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Improving the Voice of Developing Countries in the Governance of International Financial Institutions

By Stephany Griffith-Jones | January 1, 2003


The case for increasing the voice of developing countries in the governance of International Financial Institutions (IFIs) is a compelling one. Current arrangements where developing countries are increasingly under-represented is highly problematic for several reasons. Firstly, inappropriate representation arrangements leads to a decline in the efficiency of these organizations, as decisions taken do not adequately reflect the needs and issues from the perspectives of the majority of the countries and peoples affected by them. This is particularly true for low-income countries. Secondly, insufficient representation of developing countries is increasingly perceived as leading to a democratic deficit in those institutions. Given that democratic governance has rightly emerged as such an important value in the last decade, promoted at a country level not least by the IMF and World Bank themselves, it is crucial that these institutions also are characterized by democratic governance. This will be positive for those institutions themselves, as it will clearly strengthen their legitimacy, which has been challenged in recent years. Therefore more democratic financial institutions would emerge as more legitimate and stronger ones, which is very positive in a globalized world which increasingly needs international financial governance and institutions. Thirdly, increasing the share of developing countries in IFI governance is necessary to help modernize the IFIs, so they reflect the increased importance of developing countries in the global economy, as well as the increased role of the IFI in these countries. Thus, IFI governance has to better reflect today’s new realities, rather than those that existed 60 years ago.

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