Letter to President Wolfowitz to Mark his First Day - June 1, 2005

As Paul Wolfowitz begins work today (June 1) as the 10th President of the World Bank, 303 civil society groups from 62 countries have sent him a letter protesting the World Bank's destructive policies as well as the lack of democracy and accountability that allowed him to become its president.  Halifax Initiative worked with international colleagues to help draft the letter and a number of Canadian organizations and coalitions have endorsed it.

June 1, 2005

Dear Mr. Wolfowitz:

As you know, civil society organizations around the world reacted to your nomination and confirmation as president of the World Bank Group with alarm.  Now, on the occasion of your formal accession to the office, we write you to make clear what we perceive as the major challenges facing the World Bank and the governments that control it.  We are writing in the hope that you will address these issues in a satisfactory way.

The process that led to your appointment demonstrates the first challenge: of democracy and accountability.  The 60-year-old unwritten agreement allowing only the president of the United States to choose the head of the World Bank Group is archaic and out of step with standard norms of democratic practice.  The World Bank may be multilateral in name, but in practice it has become a tool for imposing a development and economic model that serves the interests of a few governments and corporations while rendering borrowing countries, the majority of its members, all but powerless to shift the Bank, or themselves, away from that model, or even to explore alternatives.

We anticipate that in the next five years the World Bank will set up a committee to examine its voting structure and presidential selection process, and that it may even make reasonable-sounding suggestions.  But, given past experiences with such processes at the World Bank, we expect little real change.  The secretive and undemocratic day-to-day decision-making processes at the international financial institutions weaken the credibility of the IMF and World Bank even as they profess transparency and accountability, and demand those qualities of borrowing countries.

We anticipate that early in your presidency you will announce your intention to engage in consultation and dialogue with civil society.  But given the record of the World Bank over the last 10 years, it is likely that millions of dollars in public funds will be spent on processes, reports, and recommendations that will ultimately be ignored by the World Bank, as was the case with, among others, the World Commission on Dams, the Structural Adjustment Participatory Review Initiative (SAPRI), and the Extractive Industries Review (EIR).  The Bank largely disavowed the results of these processes which made explicit recommendations to improve bank procedures, and to make it more transparent and democratic. The Bank's recent controversial Joint Facilitation Committee neither improved relations with civil society nor made the Bank more responsive to its demands. Instead, it ignored the 'voice of the peoples' affected by Bank policies and practices.

We anticipate that the World Bank will continue to devote millions of dollars to its public relations efforts.  These efforts have deftly distanced the bank from its most unpopular policies and programs while maintaining the status quo. Over the past decade, the Bank has manipulated the meaning of terms like  "poverty reduction," its new name for structural adjustment programs; "good governance," its new rationale for imposing  conditions on borrowing governments; and "debt relief", its deceitful euphemism for insuring that governments continue to maintain their place on the borrow-repay-reschedule debt treadmill. 

The World Bank's public relations staff now faces the challenge of convincing people that the new president is independent of the Bush Administration and its controversial policies. We fear that "democracy" will be among the new buzz-words at the Bank, and the basis for a new set of conditionalities, particularly in the Middle East. We fear it will be used not to help create space for people to choose their own economic systems and development models, but as a cover to impose rules prioritizing foreign investment and market liberalization above all else, and to disempower and discredit governments that choose to prioritize the priorities of their citizens over corporate interests.

Nowhere will the public relations staff be more challenged than in dealing with the World Bank's role in Iraq. We anticipate a renewed politicization of the Bank, in Iraq and elsewhere in the Middle East, in order to increase corporate access to oil and other resources and assets as well as markets and cheap labor.  You will be asked to recuse yourself from the World Bank/UN investigation into the U.S. government's distribution of Iraqi development funds to Halliburton, a contract with which you were personally involved; we hope you will do so. Ethical questions on that issue could well be compounded by the World Bank's determination that Iraq's food subsidies should be eliminated -- in a country where acute malnutrition rates for children have nearly doubled since the invasion of April 2003.  You could confound your critics by immediately announcing that the Bank will withdraw its conclusions about Iraqi subsidies. 
We anticipate that you will talk about the need for more debt relief in the poorest countries, and perhaps even publicly advocate that President Bush co-operate with other wealthy countries to offer more relief.  We believe that such calls would be greatly strengthened if you were to employ the logic you used in advocating for France, Russia, and Germany to cancel the debts they claim of Iraq -- namely that loans contracted by undemocratic regimes which worked to the detriment of the population should be annulled.  Many of our organizations have used the same logic with regard to the equally odious debts contracted by the apartheid regime in South Africa, Mobutu in Zaire, Marcos in the Philippines, the military junta in Argentina, and many more.  We have never received a sympathetic hearing from the World Bank. 

