Sun, Oct 26, 2008 - Page 1 News List

Global crisis threatens to undo all UN’s work: Ban

BLEAK ASSESSMENT The UN chief warned that the recent trouble could deal the ‘final blow’ to those least responsible for it — the poor in developing countries


UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon warned his top lieutenants on Friday that the global financial crisis jeopardized everything the UN has done to help the world’s poor.

“It threatens to undermine all our achievements and all our progress,” Ban told a meeting of UN agency chiefs devoted to the crisis. “Our progress in eradicating poverty and disease. Our efforts to fight climate change and promote development. To ensure that people have enough to eat.”

At a meeting also attended by the heads of the World Bank and IMF, Ban said the credit crunch that has stunned markets worldwide compounded the food crisis, the energy crisis and Africa’s development crisis.

“It could be the final blow that many of the poorest of the world’s poor simply cannot survive,” he said, in one of his bleakest assessments of the impact of the financial turmoil.

In a statement after the meeting, Ban picked up a theme he has stressed since the crisis erupted last month, that it should not be allowed to hit hardest “those least responsible” — the poor in developing countries.

The UN chief told reporters he would put that case to a summit in Washington on Nov. 15.

In Beijing, Asian and European leaders said yesterday they had reached a broad consensus on ways to deal with the global financial meltdown and would present their views at a crisis summit next month in Washington.

Speaking at the close of a two-day Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) in Beijing, the leaders called for new rules for guiding the global economy and a leading role for the IMF in aiding crisis-stricken countries.

The biennial ASEM generally does not make decisions, and a statement issued by the leaders indicated how much the crisis in global markets has driven world opinion and institutions.

“I’m pleased to confirm a shared determination and commitment of Europe and Asia to work together,” EU Commission President Jose Barroso said at a closing news conference.

He said participants would use the statement as the basis of their approach at the Nov. 15 Washington summit of the 20 largest economies.

The statement, adopted on Friday, calls on the IMF and similar institutions to help stabilize struggling banks and shore up flagging share prices.

“Leaders agreed that the IMF should play a critical role in assisting countries seriously affected by the crisis, upon their request,” the statement said.

Participants also agreed to “undertake effective and comprehensive reform of the international monetary and financial systems,” the statement said.

The document is one of the strongest endorsements yet for a leading role in the crisis for the IMF, long known as the international lender of last resort.

Responses to the crisis among participants have been varied thus far. The 15 euro countries and Britain agreed to put up a total of US$2.3 trillion in guarantees and emergency aid to help banks. In contrast, South Korea, China, Japan and ASEAN have merely recommitted themselves to an US$80 billion emergency fund to help those facing liquidity problems, to be established by June.

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