World Bank groupThe World Bank group is a group of five international organizations responsible for providing finance to countries for purposes of development and poverty reduction, and for encouraging and safeguarding international investment. The group and its affiliates are headquartered in Washington, D.C.
The group comprises:
- International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD), often called simply the "World Bank", responsible for providing finance for development
- International Finance Corporation (IFC), responsible for providing finance to support private ventures in developing countries
- International Development Association (IDA), responsible for providing long-term interest-free loans to the poorest of developing countries
- International Centre for the Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID), responsible for settling disputes between governments and foreign investors
- Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA), responsible for providing political risk insurance to promote foreign direct investment into emerging economies
The Bank came into formal existence on 27 December 1945 following international ratification of the Bretton Woods agreements. Commencing operations on 25 June 1946, it approved its first loan on 9 May 1947 ($250m to France for postwar reconstruction, in real terms the largest loan issued by the Bank to date). The IFC was created on 20 July 1956, the IDA on 24 September 1960, the ICSID on 14 October 1966 and the MIGA on 12 April 1988.
Though repeatedly relied upon by impoverished governments around the world as a contributor of development finance, the Bank and its affiliates have been criticised by opponents of globalisation for undermining the national sovereignty of recipient countries through its pursuit of economic liberalisation and guarantees for private international investment.