Developing countries voice common concerns
Updated: 2012-09-28 10:25
UNITED NATIONS - Against the backdrop of the long-lasting global economic woes, the developing countries, a rising global power, raised their common voices on the reform of international economic governance, reaching the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and setting sustainable development goals after 2015 at the ongoing annual debate of UN General Assembly.
It's widely urged that the international community should further strengthen cooperation and take their commitments to achieve these goals. However, there will be also mixed difficulties ahead as the developed countries are reluctant to reverse the current rules and are still struggling with depressed economy.
Reforming global economic governance
The current structure of global economic governance, based on the Bretton Woods system, has been dominated by the United States and European nations after the World War II. Since the global economic crisis occurred in September 2008, the developing countries have been trying to enhance their role and influence in global economic governance.
"The crisis that began in 2008 demonstrated the need for reform of the mechanisms of global economic governance. In point of fact, to this day we have still not fully implemented such reforms," said Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff.
In his speech, Egyptian President Mohamed Morsy said that the severity and recurrence of financial and economic crises must lead us to review "the international economic decision making process that affects the fate of peoples that do not participate in their formulations."
As a result of unfair trade rules and the conditions imposed on the developing countries over technology transfer and access to financing, they become the first to bear those negative consequences on growth, trade and the environment, asserted the Egyptian president.
"There is a need for a new global economic governance centered on people, and aiming at consolidating cooperation between partners in development on the basis of mutual benefit and interests," said Morsy.
"Sovereign equality loses much of its meaning if it is understood solely as a political principle, downplaying the economic dimension," said Vuk Jeremic, the president of the 67th session of the UN General Assembly, in his opening speech at the debate. "I strongly believe the General Assembly should participate more actively in advancing the global economic governance agenda."
Vuk Jeremic, also the former Serbian foreign minister, noted that the G8, the G20, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank and others play critical roles in their own ways, adding that the UN General Assembly should further engage in the global development discourse.
However, as the vested interest groups, the United States and other developed countries will certainly struggle to slow down the reform process of global economic governance and defend the bottom lines, which was reflected in the latest appointments of IMF's and World Bank's chiefs.
Realizing millennium development goals
With only three years left to the deadline of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) scheduled in 2015, which aimed to combat poverty, hunger, disease, illiteracy, environment degradation and discrimination against women, there are still many challenges in reaching the rest goals.
Among those, the declining global aid is a major problem. After reaching a peak in 2010, the volume of official development assistance (ODA) declined almost 3 percent to 133 billion U.S. dollars in 2011, according to a UN report released during the General Assembly.
Given the challenging situation, the leaders and delegates from developing countries at the debate strongly urged the international community never to give up hope and fulfill their promises.
"As we draw closer to the deadline of the Millennium Development Goals in 2015, the international community needs to maximize its effort towards achieving all the eight goals," said Zambian President Michael Chilufya Sata.
For his part, Serbian President Tomislav Nikolic also called for cooperation and understanding from developed world to the developing countries to smooth the way towards reaching the MDGs in a world where poor and rich countries were facing challenges together.
"The world we live in and the challenges brought about on a daily basis by development in many areas make it incumbent upon us to adjust together and face numerous challenges that none of us can address individually," Nikolic said.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon asserted the economic crisis could not be an excuse for donor governments to cut development donations and called on all countries to honor their commitment to deliver increased ODA.
But in experts' opinion, the down trend of ODA will continue for years as the developed countries are undertaking massive fiscal austerity.
Actually, evidence shows that development assistance has been directly affected by the global economic crisis. The largest declines in assistance were from Greece and Spain, that were heavily hit by financial crises last year.
Setting sustainable development goals
In addition, the developing countries also placed focus on setting a list of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), as agreed to at the recent UN Conference on Sustainability, or Rio+20, to align with the development agenda after 2015, the year when the current MDGs expire.
Ban confirmed his commitment to SDGs, saying that "We need a bold inspiring agenda that resonates with people and that people can rally around."
He called for more commitments to achieving sustainable energy for all, saying it was the answer to some of the key challenges, such as energy poverty, inequality and environmental risks.
In his presentation, Romanian Foreign Minister Titus Corlatean stressed that development was a major area of interest, action and cooperation within the United Nations. "Our attention should be focused on the follow-up and implementation of the decisions recently adopted by the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development."
"Relevant resolutions on enhancing the institutional framework to deal with sustainable development, on agreeing on sustainable developments goals as well as on financial aspects needed to achieve these goals are expected by all of us," Corlatean added.
Though sustainable development is an irresistible trend, experts warned that poverty, AIDS, civil conflict and external debt will limit developing countries' investments in environmental protection, education, health and other fields.