|James Baker for World Bank
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.