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United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
H.E. Mr. Gordon Brown, Prime Minister

26 September 2008

Statement Summary

GORDON BROWN, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, said recent events proved that the world was in the new global age –- a world “not simply in transition, but transformation, with change more far-reaching than anything we have seen in our lifetimes”.  A unique point in time had been reached, and the challenges, opportunities and risks now met at the “global crossroads” of the United Nations.

In next two decades, the world economy would double in size, which, in turn, would double the potential for jobs and prosperity, he said.  While extraordinary promise awaited, there were also new insecurities and pressures, as seen in the first real financial crisis and first real resource crisis of this new age.  The twin shocks of a global credit crunch and soaring commodity prices “led straight to the front door of every family in every country”.  The global nature of the crises meant that they would not be resolved by nations working in isolation, rather, only by acting together.

The immediate priority was to fairly help people cope with difficult times, he said, adding that in the United Kingdom, the Government was supporting people with the costs of gas and electricity, supporting homeowners, and helping people acquire the skills for jobs.

If anything was to be learned, it was that the world was more interconnected than ever, and as such, solutions must be coordinated, he said.  All must be done to stabilize turbulence and rebuild the financial system around clear principles.  In the short term, each country was taking action, and the United States deserved support as it sought to agree “in detail” what all parties agreed “in principle”.  Meanwhile, the United Kingdom had taken action to protect investors and had introduced a temporary ban on short-selling; injected “billions” into the market, and extended its special liquidity scheme.

Confidence in the future was needed, and there were five principles around which to unite, he stressed, highlighting first the need for transparency and the rapid introduction of improved international accounting standards and disclosure.  Second, he called for sound banking practice, and more effective regulation that examined both solvency and liquidity.

There must also be responsibility, he said, so that no member of senior management could say they did not understand the risks, and integrity, so that companies could align rewards with stability and long-term gain.  Advice between credit rating agencies and the interests of investors should also be aligned.  Finally, oversight must be global, which was why he supported the creation of international colleges for each of the largest global financial institutions, with 30 due by year-end.

International institutions created in the aftermath of the Second World War had not kept pace with the changing global economy, he continued, underscoring the need for international capital movements to be transparent. “The age of irresponsibility must be ended,” he added.  However, global action must also address the scramble for resources, and only by making tough decisions on energy security and climate change, and bringing together a new global partnership of oil producers and consumers, could stability be brought to energy markets.

While the United Kingdom was committed to tackling climate change, oil would meet a “large part” of global energy needs for decades to come. States must consider whether the institutional architecture could bring about more transparent energy markets.  He planned to host a global energy summit in London to agree on areas for further action.

Continuing, he said only by helping Africa become a net exporter rather than importer of food, could the world see an end to high food prices.  On trade, he called for restarting negotiations, removing trade barriers and trade-distorting subsidies, which cost developing countries $15 billion a year.  “Now is not the time to pull up the drawbridge,” he declared.

On other international issues, he said the United Nations must help the next Government of Israel build on the foundations of current talks to agree on a two-State solution, which guaranteed Israel’s security and gave Palestinians a viable State.  In Cyprus, there was a real chance of settlement.  On Afghanistan, he said that only when the Government could deny land to Al-Qaida, and its associates, would the international community have done its job.

On the Sudan, he said that, while United Nations peacekeepers helped keep the fragile North-South peace agreement in place, Darfur remained “a disaster”, and it was up to the Government to create conditions for the conflict to end.  Finally, he called for supporting democracy and human rights in Zimbabwe, saying also, that now would be the worst time to “turn our back on the Millennium Development Goals”.

[Source: GA/10756]