Masthead graphic based on a painting by Gudrun Thriemer.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Alison Evans and Dirk Willem te Velde, "The UN, the great recession, and the world's poor," openDemocracy, June 23, 2009

[What interests me most about openDemocracy's discussion of the UN Conference on the World Financial and Economic Crisis and Its Impact on Development currently under way in New York, is that is gives not so much as a hint of a reason behind the bizarre outburst disguised as a news story in which CanWest Global's Ottawa Citizen announced that economist and PM Stephen Harper would not be attending this important meeting. (See Steven Edwards, "Harper among leaders to skip UN 'summit' on financial crisis," Ottawa Citizen, June 24, 2009.) Heaven forbid that our glorious leader should muck about with those from countries facing bankruptcy. Insolvency might be catching. For his part, Harper has decided he would rather do some pre-season election campaigning in Quebec instead. -jlt]

The title of the summit being held at the United Nations in New York on 24-26 June 2009 - the United Nations Conference on the World Financial and Economic Crisis and Its Impact on Development - suggests a large ambition that some observers already think is misplaced. Their argument is that it has already been overtaken by events. After all, the global financial crisisis already almost two years old. The problems in the United States housing market emerged in Augu st 2007, in banks and financial institutions (such as Bear Stearns and Northern Rock) by early 2008, and the implosion of Lehman Brothers in September 2008. The crisis is, in this perspective, well into its third wave. A summit held now to pinpoint the action needed to ease its impact, particularly on the most vulnerable, seems - at first sight - "too little, too late".

There are arguments to the contrary - status (it is being attended by heads of state and government, as mandated in December 2008 at the Financing for Development conferencein Doha), timing (it comes neatly between the G20 summit in London on 2 April 2009 and its follow-up in Pittsburgh on 24-25 September), and reach (this, unlike the G20 discussions, is a meeting of the entire UN membership - the most wide-ranging and inclusive body able to reflect seriously on the scale of the global financial crisis and its impact on development). The last point in particular should in principle be the summit's strength; but it could also be its weakness.


Read the rest of the openDemocracy piece here =>

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