n African Renaissance - Africa and the reform of the International Financial Institutions (IFIs) - : Africa and the world

Volume 3, Issue 6
  • ISSN : 1744-2532
  • E-ISSN: 2516-5305


Among the most important multilateral institutions, besides the United Nations (UN), to emerge out of the suffering and carnage caused by the Second World War, was a troika of organisations formed at Bretton Woods in New Hampshire in July 1944. These organisations were the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) - later known as the World Bank (WB), and the International Trade Organisation (ITO) - now called the World Trade Organisation (WTO). Often collectively referred to as the International Financial Institutions (IFIs), these three organisations were formed to provide new multilateral tools for ensuring lasting global peace through the promotion of economic stability and development in the postwar period. In contrast to the noble objectives set at Bretton Woods in 1944, the role played by the IFIs, especially in global market regulation, surveillance and development policy formulation in the post-war years has largely been very controversial. Not surprisingly, over the last quarter of a century, most scholarly interest on the IFIs has tended to focus largely on the negative impact of Economic Structural Adjustment Policies (SAPs) on poor African countries. More recently, however, such scholarly interest has put a welcome spotlight on the need to reform the IFIs themselves. Proponents of this 'reformist' debate are convinced that the reform of the current global financial architecture will not only lead to democratic global economic governance but also restore the lost credibility and legitimacy of IFIs. Thus, according to this view, reform will bring dividends such as greater participation in global economic decision making and by extension, friendlier economic policies for developing countries in general and African countries in particular.

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