International Conference on Financing for Development
Department of Public Information - News and Media Services Division - New York
Monterrey, NL, Mexico
18-22 March 2002
21 March 2002


The need to reform the international financial system was the main theme underlying the non-governmental organizations' (NGOs) evaluation of the ministerial round-table discussions, at a press conference moderated by Jocelyn Dow of Red Thread/Women's Environment and Development Organization (WEDO).

Martha Arias, of Intermom Oxfam, who spoke about the round-table discussion on coherence, said that the NGOs, recognizing the incoherence of international trade goals, had called for reform of the international financial architecture. They had proposed that greater transparency would make it possible to address that incoherence by harmonizing policies. In terms of content, developing countries were generally on the same page as the NGOs, she added.

Regarding the round table on partnership, Paul Tennasse, of the World Confederation of Labour, said that the discussion had also focused on the issues of participation and ownership. The NGO position was that a partnership already existed between the international financial institutions, the multilateral organizations and the Group of 8 industrialized nations. The multilateral agencies had usurped the development agenda of the developing countries, whose interests coincided with those of the NGOs.

Roberto Bissio, of the Instituto del Tercer Mundo/Social Watch, said the issue of reforming the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) was repeatedly raised during the round table on looking forward. The configuration of world power remained the same as it was 50 years ago. Rather than "looking forward", the theme should have been "moving forward" because the Millennium Development Goals had already been established and everybody knew what they wanted.

Asked how they evaluated the summit segment of the Conference so far,
Ms. Dow said that President Fidel Castro of Cuba was the only head of State to address the central contradiction of the existing international system.
Mr. Tennasse said that President Castro and President Hugo Chávez of Venezuela had been impressive, whether one agreed with their politics or not. Ms. Arias said the Monterrey consensus, the Conference outcome document, reflected a prior positioning of the parties involved and seemed to contain many grey areas.

Regarding the conditionality required by funding agencies and other donors, Ms. Arias told another correspondent that, in many cases, aid was used as a tool for wielding influence over developing countries. The insistence on good governance, while desirable, was tied to conditions that were not favourable to those States.

Mr. Tennasse said NGOs intended to press for negotiations with the World Bank, IMF and the multilateral institutions for more space so that they could have greater input in the United Nations conferences. Otherwise, such meetings seemed like public relations exercises. Ms. Dow emphasized the need to ensure that the Johannesburg World Summit on Sustainable Development had the capacity to overcome the mistakes made at the Monterrey Conference. Ms. Arias said that, while NGOs had generally supported United Nations conferences, there was no more time for summits. It was time to move forward.

Press Releases
Conference News