Cosma Gatere (202- 458-7170)
WASHINGTON, June 16, 2006 - "I am pleased to advise you that I have appointed Ms. Ana Palacio, a Spanish national, to serve as Senior Vice President and World Bank Group General Counsel.
I have also asked Ms. Palacio to serve as Secretary General of the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes and, as one of her first assignments, provide a recommendation to me, as the group's Chairman, how best to manage the important work carried out by the organization.
On March 15, I appointed a search committee chaired by the Bank’s Chief Financial Officer Vincenzo La Via and supported by the reputed search firm, Russell Reynolds. Since the General Counsel position serves both management and the Board, executive directors Eckhard Deutscher and Herwidayatmo represented the Board on the committee. The committee conducted a global search to identify diverse, qualified candidates motivated to serve the Bank Group’s important mission. When I met with the committee last week, they unanimously recommended Ms. Palacio.
All members of the Committee agree that Ms. Palacio brings unique strengths and experience. She has worked in the private sector in an export business, providing insight into trade issues; she worked for a large law firm before establishing her own; she spent eight years with the European Parliament, where she pioneered new areas of international law; she was the first woman to serve as Spain’s Foreign Minister; and she is deeply committed to empowering the poor to enable them to escape poverty.
While she started her academic career focused on math and engineering, she ultimately found her passion was law. After graduation, she spent two years in private practice for a large firm, Ramon, Hermosilla & Abogados. She then set up her own law firm - Palacio y Asociados - where she was extremely successful in addressing the emerging field of Spanish law as it relates to Spain's accession to the European Union.
From 1994 to 2002, Ms. Palacio served as a member of the European Parliament, where she chaired the Legal Affairs and Internal Market Committee, followed by the Justice and Home Affairs Committee.
In 2002, Prime Minister Aznar appointed Ms. Palacio as the first woman Foreign Minister of Spain, where she focused on European Union and transatlantic relations, as well as strengthening ties with Middle East and Mediterranean nations. Since leaving the Foreign Ministry, Ms. Palacio has served as a member of the Spanish Parliament, where she chairs the Joint Committee of the two Houses for European Union Affairs.
Utilizing her broad legal credentials, she has recently been serving as a Bank consultant working with the UN High Level Commission on the Legal Empowerment of the Poor, co-chaired by Secretary Madeleine Albright and Hernando de Soto.
Ms. Palacio has held the most senior positions in the Council of Bars and law Societies of Europe, the governing body of European lawyers. She is a member of the Board of Trustees and former executive president of the Academy of European Law, a distinguished professor of the European College of Parma and is a member of the editorial board of the Revue de Droit de L’Union Europeenne.
Ms. Palacio demonstrated exceptional leadership and management capabilities when she served as Spain’s Foreign Minister, which I know she will bring to this position as the first General Counsel for the World Bank Group. And, just as she served with legal skill and diplomacy, integrating and advancing a common European Union agenda, so too will she work to strengthen coordination and teamwork across our institution."