Press Release - Wednesday, July 24, 2002

International financial institutions need injection of democracy
Coalition calls on Canadian government to take up UNDP recommendations at the Annual meetings of the World Bank and IMF governors
For immediate release
Ottawa, July 24, 2002 -- Today, the Halifax Initiative, a coalition of 14 organizations applaud the United Nations Development Programme's call for an injection of democracy at the IMF and World Bank. The UNDP says that these institutions need to become more accountable for their actions and open up their decision-making processes, especially for poor countries, in the just-released Human Development Report 2002.
"It is important that calls for the fundamental reform of the World Bank and the IMF are now being echoed by the UNDP", says Pamela Foster, Coalition Coordinator for the Halifax Initiative. "The Canadian government wants to make a difference for Africa, but it won't unless it pushes for fundamental change at the World Bank and the IMF".
The UNDP report, entitled Deepening democracy in a fragmented world (, points out that nearly half the voting power at the World Bank and the IMF rests in the hands of seven countries. According to this year's human development index, 28 of the 36 worst off countries are in Africa, yet 45 countries of sub-Saharan Africa have two voices on the 24 members Boards of the IMF and the Bank.
The report also recommends a shift in power towards international organizations that have more democratic decision-making procedures. This call is timely, as the recently completed UN Financing for Development conference, was seen by many to result in further consolidation of power by the Bretton Woods Institutions in social and economic arenas. The report points out that the large parts of the public no longer believe that their interests are represented in institutions such as the World Bank and the IMF. "The Bank and the Fund put a lot of money and effort into public relations, but come up very short when it comes to changes in decision-making", says Derek MacCuish, Programme Coordinator for the Social Justice Committee, a member of the Halifax Initiative coalition. "They will only stop playing at democracy when they become accountable to the people they are supposed to serve".
The Halifax Initiative formed in 1994 upon the 50th anniversary of the World Bank and the IMF. The Coalitions works for the fundamental transformation of the international financial system and its institutions to achieve poverty eradication, environmental sustainability and an equitable re-distribution of wealth. Its members include the Canadian Labour Congress, CUSO, the Canadian Council for International Cooperation and Oxfam Canada.
For more information contact: Pamela Foster 613-266-8100