How easily promises are forgotten in a crisis. Dominic Strauss-Khan's stepping down as head of the International Monetary Fund amid charges of sexual assault has ignited a battle by European countries to ensure the job stays in their hands. The push ignores a pledge made just over two years ago by Americans and Europeans to stop dividing up the leadership posts of the fund and World Bank to give developing nations a chance to play a bigger role in world affairs. To not honour the pledge risks further damaging the West's credibility among China, India, Brazil and others, which deserve a more prominent place at the international decision-making table. It was that sentiment that prompted the Group of 20 leaders at the close of their summit in London in 2009 to promise that 'the heads and senior leadership of the international financial institutions should be appointed through an open, transparent and merit-based selection process'. There is every reason why this should happen. Developing nations now play a crucial role in the global economy. The old world order can no longer hold absolute sway. It is unfair and illogical. German Chancellor Dr Angela Merkel plainly has other thoughts. While agreeing that candidates from nations like China and India could be allowed to head the IMF 'in the mid-term', she has contended that the continuing financial crisis in the euro zone warranted that a European stay in charge. There was certainly no such argument from Europe during the Asian financial crisis. Her excuse and those of other Europeans is akin to believing that as most UN peacekeepers are in Africa, the head of UN peacekeeping operations should not be French, as at present, but an African. Strauss-Khan's career is over, but there is no disputing his worth to the IMF. His technical and political skills gave it new relevance. Its next leader should be as skilled, not chosen by outdated prerogatives. Promises for a non-European or US candidate have to be kept.