Finnish President calls for fair globalization as UN development meeting continues

30 June 2005 –

As the United Nations main development body continued the ministerial segment of its 2005 policy session, today's keynote speaker called for more equitable and sustainable globalization to achieve the goals in poverty alleviation and institutional reform that will be the focus of the upcoming UN World Summit in September.

"We can and must reform globalization," said the President of Finland, Tarja Halonen, as she opened the second day of the three-day High-level Segment of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). Development, security and human rights strengthened the potential for more equitable and more sustainable globalization, she said.

The interplay between globalization and development was the fundamental notion behind the World Commission on the Social Dimension of Globalization, which was set up by the UN International Labour Organization (ILO) and which she co-chaired with President Benjamin Mkapa of the United Republic of Tanzania, she said.

The nation-state still remained the most important actor in globalization, she said, while efficient multilateralism and jointly-agreed rules were vital to efforts to minimize its disadvantages, and corporate social responsibility in globalization should be highlighted more clearly.

ECOSOC President Munir Akram of Pakistan said that, in its discussions of these issues so far, the Council had demonstrated that it could build real coalitions for action on the economic and social front.

Addressing a press conference on the sidelines of the meeting, he said the key decision-makers in the high-level segment were focusing squarely on the internationally-agreed development goals and related policies and problems, and that put ECOSOC in a good position to build consensus for real action on the development agenda at the September Summit.

He described the discussions so far as having been excellent, in terms of their depth and sincerity and level of commitment, on the part of both developed and developing countries.

There was a new spirit, he said, which had been manifested in the European Union's decision on official development assistance (ODA), in the Group of 8 industrialized nations' decision on debt. Of course, there was a long way to go and the challenges were monumental, but if the new spirit continues it will ensure success in September.

The focus in ECOSOC had very much been on action and implementation, he said. From the opening session yesterday and the concurrent deliberations in several round tables, it seemed that ECOSOC was well on the way to re-establishing itself as a forum, a platform, which could bring together all the relevant actors in the international community. In the high-level segment, there were Heads of State and governments, as well as approximately 50 ministers. There were also representatives from the business sector and civil society.

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