Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today called on officials from international financial institutions like the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) attending a United Nations meeting in New York to engage in deep reforms to accommodate the interests of developing countries.
The Secretary-General, addressing a special meeting of the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), said that while the interests and views of donor countries are well represented in the multilateral financial institutions, there has been no effective permanent forum reflecting the interests of the recipient countries.
Developing countries now account for 79 per cent of the world’s population and contribute 45 per cent of world output, when measured in terms of purchasing power parities.
“Their significance,” Mr. Ban said, “is poorly reflected in forums where crucial decisions about their economic and social future are taken, including some of the institutions created 60 years ago under vastly different circumstances.”
“If these institutions are to strengthen their own legitimacy and credibility – and better serve the world’s peoples – they must engage more deeply in reforms that reflect today’s economic realities,” he said.
“That means increasing the weight of several developing countries, which have grown substantially in recent decades. And it means giving adequate voice to smaller economies where many of the world’s poor live.”
The Secretary-General said that the launching of the Development Cooperation Forum in ECOSOC later this year should help improve international oversight of development assistance. He encouraged the World Bank, IMF and the World Trade Organization to be active participants in this new initiative.
Stressing the importance of good governance, he said developing countries should be “in the driver’s seat,” pointing out that donor-driven initiatives, especially when externally imposed, can weaken the legitimacy of domestic efforts, and may be counter-productive.
He also spoke out against corruption, saying it must be properly addressed as part of comprehensive governance reforms.
“Anti-corruption efforts should reinforce the only internationally agreed framework in this field, the UN Convention against Corruption. I note with concern that the industrialized countries have been slower to ratify this ground-breaking instrument than developing countries,” he said.
The Secretary-General called the disbursement of foreign aid “complicated” and said recipient countries have little influence over the process. “All too often, aid is driven more by politics than by need, undermining its effectiveness.”
ECOSOC President Dalius Cekuolis said efforts to achieve individual internationally agreed development goals must be underpinned by a continued commitment of all to a global partnership for development.
The president of the General Assembly, Sheikha Haya Rashed Al Khalifa urged delegates to move beyond the mistrust that frustrates progress in international cooperation.
“We must not loose sight of the fact that we share the same objective – to rid the world of extreme poverty and improve the lives of millions of poor around the world,” the President told participants.
“If we can achieve these shared development goal, not only will we put an end to poverty, but we can also help to make the world a safer, more stable and prosperous place for all.”
Today’s ECOSOC meeting brought together officials from the Bretton Woods Institutions, the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD).
In the margins of today’s meeting, Mr. Ban discussed how to support ECOSOC with seven former presidents of that body: Ali Hachani of Tunisia (2006), Munir Akram of Pakistan (2005); Marjatta Rasi of Finland (2004), Ivan Simonovic of Croatia (2002), Martin Belinga-Eboutou of Cameroon (2001), Markarim Wibisono of Indonesia (2000) and Mr. Juan Somavia of Chile (1998 and 1993 ).
The meeting also took place as the General Assembly began its consideration today of the Secretary General’s report on the recommendations contained in the High-Level Panel on System-Wide Coherence which contains several recommendations for the Council.
The panel has proposed that ECOSOC, which is the main UN body responsible for coordinating the development work of the UN system, be further empowered through the involvement of Member States in its work at the highest possible political level.