Global institutions fail to reflect evolution of the developing world, Annan says
To reflect the profound changes that have taken place in the developing world over the last few decades, global institutions must evolve to give nations of the South a greater voice, and those countries must exercise greater responsibility at home and abroad, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan told the annual summit meeting of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) in Havana today.
Mr. Annan said that NAM has transformed itself into a movement for the developing world and contributed to changing the entire dynamic of international relations.
Nowhere has that transformation been more dramatic than in trade and investment, he said, noting that South-South trade has grown twice as fast as world trade in the last quarter century and that foreign direct investment from developing countries has outpaced that from developed ones over the past five years.
Nonetheless, he noted a “growing and disturbing” gulf in income between the world’s richest and poorest countries, which he said needs to be addressed decisively through new forms of international governance.
“The voice of the global South is not always heard as it should be,” he said, noting “lamentable setbacks” in the Doha trade talks and the unfairness of the existing relative quotas in the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
At the same time, the UN Security Council continues to suffer from a “democracy deficit,” as efforts to reform the body and expand its membership have failed to move forward, the Secretary-General said.
“The perception of a narrow power-base hanging on five countries is difficult to sustain and it risks leading to an erosion of the UN’s authority and legitimacy – even, some would argue, its neutrality and independence,” he said.
Along with NAM’s growing influence comes a need to exercise greater responsibility, both internationally and at home, Mr. Annan added.
On the positive side, he noted that many developing countries have succeeded in building vibrant civil societies, with a free and active press, strengthened democratic institutions, and progress in human rights and the empowerment of women.
Nonetheless, governments of the South still need to do more to fulfil their obligations to their people by taking action on extreme poverty, corruption, suppression of opposition groups and the media, the environment, and HIV/AIDS.
Developing countries also need to work together more effectively to protect other populations from genocide and crimes against humanity, especially now with a major crisis looming in Darfur, he added. There was a need for real progress in the greater Middle East, where governments the root causes of ongoing conflicts must be addressed.
While in Havana, the Secretary-General is also meeting bilaterally with many of the leaders attending the summit.
After arriving in Havana last night, Mr. Annan met with ailing Cuban president Fidel Castro in the Palacio Nacional. Today he told the plenary that “I can assure you that he is mending well.”