Press Conference by General Assembly President to Discuss Upcoming Conference on World Financial and Economic Crisis

14 April 2009

Press Conference by General Assembly President to Discuss Upcoming Conference on World Financial and Economic Crisis

14 April 2009
Press Conference
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York




For the first time, the issue of a new financial, economic, monetary and trade architecture would be dealt with in the General Assembly, its President, Miguel d’Escoto Brockmann, said at a Headquarters press conference this morning.

Providing an update on the forthcoming high-level Conference on the World Financial and Economic Crisis and its Impact on Development, which is scheduled for the first three days of June, Mr. d’Escoto characterized it as one of the most important events in the history of the United Nations.  Never since the founding of the Organization had the world faced such a grave economic and financial crisis.  “We still don’t know where the bottom is and the crisis is growing wider and deeper.”  It had been brought about mainly by the social irresponsibility and insatiable greed of a few countries, but the vast majority of Member States that had had nothing to do with it were paying the heaviest price.

Pointing out that the General Assembly had never dealt with economic and financial issues throughout the history of the United Nations, he said they used to be considered exclusively by the Bretton Woods institutions, which were, in fact, “very very responsible for the chaos” today.  Instead of helping to strengthen the world economy, they had become political tools in the hands of a few countries and had ended up making things worse.  “We have to move ahead.  We must, all of us, collectively assume responsibility.  We must all together, in good faith, try to restructure the world’s financial and economic governance.”

The President of the General Assembly had been deputized to organize the Conference at the level of Heads of State and Government, and to present a proposal to that event, he said.  It was clear that the United Nations and its General Assembly were the only legitimate bodies to deal with the crisis.  “I respect all minorities, including the G-8 and G-20, but no matter how powerful or rich they are, they are still a minority.”

He went on to state that an inclusive system was needed in the twenty-first century and that the latest G-20 meeting had been “pretty much a failure, no matter how you slice it”.  Its most important outcome was supposed to be an agreement that $1.1 trillion would be provided to the most vulnerable least developed countries, although there had been no explanation as to where that money would be coming from.  However, the President of the World Bank had put the required amount at more than $2 trillion and other estimates amounted to over $3 trillion.

Among other important issues concerning the creation of a more stable world economy was the question of possibly doing away with the dollar as the international reserve currency, he said.  The United States kept “printing money”, while the rest of the world assumed the consequences of the dollar’s depreciation.  It was also the rest of the world that had ended up paying for a trillion-dollar war in Iraq.

It should be clear that the forthcoming Conference would not be a single meeting, but the beginning of a process, he stressed, adding that he envisioned a series of post-Conference meetings that would lay the foundation for a new financial and economic architecture and provide the direction in which it was necessary to move.   In the coming weeks, he intended to travel, starting with Venezuela, in order to stress the importance of participating in the upcoming event to Heads of State and Government.  The Conference would be open to every Member State.  “This is the G-192, which belongs to all of us, without exception or exclusion.”

Responding to questions about Conference planning, he said the modalities had been approved and a letter prepared to be sent to Heads of State and Government.  With many countries advocating the meeting, the biggest “push for the summit” had come from the “Group of 77” developing countries and China.  At the same time, there had been some moves “on behalf of some, but they are a minority”, to lower the profile or lessen the scope of the event.  Those proposals had been rejected.

Responding to another question, he said he had appointed the Netherlands and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines as facilitators for the Conference.  As for those who had sought to diminish its scope, they were “first world” countries that were not prepared to relinquish their power.  “But let’s face it, they goofed it, and they goofed it big.”

Regarding claims by those countries that they had the expertise, he asked: “Expertise in what?  In creating the biggest chaos the world has seen in the last 60 years and perhaps even beyond that?”  The idea that the rich and developed had a monopoly on wisdom had been debunked, and now there was a demand for an inclusive solution in which everyone could participate.

Asked about the expected outcome of the Conference, he said immediate action was needed to provide assistance to the most vulnerable countries.  It was also important to lay the foundation for more permanent and just socio-economic governance of the world.  While participants were not expected to agree on the whole concept of a new financial and economic architecture to replace the current one, the meeting would contribute to laying its foundation.  A human-centred economic system should replace the current one, which put the maximization of profits ahead of other goals.

Regarding participation by the United States, he expressed hope that President Barack Obama would be present, noting that he was not only a wonderful political figure, but also a moral and spiritual leader who believed in dialogue.  He had a very clear understanding of the depth of the crisis and the role that the most developed economies had played in it.  However, the new President had inherited the current economic situation, and would find it difficult to go against the established logic.

Describing politics as the art of the possible, he said that, while one might not be able to accomplish as much as one wished, it was important to reach for the desired results.  The United States and the world needed each other.  “In this boat, we will all either sink or swim.”

In response to a question about his vision, he said all human beings must accept to live as brothers and sisters or perish.  The world was “very close to the brink”, with no area of human activity out of the reach of moral and ethical concerns.  The exchange of goods and services and production relationships must also be controlled by moral principles.

About the role of African countries in preparing for the Conference, he said it was “extremely positive” and Africa was at the forefront of the non-violent struggle for a better, more inclusive and just world.

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For information media • not an official record
For information media. Not an official record.