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May - Online
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The International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank are arguably the two least understood and most controversial international organisations. Both are key components of the international financial system. They also play a vital role in national economies (as seen for example in the IMF's involvement in the Euro-zone crisis or in addressing the economic dislocations caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and its analytical work on the prevention and resolution of sovereign debt crises) and international development. This subject will focus on the IMF and World Bank while also providing students with a sophisticated understanding of the broader international financial system and its problems. It is taught by Wolfgang Bergthaler, Assistant General Counsel in the IMF Legal Department, and Danielle Malek Roosa, Senior Counsel at the World Bank. The subject provides a valuable insider's perspective on the 'Bretton Woods' institutions.
Principal topics include:
- Key institutions of the global financial order, namely the IMF and the World Bank, including their history, powers, policies, practices and political and economic rationale
- The role of these institutions within the globalisation debate
- The linkages between these institutions and other institutions, including the World Trade Organization (WTO)
- The IMF, including its Articles of Agreement, IMF surveillance, financing, and capacity development
- The role of the IMF in the prevention and resolution of financial and sovereign debt crises
- The institutions of the World Bank Group, their Articles of Agreement and their respective roles in promoting development
- The operational cycle of the World Bank, its financing instruments and policies
- The role of human rights and other ‘political issues’ in the work of the World Bank
- Current challenges to the IMF and the World Bank, and proposals for their reform.
Intended learning outcomes
A student who has successfully completed this subject will:
- Have an advanced and integrated understanding of the legal framework applicable to, and governance structures of, the IMF and World Bank
- Be able to critically examine, analyse, interpret and assess the operation of these institutions, in light of this legal framework and principles of good governance
- Be an engaged participant in debate regarding contemporary issues relating to the IMF and World Bank, such as voice and participation reforms, accountability and the relationship of these institutions to other multilateral and regional bodies (including new development banks)
- Have a sophisticated appreciation of the Articles of Agreement which established the IMF and World Bank, and key interpretive questions about the implementation of these Articles
- Have an advanced understanding of historical factors and processes that have influenced the design and development of the legal framework of the IMF and World Bank
- Have a detailed understanding of the relationship of the IMF and World Bank to other international institutions, including the UN and WTO
- Have the cognitive and technical skills to generate critical and creative ideas relating to the accountability of international financial institutions to their members, and to critically evaluate their impact on the sovereignty of their members
- Have the cognitive and technical skills to independently examine, research and analyse existing and emerging legal issues relating to the operation of the IMF and World Bank
- Have the communication skills to clearly articulate and convey complex information regarding the IMF and World Bank to relevant specialist and non-specialist audiences
- Be able to demonstrate autonomy, expert judgment and responsibility as a practitioner and learner in the field of international economic law.
Last updated: 29 July 2022