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The IMF and Civil Society

Engaging Civil Society in the Reform of IMF Governance

September 23, 2009

Representatives from civil society organizations met with the IMF Executive Board in an informal seminar to discuss CSO recommendations on IMF governance reform.

On September 8, 2009, representatives from civil society organizations (CSOs) met with the IMF Executive Board in an informal seminar at Fund Headquarters to discuss CSO recommendations on IMF governance reform.

The recommendations were contained in the final report of the Fourth Pillar process, a consultation among CSOs on IMF governance reform that was set up at the request of IMF Managing Director Dominique Strauss-Kahn.

The report and Executive Directors’ discussion covered an assessment of the roles and responsibilities of the IMF Board of Governors, the International Monetary and Financial Committee, the Executive Board, and Fund management, as well as procedures for selecting the Managing Director.

The Fourth Pillar report will be formally received by the Managing Director when he meets CSOs to discuss their proposals during the IMF Annual Meetings in Istanbul. The report was compiled by Domenico Lombardi—a scholar on the Bretton Woods Institutions—as the culmination of a five-month consultation with nearly 200 CSO representatives, think tank analysts, and academics from about 50 countries. The report has been translated into French, Spanish and English to ensure wide dissemination.

The Managing Director originally proposed the idea of engaging civil society in September 2008 to broaden the inputs to Fund’s governance reform and in response to calls from CSOs for a voice in the process. The Fourth Pillar process was aimed to augment and contribute to the work already undertaken by:

  • the IMF Independent Evaluation Office, which released a report on “Governance of the IMF” in May 2008;
  • the IMF Executive Board, whose examination of governance reform proposals centered on the Working Groupon IMF Corporate Governance 2008 chaired by Thomas Moser, the Executive Director for Azerbaijan, Kyrgyz Republic, , Poland, the Republic of Montenegro, Serbia, Switzerland, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan; and the IMF Executive Board, whose examination of governance reform proposals centered on the Working Groupon IMF Corporate Governance 2008 chaired by Thomas Moser, the Executive Director for Azerbaijan, Kyrgyz Republic, , Poland, the Republic of Montenegro, Serbia, Switzerland, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan; and
  • the April 2009 Report of the Committee of Eminent Persons on IMF Governance Reform, chaired by Trevor Manuel, Minister of Finance of South Africa.

The Fourth Pillar process was undertaken in several steps over the past five months: identifying a CSO—The New Rules for Global Finance Coalition—to coordinate the consultation; setting up a website outside the Fund to enable CSOs to consult among themselves; and organizing several videoconferences—supported by extended interpretation and translation services—to facilitate CSO participation from different regions. Videoconferences with participants from academia, NGOs, and the private sector were organized with Argentina; Ghana; India; Indonesia; Kazakhstan; Kenya; the Kyrgyz Republic; Mexico; Peru; South Africa; and Uruguay.

Over the course of the Fourth Pillar process, CSOs were also provided opportunities to contribute their views to Fund staff who drafted the Board paper on governance reform discussed by the Executive Board in July as well as the subsequent Executive Board Report to the IMFC for the Annual Meetings. A set of CSO recommendations for the July paper was posted on the Fourth Pillar website.