Eli Whitney Debevoise II (born February 8, 1953) was the U.S. Executive Director of the World Bank Group (April 6, 2007 - 2009). He is also a partner at Arnold & Porter LLP and served as Commissioner of the Maryland Port Commission in Baltimore.
President George W. Bush nominated Debevoise to be U.S. Executive Director of the World Bank Group on February 16, 2007 to fill the vacancy left by Robert Holland and acting Executive Director Jennifer Dorn. On November 16, 2009 it was announced that he would be replaced by Ian Hoddy Solomon after his term was finished.
Eli Whitney Debevoise II, commonly known as "Whitney Debevoise," was born in Morristown, New Jersey in 1953, the son of Thomas M. Debevoise and Ann Taylor Debevoise. He graduated from the St. Albans School in Washington, D.C. in 1970. He graduated summa cum laude in 1974 from Yale University (where he was a member of Manuscript Society), with departmental honors in History and Latin American Studies, and received a J.D. from Harvard Law School in 1977. Debevoise is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, the American Society of International Law, the International Law Section of the American Bar Association, and the International Bar Association. He speaks Portuguese, Spanish, and French fluently, and holds an honorary law degree from Vermont Law School. He is the great, great grandson of Eli Whitney.
Debevoise started at Arnold & Porter, LLP as an associate in 1979 and practiced as a partner from 1986 to 2007. During this time, he increasingly specialized in international financial transactions, banking and international trade. While in private practice, Whitney Debevoise represented the central banks and finance ministries of many countries, as well as the Bank for International Settlements, the World Bank, the African Development Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank. Debevoise has been involved in transactions ranging from Brazil's $49 billion Brady Plan exercise to numerous Yankee bond, Samurai bond, and Eurobond issuances in ten different currencies. He was involved with billion dollar equity placements of shares in firms, such as Telfonica Argentina, Companhia Vale do Rio Doce (CVRD), Petroleo Brasileiro SA (Petrobras), and Unibanco-Uniao de Bancos Brasileiros. For his efforts, Brazil awarded Debevoise the Order of Rio Branco in 1997, which recognizes Brazilian and "foreign individuals" who have significantly contributed to the promotion of Brazil's international relations.
Debevoise also handled cases in the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) and World Trade Organization dispute settlement mechanism and at the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes, including cases establishing rulings on the allocation of arbitral expenses and attorney's fees.
Eli Whitney Debevoise was U.S. Executive Director of the World Bank Group from April 6, 2007 to October 2009. He represented the United States on a 24-member board representing 186 member countries that considers all loans, investments, country assistance strategies, budgets, audits and business plans of the World Bank Group entities. Borrowers include more than 125 countries and 300 companies and funds.