UNITED NATIONS (AP) - Developing nations' hopes for forging a
new, more just economic world order appear unlikely to be quickly
realized as the United Nations' Conference on the World Financial
and Economic Crisis draws to a close Friday.
Only 10 world leaders, mostly from tiny Caribbean nations,
turned out for the three-day summit, and many recommendations
backed by developing countries that called for international
coordination of the global economy and a new reserve currency to
replace the U.S. dollar were watered down in negotiations before
the conference had begun.
"I think this kind of reform is a process, is a thing you can't
accomplish overnight," said Yu Yongding, director of the Institute
of World Economics and Politics and member of the conference's
advisory commission. "So in terms of feasibility, I think it is
feasible. I think we have a unique opportunity to carry out this
reform of the international monetary system."
"Before the financial crisis I don't think the U.S. government
would like to discuss this issue, but now this issue is on the
table and they have to discuss it," he said.
Representatives and leaders from the developing world attending
the summit repeatedly bemoaned the failure of free market policies
to protect them from the fallout of a crisis they did not create.
"We have the historical responsibility of seeking the
reemergence of our peoples, of walking with our own strength,
starting by redefining the global financial system, freeing us from
the blackmail to which we have been subjected by rich countries,"
Ecuador's President Rafael Correa told the General Assembly
"Patching up the Bretton Woods system, which we do not control,
makes no sense for the countries of the South. This is our
opportunity to consolidate our presence and to develop greater
power of deliberation and decision in international fora to,
finally, become the owners of our own destinies," Correa said. He
referred to the system created at New Hampshire's Bretton Woods,
which established the International Monetary Fund and World Bank.
When General Assembly President Miguel D'Escoto Brockmann, a
leftist Nicaraguan priest and former foreign minister, announced
the summit in April after the group of 20 major economic powers met
in London, he said it would ensure that all 192 U.N. member states
have an equal opportunity to participate in the search for
solutions to the worst economic downturn since the Great
Officials from U.S. and European Union, however, said little to
address the push for greater inclusion in global financial reform
efforts in their speeches Wednesday.
And activist groups accused developed countries of working
behind the scenes to scuttle stronger reforms.
"Wealthy countries like Britain have tried to block U.N.
proposals for radical action on the global economy and used the
summit to reaffirm support for a failed free market agenda.
Millions of the world's poor people face worse hardship so long as
rich nations dictate the rules of the global economy," said Ruth
Tanner, campaigns and policy director of the British anti-poverty
group War on Want.
Nobel Economics Laureate Joseph Stiglitz, who headed a
Commission of Experts on Financial and Monetary Reform appointed by
D'Escoto that developed recommendations for the conference, said he
remained cautiously optimistic.
"The issue is whether these reforms, that are currently on the
table, are going to happen fast enough and even, when they do
happen, go deep enough," Stiglitz said. "Some studies by
political scientists suggest that the kinds of reforms that have so
far been discussed would not make a difference for almost any
decisions that their organizations have made. So while they
represent a move in the right direction, they're not enough."
He told a news conference Thursday he expected the summit to end
with a final statement that is "rather stronger than the G-20
communique in articulating some of the problems and things going
"Whether they (the governments) sent the highest level
representation, the fact is there has been a global consensus and a
way forward," he said. "The real test is going to be exactly on
this issue of the way forward - and that's what will mark whether
this conference was successful."
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