You have announced that you will travel to Africa shortly after taking office.  We anticipate that while there you will meet with presidents and prime ministers, and declare the urgency of helping the continent. We fear that access to Africa's oil will take precedence over poverty eradication and sustainable development and that, once again, there will be no material improvement in Africa's outlook resulting from World Bank programs during your tenure. Despite an endless series of Bank anti-poverty initiatives in the region during the last 30 years, African per capita incomes are below their 1975 level. Only by demonstrating respect for the people of Africa, their knowledge and their own particular national priorities will you gain credibility on that continent.

We note that at this historical moment, Latin American countries are disavowing and resisting the imposition of the so-called Washington Consensus, and many Asian nations are increasing their financial independence so as to free themselves from the dictates of the IMF and the Bank. 

Whatever stand you ultimately take on these issues, we commit ourselves to monitoring the performance of the World Bank, examining its rhetoric and exposing its deceptions and manipulations.  We will invite others to do the same -- governments; NGOs; and the media which have too often paid more attention to words than actions and evidence. The stakes for the Bank are high: its reputation is at an all-time low and its policies continue to be a major source of poverty, violence and injustice. It is in your hands to start the process of reversing this persistent trend. The world is watching.


Jubileu 2000 Angola (Luanda)

Asociaci'n de Especialistas Universitarias en Estudios de la Mujer (Buenos
ATE Rosario
ATTAC Argentina
Campa'a la Deuda o la Vida
Centro de Derechos Humanos y Ambiente (C'rdoca)
Circulo Bolivariano del Chaco
Colectivo de Base de la Central de Trabajadores Argentinos (CTA)
Dialogo 2000 (Buenos Aires)
Federaci'n Amigos de la Tierra
Foro Ecologista de Paran' (Entre R'os)
Fundaci'n Pedro Milesi (C'rdoba)
Jubileo Sure / Am'ricas
Laboratorio de Pol'ticas P'blicas (Buenos Aires)
Liga Argentina por los Derechos del Hombre
Movimiento de Trabajadores Democrata Cristiano
Museo Comandante Ernesto Che Guevara
Revista Am'rica Libre

AID/WATCH (Erskineville, NSW)
Australian Conservation Foundation (Melbourne)
Friends of the Earth ' Australia
Stop the War Coalition Sydney

Center for Encounter and Active Non-Violence (Bad Ischl)

Advancing Public Interest Trust (Dhaka)
Angikar Bangladesh (Dhaka)
BanglaPraxis (Dhaka)
Coastal DevelopmentPartnership (Khulna)
Community Development Library (Dhaka)
Lokoj Institute (Dhaka)
Organization for Social Development of Unemployed Youth (Dhaka)
Advancing Public Interest Trust (APIT)
VOICE (Dhaka)

Basque Country
ESK Trade Union

11.11.11 ' Coalition of the Flemish North-South Movement (Brussels)
Committee for the Aboliton of Third World Debt (CADTM Belgium)

Federaci'n de Trabajadores Fabriles de Cochabamba
Asociaci'n de Sisitemas Comunitarios de Agua Potable, ASICA-SUR (Cochabamba)
Federacion Departamental de Regantes (Cochabamba)
Coordinadora de Defensa del Agua y de la Vida (Cochabamba)
La Red Nacional de Trabajadoras/es de la Informaci'n y Comunicaci'n RED - ADA de Bolivia

Bosnia & Herzegovina
Young Researchers of Banja Luka (Banja Luka)


Associa''o de Favelas de S'o Jose dos Campos Brasil
Campa'a Continental contra el ALCA (S'o Paulo)
Instituto de Pesquisa e Assessoria sobre Desenvolvimento e Globaliza''o
International Watch on Nationalities (University of Cear', Fortaleza)
El N'cleo Amigos da Terra/Brasil
Organiza''o de Direitos Humanos Projeto Legal (Rio de Janeiro)
Rede Brasil sobre Institui''es Financeiras Multilaterais (Brasilia)

FOCARFE (Yaound')

