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The International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank were conceived in July 1944 in Bretton Woods (New Hampshire, USA) by 45 nations, at the "International Monetary and Financial Conference" . Today, 187 countries are members of the IMF and the World Bank.
The sister organisations are often referred to as the "Bretton Woods Institutions". Their work, however, rests on distinctly different mandates. The IMF is responsible for securing and promoting international financial stability, whereas the core mandate of the World Bank is to promote economic and social development, and poverty reduction.
Switzerland became a member of the Bretton Woods Institutions in 1992. Since then it chairs a constituency, which includes Azerbaijan, the Kyrgyz Republic, Poland, Serbia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan. On behalf of this constituency, Switzerland holds one of the 24 seats in the Executive Boards of the IMF and World Bank, respectively. It participates actively in the discussions in both institutions and thereby influences their course of policy.
The responsibilities for Switzerland's relations with the IMF and the World Bank are, in line with the mandates of the institutions, spread out over different offices in the federal administration and the Swiss National Bank. Close collaboration ensures coherence in the positions presented in the two bodies.
The Federal Department of Finance (FDF-SIF) and the Swiss National Bank (SNB) are jointly responsible for Switzerland's membership in the IMF. The FDF is in charge for the general relations with the IMF, whereas the SNB is responsible for matters concerning Switzerland's monetary policy or matters, which are primarily of monetary nature.
The Federal Department of Economic Affairs (DEA-SECO) and the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA-SDC) oversee Switzerland's membership in the World Bank and cooperate operationally with this development organisation. Coordination of Switzerland's relations with the World Bank is incumbent upon the DEA.
Information on Switzerland's financial involvement in the IMF and the World Bank is summarized in the annual Foreign Economic Policy Report and in the Report on international financial and tax matters.
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