World’s poorest can bank on UN support, Secretary-General says

7 October 2008
Secretary General Ban Ki-moon briefs correspondents

The world’s poorest people can count on the United Nations and its Member States to support them, despite the current crisis engulfing financial markets, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said today.

“Everyone has felt the earthquake on Wall Street. But it has not shaken our resolve,” Mr. Ban told journalists at UN Headquarters in New York, where he held the first in a series of regular monthly press conferences. “Banks may be failing. But the world’s bottom billion can bank on us.”

The Secretary-General said he was heartened that world leaders had pledged during two high-level meetings at the UN last month – one on African development needs and the other on progress towards the anti-poverty targets known as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) – to give $16 billion towards assisting the poor.

“The generosity of these commitments is most encouraging, given the economic climate. It means the world is not forgetting the needs of the world’s poorest people, notwithstanding the prospect of harder times.

“It means that, for all the obstacles, we have a good chance of meeting our Millennium Development Goals by 2015. I urge world leaders to honour these pledges.”

During the General Assembly’s annual General Debate, held last month, numerous world leaders warned that the financial crisis should not be used as an excuse to renege on pledges or reduce commitments to aid and other forms of official development assistance (ODA).

Member States also called for renewed efforts to try to achieve a breakthrough in the so-called Doha round of trade liberalization talks, which have stalled, stressing that a deal was vital to help poorer countries to deal not only with the financial crisis, but the combined effects of rising food and fuel prices and climate change.

Mr. Ban said he had held some 125 bilateral meetings with world leaders on the sidelines of the General Debate, and that the financial crisis was on the top of the agenda of most of those meetings.

He added that he would again discuss the issue on 24 October when he convenes the Chief Executives Board (CEB), the forum that brings together the heads of all UN agencies and programmes, including the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

In response to questions from journalists, he said he agreed with suggestions that the G-8 bloc of industrialized countries be expanded to deal with the financial crisis.

 

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