Alberta Council for Global Cooperation (Edmonton, AB)
Barnard-Boecker Centre Foundation (Victoria, BC)
Blue Planet Project (Ottawa, ON)
Canadian Center for International Health (Ottawa, ON)
Canadian International Institute of Applied Negotiation (Ottawa, ON)
Centre for Family, Child & Adolescent Advancement (Toronto, ON)
Common Frontiers Canada (Roseneath, ON)
Council of Canadians (Ottawa, ON)
Democracy Watch (Ottawa, ON)
Falls Brook Centre (Knowlesville, NB)
Friends of the Earth ' Canada (Ottawa, ON)
GlobalAware Independent Media (Toronto, ON)
Halifax Initiative (Ottawa, ON)
Institute of Economic Democracy (Vancouver, BC)
The Marquis Project / Worldly Goods (Brandon, MB)
MiningWatch (Ottawa, ON)
One Sky ' The Canadian Institute of Sustainable Living (Smithers, BC)
Peterborough Coalition for Social Justice (Peterborough, ON)
University of Toronto African AIDS Initiative Advisory Board (Toronto, ON)

Centro de Estudios Nacionales para el Desarrollo Alternative

Colombianos en el Exterior ' Ciudadanos del Mundo
Fundaci'n America Latina
Movimiento Ciudadano por la Nonviolencia en Colombia

Costa Rica
Asociaci'n Latinoamericana de Organizaciones de Promoci'n (San Jos')
La Central General de Trabajadores de Costa Rica

C'te d'Ivoire
ASBL Mieux Vivre Ensemble

Czech Republic
Friends of Nature

Dominican Republic
Asociaci'n Americana de Juristas (Santo Domingo)
Colectivo de Organizaciones Populares (Santo Domingo)
Comunidades Eclesiales de Base

East Timor
La'o Hamutuk - East Timor Institute for Reconstruction Monitoring and Analysis (Dili)

Agencia Latinoamericana de Informaci'n (Quito)
Centro de Documentaci'n en Derechos Humanos "Segundo Montes Mozo S.J."
Conferaci'n Nacional de Barrios del Ecuador (CONBADE)
Fundaci'n Habitar Humano
Fundaci'n Jatari
Instituto Fronesis
Periodismo en el Ciberespacio (web-journal)
Redmanglar Internacional
Rosa Mar'a Torres, former Minister of Education and Culture of Ecuador

El Salvador
CESTA-Friends of the Earth (San Salvador)
Red de Ambinetalistas en Acci'n
Red Sinti Techan de El Salvador
Unidad Ecologica Salvadore'a - UNES

Maan yst'v't - Friends of the Earth Finland (Turku)

Agir ici (Paris)
Committee for the Aboliton of Third World Debt (CADTM France)
Friends of the Earth France (Paris)

Asienhaus ' Asia House Germany (Essen)
DEAB - Dachverband Entwicklungspolitik Baden-W'rttemberg (Stuttgart)
Eine-Welt-Landesnetzwerk M-V (Rostock)
Erlassjahr ' Jubilee Germany (D'sseldorf)
Gesellschaft f'r Solidariche Entwicklungszusammenarbeit (Rostock)
INKOTA-netzwerk e.V. (Berlin)
Kirchlicher Entwicklungsdienst Bayern (N'rnberg)
Landeskirchliches Werk f'r Mission und 'kumene (Schwerin)
Urgewald (Sassenberg)
Vamos e.V. (M'nster)
Vereinte Evangelische Mission - 'kumenische Werkstatt Bethel (Wuppertal)
WEED (Berlin)

Campaign Genoa 2001-Greece (Athens)
Stop the War Coalition Greece

Bloque Anti-imperialista
Coordinaci'n de ONG y Cooperativas (CONGCOOP)

PAPDA (Port-au-Prince)

Consejo C'vico de Organizaciones Populares e Ind'genas de Honduras COPINH

Andhra Pradesh Vyavasaya Vruthidarula Union -APVVU (Chittoor)
Delhi Forum (New Delhi)
Forum for Biotechnology & Food Security (New Delhi)
INSAF (New Delhi)
Mines, Minerals & People (Hyderabad)
PAIRVI (New Delhi)
PEACE (New Delhi)

Institute for Global Justice (Jakarta)
Rembug Perempuan Pedesaan (East Java)
Yayasan HIMBA Lubuklinggau (Sumatra Selatan)

Associazione a Sud (Rome)
Collettivo di Formazione Marxista (Rome)
Comitato Romano Apoggio MST (Rome)

ATTAC Japan (Tokyo)
Friends of the Earth Japan
Globalization Watch Hiroshima
Jubilee Kansai Network (Kyoto)
Jubilee Kyushu on World Debt & Poverty (Fukokaken)

Daughers of Mumbi Resource Center (Nairobi)

Weltwirtschaft & Entwicklung

International Movement for a Just World (Petaling Jaya)

