The IMF has played a significant role in the recent international financial crisis and has enacted a number of internal reforms aimed at upgrading the lending framework, simplifying conditionality and strengthening its role in crisis prevention and support of developing countries.
Yet, after the momentum of the first few G-20 summits, reform of key aspects of IMF governance is still moving slowly. Despite months of discussions, there still has been no agreement made on the basic parameters of a voting shift of at least 5 percent to emerging-market and developing economies, which was endorsed by G-20 leaders in Pittsburgh last year.
But as important as this is, a quota reform alone is unlikely to generate a tangible shift in the governance of the IMF. The realignment of voting rights needs to trigger a recomposition of the IMF executive board in support of a more balanced voice of the membership, for which a consolidation of the European representation is key. The IMF chairman of the board and managing director need to be selected on the basis of an open, merit-based process without any restriction to nationality. In addition, the veto power afforded by the 85 percent supermajority required for certain decisions should be reconsidered. As a truly global public institution, IMF decision-making should be more transparent and therefore enable the citizens of its 187 member countries prompt access to the executive board proceedings.
A group of international experts and civil society actors coming from different sensitivities and backgrounds has elaborated on these points in an open letter (pdf) sent to the governors of the IMF, the final decision-makers of the institution, ahead of their forthcoming annual meetings next week.