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Treasury Notes

 Reactions to the Nomination of Jim Yong Kim as President of the World Bank

By: Erika Gudmundson
3/28/2012

Last week, President Barack Obama announced the nomination of Dr. Jim Yong Kim to be President of the World Bank. A physician and anthropologist, Dr. Kim co-founded Partners In Health, which provides community-based healthcare to break the cycles of disease and poverty in nations around the world. As Director of the World Health Organization's Department of HIV/AIDS, Dr. Kim launched the "3 by 5" initiative, which sought to treat 3 million patients living with HIV. He was the Chair of the Department of Global Health and Social Medicine at Harvard Medical School, and, for the last three years, has lead one of the world's great knowledge institutions, serving as the President of Dartmouth College.

Dr. Kim, is traveling this week and next to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia; Beijing, China; Tokyo, Japan; Seoul, South Korea; New Delhi, India; Brasilia, Brazil; and Mexico City, Mexico to meet with heads of state, finance ministers, and other stakeholders to solicit their priorities for the World Bank over the coming years. The trip is the initial phase of Dr. Kim's "listening tour," as he begins to solicit ideas and views from around the world about the future of the institution. He will meet with many of the World Bank's shareholder and client countries in order to assess how the Bank can best promote growth, combat poverty, and create jobs in developing nations.

As Dr. Kim set out on his trip, statements supporting his candidacy came in from across the globe. Here are just a few reactions to the nomination:

Secretary of the Treasury Timothy F. Geithner

“Jim Yong Kim is exceptionally well qualified to serve as President of the World Bank. He is an innovative leader whose groundbreaking work to fight disease and combat poverty has saved lives around the globe. But Jim will bring more to the role than an impressive record of designing new ways to solve entrenched problems. Development is his lifetime commitment, and it is his passion. And in a world with so much potential to improve living standards, we have a unique opportunity to harness that passion and experience at the helm of the World Bank.”

Former President Bill Clinton

"Jim Kim is an inspired and outstanding choice to lead the World Bank based on his years of commitment and leadership to development and particularly health care and AIDS treatment across the world. Among his many accomplishments, his work with my good friend Paul Farmer to bring hope and health care to nations from Haiti to Peru to Malawi through Partners in Health has been pioneering, exceptional and effective. He will be the most experienced development expert to ever take the helm of the World Bank and I compliment President Obama for putting that type of proven commitment to global development at the top of his criteria for choosing the World Bank’s next leader."


President Obama’s nominee to the World Bank presidency, Dr. Jim Yong Kim, met with Rwandan President Paul Kagame Tuesday evening in Washington to discuss the importance of the World Bank’s role in reducing poverty and supporting development for global economic growth.

Rwandan President Paul Kagame

“I was delighted to learn that Jim Kim has been nominated for this post, as he is a true friend of Africa and well known for his decade of work to support us in developing an efficient health system in Rwanda. He’s not only a physician and a leader who knows what it takes to address poverty, but also a genuinely good person. President Obama’s nomination of Dr. Kim as President of the World Bank is a welcome one, and should resonate well with the many men and women who are working to transform lives around the world."

South Korea’s Presidential Office

"We believe that President Kim is the right person to carry out the duties to reform the World Bank and eradicate poverty. We highly appreciate President Obama's decision to nominate President Kim and will cooperate more closely with the World Bank."

Canadian Finance Minister Jim Flaherty

"Mr. Kim is a distinguished figure in global health and development, noted for his innovative work fighting the spread of AIDS and tuberculosis in developing countries. We believe he is a strong candidate to lead the World Bank."

Amartya Sen, PhD, Thomas W. Lamont University Professor and Professor of Economics and Philosophy at Harvard University

"I welcome the nomination of Jim Kim, who is an extremely talented practitioner. As President of the World Bank, Jim Kim, would be able to play a global leadership role by combining his clear-headed understanding of the importance of sound economics with a commanding knowledge of the ways of using economic success for the advancement of the lives of the people, often full of ailment and misery, right across the world."

Paul Farmer, MD, PhD, Kolokotrones University Professor at Harvard University, Chair of the Department of Global Health and Social Medicine at Harvard Medical School and a founding director of Partners In Health

“Jim Yong Kim is an outstanding choice for the presidency of the World Bank. Having had the good fortune to train with Jim at Harvard, and to see him work in settings from inner-city Boston to the slums of Peru, from Haiti to Rwanda to the prisons of Siberia, I know that for three decades Jim has committed himself to breaking the cycle of poverty and disease. This has been his goal as a physician, a teacher, a policy maker, and a university president; it was ever his goal as a founder and director of Partners In Health, which now operates in more than a dozen countries and informs his teaching and writing. He has worked in rural villages and squatter settlements just as he has worked in the halls of power and privilege. Again and again, we his friends and colleagues have seen Jim imagine a better future, one that harnesses new technologies and older but sound notions of justice and equity, and links this vision to much more than talk and reports and studies. Jim is all about delivery and about delivering on promises often made but too seldom kept. I can think of no one more able to help families, communities, and entire nations break out of poverty, which is the stated goal of the World Bank. As poverty continues to claim lives, and as inequality deepens, the Bank--and other institutions charged with lessening poverty--need bold and experienced thinkers and implementers like Jim Kim. Alas, he's one of a kind.”

Dr. Julio Frenk, Dean of the Harvard School of Public Health and former Mexican minister of health

“[Kim’s] nomination signals a very strong will to transform the bank and fully devote it to become a leading development agency in the world.”

