James Baker for World Bank

01/27/2001
With a Republican U.S. Administrative, the renewal prospects of James Wolfensohn are not certain. Talk about another five-year extension has somehow faded since early December. According to Washington Post prominent international columnist Nora Boustany, a very likely candidate is Republican elder statesman James Baker. His administrative experience since the Reagan through Bush administration will make him a formidable candidate. Clearly his successful legal defense of the George W. Bush case in Florida and Washington will make that job his for the asking.

Incidentally, Baker served as a Special Representative of the Secretary General for Wesler Sahara. Generally overseeing the medication efforts of Ambassador Egelton, another special representative. That link may now prove valuable for the UN if prudently handled.

The possibility of Wolfenshoun's imminent departure should not diminish his record as an effective advocate of international development and his outspoken campaign against poverty worldwide. His leadership of IBRD was unquestionable though somewhat internally controversial. His adversaries claimed that he was propelled into the job by former Vice President Al Gore with the help of Canadian magnate and UN perennial advisor Maurice Strong. But then, that is how such powerful jobs are gained- or lost. Incidentally, if and when Mr. Baker takes over, there will be no question as to who will be first among the competitive international agencies: the Bank or the International Monetary Fund. It will be also interesting to observe the first meeting of the UN Administrative Committee chaired by the Secretary General and attended by heads of agencies including the emerging Mr. Baker.