In the past five years, the world has created the International Criminal Court; the Global Fund for AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria; and the Kyoto carbon-trading system. Scarcely a month goes by without statesmen, high-level commissions, and civil-society activists calling for the creation of yet another institution: to manage postconflict reconstruction, to handle sovereign bankruptcies, to supplement or supplant existing bodies such as the United Nations. World leaders have focused less, however, on sustaining the good global institutions already in existence. A case in point is the World Bank, where an incoming president will soon confront a nearly impossible challenge: saving the bank from the same caste of statesmen, high-level commissions, and civil-society activists.
After 60 years of operation, the World Bank is large and lavish; it does not exude an aura of fragility. Its main complex in Washington, D.C., is an extravagance of glass and steel -- a
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