In a genuinely open, merit-based contest, the 25-member executive board’s deliberations should have been preceded by debates between the candidates. I suspect that Okonjo-Iweala, with her enormous competence and renowned wit, would have got the better of Kim. The world would also have seen why so many of us were rooting for her.
It is beginning to look like Bahrain’s ruling family has calculated correctly that its close allies in Washington, London, and Brussels do not care enough about al-Khawaja to risk challenging al-Khalifa hard-liners and their Saudi allies by publicly pushing for his release or by making clear that Bahrain’s continued stonewalling will have a price.
The selection of a successor to Robert Zoellick as president of the World Bank was supposed to initiate a new era of open meritocratic competition, breaking the traditional hold that the United States has had on the job. Indeed, Zoellick’s own appointment was widely regarded as ‘illegitimate’ from that perspective. But US President Barack Obama has let the world down even more distressingly with his nomination of Jim Yong Kim for the post.
It may seem strange, but the EU sees itself as a soldier of the common good. Why is a group of countries whose share in worldwide CO2 emissions is only 12% – and set to decline fast – aspiring to global leadership on the issue, despite US inaction and emerging-market countries’ reluctance to commit to binding emission-reduction targets?
In part, the EU’s stance reflects the preferences of European public opinion. In part, it arises from internal politics: to press ahead with its agenda enables the EU to strengthen its hand vis-à-vis the member states. In part, there is the hope that by moving fast, Europe will acquire a comparative advantage in low-carbon technologies.
Europe’s political left is incensed by the the cuts in social and welfare programmes, but seems to accept the political consensus that there are no alternatives.
Using its super-majority in the parliament, the Fidesz party has spent its two years in office ramming through a new constitution that includes discriminatory provisions and other new laws that undermine media freedom, judicial independence, and the rights of religious minorities.
The Kremlin likes to portray Russia as a besieged fortress. And it likes an economy with a few hugely lucrative industries under its own tight control. Encouraging Russian businesses outside the world of bureaucratic rents and extractive industries undermines the power monopoly of the ruling criminal syndicate.
Our research indicates that the increase in the share of women on boards has coincided with an increase in transparency and a professionalisation of decision-making. In parallel with the development of less homogenus boards, a new culture of decision-making has emerged in which there is less acceptance of alliances and decisions being made behind the scenes. This fracturing of old networks has also opened the way for men who were previously excluded from boards.
Perhaps most disturbing is Cameron’s suggestion that the court should not hear cases where domestic courts have “applied the convention”. It is unclear how this would work: would the ECHR have to accept national courts’ assertions that they had done so? Or would it have to determine whether the convention had been appropriately applied? This last is exactly what we have now, so it is presumably not what is proposed. But the first approach would mean no review at all.
Vodka does not sell well in the Arab world, for obvious reasons. Nor are the countries of the Middle East short of oil. So the campaign to boycott Russian exports in protest against the Kremlin’s backing of the murderous regime in Syria may be more symbolic than real. But the psychological shift is huge. Ever since Soviet days, Arab dictators and strongmen have had chummy relations with Moscow. Russia counted as a counterweight to American hegemony. Now Russia (like China) is detested across the region as an accomplice to mass murder. That is yet another dent in Russia’s sharply diminishing soft power. It also undermines the regime’s fraying legitimacy at home.