Thursday, 27 November 2008

Civil Society supports UN-led Summit on finances

As one of the lead elements proposed for recommendation to the Financing for Development Review Conference, the Civil Society Forum supports an international summit on financial and economic architecture and global economic governance structures, in 2009. The Forum position challenges the proposal of some governments that the Bretton Woods Institutions organize an event, as well as moves to concentrate decision-making in the G-20 group of governments. Speaking to the plenary, Rana Al Sairafi, a civil society delegate from Bahrain, said “instead of focusing on ad hoc mechanisms like the G20, such a conference should be under the umbrella of the United Nations with the inclusive principles that govern the Financing for Development process, including the active participation of civil society organizations.” In preparation for the event, the UN should be asked to prepare a comprehensive review of the existing global financial architecture.

There are currently four alternate proposals (para.58) regarding the conference in negotiations for the Review Conference. The Forum recommendation supports the UN-led option. Addressing the Forum regarding the locus and purpose of economic governance, Jens Martens, Global Policy Forum (Germany) noted “The G20 failed to really address the root causes of the crisis. Instead, they primarily intend to stabilize the current financial system - a system that has been characterized for the last 20 years as “casino capitalism”. “We don’t need better rules for the casino,” Martens concludes. “The casino has to be closed down!”

Forum delegates spent Wednesday in sessions focusing on the six agenda items of the Review Conference, followed by intense workshops and caucuses on specific issues, including: women setting the agenda, addressing climate change, achieving the health MDGs, the Currency Transaction Tax, among others. Women, trade unions, and other sector-specific caucuses have met as well. Further recommendations on finance reform include support for the upgrading of the UN Committee of Experts on tax to become an inter-governmental body, moves to make international financial flows fully transparent, ending illicit transfers of resources, and ensuring rapid fulfillment of aid commitments and enhancement of quality and accountability of aid.

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