemented, these recommendations would establish Canada as a global leader in CSR. The Report also calls for important reforms at Export Development Canada and the World Bank.
Mind the (Growing) Gap – Debt, Aid, and Trade
1.2 billion people are still living in abject poverty as Prime Minister Stephen Harper heads to St. Petersburg for the annual Group of Eight (G8) meetings. With new promises on energy and security waiting in the wings, it is timely to reflect on how far the G8 has moved on its pledges since last year’s Gleneagles Summit.
According to British Prime Minister Tony Blair, 2005 was to be “the year for Africa”. The Africa Commission report, the Make Poverty History campaign and the Live 8 concerts focused attention on full debt cancellation, more and better aid, fairer trade and tackling poverty. Progress on these fronts, among others, was to help Africa “make serious inroads into poverty”, and towards achieving the United Nations (UN) Millennium Development Goals.
Is Wolfowitz Gathering his Forces?
On June 16, 2006, former Spanish Foreign Minister Ana Palacio was appointed Senior Vice President and World Bank Group General Counsel. Ms. Palacio’s appointment is perhaps not surprising given her support for the US-led invasion of Iraq. Her role under Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar’s government in fact was essential to establishing good ties with the US. But at the same time, her appointment is controversial because she continues a legacy of appointments made by President Paul Wolfowitz of a few close, like-minded allies that are forming an inner cabinet, and ostracizing other long-time and upper-level staff members from Bank decision-making (See Issue Update Vol 2, No. 1, 2006). The appointment has sparked public debate on how senior management posts are filled.
► Small Victory on World Bank Debt Deal
On March 28, 2006, the World Bank’s Board of Directors adopted the modalities for implementing its share of the Multilateral Debt Relief Initiative (MDRI), an outcome of last summer’s G-8 meeting and endorsed by the Bank and IMF at its fall meetings. The Bank deal provides for 100% cancellation of International Development Association (IDA) debt for 17 Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC).