U.N. defends Ban Ki-moon against charges of weakness on human rights.
Palestinian negotiator warns that U.S. will lose all credibility if it vetoes Security Council resolution on Israeli settlements.
The International Monetary Fund wants Europe to beef up its rescue fund.
The International Criminal Court has a new suspect in custody.
With UNICEF's help, it's back to school in the Swat Valley. But for how long?
Out from under sanctions, Uzbekistan's president meets EU leaders.
Germany's deputy foreign minister will chair G-20 working group on reforming international foreign exchange.
United Arab Emirates nuclear program gets a clean bill of health from the IAEA.
Euro drops after an International Monetary Fund official worries about continued investor skepticism.
G-20 finance officials struggle to come up with "indicative guidelines" for managing global imbalances.
Don't treat Greece and Portugal like Ukraine or Argentina, says EU president.
Haiti's president casts doubt on Organization of American States report on last year's elections.
World Bank finalizes $1.7 billion loan package to build roads and battle cyclones in India.
Another abduction of U.N. personnel in Darfur.
The battle for Cote d'Ivoire, seen through a financial lens.
The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe is worried about Kazakhstan.
Hot potato: Senegal wants the African Union to handle the case of exiled Chadian dictator.
French Prime Minister François Fillon was in London today urging Britain not to stand in the way of efforts to forge greater eurozone cooperation. David Cameron's response, via the Guardian:
A strong and successful eurozone is in Britain's interests. We want the countries of the eurozone to sort out the difficulties they have and we won't stand in the way as we do that.
Indeed, we will be a helpful partner in making sure that happens.
But let me again be clear – that does not mean that Britain should be drawn into new mechanisms or new procedures or have to give up new powers.
That is absolutely not what we see as necessary as happening and throughout the European councils last year we made that point and secured that point on many, many occasions.
International Monetary Fund board approves funds for Georgia, warns about need for foreign investment.
U.N. peacekeepers ambushed in Cote d'Ivoire.
Russia says Iran's nuclear facilities invite is interesting -- but can't replace IAEA inspections.
China would like to "participate actively" in any new euro stabilization activity, signals willingness to buy Spanish bonds.
Will the United States veto Security Council resolution on Israeli settlements?
Hillary Clinton warns that attempts to derail U.N.-backed Lebanon tribunal will fail.
World Bank expects global GDP growth to slow slightly in 2011.
Jimmy Carter says Southern Sudan might not sign on to the International Criminal Court, so as to keep dialogue open with Bashir.
International Monetary Fund and United States criticize Pakistani climbdown on fuel prices.
Pakistan must be thrilled: India to chair Security Council committee on counter-terrorism.
Indonesia wants ASEAN to spotlight human rights.
Report: The next Arab League summit will be in Baghdad.
Serbia's arms industry has recovered nicely from NATO's 1999 bombing.
Do Pakistan and the International Monetary Fund have an unhealthy relationship?
U.N. peacekeeping chief wants more troops for Cote d'Ivoire; Security Council sounds positive.
Bad Euro news: Euro-zone retail sales drop unexpectedly.
A full plate: World Bank president wants the G-20 to help stabilize food prices.
Kidnapped U.N. employee in Darfur is released.
Indonesia is hosting an ASEAN ministerial retreat next week.
A report on the jostling and secret negotiations over the international tribunal for Lebanon.
Organization of American States report on Haiti elections expected soon.
The International Criminal Court calls to account six Kenyans, including senior ministers, for 2007-2008 election violence.
The U.N. Security Council tied up some loose ends on Iraq yesterday.
The World Bank announces new funding pledges for the International Development Association.
After long battles, the European Parliament agrees to an EU budget.
Venezuela's opposition appeals to the Organization of American States.
The International Atomic Energy Agency has an important opening.
Hope: Oxfam calls Cancún "an important chapter in the epic story to tackle global climate change."
Funny money: Sarkozy wants IMF "special drawing rights" to play a greater role in the international monetary system.
African Union drafts model law criminalizing terrorism and banning ransom payments.
Opium on the rise in Southeast Asia, says new U.N. drugs report.
A look at Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff's new brand of multilateralism.
What is NATO's real aim? asks (wacky) op-ed in Pravda.
Reading diplomatic body language in Cancun.
After prolonged negotiations, U.N. Security Council issues statement on Ivory Coast elections.
EU criticizes (bizarre) Czech Republic refugee screening procedures.
A Russian foreign ministry official explains why his country could join NATO.
ICC prosecutors move against Sudan rebels.
Sarkozy charms India, not least by offering more backing for its Security Council bid.
German finance minister argues that "limited sovereignty" is the wave of the future.
The P5 +1 are talking with Iran today.
The African Union's Mbeki struggles to mediate election dispute in Ivory Coast.
U.N. peacekeepers won't be safe if there is strife in Lebanon, warns prominent politician.
With cash from Warren Buffett, International Atomic Energy Agency approves plans for nuclear fuel bank.
IMF's Lipsky insists that fears of a Euro collapse are "wildly exaggerated."
P5+1 set to meet Iranian representatives in Geneva next week.
Who should control an international climate fund? Not the World Bank or IMF, say many developing countries.
Interpol issues 'red notice' for Julian Assange.
Security Council willing to increase African Union troop level in Somalia; plus, United States takes over presidency of the U.N. Security Council today.
Will the Shanghai Cooperation Organization launch its own development bank?
Uruguay's Senate ratifies UNASUR treaty.
East Timor wants to join ASEAN next year, while Indonesia is chairing the group.
U.N. cites "numerous incidents" during Haiti elections; no public report yet from OAS and EU election monitors.
Top U.N. envoy reports on his talks with Myanmar's military government.
U.N. marks International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People.
Sudan announces boycott of European Union-African Union summit, citing Europe's "colonial mentality."
Will the next head of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe be Turkish?
World Bank official wants to boost African power.
U.N. warns that cholera in Haiti is spreading faster than expected.
At a crossroads: the IMF explains what Greece still needs to do.
"We are prepared to go as far as NATO is prepared to go," Medvedev reportedly said to NATO leaders in Lisbon.
On eve of climate talks, China boasts about emissions reductions.
ASEAN and China schedule another meeting to talk about proper manners in the South China Sea.
The Washington Consensus is alive and well, says leading IMF critic.
As Charles Taylor trial continues, Washington funnels needed cash to the Sierra Leone tribunal.
African Union apologizes for civilian casualties in Mogadishu.
Warming? Argentina asks the usually despised IMF for technical advice on inflation.
One of the World Bank's most popular publications is under fire -- from inside Bank headquarters.
For the last eight years, the International Finance Corporation, an arm of the Bank focused on private-sector issues, has published with the Bank itself a report titled Doing Business. It ranks countries on several indicators, including how easy it is to start up a business, enforce contracts, get credit, and comply with regulations. The 2011 report was launched last week. Singapore topped the rankings, while Kazakhstan and Rwanda were most improved. As it does every year, the report got major media attention around the world. The IFC believes the report has been a catalyst for countries to streamline their procedures and create more business-friendly environments.
But the report also apparently sparked a heated meeting of the World Bank's executive directors last month. By most accounts, the BRIC countries led the charge against the publication. None of the BRICs did particularly well in the study. China came in at 79th, Russia at 123th, and Brazil at 127th. India brought up the BRIC rear at 134th. Rogerio Studart, who represents Brazil and several other countries on the Bank's board, told me the report is rife with methodological and data problems. He points to an independent review conducted by the Bank in 2008, which contained a number of criticisms and suggestions for improvement. More fundamentally, Studart believes the report is ideological and elevates a certain regulatory approach to an unwarranted level of importance.
I've always been struck by the exuberance of the propaganda they made out of it and the pressure they would put on some governments by using the rankings to adopt reforms, as if those reforms would solve some fundamental problems that in my view they could not solve. Reducing the number of procedures and the number of days to open up a company -- this is always helpful. But portraying that as a way to create more jobs is a total jump.
Studart vows to keep up the fight against the Bank's association with the report. "As a shareholder, I have a fiduciary responsibility to say that this has a reputation effect that I cannot accept," he said. "This is doing a disservice for the World Bank and for the shareholders." Studart believes that he and other critics are making progress and notes that some new voices on the board objected in this year's debate.
The criticism has the IFC worried. "I worry when you have important board members like that who are not fully behind a report," says Neil Gregory, director of indicators and analysis for the institution. He attributes much of the discomfort to the ranking component, which is quite unusual in Bank reports. "Because it's one of the few products the Bank does that ranks countries -- and ranks all countries globally -- it does attract a certain amount of controversy," he says. "There are those voices on the Board and beyond the Board who don't like the Bank publishing products which have rankings in them."
Gregory traveled recently to China to try to allay concerns and will be headed to Brazil soon.
An argument that the G-20 has already failed on bank reform.
German foreign minister still wants NATO nukes out of Germany.
Does the U.N.'s nuclear agency need more cash?
APEC ministers vow to complete Doha by the end of next year.
The case that won't die: WTO hears appeal on Airbus-Boeing subsidies dispute.
The European Union is getting the cold shoulder from Asia.
The Bretton Woods Project, a London-based activist group that monitors the IMF and World Bank, is skeptical of the IMF's recent governance reforms. Managing director Dominique Strauss-Kahn hailed the measures as a "historic" shift of voting power and board seats toward the emerging economies and developing world. BWP argues that the IMF fudged some of the numbers by classifying several rich countries as developing.
Like the World Bank's reforms earlier in the year...the IMF has included South Korea and Singapore in the group of emerging markets and developing countries benefitting from the shift. This is despite the IMF's own flagship analytical report, the World Economic Outlook (WEO), classifying Korea and Singapore as "advanced economies". This misleading classification has added 0.6 percentage points to the shift. By the WEO definitions, advanced economies experience a net loss of only 2 per cent, far shy of the 6 per cent being reported in the press.
Nor is the activist group pleased that the United States retains its unilateral veto over major IMF decisions. So far, so good. This is all consistent with the activist community's broad complaint that the IMF and World Bank remain, for the most part, instruments for the rich countries to foist their preferences on the rest of the world. I don't necessarily agree with the argument or its implications; plenty of what these institutions do isn't foisting at all (and plenty of the foisting they actually do seems sensible to me). But I understand the logic of the position.
Where I lose the activist thread is on the issue of the environment. Like other activist groups, the BWP has hammered the Bank recently for funding coal projects and engaging in other activity of questionable environmental virtue. At least as far as I discern, there's no real recognition that more developing world power at the IMF and World Bank will almost certainly mean less emphasis on the environment, and certainly less attention to issues like climate change. The BRIC countries, in particular, have banded together to defend projects like South Africa's coal-fired power plant. When I've asked NGOs and activists about this, they respond that the positions of the big developing countries don't accurately represent the views of the people, who, they insist, care more about environmental issues. Maybe they're right. But IMF and Bank board meetings convene with representatives of real governments, not some Platonic ideal of what developing world governments should look like.
However slowly, the Bank and the Fund are changing. And it's not simply a matter of voting shares, it's also a question of assertiveness. I've heard from a number of sources that developing world executive directors are much more prepared and interventionist than they used to be. This trend will almost certainly continue. It seems much less certain that the activist community will be pleased with the result.
World Bank president expands on the role for gold.
Don't forget Bosnia: A warning that the Balkans could disrupt EU and NATO festivities this month.
Forward or backward? ASEAN welcomes Myanmar's elections as a "significant step."
Gutsy: Spanish warship on EU mission attacked by Somali pirates.
European auto industry emitting less CO2, says the EU.
Portugal struggles to keep the "IMF scenario" at bay.
Russia ready to open transit routes for Afghanistan-bound NATO vehicles.
With NATO summit around the corner, a pessimistic look at European military spending.
Are Germany and the United States drifting apart as the G-20 approaches?
Charlemagne worries about the power of European constitutional court judges.
EU border guards arrive to stem flow of immigrants into Greece.
Mutual, I'm sure: Belarus's Lukashenko can't imagine his country in the EU.
Irony watch: China accuses the United States of reverting to age of "planned economies." Brazil is also peeved at U.S. monetary policy and will have words with Washington at the G-20; meanwhile, big business wants the G-20 to pressure China on rare earth exports.
Conference call: the P5 + 1 talk about next steps on Iran.
International contact group on Somalia piracy meets -- in Copenhagen.
OECD reveals that its information system was hacked.
Organization of American States tries to mediate Nicaragua-Costa Rica dispute.
Preparing to take over leadership of the G-20, Sarkozy rolls out the red carpet for China's Hu.
All together now: The U.N., WTO, and OECD plan joint warning to G-20 on growing protectionist pressure.
IMF officials talk taxes with Pakistan, which badly needs the next tranche of a loan.
NATO says that Russian agents can continue drug raids in Afghanistan.
Singapore again tops World Bank report on ease of doing business; Kazakhstan is most improved.
Israel suspends ties with UNESCO after decision on holy site designation.
U.N. refugee agency slams Kenya for forcing back Somali refugees.
The veto on his mind: Ban Ki-moon stays mum on political prisoners during Beijing trip.
Obama and Lee pledge to finalize U.S.-Korea free trade agreement in advance of G-20 summit.
IMF expected to vote Friday on governance reform package.
Speaking of emerging country investment in Africa, IMF chief warns of a "new form of colonialism."
NATO's secretary-general arrives in Moscow today for pre-Lisbon summit talks.
Brazilian president-elect Dilma Rousseff may accompany Lula to the G-20 summit.
After "profound and difficult" conversation, EU leaders agree to treaty tweaks.
IMF urges exchange rate changes "in earnest."
At the U.N., Susan Rice blasts Syria and Hezbollah.
Our work here is (almost) done: NATO is cutting its force in Kosovo down to size.
Shashi Tharoor previews India's coming turn on the Security Council.
Romanian government survives no-confidence vote -- and improves odds of keeping IMF loans.
Fireworks: NATO responds to Gorbachev's gloom and doom on Afghanistan.
East African summit moved to help Kenya avoid awkward ICC questions.
Baroness Ashton lays out her vision of the EU External Action Service.
U.N. General Assembly again condemns U.S. embargo on Cuba.
Georgia keeps up tough talk on Russian WTO accession.
Japan prepares a Plan B in case the G-20 fails.
Interpol opens a regional bureau in Buenos Aires.
The price of international carbon reduction credits is in flux.
In today's FT, Terrence Keeley argues that high-stakes G-20 meetings are a symptom of IMF underachievement.
Dominique Strauss-Kahn, head of the IMF, likes to say there are no local solutions to global problems. The Fund has an explicit mandate to promote international rebalancing and adjustment through strict, principle-based foreign exchange surveillance. Inexplicably, it is not deploying it. Were Mr. Strauss-Kahn compliant with his existing authority, G20 meetings would not have to become risky, high-wire acts of policy debate, presumed legitimacy and dubious enforcement. The global financial architecture would be less clouded-over by nagging doubts and illegitimacy.
This is an awfully tough critique. Ultimately, the Fund's leadership operates on behalf of its members, and particularly the organization's major shareholders. Keeley seems to suggest that the Fund's leadership could, on the basis of a particular reading of the IMF's articles of agreement, defuse political dynamite by rebalancing the international economy. But like all international organization bureaucracies, the IMF leadership and staff are constrained by the needs and interests of member states. It always runs the risk of alienating powerful states that it needs to keep engaged. As leading scholars Michael Barnett and Martha Finnemore demonstrated in their important recent book, Rules for the World, international organization bureaucracies have some capacity for innovation and autonomy -- but not a lot. Keeley may be asking too much.
Can't live with them, can't live without them: Concern as U.N. peacekeepers in Central African Republic pack up.
Mikhail Gorbachev warns: NATO victory in Afghanistan is impossible.
Does the public care about climate change negotiations anymore?
International Criminal Court rebukes Commonwealth head for going soft on duty to arrest indictees.
The EU reaches agreement on hedge fund regulations.
India ready to sign international convention on nuclear damage.
In today's FT (reg. required), Illene Grabel and Ha-joon Chang celebrate the return of (limited) capital controls -- and the IMF's willingness to acknowledge their value in certain cases.
Was it really just over a decade ago that the International Monetary Fund and investors howled when Malaysia imposed capital controls in response to the Asian financial crisis? We ask because suddenly those times seem so distant. Today, the IMF is not just sitting on its hands as country after country resurrects capital controls, but is actually going so far as to promote their use. What about the investors whose freedoms are eclipsed by the new controls? Well, their enthusiasm for foreign lending and investing has not been damped in the least. So what is going on here? In our view, nothing short of the most significant transformation in global financial management of the past 30 years.
Celebrating U.N. Day in Sudan.
Feeling jilted by Obama, is Europe flirting with Moscow?
Survey says: The Czechs still believe in NATO.
He knows of what he speaks: Sarkozy calls a Security Council without a permanent African seat a "scandal."
A good analysis of the IMF's new centrality -- and new dangers.
ASEAN gets a talking to on Myanmar's elections, and its own policy of non-interference.
U.N. negotiations on combating animal and plant extinction struggle.
As G-20 summit begins, China seeks to avoid Japan's mistakes on revaluation.
The Euro is close to being overvalued, says the IMF.
Basel banking committee insists that its banking standards are 'minimums.'
China rejects "groundless" accusations on weapons in Darfur.
Germany wants EU treaty changes to deal with spendthrifts.
Washington supports more African Union troops for Somalia.
Security Council reform: Old U.N. hand Shashi Tharoor reminds optimists of past failures.
The World Bank apologizes for photos depicting Ghana as "full of hungry and miserable people."
The way is clear for another trial at the International Criminal Court.
Beijing's bullets? More on the saga of Chinese-made ammunition in Darfur -- and the U.N. response.
A dose of skepticism about the chances for a G-20 grand bargain.
Charles Kupchan elaborates on the recent Moscow-Paris-Berlin summit.
The OECD grades the United States' anti-bribery efforts.
The multinational effort to identify banks too-big-to-fail might just be failing.
China calls for a resumption of the P5+1 Iran talks.
Report: EU drops suit against France over Roma deportations.
Don't forget to arrest Ratko Mladic, Hague prosecutor reminds international community.
IMF chief Strauss-Kahn meets Chinese premier, who promises greater engagement.
Naypyidaw shudders: Ban Ki-moon is "deeply frustrated" with the Burmese regime.
Is the African Union creating a force to fight the LRA?
World Bank pledges more lending to east Africa.
WTO head Pascal Lamy wades (oh so cautiously) into the currency dispute.
Romanian resistance to IMF restructuring plan mounts.
Lemons into lemonade: South African utility provider -- and recipient of World Bank-funded coal plant -- may tap into World Bank clean energy fund.
BBC may trim G20 (and Oscar!) coverage because of Chilean miner drama.
Criticism or compliment? Italian finance minister says the G20 is "relatively more chaotic" than G7.
U.N. official meets with leaders of restive displaced persons camp in Darfur.
"Hidden and silent suffering:" World Health Organization releases report on tropical diseases.
The European Union may want to audit the auditors.
David Bosco reports on the new world order for The Multilateralist.