The end of history lasted for such a short time. If the early 1990s raised hopes of a broad-based consensus on economic policy for growth, equity, and poverty reduction, the late 1990s dashed them. The East Asian crisis and the Seattle debacle saw to that. In the year 2000, the governors of the World Bank, whose mission it is to eradicate poverty, could meet only under police protection, besieged by those who believe instead that the institution and the policies it espouses cause poverty. The street demonstrations in Prague, Seattle, and Washington DC, are one end of a spectrum of disagreement, which includes vigorous debate in the pages of the leading newspapers, passionate involvement of faith-based organizations, and the genteel cut and thrust of academic discourse.
The last 2 years have seen my involvement in an extensive process of consultation on poverty reduction strategies. 1 The consultation reached out to most interested constituencies in the academic, policy-making, and advocacy communities. It covered the international financial institutions (IFIs) and the myriad UN specialized agencies, government ministries in the North and the South, northern aid agencies, academic analysts in rich and poor countries, northern and southern advocacy non-governmental