24 October 2008

Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York



Following is the text of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s remarks to the afternoon session of the Chief Executives Board meeting on the global financial crisis today, 24 October:

Welcome back.  I trust you had a pleasant lunch.

We now begin a most important discussion:  the global financial crisis.

I am very pleased that both Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), and Robert Zoellick, President of the World Bank, are with us. 

It goes without saying that the past weeks have been tumultuous. 

We do not yet know whether our efforts to stabilize the financial system will succeed.

We do not know what new twists the crisis will take.

But we do know that it requires a decisive collective response.

Yesterday, I met informally with a small group of eminent economists.

All recognized the need to reinvent the international institutions of yesteryear.  As Mr. Zoellick and others have said, the times demand a new multilateralism.

Nicolas Sarkozy, the current President of the European Union, has called for an expanded G-8 [Group of Eight] summit before the end of this year.  President [George W.] Bush has announced plans to hold a G-20 conference in Washington next month.

I will attend, along with Mr. Strauss-Kahn and Mr. Zoellick.

We at the United Nations will do all we can to support these efforts.

However … rethinking our global financial architecture will take time.

As Secretary-General, I must be very pragmatic.  I must think about the short term as well as the long term.

At yesterday’s meeting with the economists, we discussed many aspects of the financial crisis.  All agreed that the next shoe to drop is likely to be the emerging markets.

Developing nations face the same pressures as the United States and Europe.  Yet many lack the resources to rescue their financial institutions or withstand runs on their banks.

The danger is a succession of cascading financial crises.

This demands drastic measures.

IMF and the world’s major central banks may need to set up substantial standby lines of credit for proactive intervention, so that banks in developing nations, too, have adequate funds to draw on in emergency.

Too often, in recent weeks, financial leaders have been criticized for being too slow to recognize problems, for doing too little too late.

Let us not repeat the mistakes of the past.

We must act now to prevent today’s crisis from becoming worse tomorrow.

Let me turn, here, to our most fundamental concern.

That is the potential of this crisis to undo the United Nations good work.

It threatens to undermine all our achievements and all our progress.

Our progress in eradicating poverty and disease.  Our efforts to fight climate change and promote development.  To ensure that people have enough to eat.

The global financial crisis compounds the food crisis, the energy crisis, the crisis of development in Africa.  It could be the final blow that many of the poorest of the world’s poor simply cannot survive.

It is our job, at the United Nations, to see that this does not happen.

It is our job to defend the defenceless, to give voice to the voiceless.

In the urgency of the moment, we cannot neglect those who are most vulnerable.  In this time of global crisis, we must act in global solidarity.

In September, we had a very successful High-Level Meeting on the Millennium Development Goals.

Initial estimates from the Department of Economic and Social Affairs suggest that we received new financial pledges exceeding the $16 billion previously announced.  The final figure, in fact, may be closer to $17.5 billion.

These promises will soon be tested, beginning next month with the Review Conference on Financing for Development in Doha.

We are morally bound to honour these commitments, now more so than ever.

We cannot allow untold millions of people to fall back into poverty.

Nor can we allow the financial crisis to eclipse the crisis of climate change. 

We can be effective only if we act together, with one voice and a common purpose.

I hope today’s meeting will smooth the way.

To get us started, I have asked Mr. Strauss-Kahn to brief us on the latest macroeconomic trends and the role of IMF.

Mr. Zoellick will discuss the impact of the financial crisis on the World Bank and development.

Mr. [Juan] Somavía will speak about employment and the “real economy”, followed by Mr. [Pascal] Lamy on trade. 

I also expect contributions from Mr. [Kemal] Dervis, Mr. Supachai [Panitchpakdi] and others to enrich our discussion.

As we work to understand the full scope of the crisis, I urge you to focus on the United Nations and its role.

How do we best protect our global constituency, the world’s poor?

How do we minimize the impact of the financial crisis on our work for the global good?

How do we best use the United Nations unique convening power and good offices to deliver the results we need?

What can we do, in the difficult times to come, to resist protectionism and promote openness, inclusiveness and global solidarity?

I would like to begin by giving the floor to Dominique Strauss-Kahn.

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For information media • not an official record