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The Annual Meetings

THE WORLD BANK GROUP ARCHIVES PRESENTS A SELECTION OF PHOTOGRAPHS AND OTHER MATERIALS RELATED TO PREVIOUS ANNUAL MEETINGS.

The Annual Meetings

The Articles of Agreement of the IBRD states that "The Board of Governors shall hold an annual meeting and such other meetings as may be provided for by the Board or called by the Executive Directors." At these Meetings the Boards of Governors of the World Bank Group and the International Monetary Fund meet to discuss various matters, including the Annual Reports and the finances of the Bank Group and the Fund. In addition the Meetings:

  • Provide a forum for the exchange of views between individual member countries and the managements and staffs of the Bank and the Fund on economic and monetary conditions and the policies in those countries.

  • Provide a forum for exchanges of views among member countries and between the countries and the managements of the Bank and the Fund on global economic and monetary conditions and the policies and operations of the institutions. In this connection, the meetings can provide a forum for international cooperation and enable the institutions to learn how to serve their membership better.

  • Facilitate interaction between the private sector, including potential investors and non-governmental organizations, and other meetings participants.

  • Facilitate the regular and effective interaction among member countries required for the formation and work of constituent groups.

  • Provide an effective forum for explaining to the public directly and through the media the tasks, objectives and relevance of the Bank and the Fund. In this manner the Meetings make a major contribution to openness.

The Annual Meetings are held in September or October, and every third year it is held outside Washington, D.C., at the invitation of a member country. The Annual Meetings have been held every year since 1946.

All member governments of the Bank and the Fund are represented on the Boards of Governors. About 10,000 people attend the Annual Meetings, including about 3,500 governors and their delegations, more than 5,000 visitors and special guests, mainly from private business, the banking community, and non-governmental organizations, and about 1,000 representatives of the media. In addition, Bank and Fund staff attend meetings with officials of government delegations, and representatives of the banking community and other participants.

IT WAS DIFFERENT IN THOSE DAYS....

·         The first Annual Meeting, in 1946, cost a total of $136,000.

·         To travel to the Annual Meetings held in London in 1947, transportation by sea was the norm. International Bank Notes (the Bank's in-house publication) reported that "an advance party will leave New York on the Mauritania on July 11." It was later reported that "the second advance party sailed Saturday, August 16, on the Queen Elizabeth. The largest group of Executive Directors and staff members will sail from New York on the Queen Elizabeth on September 3."

·         At the 1954 Annual Meetings something happened that did not figure on the schedule. A vote was taken in the opening meeting in which every delegate appeared to abstain. The chairman was puzzled by this awkward and unprecedented position - until he realized that not a single delegate actually heard the question on the floor.

·         With so many pieces of paper to organize and keep track of, staff members working on documents and records hold their breath and hope no serious errors occur. One year an official document went out with a page missing. The person in charge of documents and records, and the head of the print shop, knew it was missing, but there was no time to have it rewritten and re-run. Only one alert staff member caught the omission, and that was several months after the conference.

·         At the 1958 Annual Meeting in New Delhi, 120 cars were assigned to handle transportation requirements. At the time President Eugene Black's party arrived at the airport a number of other delegations were also arriving and all 120 cars were in use taxiing back and forth between the airport and the hotels. When the confusion of arrival had subsided it was discovered that Mr. Black's personal luggage was missing. Airlines were contacted, planes searched in Bombay and Calcutta, all guest luggage rechecked and baggage rooms searched, but still no luggage. Mr. Black took the news philosophically, remarking that he would like to try getting through the week of meetings with just the clothes he had on. Fortunately this experiment wasn't necessary. The next morning someone had the good idea of lining up all 120 automobiles and opening up all 120 trunks. Mr. Black's suitcase was discovered in the fiftieth trunk!

This exhibition is presented by the World Bank Group Archives.

The assistance of staff in the Photo Lab and in the Graphic and Map Design Section is gratefully acknowledged.

Copyright, 2004, The International Bank for Reconstruction and Development

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