UN summit looks to find solutions to financial crisis

UN summit looks to find solutions to financial crisis
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First Published: Tue, Jun 23 2009. 12 19 PM IST
Updated: Tue, Jun 23 2009. 12 19 PM IST
New York: The global financial crisis is being tackled by the eight major industrialized nations, the 20 key economic powers, and regional groups. Now, the U.N. General Assembly is getting into the act _ and developing countries are pressing for the 192-member world body to become a key player in representing the world’s poor who have been hard-hit by the economic meltdown.
A three-day summit called by General Assembly President Miguel D’Escoto Brockmann opens Wednesday with developing nations still wrangling over the causes of the financial crisis and what actions should be taken in response.
D’Escoto, a leftist Nicaraguan priest and former foreign minister, invited U.N. member states to attend the summit at the highest level. According to the latest figures on Monday, 126 countries will participate _ 14 heads of state and government, four vice-presidents, three deputy prime ministers, 32 ministers, 28 vice-ministers and many ambassadors.
Ten of the 14 world leaders coming to New York are from Latin America and the Caribbean, most prominently Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and Bolivia’s President Evo Morales, both outspoken critics of U.S. policy, with just two Europeans, one African and one Asian.
Martin Knor, executive director of the South Center, a Geneva-based research organization with 50 developing countries as members, told a news conference Monday that developing countries aren’t responsible for the financial crisis but are now suffering more than richer developed countries.
Economic growth in developing countries is expected to drop from 8.3 percent in 2007 to 1.6 percent this year _ a larger drop than in developed countries, he said. If China and India, which are still going to have moderate growth, are removed from the statistics, the decline for many poor countries will be much larger, with many in “deep recession,” he said.
“Our fear is that this crisis will last for at least another one or two years,” Knor said.
He said this week’s summit, focusing on the impact of the financial crisis on development, is important because until now there has been no forum where all countries of the world could meet to discuss actions and measures to address the crisis.
“The majority of developing countries feel very left out,” Knor said. “They want to have a say as to how the crisis has affected them and what they want the international community to do.”
Knor said the G8 and the G20 are “exclusive clubs” whose members should realize that they lack “the legitimacy that the United Nations has.”
The U.N. should reclaim the leadership role it once had in global economic policy, he said.
But in the final summit document still being negotiated, developed countries are not supporting the major U.N. role advocated by the Group of 77, which represents 132 mainly developing counties and China.
Knor said the summit will be a success if General Assembly members say in the final document that there’s a crisis, agree to help developing countries facing plunging exports, falling reserves, and the possibility of a new debt crisis, and decide to follow up with specific proposals for action.
“If they say thank you, the conference ends, we meet again in 10 years time when we have a new crisis, then it would be a profound failure,” he said.
“If we don’t do something now, we are very, very stupid because we are not going to prevent the next one.”
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First Published: Tue, Jun 23 2009. 12 19 PM IST