New York

10 September 2013

Secretary-General's message to General Assembly Thematic Debate on "The Role of Credit Rating Agencies in the International Financial System" [delivered by Mr. Wu Hongbo, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs]

I am pleased to send greetings to all participants in this important debate on the role of credit rating agencies in the international financial system. This important issue has been high on the international agenda since the onset of the global financial and economic crisis.

In light of diverging views on this topic, I welcome today's opportunity for Member States to engage with leading international experts and representatives of credit rating agencies and financial institutions. This session can help point the way toward a more reliable and objective rating system.

The role of credit rating agencies has expanded with financial globalization, reflecting the growing need to determine whether, and at what cost, governments and companies can access international financial capital. The agencies’ ratings have also become part and parcel of international financial rules and regulations.

I have just returned from the G20 Summit in St. Petersburg, where leaders adopted a Declaration calling on national authorities and standard-setting bodies to accelerate progress in reducing reliance on credit rating agencies.  They also called for further steps to enhance transparency and competition among them.

There are several broad challenges that the international community needs to tackle in order to ensure that credit ratings make a positive contribution to the stability of the international financial system and encourage the investment needed to promote sustainable development. These include correcting methodological flaws, improving transparency, guarding against conflicts of interest and enabling developing countries to benefit more from credit ratings.

I count on you to contribute to a better understanding of what we can do to ensure that credit rating agencies contribute to a more stable international financial system. This will help also ensure a firm foundation for sustainable development.