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After World Bank President Jim Yong Kim took the reins at the world’s largest multilateral donor in 2012, he didn’t wait long to begin changing the institution’s approach to development through an intensive and controversial reform process.

“I’ve done this before in other organizations, and what I’ve found is that If you know a change has to be made, just do it as quickly as you can, and get it done,” Kim told Devex Editor-in-Chief Raj Kumar in an exclusive interview on the sidelines of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund’s spring meetings in Washington, D.C.

Kim’s reforms, which began in 2013 and are still ongoing, include a dramatic shift in bank structure and a $400 million cut in operational expenses that necessitated staffing cuts.

I think we are already in a Third World War that will decide whether the
future is an Anglo-Saxon unipolar one or a multipolar one. The military
aspect of the fight is done by proxies, because a direct confrontation
between the main players would result in mutual defeat. Money is the
nerve of war (Thomas More), the strategy is to economically exhaust
adversaries; the weapon of choice is economic diplomacy.

The South Centre is very appreciative of the wonderful initiative and great efforts by the government and people of Indonesia for hosting this Asian-African Summit in commemoration of the 60th anniversary of the 1955 Asian-African Conference held in Bandung, and for inviting the South Centre to attend this extraordinary and important gathering of countries of the South. 

I bring the warm greetings from our Chair, H.E. Benjamin Mkapa, former President of the United Republic of Tanzania, the members of the Board, and the Secretariat of the South Centre. 

This year’s Asian-African Summit is a fitting follow-up to the 1955 Bandung Asian-African Conference, which marked the first attempt at multilateral cooperation between developing countries “on the basis of mutual interest and respect for national sovereignty”. The Bandung Conference brought together the generation of gifted and courageous Asian and African leaders who had won or were in the middle of winning their battles of independence. The final communiqué from Bandung in 1955 contained the 10 principles of the “Bandung Spirit”, containing the basic principles for South-South cooperation in the South’s efforts to promote peace and cooperation in the world. These principles remain as valid as ever in today’s world which is in economic and political turmoil.

Collective adrenaline ran high as the World Social Forum opened on March 24 in Tunis. It had not yet been five years since a peaceful revolution brought a dictatorship long backed by Western political superpowers to its knees and ignited the fire of the Arab Spring that burns to this day. And it had not yet been a week since shooters stormed the Bardo Museum, killing 22, and retesting the resolve of a delicately budding democracy.

Tens of thousands of delegates from across the globe converged in Tunis not only to show support for Tunisian sovereignty, but also to share their own local struggles and solutions while advocating change in the face of interlinked systemic injustices. The opening march easily demonstrated the diversity of the constituency--bands of Tunisian students in perfect stride with Latin American labor organizers and Sub-Saharan African small-scale food producers, knit together by the unraveling food, climate, energy, and financial crises.

Amidst this vibrant mix of social actors, it was no coincidence that Via Campesina, the world's largest--and arguably best organized--movement showed up in full force with a delegation from five continents. "It is on us to do something," said Elizabeth Mpofu, the Zimbabwean farmer and organizational powerhouse who leads Via Campesina's 250+ million peasant, pastoralist, fisher and indigenous members. "We know we are poor, but we are also very intelligent, and we know what we want," she added.

In February, Greece agreed a four-month extension to its loan from the European Central Bank (ECB) and European Commission (EC), which along with the IMF comprise the Troika of lenders to eurozone states since 2010. The loan is subject to a review of the reforms the government commits to undertake during the extension. The IMF, however, is not part of the new agreement.

Greece currently owes €245 billion ($260 billion) to the three creditors. Conditionalities required for the financing include measures such as privatisations, looser labour laws and pension cuts (see Observer Winter 2015). The Greek government was elected on a platform repudiating the legitimacy and economic value of the loan conditionalities, and demanding an overall reduction in its debts. This democratic mandate is now threatened because Greece faces a number of payments to the IMF and bondholders while negotiating with its European partners. During negotiations prime minister Alexis Tsipras has repeatedly stated that further financial support is necessary so that Greece can make urgent payments.


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