CIEPAC, AC (San Cristobal de las Casas, Chiapas)
Centro de Derechos Humanos Tepeyac del Istmo de Tehuantepec
Colectivo El Torito AC (Puebla)
Equipo Pueblo (M'xico City)
Mujer y Medio Ambiente, A.C. (M'xico City)
Programa de Derechos Humanos de la Universidad Aut'noma de la Ciudad de M'xico (M'xico City)
Sociedad Cooperativa de Asesores para el Avance Social

SEWA Nepal
South Asia Alliance for Poverty Eradication (SAAPE)

ASEED Europe (Amsterdam)
Kartika Liotard, Member of European Parliament (Dutch Socialist Party)

Coordinadora Civil (Managua)

Environmental Rights Action ' Friends of the Earth Nigeria (Benin City, Edo)
Institute for Dispute Resolution (Warri, Delta State)
Journalists Action on Tobacco & Health (Lagos)
Talented Youths International (Benin City, Edo State)

IGNIS Foundation (Oslo)

Centre for Alternative Media (Islamabad)
The Green Economics and Globalisation Initiative
Shirkat Gah - Women's Resource Centre (Lahore)
Lok Sanjh Foundation (Islamabad)
WTO Watch Group (Islamabad)

Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign/Palestinian Environmental NGOs Network (Jerusalem/Ramallah)

Alianza para la Conservaci'n y el Desarrollo

Sobrevivencia ' Amigos de la Tierra (Asuncion)

Asociaci'n Arariwa
Centro de Asesor'a Laboral del Per' (CEDAL)
Confederacion de Nacionalidades Amazonicas del Peru (CONAP) (Lima)
Ecovida (Cajamarca)
Federaci'n de Trabajadores del Agua Potable del Peru
Foro Ecologico del Peru
Grupo G'nero y Econom'a
Grupo de Reflexion y Analisis Piura Vida y Agro "Godofredo Garcia Baca'
Red Verde Cajamarca
Traperos de Emaus Lambayeque


Alliance of Progressive Labor (Quezon City)
Asia-Pacific Network for Food Sovereignty (Quezon City)
Bantay ICT (Quezon City)
Freedom from Debt Coalition (Quezon City)
Integrated Rural Development Foundation of the Philippines (Quezon City)
International Gender & Trade Network - Asia
Jubilee South
Jubilee South ' Asia Movement on Debt & Development
Peace Camp (Quezon City)
Philippine Peasant Institute (Quezon City)
Task Force Detainees of the Philippines (Quezon City)

Fatiha Women's Movement (Chelybinsk)
Sakhalin Environment Watch
Taiga Research & Protection Agency


Forum for African Alternatives (Dakar)

South Africa
Alternative Information & Development Centre (Cape Town)
Anti-Privatisation Forum (Johannesburg)
Biowatch South Africa
Environmental Justice Networking Forum ' Northern Region
Health Encounters

Asociaci'n Pro Derechos Humanos de Espa'a (APDHE)
Ecologistas en Acci'n (Spain)

Sri Lanka
Women's Research & Action Forum (Colombo)

ATTAC Sweden

Committee for the Abolition of Third World Debt (CADTM Switzerland)
Helvetas ' Swiss Association for International Cooperation (Z'rich)
INCOMINDIOS Switzerland (International Committee for the Indians of the
Americas) (Z'rich)
Nord-Sud XXI (Geneva)
Swiss Coalition of Development Organizations (Bern)

DAWN-Africa / FEMACT (Dar es Salaam)
Irrigation Training & Economic Empowerment Organization (Moshi)

Focus on the Global South (Bangkok; with offices in Philippines & India as well)

RAID Attac Tunisie (Slimene)

United Kingdom
Globalise Resistance (London)
Greater Manchester & District Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament
Interact Worldwide (London)
New Economics Foundation (London)

