UN should take lead in responding to global recession, says senior official

10 May 2010

Against the backdrop of the debt crisis in Greece and with dwindling impetus to reform the international financial system, the United Nations should take the lead on new ways to raise developing countries out of the 2008 recession, a senior official with the world body said today.

“A truly inclusive multilateralism must be based on the G192, the number of all Member States of the UN,” said Supachai Panitchpakdi, Secretary-General of the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), urging the UN to be given the lead in devising reforms, rather than just the G20 group of industrialized countries.

“We cannot just go on with business as usual. We have yet to see ‘human recovery’ from the recession.”

Speaking to representatives from civil society, businesses, universities, and parliaments at the opening of a two-day forum organized by UNCTAD, Mr. Panitchpakdi noted that since the 2008 crisis, some 53 million people in the developing world have fallen below the poverty line and more than 100 million additional people are going hungry.

“Prior to the crisis, the chances of achieving the MDGs [Millennium Development Goals] were deteriorating. Now, after the crisis, it will be near to impossible to achieve all of the MDGs,” Mr. Panitchpakdi said about the globally agreed targets on halving extreme poverty by 2015.

He urged developing countries to look to one another for support, through South-South regional trade and financial arrangements, and cautioned that it was unlikely that industrialized economies “will constitute reliable sources of recovery from the current crisis.”

Among other speakers, David Nabarro, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s Special Representative on Food Security and Nutrition, noted that “the food crisis is still with us, and it’s alarming.”

He urged greater focus on partnerships between smaller farmers, communities and civil society, and between countries.

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