Asian Development Bank defies G20

Asian Development Bank defies G20

There's a strong and welcome trend toward appointing the leaders of major international organisations through competitive processes-except in Asia.

The Asian Development Bank, whose president has just stepped down to head Japan's central bank, looks set to appoint its new president just as it has always done: in a hurry, behind closed doors, without competition, and from Japan.

At their 2009 summit in Pittsburgh, G20 leaders agreed that the head of any international institution should be appointed through an "open, transparent and merit-based process".

Subsequently, leaders of the World Bank, the IMF and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development were all for the first time replaced through open contest.

In practice, there wasn't much chance that the World Bank and IMF jobs would be awarded to anyone other than Jim Yong Kim and Christine Lagarde, but the nationality of the victors might be less predictable next time around.

As for the EBRD presidency, few would have bet on a UK candidate, given that London is the seat of the bank, but respected UK civil servant Suma Chakrabarti beat a strong field on merit.

Cross to Asia, and the vacancy left by ADB president Haruhiko Kuroda, effective March 18. All is eerily quiet.

The ADB's charter requires that Kuroda's replacement be elected by the bank's governors, and that candidates be nationals of regional member countries.

In practice, ADB presidents-eight of them since the Bank's founding in 1966-have always been nominated by Japan and rubber-stamped by everybody else. Could this really be happening again?

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