United States
50 Years Is Enough Network (Washington, DC)
Africa Action (Washington, DC)
Alternative Radio (Boulder, CO)
Amazon Watch (Washington, DC)
A.C.E. Network Mission Alliance (Warren, OH)
Bend-Condega Friendship Project (Bend, OR)
Bloomington Peace Action Coalition (Bloomington, IN)
Boston Mobilization (Boston, MA)
Caney Fork Headwaters Association (Pleasant Hill, TN)
Center for Economic Justice (Albuquerque, NM)
Charlottesville Latin America Solidarity Committee (Charlottesvile, VA)
Chicago Media Watch (Evanston, IL)
Clergy & Laity Concerned About Iraq (New York, NY)
Coalition for World Peace (Los Angeles, CA)
Code Pink ' Women for Peace (Washington, DC/San Francisco, CA)
College Democrats of Kent State Stark Campus (Canton, OH)
Columban Justice, Peace & Integrity of Creation Office (Washington, DC)
Committee for Academic Freedom in Africa (Portland, ME)
Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism (New York, NY)
Community Renewal Society (Chicago, IL)
Crude Accountability (Alexandria, VA)
Cumberland Countians for Peace & Justice (Pleasant Hill, TN)
The Development GAP (Washington, DC)
Development Salon (Berkeley, CA)
East Timor & Indonesia Action Network (ETAN) (Washington, DC)
Ecumenical Peace Institute / Clergy & Laity Concerned (Berkeley, CA)
Eighth Day Center for Justice (Chicago, IL)
El Dorado Peace & Justice Community (Placerville, CA)
Emergency Committee to Defend Constitutional Welfare Rights, USA (Niagara
Falls, NY)
Episcopal Peace Fellowship ' St Luke Chapter (Vancouver, WA)
Feminist Aid to Central America and the Caribbean
Fondasyon Mapou (Washington, DC)
Fort Wayne Peace Action Coalition (Fort Wayne, IN)
Friends of the Earth ' U.S. (Washington, DC)
Gender Action (Washington, DC)
Generations for Peace & Democracy (Baltimore, MD)
Global Exchange (San Francisco, CA)
Global Justice Ecology Project (Hinesburg, VT)
Global Peace Solution (Sherman Oaks, CA)
Global Response (Boulder, CO)
Grassroots International (Boston, MA)
Haiti Action Committee (San Francisco/Bay Area, CA)
Holy Cross International Justice Office (Notre Dame, IN)
Institute for Agriculture & Trade Policy (Minneapolis, MN)
InterConnect (Rochester, NY)
Interfaith Justice & Peace Center (Sylvania, OH)
International Socialist Organization (Chicago, IL)
Jeanette Rankin Peace Center (Missoula, MT)
Jubilee USA Network (Washington, DC)
Lamorinda Peace Group (Lafayette, CA)
Left Business Observer (New York, NY)
LEPOCO Peace Center (Bethlehem, PA)
Liberty Tree Foundation for the Democratic Revolution (Madison, WI)
MADRE, International Women's Human Rights Organization (New York, NY)
Manhattan Alliance for Peace and Justice (Manhattan, KS)
Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns (Washington, DC)
Medical Mission Sisters ' Alliance for Justice (Washington, DC)
Mobilization for Global Justice (Washington, DC)
Mothers Against War (New York, NY)
Network in Solidarity with the People of Guatemala (Washington, DC)
Nicaragua Center for Community Action (Berkeley, CA)
Nicaragua Medical Alliance (Chicago, IL)
Nicaragua Network (Washington, DC)
Nicaragua-U.S. Friendship Office (Washington, DC)
Nuclear Age Peace Foundation (Santa Barbara, CA)
Oakland Institute (Oakland, CA)
Office of the Americas (Los Angeles, CA)
Pacifica Peace People (Pacifica, CA)
Peaceworkers (San Francisco, CA)
Priority Africa Network (Berkeley, CA)
Public Citizen Critical Mass Energy & Environment Program (Washington, DC)
Radio Free Maine (Augusta, ME)
Religious Task Force on Central America & Mexico (Washington, DC)
School Sisters of Notre Dame, Office of Justice & Peace (Baltimore, MD)
Sisters of the Holy Cross ' Congregation Justice Committee (Notre Dame, IN)
Sisters of Mercy of the Americas ' Midwest Justice Committee (Detroit, MI)
Sisters of Notre Dame Justice & Peace Network (Washington, DC)
Springs Action Alliance (Colorado Springs, CO)
Sustainable Energy & Economy Network (SEEN)/IPS (Washington, DC)
Sweatshop Watch (Los Angeles, CA)
United Church of Christ Network for Environmental & Economic Responsibility
(Pleasant Hill, TN)
United for Peace and Justice
U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation (Washington, DC)
Valley Coalition for Peace & Justice (Youngstown, OH)
Veterans for Peace (St. Louis, MO)
Voices from the Global Village / 1world Communications (Amherst, MA)
War Times / Tiempo de Guerras (San Francisco Bay, CA)
Witness for Peace Southwest (Northridge, CA)
Women's International League for Peace & Freedom DC (Washington, DC)
York County Greens (South Carolina)
Young Koreans United of USA

REDES ' Friends of the Earth Uruguay
World Rainforest Movement

ATTAC Venezuela
Fuerza Bolivariana de Trabajadores
Fundaci'n Desarrollo Sustentable de Venezuela
Fundaci'n Mujer Ten'a que Ser de Venezuela
Grupo de Acci'n Directa
MRT C'lula Vargas
Uni'n Nacional de Trabajadores
Red Venezolana contra la Deuda

Ecumenical Support Services (Harare)