Field and river

20th International Conference of Ethiopian Studies (ICES20)
Mekelle University, Ethiopia

"Regional and Global Ethiopia - Interconnections and Identities"
1-5 October, 2018

ICES20 logo

Use the "back" button of your browser to return to the list of abstracts.


AYELE Bekerie, Mekelle University, Ethiopia

In recent years, a growing set of literature has been concerned with the analysis of the role of the World Bank Group in the consolidation of the post-Second World War international order. World Bankers provided technical and financial support to recently independent countries in the so-called Global South, concurring to the consolidation of Western economic and political models vis a vis their socialist counterparts. Nevertheless, many scholars argued that in spite of its apolitical nature, the Bank’s policy towards borrowing countries was largely shaped by the political and strategic interests of its member states. This paper will analyse the dialectics between the World Bank, the United States of America, and two European powers (Italy and Great Britain) during one of the most troubled periods in the recent history of the relationship between Ethiopia and the West: the three-years revolution that started in 1974 with the overthrowing of Emperor Haile Selassie and ended in 1977 with the rise on power by Col. Menghistu Haile Mariam and the diplomatic shift of the country towards the socialist bloc. In the quality of Ethiopia’s main international donor, the USA and the World Bank played an important albeit still neglected role in addressing the economic orientation of the DERG during the revolution. The paper relies on untapped primary sources collected in the archives of the World Bank, Great Britain, and the United States. Such archival documents provide an innovative perspective on the role played by the World Bank in shaping the East-West diplomacy during the period under consideration, and highlight how the multilateral organization was subject to multiple pressures by Western countries, eager to exploit the Bank’s financial leverage to pursue their own diplomatic goals and protect their overseas economic assets after the 1975 nationalizations.