The World Bank is an international financial institution that provides loans to developing countries for capital programs. The World Bank’s official goal is the reduction of poverty. According to the World Bank’s Articles of Agreement (as amended effective 16 February 1989), all of its decisions must be guided by a commitment to promote foreign investment, international trade, and facilitate capital investment.
The World Bank differs from the World Bank Group, in that the World Bank comprises only two institutions: the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) and the International Development Association (IDA), whereas the latter incorporates these two in addition to three more: International Finance Corporation (IFC), Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA), and International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID).
Many achievements have brought the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) targets for 2015 within reach in some cases. For the goals to be realized, six criteria must be met: stronger and more inclusive growth in Africa and fragile states, more effort in health and education, integration of the development and environment agendas, more and better aid, movement on trade negotiations, and stronger and more focused support from multilateral institutions like the World Bank.
- Eradicate Extreme Poverty and Hunger: From 1990 through 2004, the proportion of people living in extreme poverty fell from almost a third to less than a fifth. Although results vary widely within regions and countries, the trend indicates that the world as a whole can meet the goal of halving the percentage of people living in poverty. Africa’s poverty, however, is expected to rise, and most of the 36 countries where 90% of the world’s undernourished children live are in Africa. Less than a quarter of countries are on track for achieving the goal of halving under-nutrition.
- Achieve Universal Primary Education: The number of children in school in developing countries increased from 80% in 1991 to 88% in 2005. Still, about 72 million children of primary school age, 57% of them girls, were not being educated as of 2005.
- Promote Gender Equality: The tide is turning slowly for women in the labour market, yet far more women than men- worldwide more than 60% – are contributing but unpaid family workers. The World Bank Group Gender Action Plan was created to advance women’s economic empowerment and promote shared growth.
- Reduce Child Mortality: There is somewhat improvement in survival rates globally; accelerated improvements are needed most urgently in South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa. An estimated 10 million-plus child under five died in 2005; most of their deaths were from preventable causes.
- Improve Maternal Health: Almost the entire half million women who die during pregnancy or childbirth every year live in Sub-Saharan Africa and Asia. There are numerous causes of maternal death that require a variety of health care interventions to be made widely accessible.
- Combat HIV/AIDS, Malaria, and Other Diseases: Annual numbers of new HIV infections and AIDS deaths have fallen, but the number of people living with HIV continues to grow. In the eight worst-hit southern African countries, prevalence is above 15 percent. Treatment has increased globally, but still meets only 30 percent of needs (with wide variations across countries). AIDS remains the leading cause of death in Sub-Saharan Africa (1.6 million deaths in 2007). There are 300 to 500 million cases of malaria each year, leading to more than 1 million deaths. Nearly all the cases and more than 95 percent of the deaths occur in Sub-Saharan Africa.
- Ensure Environmental Sustainability: Deforestation remains a critical problem, particularly in regions of biological diversity, which continues to decline. Greenhouse gas emissions are increasing faster than energy technology advancement.
- Develop a Global Partnership for Development: Donor countries have renewed their commitment. Donors have to fulfil their pledges to match the current rate of core program development. Emphasis is being placed on the Bank Group’s collaboration with multilateral and local partners to quicken progress toward the MDGs’ realization.
As of 27th April 2012, Jim Yong Kim (Korean American) was announced president of the World Bank, replacing Robert Zoellick (2007-2012). Previous incumbents have been Paul Wolfowitz (2005-2007) and James Wolfensohn (1995 – 2005).
The International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) has 188 member countries, while the International Development Association (IDA) has 172 members. Each member state of IBRD should be also a member of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and only members of IBRD are allowed to join other institutions within the Bank (such as IDA).
In 2010, voting powers at the World Bank were revised to increase the voice of developing countries, notably China. The countries with most voting power are now the United States (15.85%), Japan (6.84%), China (4.42%), Germany (4.00%), the United Kingdom (3.75%), France (3.75%), India (2.91%), Russia (2.77%), Saudi Arabia (2.77%) and Italy (2.64%). Under the changes, known as ‘Voice Reform – Phase 2′, countries other than China that saw significant gains included South Korea, Turkey, Mexico, Singapore, Greece, Brazil, India, and Spain. Most developed countries’ voting power was reduced, along with a few poor countries such as Nigeria. The voting powers of the United States, Russia and Saudi Arabia were unchanged.
The World Bank requires sovereign immunity from countries it deals with. Sovereign immunity waives a holder from all legal liability for their actions. It is proposed that this immunity from responsibility is a “shield which [The World Bank] wants to resort to, for escaping accountability and security by the people.
Brazil, Russia, India, China South Africa
Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB)
The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) is an international financial institution proposed by the government of China. The purpose of the multilateral development bank is to provide finance to infrastructure projects in the Asia region. AIIB is regarded by some as a rival for the IMF, the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank (ADB), which are regarded as dominated by developed countries like the United States. The United Nations has addressed the launch of AIIB as “scaling up financing for sustainable development” for the concern of Global Economic Governance.
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang affirms AIIB cooperative stance. As of April 15, 2015, almost all Asian countries and most major countries outside Asia had joined the AIIB, except the US, Japan (which dominated the ADB) and Canada. North Korea’s and Taiwan’s applications for Prospective Founding Member (PFM) were rejected.