World Bank Names Obama's Pick As Its New President

Apr 17, 2012
Originally published on April 17, 2012 3:29 am
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An American has been named as the new president of the World Bank. He's Jim Yong Kim. Currently president of Dartmouth College, he's an immigrant success story, having come to America as a child from Korea. Kim's selection continues a decades-long tradition of having a U.S. citizen lead the World Bank. But that tradition maybe wavering. Kim only took the bank's top job after overcoming a serious international effort to place a non-American in the position for the first time.

NPR's Jackie Northam reports.

JACKIE NORTHAM, BYLINE: The 52-year-old Kim is a physician and anthropologist who has spent much of his career focusing on global health issues. He co-founded Partners in Health, which works in developing countries and he headed the HIV/AIDS department at the World Health Organization. Kim often extols the importance of getting hands-on experience, whatever the issue.

But there were questions by some of the World Bank's 187 member nations, as well as former bank executives, and economists, whether Kim was up to running the huge international financial institution, which loans billions of dollars each year to developing nations. And there was a campaign to break from a more than 60-year-old tradition of having a U.S. citizen as World Bank president and allowing someone from another country to take the helm.

Kim beat out Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, a respected former finance minister from Nigeria. But for the first time, the decision was not unanimous. Kim assumes his new post on July 1st, replacing another American, Robert Zoellick.

Jackie Northam, NPR News, Washington. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.