24 November 2008
Press Conference

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

press conference on international conference to review implementation of monterrey

consensus, Secretary-General’s high-level retreat on global financial crisis

The draft outcome document for this weekend’s international conference in Doha, Qatar, to review progress in implementing the 2002 agreements on key financial and global development challenges was far from completion, the upcoming event’s Executive Secretary said at a Headquarters press conference this afternoon.

“There are just too many things that are outstanding,” said Oscar de Rojas, Executive Secretary of the Follow-up Conference on Financing for Development to Review the Implementation of the Monterrey Consensus.  Negotiators drafting the 96-page text were having difficulty agreeing on new commitments and goals -- such as whether to increase and speed up delivery of official development assistance (ODA) -- due to the current global financial crisis.

A drafting committee would resume discussions on those key points during the Conference, he said.  “We do hope that in the end we will have a successful outcome and a meaningful, productive document that will help us continue this process in the future because, more than ever, the world requires that the whole international community tackle issues of economic development, poverty and the question of the functioning of the international economic and financial system.”

He said the heads of the two Bretton Woods institutions -- the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank -- would not attend the Doha Review Conference, scheduled for 29 November to 2 December.  Instead, they would each send 15-member high-level delegations.  However, the 10-member World Trade Organization delegation would be headed by its Director-General.  The Secretary-General of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and the President of the European Community would also attend, as would global business community leaders, parliamentarians and more than 400 representatives of non-governmental organizations.

Also speaking at the press conference was Kemal Dervis, Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), who pointed out that the Doha Review Conference would take place amid the worst global financial crisis in decades and two weeks after the 15 November G-20 meeting in Washington, D.C., the first in which developing-world leaders had participated in negotiations with their counterparts in advanced economies on how to reform international financial regulations.  “You cannot any longer discuss worldwide economic problems and worldwide institutional and policy challenges without the developing countries sitting at the table.”

Underscoring the significance of developing nations’ large populations and “economic firepower” in terms of reserves, trade and growth, said developed-world economies would contract this year, by 0.5 per cent to 1 per cent, according to the latest estimates of international financial institutions.  But in an unusual and novel situation, developing countries, led by China, would post strong positive growth, albeit at a slower rate due to weakening export demand and the credit crunch.  On 30 November, the Department of Economic and Social Affairs would release its 2009 world economic growth projections during the Doha Review Conference.

He called for cooperation and coordination in the global fiscal policy response to the financial crisis in order to prevent it from turning into a global human crisis.  “The UN is very mindful of the fact that efforts have to be even more inclusive.”

Also present was Jomo Kwame Sundaram, Assistant Secretary-General for Economic Development, who noted that delegates to the forthcoming Conference had disagreed throughout 2008 about how to address major aspects of the financing for development agenda, including the role of Governments in domestic resource mobilization, whether international taxation would enhance resource mobilization, national voting rights in the Bretton Woods institutions and how to ensure aid effectiveness, continued private capital flows and international trade.

Asked his opinion about the cause of the global financial crisis, the outlook for worldwide recession and whether China would lead the world out of it, Mr. Dervis said weak regulation of new and poorly understood financial products, coupled with large capital flows, were at the root of the crisis, adding that while China and India could indeed play a positive role, no two or three countries could solve it on their own.  The length and depth of the recession would depend on the extent of global policy responses.

As for whether donor countries had decided to renege on their ODA commitments because of the crisis, he said that, on the contrary, during last weekend’s G-20 meeting and other economic summits, donor countries had warned against doing so.  In the last two years, debt relief had fallen modestly, but that drop had preceded the current crisis.

Asked why the heads of the Bretton Woods institutions were not attending the Doha Review Conference, Mr. de Rojas said IMF Managing Director Dominique Strauss-Kahn had cited pressing work-related reasons in a personal letter to the United Nations Secretary-General.  World Bank President Robert Zoellick had not sent any direct communication, although the organization had notified the United Nations that its Chief Economist would head the World Bank delegation.  Like the heads of other major global financial institutions, Mr. Strauss-Kahn and Mr. Zoellick were saddled with pressing developments on the international financial markets, which were changing by the day and hour, making it difficult for them to attend the Doha event.

As to whether the “Group of 77” developing countries and China would walk out of the Conference in protest over sticking points like taxation, Mr. de Rojas said he did not expect anyone to walk out.

* *** *

For information media • not an official record