Tim Newman, Campaigns Assistant, International Labor Rights Forum
As finance ministers from the G-20 nations prepare to meet in London, reports are emerging that Western nations are ready to accept some proposals for an increase in power for developing countries in the International Monetary Fund (IMF). The Washington Post stated this morning that "the big winner will be the developing world, with the United States, Europe and Japan offering China, India, Brazil and other emerging nations unprecedented new influence in global financial decisions." The notion that industrialized nations currently holding sway in the IMF have to ability to "offer" developing countries a voice in the lending policies that deeply affect their economies highlights some of the power imbalances within international financial institutions -- it also brings to mind Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva's controversial comments last week about the global economic crisis.
The issue of representation in the decision-making bodies at the IMF is a real concern. Currently, Europe holds a third of the chairs in the executive board and continues to follow the "tradition" of filling the managing director position with a European while the US has veto power at the IMF due to its large voting share. The power structure at the IMF, and other international institutions, needs to be changed, but the bigger question is how will these changes can result in a qualitative shift that promotes policies that support poor and working people globally?