A people’s history of the IMF-World Bank: Facing 80 years since the Bretton Woods Conference

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The Bretton Woods Conference of 1944, held in New Hampshire in the United States (US), led to the establishment of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank Group (WBG) after the Second World War. The year 2024 will mark 80 years since the original “Bretton Woods moment.” Recent years have been turning points for the Bank and the Fund. Amid multiple crises, the US in 2022 referred to the need for a “new Bretton Woods,” with an agenda of re-consolidating the legitimacy of the IMF-WBG. Common in Bank and Fund narratives is an erasure of the culpability of their own operations for the crises felt in the global South. Instead, the World Bank’s Evolution Roadmap rolled out in 2023 to supposedly reform its goals, operations, and financing, as a way to repackage its tools to ease conditions for the entry of capital of the financial oligarchy into the global South, towards extracting super-profits.

For social movements, progressive academics, and critical civil society, it will be crucial to mark the 80 years of the Bretton Woods from the perspective of peoples and their organisations who struggle against the Bank and the Fund for violating people’s rights and sovereignty.

Responding to the Bank and Fund’s erasure of their history of economic dictates and harms, IBON International will create a website, A People’s History of the IMF-World Bank, that will feature articles and multimedia.

The initiative builds on the messages of the Reclaim Our Future Conference in October 2023, and its Conference Statement, which articulated a vision of rejecting neoliberal dictates, false solutions, and re-articulated the notion of shutting down the IMF-WBG.

Call for articles

The website will feature articles ranging from grassroots analyses, reflections on key moments in IMF-WBG history, interviews with social movement leaders, and accounts of struggle.

Written contributions could take a multiplicity of forms—from features, opinion pieces, to interview articles—as long as they are written in a popular and accessible tone. In line with this, length is advised to range from 1,500 to 2,000 words.

The target audience includes non-specialists and broader audiences not necessarily familiar with IFI policy conversations. The initiative also aims to facilitate greater understanding of the arguments of the global South against these institutions, for social movements and civil society who are not necessarily active in the IMF-WBG spaces.

Call for multimedia pieces

Recognising the power of storytelling through various forms, a people’s history of the IMF-WBG need not only be in the written word. Multimedia contributions could take the form of art pieces, videos, songs, and digital art, among others.

Submissions are due on 29 April 2024

We at IBON International are collecting contributions for potential release in the month of May 2024. However, the people’s history website will be launched earlier, in time for the Spring Meetings of the IMF-WBG, to be held in Washington, DC, in April 15-19 April 2024. Interested contributors may send their pieces by April 29, 2024 to rlahoy@iboninternational.org, after which a process of verifying your contribution and feedback will commence.