It was a great pleasure for me to help to inaugurate the Global Development Network (GDN). In my remarks at GDN99 in Bonn, I sought to do two things: first, to explain why I think the GDN is so important and why the World Bank has taken such an active role as a catalyst in promoting it; and second, to develop some of the thinking that lies behind the creation of this new institution.
It has been just over fifty years since the beginning of the end of colonialism and just a decade since the end of the Cold War. Yet old ways of interacting persist, and it takes time for the evolution of new modes of behavior, new bases for relationships founded on equality and respect.
I realise that it has become unfashionable to refer back to the dark days of colonialism, and yet, as we attempt to develop institutions to meet the challenges of this new century, our success in doing so will depend, I believe, on understanding the histories, how we-the developed and developing countries, and the economies in transition-came to be where we are today. Colonialism served to eviscerate existing institutions in the affected countries, which is almost all of the developing world. It tried to graft on to existing cultures foreign institutions and ideas, but in a process of imposition, in which control and authority lay outside and not within, it is not surprising that the graft did not take hold. What was left in its place was a void-the old was destroyed, but nothing really viable had been created in its stead. Worse still, in all too many countries, they were left without the human capital required to create an alternative, let alone to adapt to the rapid changes that have marked the latter half of the twentieth century. And too many countries were robbed of the dignity and self-confidence with which to address these imposing challenges, which would have placed strains even on societies in far better positions.
The colonial mentality has evolved. While no one today speaks, like Kipling, of the 'white man's burden,' I have too often sensed a paternalism that is but a