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Nigel Gould-Davies

The IMF Needs to Sync Its Belarus Policy with the West

Major western powers still dominate the institution but it is financing an autocratic regime they have no longer recognize as legitimate.

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko


On Aug. 9, the U.S., U.K. and Canada imposed their latest round of sanctions on Belarus. Two days later, the International Monetary Fund agreed to provide the country with $910 million as part of a global allocation of special drawing rights (SDRs). As a result, while Western countries escalate sanctions on Belarus in response to severe human rights abuses and violations of international law, the IMF, an organization the West still dominates, is funding the regime. This contradiction must be addressed.

It is not the first time this has happened. In 2008, facing severe financial stress from the global financial crisis, Belarus appealed to the IMF for emergency help. I was one of the few ambassadors in Minsk to take a close interest. As negotiations got under way, the IMF representative and I spent a lot of time together, often on long walks away from prying ears, to explore a solution that would both help Belarus while also promoting human rights through some form of linkage. I also tried to persuade the U.K. Treasury to support this approach, but its lack of imagination disappointed me.