The World Next Week podcast is up. Bob McMahon and I discussed the United States’ upcoming presidency of the UN Security Council; World Bank president nominee Dr. Jim Yong Kim’s world "listening tour;" and Myanmar’s by-elections.
- On April 1 the rotating presidency of the UN Security Council will shift from the United Kingdom to the United States. As president, the United States will be setting the Security Council’s agenda. One topic likely to be on that agenda is what to do about Syria. Talks are underway on a resolution that addresses the political violence in the country. But don’t expect the resolution to do much. China and Russia remain opposed to any resolution that would impose real costs on Bashar al-Assad’s government.
- Dr. Jim Yong Kim, the U.S. nominee for the presidency of the World Bank, has embarked on what the U.S. Treasury Department calls a “listening tour.” He will visit Addis Ababa, Beijing, Tokyo, Seoul, New Delhi, Brasilia, and Mexico City, and he will meet heads of state, finance ministers, “and other stakeholders.” Kim has two competitors for the position: Nigeria’s Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala (endorsed by the African Union, Nigeria, South Africa, and Angola), and former Colombian finance minister Jose Antonio Ocampo (endorsed by the Dominican Republic and Brazil), who is currently a professor at Columbia. This is the first time the post of World Bank president has ever been contested. The tradition since the Bank’s founding has been that it is headed by an American, while its sister Bretton Woods institution, the International Monetary Fund, is headed by a European. The new World Bank president will be announced during the Bank’s and IMF’s semiannual meetings in Washington from April 20 to 22. Put your money on Kim to emerge the victor.
- Myanmar, known as Burma to those of us of a certain age, is holding by-elections. For the first time in more than twenty years, Aung San Suu Kyi and her National League for Democracy Party will be taking part. Her return to electoral politics reflects the reforms that Myanmar’s ruling junta has allowed over the past year. The extent and persistence of the reforms is such that it may reflect a real change in attitudes among the military rather than a cosmetic fix. The big loser in Myanmar’s reform movement could be China, which until recently had been the Burmese military’s main source of external support.
- Bob’s Figure of the Week is eleven. My Figure of the Week is Anthony Kennedy. As always, you have to listen to the podcast to find out why.
Further reading on:
The United States, the UN Security Council, and Syria. Kofi Annan will brief the Security Council on Monday about Syria. The Security Council called for Assad to accept the six-point plan. The United States was “disgusted” when Russia and China vetoed the February 4th resolution. The UN’s human rights chief Navi Pillay says Assad’s regime has “gone for the children.”
Dr. Jim Yong Kim’s Global Listening Tour. Everything you wanted to know about Kim but were afraid to ask. Kim lobbies for the World Bank job. Okonjo-Iweala offers her vision for the World Bank. What challenges will the new World Bank president face? Profiles of the candidates are available. Kim raps with Dartmouth students (around the 2:05 mark).
Myanmar’s By-Elections. What’s at stake in the Myanmar by-election? What’s going to happen on election day? Western countries are eagerly awaiting the results of the vote. Myanmar has undergone some “surprising reforms” to make this election possible. Aung San Suu Kyi’s father returns to help his daughter with her campaign. Myanmar’s currency will float beginning in April. Myanmar prepares itself for its first by-election.