2017 Inspection Panel Member Selection Process

As the World Bank’s accountability office for public sector investments, the Inspection Panel serves an important oversight and redress function for the bank. In order for the panel to be seen as legitimate, the mechanism as a whole, as well as the individual panel members, must be independent in both perception and reality.

On 25 April, 2017, Accountability Counsel and several partners sent a joint letter to the World Bank’s board of directors calling for the participation of external stakeholders, including civil society representatives, in the selection process for a new Inspection Panel member. The new member will replace Zeinab El-Bakri, whose appointment ends on 31 December, 2017.

Currently, the bank’s procedures do not provide for the involvement of external stakeholders in the selection of new panel members. Rather, a selection committee presents names of qualified candidates to the World Bank Group’s president, who in turn nominates a candidate for approval by the bank’s board. The 2017 selection committee unfortunately consisted of two board members and two members of bank management, undermining the panel’s legitimacy and independence.

The letter called for the bank to follow the hiring practices at several other international financial institutions — including the Japan International Cooperation Agency, the Japan Bank for International Cooperation, the International Finance Corporation, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, and the Inter-American Development Bank — which have included external stakeholders on their independent accountability mechanism staff selection committees.

On 22 November, 2017, the World Bank announced the appointment of Imrana Jalal as the new Panel member. Her appointment is effective 1 January, 2018.

Anticipating an upcoming vacancy on the Panel near the end of 2018, Accountability Counsel and partners sent a follow-up letter to the bank on 12 December, 2017, requesting that the selection process for the next Panel member appointment incorporate our previous recommendations.

As a result of our advocacy, the board made some modifications to the selection process, although the process still needs improvement. On 29 October, 2018, the bank announced that Ramanie Kunanayagam would replace the most recent vacancy on the Panel and begin her term on 16 December, 2018. Accountability Counsel’s reaction to Kunanayagam’s appointment can be found here.

Accountability Counsel will continue to advocate that the World Bank protect the independence of the Inspection Panel through transparent and inclusive panel member selection processes.