The Future of U.S. Leadership in Multilateral Development Institutions: A Playbook for the Next 10 Years
September 28, 2021
Over the past year, the CSIS Project on Prosperity and Development has undertaken a study that evaluates opportunities for the United States to rebuild its leadership role and its influence in multilateral development institutions. The research is based on the idea that member states within multilateral institutions can exert influence in the system through personnel—specifically, by placing qualified candidates in leadership and senior staff positions. Leaders set the direction and agenda of these institutions and have significant decision-making power, particularly over institutional priorities and staff composition. Similarly, senior staff familiar with the inner dynamics of organizations are responsible for implementing the decisions of leaders. Strategically placing people who understand how to exercise power in positions of authority can catalyze greater change in these institutions and can advance good policy decisions that are in the interest of U.S. national security. CSIS' research has found that the United States has been losing influence in multilateral organizations over the past 30 years. Specifically, U.S. ability to compete in leadership races and place qualified representatives in top positions has diminished, and the presence of qualified Americans in staff positions has also declined. This study presents a series of recommendations on how to approach leadership changes and staffing of Americans at multilateral development institutions, as well as strategic direction for the current and future U.S. administrations.
This project was made possible by the generous support from the Smith Richardson Foundation.