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Generational Shifts in International Governance Assistance: The World Bank and State-Building After 911

Author: BARBARA NUNBERG
Published in IJED, Vol. 9 No. 1

Over the last decade and a half, international assistance to promote good governance in developing countries has increased significantly. The World Bank has been in the lead of major governance donors, with steadily growing resources devoted to governance programs. Even with the rise in governance-related lending, though, governance programs remained relatively marginal to the Bank’s overall investments, as economists at the top of the institution had come to view these issues as important – but not central—to broader economic development objectives. Then came September 11th, which, this article argues, raised the stakes for state-building and transformed good governance into a global public good. How have Bank programs responded to the post-911 governance challenge? This article examines Bank investments in governance after 911, showing the roots of recent programs in earlier generations of institutional development assistance sponsored by donors since World War II. Bank spending patterns, official rhetoric, and program documents all suggest that the clarion call of September 11th has not been met with dramatically increased resources or a bold new governance vision. The response has been largely incremental, building on past practices. Still, as the post-911 era moves forward, some of these small shifts may signal a more decisive course of governance assistance, particularly with new leadership at the institution’s helm.

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