One way to reform the Bank would be to make it more accountable to an outside body of independent examiners, so that information it generates is not so self-serving and internally generated. In addition, since there have been so many charges of corruption and mismanagement, it is clear divisions such as the "anti-corruption" division are not working, and these areas need to undergo major reform. Perhaps a total reorganization of the Bank is in order, with a goal of replacing long-term Bank staff with new members, and undergoing serious organizational training and goals. If the Bank cannot remain corruption free, how can they possibly expect member nations and projects to maintain anti-corruption in their own areas? The Bank needs to take a hard look at itself and its goals, assess where it is meeting them, and where it is not, and make those changes, accordingly. They have enacted at least some of the measures in an independent assessment titled "The Volcker Panel," since the charges of corruption originated, but it is quite clear more needs to be done, and that there should be many different levels of outside independent examination that takes a hard look at the Bank and its many projects.
The national and international press has been sharply critical of the World Bank, especially because of its practice of forgiving loans to many poor countries, and for lining the pockets of rich dictators, rather than the people who really need the income and reforms. In addition, the World Bank is funded by member nations such as the U.S. And Great Britain, along with private funding and investment, and that means that U.S. taxpayers are ultimately the victims of many of these unpaid loans (Rahn, 2005, p. A18). Nevertheless, of course, there are always those who will support the Bank. One reporter notes, "For many years, the World Bank was the only source of financing available on reasonable terms for the roads, ports, irrigation, and public utilities desperately needed by the developing countries to modernize their economies" (Smith, 2006, p. A18). Others defend the Bank's plans in Asia, India, and now in Africa as creating real inroads in health, education, and infrastructure.
Frankly, after researching this organization, this writer is torn on the position of the World Bank. In some areas, it seems to be remarkably effective and important, such as its very vocal stance on renewable and sustainable energy develop to combat climate change, one of the biggest threats facing our planet in decades. However, there are so many problems within the organization that need to be addressed, that in some ways, it seems like an insurmountable problem that might not find a true solution. It seems clear that the World Bank holds itself above international law, and it has for decades. It also seems to be spreading western influence and ideals over emerging countries, in an attempt to spread capitalism and democracy throughout the world. The Bank says its goals are to end poverty and support research and development in the world, but right now, the world is facing a serious hunger problem. The World Bank has been working on this problem for decades, and yet it cannot seem to solve it. Indeed, it seems not to have been able to anticipate the current food shortage crisis, even with its decades of work in the area. That does not say much for their vision or leadership in this area, and that has to apply to many other aspects of the organization, as well.
Before this report, this writer was relatively ambivalent about the World Bank, and had a lack of knowledge about the Bank and its activities. The news stories about the resignation of the previous president had been observed, and it seemed like a very messy affair that brought input even from President Bush. However, after completing this research, the World Bank seems more understandable, and its mission seems relatively clear. My opinion has not changed about the bank, because that opinion did not exist before. However, now, it seems my perception of the Bank wants to be positive, in light of the many positive things they are doing for the world, but it is, instead, fairly negative, because of the charges and examples of corruption, mismanagement, support for dictators over indigenous peoples, and the support of globalization on such a grand scale. The Bank seems as if it has become too powerful and all knowing in its own mind, and that it needs to step back and reassess its usefulness and purpose. Sweeping change is certainly due, but so is a question of its basic principles on human rights and social change. By supporting globalization, the World Bank is altering society, and it does not seem in a good way. The World Bank may have served a purpose in the past, but in the future, it needs to reform for it to be really relevant to today's world.
Defending the World Bank. (2006, June 20). The Washington Times, p. A18.
Editors. (2008.) About us. Retrieved 6 June 2008 from the World Bank Web site: http://web.worldbank.org/WBSITE/EXTERNAL/EXTABOUTUS/0,pagePK:50004410~piPK:36602~theSitePK:29708,00.html.
Editors. (2008). Accountability at the World Bank. Retrieved 6 June 2008 from the BICUSA Web site: http://www.bicusa.org/en/Issue.25.aspx.
Editors. (2007). World Bank: Resigned Wolfowitz cites accomplishments. Retrieved 6 June 2008 from the Global Security Web site: http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/library/news/2007/05/mil-070519-rferl01.htm.
Friedrichs, D.O., & Friedrichs, J. (2002). The World Bank and Crimes of Globalization: A Case Study. Social Justice. 13+.
Michael, B. (2003). Masters of illusion: The World Bank and the poverty of nations. Journal of Social History, 37(2), 509+.