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THIRD WORLD RESURGENCE #187 (MARCH 2006)

This issue’s contents:


COVER  STORY: Reforming the International Monetary Fund: The way ahead

The contours of IMF reform

By Dr Yilmaz Akyüz

Over the years, widespread misgivings about the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and its role both in the global economy and in the development agenda of the South have prompted calls for reform. But what direction should such reforms take? And what role and function should a reformed IMF focus on?

In the cover-story articles for this issue, Dr Yilmaz Akyüz, former Chief Economist at the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), suggests some reforms that should be undertaken to restore the IMF's relevance and credibility. This first article provides an overview of the lines along which such reforms should be undertaken.

Mission creep into development finance and policy

By Dr Yilmaz Akyüz

Although its original mandate was limited to providing financial assistance to help countries facing temporary balance-of-payments problems, the IMF has expanded its operations to include development and poverty alleviation, and, in substance, all areas of development policy. Dr Yilmaz Akyüz argues that there are no compelling reasons why the Fund should be involved in such areas, especially when there are other multilateral institutions and UN agencies better equipped to undertake this task.

Trespassing in trade policy

By Dr Yilmaz Akyüz

As the IMF veered into development issues, it increasingly saw trade liberalisation as an essential component of its programmes in the Third World. Dr Yilmaz Akyüz explains why reform of the Fund requires an end to its involvement in trade policy issues.

Crisis management and resolution: Bailouts or workouts?

By Dr Yilmaz Akyüz

Until quite recently, with the increased frequency of financial crises in emerging markets, there was growing agreement that a viable alternative in the form of orderly debt workout procedures drawing on certain principles of national bankruptcy laws, notably that of the United States, was necessary to replace the discredited IMF rescue packages devised to meet such contingencies. Dr Yilmaz Akyüz emphasises the need to revive this key reform proposal, the momentum for which has been lost because of the widespread complacency associated with the recovery of capital flows to emerging markets.

Reforming the IMF: The issues of access to finance and governance

By Dr Yilmaz Akyüz

In this article, Dr Yilmaz Akyüz deals briefly with three crucial areas of IMF reform: the need to increase the Fund's resources and ensure that they are available to countries on the basis of need rather than their contribution to the Fund, the need for capital account measures to be included in its arsenal of tools to deal with unsustainable capital flows, and shortcomings in the Fund's governance.

IMF slow to adapt despite dwindling clout

By Emad Mekay

Although the IMF is facing a legitimacy crisis that threatens its future, it has not been responsive to the numerous calls for reform.

Devastating impact on South of looming financial crisis

By Martin Khor

One reflection of the failure of the IMF to discharge its crucial role in maintaining international financial stability is the looming threat of a global financial crisis as a result of a significant decline of the US dollar. Warning of the devastating consequences of such a crisis on Third World countries, two economists, in a paper presented to a meeting of the developing-country grouping within the IMF and the World Bank, have called for pre-emptive action by the IMF. Martin Khor explains.


ECOLOGY

Fishy undercurrents in post-tsunami Asia

By GRAIN

At the same time as Asia's fisherfolk are urging their governments to help re-establish artisanal fisheries after the 2004 tsunami, an international 'tsunami-recovery' consortium is suggesting that they should abandon their livelihoods and find employment elsewhere. The fisherfolk also face other challenges - from growing pressures to switch over to industrial aquaculture, to the introduction of genetically modified fish.


ECONOMICS

Wolfowitz's 'anti-corruption' hoax

By Patrick Bond

After his sordid role in the Iraq war, Paul Wolfowitz's claim that his new-found mission as World Bank chief to rid the Third World of corruption is succeeding will require a lot of convincing.

Aid  ¹ Help

By David Sogge

Rooting out poverty has never been among foreign aid's main purposes, charges David Sogge. Rather, its objectives have been political, such as managing spheres of influence and pandering to domestic constituencies of interest groups.


WORLD AFFAIRS

Iraq: Permanent US colony

By Dahr Jamail

In a recent interview with British newspaper the Independent on Sunday, a senior spokesman for the coalition forces headquarters in Iraq has confirmed that they are establishing at least six 'enduring' bases in the country. In this piece written earlier, Dahr Jamail asks: if the US really intends to withdraw from Iraq, why is it establishing these permanent bases?

Forum over substance

By Jim Lobe

In view of the apparent political eclipse lately of the neo-conservatives who clustered around him and shaped his policies, the choice by President Bush of a staunchly neo-conservative forum to launch his recent public campaign to defend his beleaguered Iraq policy appears to be somewhat anomalous.

Where 'India shining' meets great depression

By P Sainath

The smug indifference of India's elite to the plight of the desperate in the countryside and the dispossessed in the cities is matched by the governments they do not vote in but control, says P Sainath.


HUMAN RIGHTS

Experiments in torture

By Gerald Gray

In our October/November 2005 issue (pp. 60-63), we published an extract from a report by Physicians for Human Rights on the use of psychological torture by US personnel in the so-called 'war on terror'. We publish below a response to the report which, while agreeing that such torture may be for interrogation purposes, suggests that some of it may also be for experimental purposes and for the broader objective of political control by terror.


WOMEN

Fighting the HIV stigma: Jahnavi's way

By Nava Thakuria

As part of her campaign to break the stigma attached to those suffering from the disease, a woman AIDS activist decided to contest in the Legislative Assembly elections in the Indian state of Assam. Despite suffering a setback, the activist continues to pursue her awareness campaign.


ACTIONS & ALTERNATIVES

'Operation Miracle' - an extraordinary South-South programme

By Tom Fawthrop

The brainchild of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and Cuban President Fidel Castro, 'Operation Miracle' is offering free treatment to an estimated 4.5 million people suffering from eye afflictions in Latin America and the Caribbean over a 10-year period. 

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