UN unity on helping poor nations with financial crisis



UNITED NATIONS, Gerard Aziakou - A UN conference ended here Friday with broad consensus on the need to help developing nations cope with the global financial crisis but with the United States voicing strong reservations about key recommendations.
A final document was adopted by acclamation at the end of a three-day debate marked by strident calls by developing countries for a new global financial architecture in which they would have a bigger say.



UN unity on helping poor nations with financial crisis
The event's organizer, UN General Assembly President Miguel D'Escoto Brockmann, hailed the outcome, saying it recognized that the voice of developing countries must be heard.
"We are in this reality and this world together and we will sink or float together," he noted.
"There's a global consensus on how we address what is a global economic crisis," Britain's UN Ambassador John Sawers told reporters.
"It has been a very constructive occasion in the sense that it's built upon the outcome of the G20 (summit last April) and it will be taken forward in further events at the G8 next month and at the (next G20) Pittsburgh summit in September," he said.
Nearly 120 member states took part, including Ecuadoran President Rafael Correa, the vice president of Zimbabwe, the prime ministers of Bosnia, Serbia, Togo, several Caribbean nations and Brazilian Foreign Minister Celso Amorim.
Key developed countries however sent low-level delegations.
Participants agreed to call on the Group of 20 (G20) developed and emerging nations to follow through with their April commitment to provide 1.1 trillion dollars to revitalize the world economy but also "to further consider addressing the financial needs of developing countries, especially low-income countries."
They also urged countries, "while implementing national stimulus measures, to avoid protectionism in any form and possible adverse impacts on third countries, particularly developing countries."
Another key recommendation was the need for "further reform of the governance of the (1944) Bretton Woods institutions -- the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank -- on the basis of a fair and equitable representation of developing countries, in order to increase the credibility and accountability of these institutions."
"We recognize that it is imperative to undertake, as a matter of priority, a comprehensive and fast-tracked reform of the IMF. We look forward to this accelerated progress," the document said.
But in a dissenting note, US delegate John Sammis insisted that "any decisions on reform of the international financial institutions or the manner in which they conduct their business are the prerogative of their shareholders and their respective Boards of Governors."
He said Washington did not see the outcome document "as endorsing a formal United Nations role in decisions affecting the international financial institutions or international financial architecture."
Other recommendations in the final document include:
. external financing to make up for lost income from reduced exports by developing countries and the outflow of capital caused by the crisis.
. substantial debt relief for poor countries hobbled by the crisis and the need for donors to fulfill their existing bilateral and multilateral commitments for official development aid.
Another invited the 192-member UN General Assembly "to establish an open-ended working group to follow up on the issues contained in the present document and to submit a report on the progress of its work to the General Assembly."
But Sammis again voiced strong reservations about a follow-through role for the world body.
"Our strong view is that the UN does not have the expertise or mandate to serve as a suitable forum or provide direction for meaningful dialogue on a number of issues addressed in the document, such as reserve systems, the international financial institutions, and the international financial architecture," he noted.
He also objected to a proposal to use trade measures to deal with an acute and severe shortage of foreign reserves.
"The use of trade measures should be avoided, and may only be resorted to when justified and applied in accordance with WTO (World Trade Organization) rules," Sammis said.
Meanwhile the advocacy director for the British charity Oxfam, gave a mixed assessment of the outcome.
While the document marks "a modest step forward to give poor countries a voice in tackling the crisis, too many rich countries remain opposed to UN involvement and the concrete steps proposed in the outcome document don't go far enough," Bernice Romero said.
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Saturday, June 27th 2009
Gerard Aziakou
           


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