Eswar Prasad, former chief of the Financial Studies Division in the International Monetary Fund’s research department and former head of the IMF’s China Division

“This is a bold and intriguing nomination that could kick-start a reorientation of the World Bank, which has floundered in clearly defining its role as a development agency. Mr. Kim’s credentials as an expert on health and development issues, as well as his leadership experience at a major U.S. university, puts him in a prime position to initiate a much-needed reorientation of the World Bank’s role in global development.”

Jeffrey Sachs, Director of The Earth Institute, Quetelet Professor of Sustainable Development, and Professor of Health Policy and Management at Columbia University

“Obama has shown real leadership with this appointment. He has put development at the forefront, saying explicitly, “It’s time for a development professional to lead the world's largest development agency.” Kim’s appointment is a breakthrough for the World Bank, which I hope will extend to other global institutions as well. […] Kim’s nomination was a win for all, and I was delighted to withdraw my candidacy to back him. Kim is one of the world’s great leaders in public health. He has worked with another great public-health leader, Paul Farmer, to pioneer the extension of treatment for AIDS, tuberculosis, and other diseases to the world’s poorest people. More recently, he has been President of Dartmouth College, a leading American university. He therefore combines professional expertise, global experience, and considerable management know-how – all perfect credentials for the World Bank presidency. I have worked closely with Kim over the years. He is a visionary, seeing the possibility of providing care where none is yet available. He is bold, ready to take on great challenges. And he is utterly systematic in his thinking, designing new protocols and delivery systems for low-income communities. He led the effort by the World Health Organization to scale up AIDS treatment for people in low-income countries, and he did an exemplary job.”

Muhammad H. Zaman, Director of Laboratory of Engineering Education and Development, Innovative Engineering Education Faculty Fellow and Assistant Professor of Biomedical Engineering at Boston University

“In my mind he is a great choice by President Obama to lead the institution, but not because of his heritage or because he is not a Washington insider. It is his deep conviction to change the status quo in global health, and his innovations in both research and practice that set him apart. While I am enthusiastic about Dr. Kim and his future role at the World Bank, I want him to bring with him a vision that is transformative and inclusive of the most creative ideas, not just from the developed world but also from the developing world.”

Congressman Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-NJ)

"Dr. Kim is a man who immigrated to this country from South Korea as a young boy, and made the most of the opportunities he found here in America. He worked hard to achieve multiple higher education degrees, including an M.D., from some of the nation's best universities. And he eventually became the first Asian-American to lead an Ivy League institution when he was named president of Dartmouth College in 2009. But it is Dr. Kim's work for the world's impoverished people, particularly those afflicted by disease, that makes him a distinguished choice to lead the World Bank. While working at the World Health Organization, he put his technological acumen to work to provide million of people with H.I.V./AIDS with antiviral treatments. He also led a successful initiatives to help people suffering from tuberculosis. And as a former teacher myself, I like the fact that Dr. Kim was able to share his sense of humor with students at Dartmouth. I am proud to support the President's nomination of Dr. Kim. He is outstanding Asian-American leader who has already had a profound impact on the United States and the world."

Daniel Zelikow, a managing director at JPMorgan Chase & Co. and a former executive vice president at the Inter-American Development Bank

"It is an inspired choice. Dr. Kim is not only a leader in global health and development issues, but leading a major American university is an excellent proving ground for managing an organization as complex, diverse and important as the World Bank."

Fred Hiatt, Washington Post Editorial Page Editor

“Kim’s appointment to head the Bank is pioneering for a different reason. The mission of the World Bank is to help lift people out of poverty, and Kim will be the first bank leader who has dedicated most of his professional life to working with and for the world’s poor. With another pioneering physician-anthropologist, Dr. Paul Farmer, Kim established an organization dedicated to treating poor people in Haiti, Peru, Rwanda and beyond. The founding principle of Partners in Health was that everyone is entitled to first-class health care, no matter where they live or how poor they are.”

Financial Times Editorial Board

“Unexpected as his nomination is, Mr Kim is qualified for world’s top development job. His understanding of public health is deep and many-faceted; it ranges from academic expertise in medicine and anthropology to hands-on work on healthcare delivery in developing countries. He is known for an ability to defy conventional wisdom to find solutions and an aptitude for crossing disciplinary boundaries, in particular from the development and public health communities to the economics and business world. These skills, which have proved their worth in poor country health efforts, are immediately relevant to the Bank’s broader development mandate. Running Dartmouth College also gives him bureaucratic experience – essential to any successful World Bank presidency.”

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Editorial Board

“Mr. Kim is definitely a good choice, and there is every reason to believe that the World Bank executive board will approve his nomination promptly.”

Toledo Blade Editorial Board

“President Obama's choice of Dartmouth College President Jim Yong Kim to head the World Bank is commendable and ought to be approved promptly. […] Dr. Kim is a development professional with a background in public health -- a key component of economic development. In addition to his role as Dartmouth's president, he is an anthropologist and a physician.”

Washington Post Editorial Board

“The president needed to find a nominee known not so much for political connections in Washington as for a demonstrated ability to carry on the bank’s mission of fostering development, especially in the poorest countries. We believe Mr. Obama has done just that in choosing Jim Yong Kim, a physician who has dedicated most of his career to delivering health care to destitute people worldwide. Dr. Kim, who has been president of Dartmouth College since 2009, is a departure from the World Bank’s previous presidents in more ways than one. He is the first person of Asian descent to be nominated; Dr. Kim was born in South Korea and immigrated to the United States at the age of 5. Previous presidents have been bankers, politicians or, like Mr. Zoellick, technocrats who have previously served in government. Dr. Kim is the first nominee who has dedicated himself to development work, both in academia and in practice.”

Erika Gudmundson is New Media Specialist at the Department of the Treasury.

Ed. Note: On March 30, 2012, Treasury Notes posted additional reactions here.

Posted in:  International
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