Ban Ki-moon's speeches

Remarks to the Special meeting of the UN Economic and Social Council with the Bretton Woods Institutions, World Trade Organization and the UN Conference on Trade and Development

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, UN Headquarters, 16 April 2007

Madame President, [of the General Assembly]
Mr. President, [of ECOSOC]
Distinguished ministers and guests,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

Let me join the President of the Economic and Social Council in warmly welcoming our guests from the international financial and trade institutions to the United Nations. This is an important part of the follow-up process to the Monterrey Consensus, and I am glad that you are part of the discussion and debate.

The latest economic reports from the United Nations Secretariat, as well as from Washington and Geneva, indicate that the recent, unprecedented period of sustained and widespread growth continues, particularly in the developing world. But those same reports also warn us that the risks are increasing, as global imbalances and the volatility of some financial markets worsen.

The themes you have chosen for today's deliberations -- governance, trade, aid and the voice of developing countries in decisions affecting their own development -- are all crucial for achieving the objectives of the Monterrey Consensus.

That landmark Consensus recognized the need for “good governance at all levels” to ensure that resources are mobilized and used effectively. Participation, transparency and accountability are all crucial components of this process. Countries themselves must be in the driver's seat when governance reforms are involved. Experience shows that donor-driven initiatives, especially when externally imposed, can weaken the legitimacy of domestic efforts, and may be counter-productive.

Corruption obviously reflects a failure of governance. But the fight against corruption is not synonymous with governance, and thus should be properly addressed as part of comprehensive governance reforms. Furthermore, anti-corruption efforts should reinforce the only internationally agreed framework in this field, the UN Convention against Corruption. I note with concern that the industrialized countries have been slower to ratify this ground-breaking instrument than developing countries.

The Monterrey Consensus also calls for developing countries to have a greater voice in international economic decision-making. Developing countries have 79 per cent of the world's population. They contribute 45 per cent of world output, when measured in terms of purchasing power parities. Yet their significance is poorly reflected in forums where crucial decisions about their economic and social future are taken, including some of the institutions created 60 years ago under vastly different circumstances. If these institutions are to strengthen their own legitimacy and credibility -- and better serve the world's peoples -- they must engage more deeply in reforms that reflect today's economic realities. That means increasing the weight of several developing countries, which have grown substantially in recent decades. And it means giving adequate voice to smaller economies where many of the world's poor live.

Trade is another essential part of the picture, along with sound policies for investment and technology. The recent resumption of the Doha Round of trade negotiations is most welcome. But we must ensure that its development promise is not compromised. Developing countries, especially the least developed among them, need better market access, as well as more help to improve their production and trading capacity. There is a need to eliminate all export and trade-distorting agricultural subsidies of industrialized countries. And the rules for intellectual property rights need to be reformed so as to strengthen technological progress and to ensure that the poor have better access to new technologies and products.

With or without a breakthrough on trade, there will still be a critical role for official development assistance. Recent years have seen the emergence of significant new donors, as well as the reversal of the downward ODA trend of the last decade. However, despite recent promises of increased aid flows, significant shortfalls have already become apparent. We should all be very concerned that ODA fell by more than 5 per cent in 2006, according to the Development Assistance Committee of the OECD. And while there have been some modest gains in generating development financing through innovative approaches, there is an urgent need to encourage new initiatives.

It is also unfortunate that the provision of ODA has become unnecessarily complicated, fragmented and poorly coordinated. Moreover, recipient countries have little influence over the process. All too often, aid is driven more by politics than by need, undermining its effectiveness. In addition, the growth of aid in recent years has stemmed largely from increased debt relief and emergency assistance, rather than fresh funding. Yet fresh funding is needed if countries are to overcome the financing gap and achieve the Millennium Development Goals.

The question of developing-country participation is relevant here, too. While the interests and views of donor countries are well represented in the multilateral financial institutions, there has been no effective permanent forum reflecting the interests of the recipient countries. The launching of the Development Cooperation Forum in the context of ECOSOC later this year should help improve international oversight of development assistance. I encourage the Bretton Woods Institutions and the World Trade Organization to be active participants in this new initiative, which as you know was supported by Heads of State at the World Summit.


Your views, proposals and new initiatives on all these subjects during today's deliberations will provide critical inputs for two important events scheduled to be held later this year: ECOSOC's first Annual Ministerial Review and Development Cooperation Forum in July, and the General Assembly's High-level Dialogue on Financing for Development this fall. These, in turn, will be crucial steps towards the Follow-up International Conference on Financing for Development to be held in Doha in the second half of 2008.

You can count on my strong personal interest in these matters, and on my full support during the preparatory process for Doha 2008. More broadly, I look forward to working closely with all of you to achieve the MDGs and to advance the wider development agenda.

Thank you very much. I wish you all a most productive meeting.