27 April 2009


27 April 2009
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

In face of financial crisis ‘visionary reform’ of global economic governance

needed, says Secretary-General to new york meeting


Following are UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s remarks to the Special High-Level Meeting of the Economic and Social Council with the Bretton Woods institutions, the World Trade Organization and the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), in New York, 27 April:

I join the President of the Economic and Social Council in welcoming our colleagues from the international financial and trade institutions to the United Nations.

Before I begin my remarks let me say a few words.  One of our Member States is faced with a swine flu outbreak of serious proportions.  My thoughts go to the Government of Mexico and to the families of the victims of this influenza.  Reports I am receiving show that the virus is spreading and has even reached us here in the United States.  The situation is evolving fast and constitutes a public health emergency of international concern.  Under Dr. Margaret Chan, Director-General of WHO [World Health Organisation], the United Nations system is actively working with all concerned Governments, especially those of Mexico and the United States to rapidly scale up support in controlling the outbreak.  I shall keep you regularly briefed on the progress.

Our work at this year’s meeting is more urgent than ever.  The current global economic and financial crisis is exposing dangerous weaknesses and flaws in the international economic system.

What began with financial turmoil in the third quarter of 2007 has escalated into a full-blown, global recession.

The United Nations system, including the Bretton Woods institutions, foresees a shrinking global economy in 2009.  This will bring down people’s average incomes in much of the world.

Global trade is collapsing.  Hundreds of millions of people are losing their jobs, their income and their ability to survive.

In too many parts of the world, frustration has erupted into violent protests, threatening stability and peace.

Development efforts are sagging under the weight of the crisis.  We expect negative effects in nearly every area covered by the Monterrey Consensus and the Doha Declaration on Financing for Development.

Leaders around the world recognize the gravity of these problems.

Members of the Group of 20 took a number of welcome steps at their recent London Summit meeting aimed at restoring confidence, growth and jobs.

They pledged to repair the financial system and strengthen financial regulations.

They acknowledged the need to reform the international financial institutions.

They pledged to reject protectionism and help the world’s most vulnerable people.

And they prepared to embark on a green recovery.

The G-20 Summit committed more than a trillion dollars to deal with the crisis.  That is a huge step ‑‑ but it is only a first step.  Now we have to examine where the funds will come from, and make sure that countries make good on their pledges.

We need to ensure that a large enough share of the additional resources will flow to developing countries, to help them cope with the crisis and preserve hard-won gains towards the Millennium Development Goals.  At the very least, existing commitments to increase aid for the poorest countries must be fully met.

The London Summit was an important beginning.  But we must act urgently to keep the financial crisis and economic recession from evolving into a major humanitarian crisis and a breakdown in peace and security.  The United Nations, for its part, is in the process of establishing a system-wide mechanism for monitoring vulnerability, and sounding the alert when necessary.

To meet these challenges, we need unprecedented international cooperation.  We should also pursue recovery in a way that promotes sustainable development.  Indeed, this crisis, devastating as it is, is also an opportunity to move towards a Green New Deal.

Recent events have proven that the current system of global economic governance is not adequate to today’s challenges.  Our institutions and governance structures must become more representative, credible, accountable and effective.

Faith in financial deregulation and market self-regulation has been diminished, to say the least.  In its place, we are seeing a new commitment to effective regulation and supervision ‑‑ not just nationally, but also internationally.

I am afraid we are also seeing new forms of protectionism.  We must resist this, not only in trade, but also in investment and international migration.  There also remains an urgent need to complete the development-oriented Doha Round of trade negotiations.

Reforming the international economic system requires many steps, and must involve all countries.

The current system emerged through the 1944 United Nations Conference at Bretton Woods.  The United Nations, with its critical role and responsibilities and its universal membership, should be fully engaged in the reform process.

Peace, stability and prosperity are indivisible.  Achieving these goals will take visionary reform and decisive action by all members of the international community.

We have an important opportunity to make progress this June, when the General Assembly convenes the Conference on the World Financial and Economic Crisis and its Impact on Development.  I am counting on today’s ECOSOC discussion to generate ideas that will help the Conference to succeed.

We also need better follow-up with respect to the Financing for Development process.

I urge you to discuss these matters and take concrete decisions as soon as possible.

For countless people living in poverty and facing even greater hardship in these tumultuous times, these are matters of life and death.  We must join forces for their sake, and for a better future.

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