Monday, June 29, 2009

A follow up on what happened at the U.N. last week

All nations agreed on a document from the special session of the United Nations that concluded last week. The plan contains proposals for helping the under-developed world through the global economic recession. Critiques of the agreement range from it being too weak, to relief that all nations could agree on something.

However, controversy has stemmed from the UN summit due to proposed reform of the IMF and World Bank. The plan only says that reform needs to be done, not what should be done. Despite agreeing to the plan, the US says any reform is up to IMF and World Bank shareholders, meaning you have to go through us first.

From the IPS, reporter Thalif Deen describes the aftermath of the summit.

Perhaps one of the farthest reaching proposals was "the urgent need" for further reform of the governance of the Bretton Woods institutions (BWI) - namely the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) - where rich nations exercise disproportionate power based on their shareholdings.

The outcome document calls for "a fair and equitable representation of developing countries, in order to increase the credibility and accountability of these institutions."

"However," said Irene Muchemi-Ndiritu of the Global Call to Action Against Poverty (GCAP), the U.S. delegates "indicated governance structures of the BW institutions should not be influenced by the United Nations (therefore refusing democratic scrutiny) and that the World Trade Organisation (WTO) should be left to do business as usual."

She said the 27-member European Union (EU) complimented the outcome document as being highly ambitious, "which is cynical indeed when most developing nations feel they have been railroaded into accepting a very weak compromise, with only an ad hoc U.N. working group to continue the work."

"Civil society is angry that no concrete bailout measures have been agreed on for the most affected: women and the socially marginalised," she added.

The document also says: "We recognise that it is imperative to undertake, as a matter of priority, a comprehensive and fast-tracked reform of the IMF."

Not so fast, says the United States.

Speaking after the adoption of the document, a U.S. delegate said the BWI had "governance structures independent of the United Nations".

"Any decisions on their reform could only be made by shareholders and their boards of governors. The United States did not interpret the language in the document as endorsing a formal United Nations role in decision affecting them," he said in a statement Friday.

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