The World Bank was established in 1944 as a facilitator for post-war reconstruction and development. At that time, Europe had been devastated by war and needed long term investment for rebuilding its infrastructure. That is why it was named the International Bank for
Reconstruction and Development (IBRD). Over the years, its mission has undergone a change with a shift in focus to removing poverty. Along with a change in its focus, the Bank has expanded to include other organizations, together called “The World Bank Group”.
The World Bank’s motto is to have a “world free from poverty”. Its mission today is to provide assistance to developing nations to alleviate poverty, to promote sustainable development and to help address global issues that cross national borders - such as climate change, infectious diseases and trade. It also assists countries affected by crises – both natural and economic.
At the time of its inception, the World Bank basically consisted of the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) and the staff, consisting of engineers and financial analysts, was solely based in Washington DC. Today, The World Bank Group, consisting of five institutions, has a diverse staff that includes economists, public policy experts, social scientists and sector experts, more than a third of whom are based in country offices. The five institutions that are a part of the World Bank Group are:
The International Bank for Reconstruction and Development ( IBRD)
The International Development Agency(IDA)
The International Finance Corporation(IFC)
The Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency(MIGA)
The International Center for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID)
World Bank Group Ownership and Membership
Each World Bank Group institution is owned by its member countries who are also its primary shareholders. Member countries subscribe to the share capital of each institution, the shareholding broadly reflecting their relative economic weight in the world economy. The USA is the largest shareholder in all the institutions, although the shareholding of developing countries has been rising in the last decade. In a recent share realignment, the shares of China, India, Brazil and a few other countries increased significantly.
The number of member countries varies by institution although the vast majority are members of all the institutions. IBRD has 185 members today. Member countries govern the
Bank group through their Boards of Governors and through a resident Board of Directors. These bodies make all the major policy decisions. The Governors represent member countries and are usually Ministers of Finance or Development. If a member of IBRD is also member of IDA or
IFC, the Governor also serves as the Governor of IDA and IFC. MIGA Governors are appointed separately to its Council of Governors.
Once a year, the Board of Governors of the World Bank Group and the International
Monetary Fund (IMF) meet in a joint session known as the Annual Meetings to discuss a range of issues relating to international economic development, finance and poverty reduction. As the
Governors meet only annually and as their numbers are too many for effective decision making, many specific duties are delegated to the Executive Directors of the resident Board. IBRD has twenty four Executive Directors, with the five largest shareholders – USA, Japan, Germany,
France and UK- appointing one director each. The rest of the countries are grouped into constituencies, each of which elects an Executive Director as its representative. The Executive
Directors are based in Washington DC, work under the delegated authority of the Governors and are responsible for making policy decisions affecting the World Bank Group's operations and for all loans. Although the relative voting power of the individual Executive Directors is based