23 June 2009
Press Conference

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

press conference by General Assembly president on conference on THE world


financial and economic crisis and its impact on development


Negotiations on the long-debated outcome document for the United Nations summit on the world financial crisis, which begins tomorrow, had come to a successful conclusion, General Assembly President Miguel d’Escoto Brockmann announced this morning at a Headquarters press conference.


“If it was in another context, I would say there is white smoke,” Mr. d’Escoto said of the call he had received from the facilitators for the three-day summit mandated in late 2008 by the Follow-up International Conference on Financing for Development.  He cautioned, however, that the document still required approval by the General Committee, representing the Conference plenary -- all 192 Member States of the Assembly.


“Let us hope that we have a Conference that is up to the exigencies and the gravity of the crisis facing mankind,” Mr. d’Escoto said.  While unable to provide details of the negotiated final document, he voiced confidence that it would be greatly appreciated by all and allow the entire international community to move forward “as the brothers and sisters who we must never forget we are”.


The Conference on the World Financial and Economic Crisis and Its Impact on Development aims to bring world leaders together to discuss possible responses to mitigate the impact of the crisis on developing countries, while also initiating dialogue on reforming the world financial architecture.


In response to questions, the President said the provisions of the document might not be as comprehensive as his own proposals, made in the past several months, but his suggestions had been intended only to provide material for an interactive process.  “Negotiations are about give and take,” he added.


Expressing satisfaction with the role that the document accorded the United Nations in efforts to resolve world financial problems, he said there was no question that the Organization had more expertise available than any individual country, while representing the interests of all countries.  The very holding of the Conference at the General Assembly made that point.  However, getting a more representative global financial structure would be difficult, he warned, adding:  “The struggle for democracy is never easy.”


Asked about the possibilities of the outcome document being approved by the General Committee, he said it appeared that it would have very general support.


On the low-level representation of developed countries, he said every country had the right to send whatever representatives it wished, but there were quite a large number of high-level representatives and support from a variety of countries.  The support from Secretary of State Hilary Clinton of the United States was particularly strong.  What was important was not the kind of representation each country had, but the agreement that came out of the meeting. 


He said he anticipated that all countries would participate at some level.  What was also crucial was to take into account the needs of the most vulnerable, in the midst of a crisis that they had not created.  It was a minimal demand that they receive help in such a crisis, he stressed, pointing out that the World Bank had reiterated only this week that the crisis would be devastating for the poorest countries.  Whether the world response would be commensurate with the severity of that impact remained to be seen.


Asked if he thought developed countries would agree to devote substantial amounts of stimulus money to developing countries, given that they claimed an inability to meet even the agreed-upon levels of official development assistance, Mr. d’Escoto replied:  “I am a person of hope.”


Explaining the source of that hope, he said the magnitude of the crisis might have jolted people into realizing that they could not continue down the route of selfishness that had caused such severe problems in the world economy, and he would continue to make ethical statements about the crisis because it was important to restore the noble concept of economia, which implied responsible stewardship.  That concept had been corrupted into “eco-banditry”.


Asked about the hiring of two of his family members for the summit, the President said he would leave that to journalistic speculation, which he found entertaining.


In reply to a question about efforts to discredit the summit as useless, he said that all processes of emancipation faced many difficulties, but humanity eventually emerged triumphant.  “I hope this will be no exception.”


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For information media • not an official record