World Bank Taps Kim Yong Kim For Presidency
The World Bank officially selected President Obama’s nominee, Kim Yong Kim, as president of the organization Monday.
Kim, 52, was born in South Korea and moved to the United States at a young age. He has been the president of Dartmouth College since 2009.
Unlike most presidents of the World Bank, Kim is not a politician or an economist, he is a physician and an anthropologist. The experience of filling a position that has not traditionally been held by someone with his educational background will not be new. Kim was also the first physician to become president of Dartmouth College.
According to NPR:
Kim's nomination had won widespread praise because of his extensive experience in working to improve health in the poorest countries. In the 1990s, Kim defied skeptics to find a cost-effective way to fight tuberculosis in the slums of South America. He also began a program that has treated millions of Africans for HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.
The World Bank raises money to provide low-cost loans to developing nations like many of those that Kim has worked in throughout his career as a health professional.
The president of World Bank has traditionally been an American, just as the International Monetary Fund has traditionally been headed by a European. However, a number of developing nations mounted an effort to get a non-American selected as president.
Unlike previous World Bank elections, the decision was not unanimous. "The final nominees received support from different member countries, which reflected the high caliber of the candidates," the Bank said in announcing its board's decision.
After his nomination, Kim traveled around the world winning support for his candidacy. Kim beat out Nigerian finance minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala for the job.
The New York Times reported:
In a recent interview, Dr. Kim stressed that he wanted to make the bank as inclusive as possible, while achieving its mission of eradicating poverty and supporting economic development.
He also said he wanted to make the bank’s programs more data-driven. “There’s no one-size-fits-all. There’s no big idea that will lead to economic growth for everybody,” he said. “I think we must be evidence-based and evidence-driven, and we must pay attention to local contexts.”
Despite Kim’s laudable history, some developing nations feel that his election is symptomatic of an American stranglehold on the organization.
South African Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan welcomed the fact that non-Americans competed for the post for the first time, but also said there were concerns the process was not fully merit-based.
"I think we are going to find that the process falls short of that," Gordhan told the Foreign Correspondent's Association in South Africa, adding that there were also "serious concerns" the decision was made without full transparency.
Kim will take over for the Bank’s outgoing president Robert Zoellick on July 1 and begin a five-year term.