UNITED NATIONS: The president of the UN General Assembly postponed a financial summit aimed at giving the developing world a bigger voice in tackling the global economic crisis in hopes of attracting more world leaders. To date, he hasn’’t succeeded.
Just 14 heads of state and government — from the total of 192 UN member states — will attend the June 24-26 summit, most prominently Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and Bolivia’s President Evo Morales, General Assembly spokesman Enrique Yeves said on Friday.
Assembly President Miguel D’Escoto Brockmann, a leftist Nicaraguan priest and former foreign minister, also delayed the summit from early June to give negotiators more time to reach agreement on the final document to be issued at the end of the meeting.
The first draft was considered too left-leaning by a significant number of UN countries and it had to be rewritten. Yeves said negotiators were still struggling to reach agreement and would likely meet all weekend.
When d’Escoto announced the summit in April, he said it would ensure that all nations — not just the 20 major economic powers — “have an opportunity to participate equally and fully in the common search for solutions that meet the concerns and needs of all countries, large and small.” He invited the 192 UN member states to attend at the highest level.
According to the latest figures, 126 of the 192 UN member states will participate in the summit - 14 heads of state and government, four vice-presidents, 31 ministers, three deputy prime ministers, 28 vice-ministers and many ambassadors. Ten of the 14 world leaders coming to New York are from Latin America and the Caribbean, with just two Europeans, one African and one Asian.
Iran will be represented by a first vice-president and Russia by a deputy prime minister, Yeves said. Asked whether d’Escoto was disappointed at the low turnout of world leaders, Yeves said “the president of the General Assembly believes that regardless of who’s coming ... the most important thing is the substance of the agreements.” It’s up to states to determine the level of participation, he said. “All of them knew it was the highest-level possible.” Yeves said the summit will include speeches by participants and four roundtables — on the role of the UN and member states in discussions on reforming and strengthening the
international financial and economic system; measures to mitigate the impact
of the economic crisis on
development; the present and future impact of the
crisis on employment,
trade and UN anti-poverty goals; and UN efforts to respond to the crisis.
He said three main elements are currently being negotiated:
• an emergency global stimulus plan that will
help not only the rich countries but also the weakest countries.
• ways to sustain a global stimulus plan including
possible changes to the current international financial architecture.
• the way forward including a follow-up mechanism and a future UN role.
“Those basic principles are agreed upon by basically most of the member states,” Yeves said adding, “The more we go into the details, the more disagreement there is.” Proposals on restructuring the global financial architecture range from calls for a completely new structure to reform of the current structure and reinforcing the International Monetary Fund, he said.
As for financing new measures, he said there have been suggestions of taxes on cyberspace and taxes on carbon, Yeves said.
D’Escoto had appealed
to member states to complete negotiations by June 15 so that world leaders could review the document
before the summit, but that hasn’t happened.