From Le Monde Diplomatique , August 2012
Among those who care about the fate of the United Nations it is widely assumed — and regretted — that the UN stood on the sidelines at the start of the global financial crisis, and let the G20, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank take the lead in an international response. Jean-Pierre Bugada, chief of communication for France and Monaco at the UN Regional Information Centre, said the UN had “missed the boat” (1). The accusation is only partly true. More accurately, western states, with the UK and US in the lead, tried hard to ensure that the UN did not become a forum for discussion on the crisis, and the UN Secretary-General supported them.
Soon after the crash in 2008, Miguel d’Escoto Brockmann, a (suspended) Nicaraguan priest and former foreign minister who was president of the 63rd session of the UN General Assembly, initiated a UN-sponsored study of immediate and longer-term measures to mitigate the impact of the crisis, and of the necessary reforms of the international financial architecture. The report was to be discussed at a specially convened summit of world leaders.
The western states, led by the UK and US (most responsible for the crisis), opposed this UN initiative. They wanted the G20 and the IMF, in which they have much more influence, to take charge of a global response. The UN was to have at most an observer role, and the Secretary-General’s office agreed. Ban Ki-moon’s responsiveness to western wishes had been one of his strongest recruitment assets, after the less-than-fully-compliant Kofi Annan. Nevertheless, Brockmann managed to recruit a high-powered commission chaired by the Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz (2), and it produced a report.
The UK did most to restrict the commission’s work. Its ambassador to the UN, John Sawers, was hostile to the project, and orchestrated phone calls from the British diplomatic service to nearly all members of the commission telling them they should quit to avoid personal and professional embarrassment. None quit; some were amused.
Full article at http://mondediplo.com/2012/08/09un
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