Implications of the World Financial Crisis: What Role for the United Nations?
Implications of the World Financial Crisis: What Role for the United Nations?
Abstract and Keywords
The current global financial crisis, being mainly the result of speculative lending and investment in major international finance centres of the North, is affecting all countries and all people worldwide. The crisis calls for immediate policy reaction in order to stabilize financial markets and international capital flow. In order to improve economic global governance various proposals have been put forward in the United Nations (UN), the G-20, and the Bretton Woods Institutions (BWIs). Whether the current reform initiatives will achieve practical results is an open question: although proposals for reform (such as the Financing for Development Initiative and the Sovereign Debt Restructuring Mechanism) had already been made after a series of regional crises in the 1990s, no significant result has yet been reached.
The current global financial crisis, being mainly the result of speculative lending and investment in major international finance centres of the North,1 is affecting all countries and all people worldwide. One of its major implications, it will be argued in this contribution to the 70th birthday of Bruno Simma, is its effects on the development of the countries of the global South and on vulnerable people (see Section II below).
The crisis calls for immediate policy reaction in order to stabilize financial markets and international capital flow. In an extraordinary effort, the G-20 announced on 2 April 2009 an additional US$1.1 trillion to revitalise the world economy, mainly by way of loans from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank.2 This included an allocation of US$250 billion of Special Drawing Rights to the IMF, an additional US$100 billion to multilateral development banks, and US$250 billion trade finance from various public and private institutions (for detail see Section III below).
There is no ‘quick fix’, however. Loss of regulatory control of the financial markets seems to have occurred subtly and without notice being given by experts in advance: ‘Policy-makers, regulators and supervisors in some advanced countries, did not (p.340) adequately appreciate and address the risks building up in financial markets …’3 UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon also criticized the fact that policy-makers worldwide at first tended to underestimate the depth and breadth of the crisis.4 A root cause of the global crisis is seen in the ‘weakness in the system of global governance to identify vulnerabilities in a timely manner and mobilize international economic cooperation in reforming institutions, strengthening regulatory frameworks, and macroeconomic coordination’.5Another major implication, more subtle and psychological in its outreach, is that confidence in institutions and institution-building—and with it belief in the rule of law—have suffered a major blow. International financial stability being a ‘global public good’, as the EU Council had stated recently,6 consensus is emerging about the necessity to revise the collective regulatory schemes.
In order to improve economic global governance various proposals have been put forward in the United Nations (UN), the G-20, and the Bretton Woods Institutions (BWIs) (see Section IV below). Whether the current reform initiatives, which will be portrayed in this article, will achieve practical results is an open question: although proposals for reform (such as the Financing for Development Initiative and the Sovereign Debt Restructuring Mechanism) had already been made after a series of regional crises in the 1990s, no significant result has yet been reached.
The ‘deep loss of confidence in the financial sector underscores that more needs to be done’, as UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon emphasized.7 To end the crisis and prevent new ones from happening in the future, this paper will argue, fundamental reforms are needed, both legal and institutional. In contrast to short-handed emergency measures, long-term structural and institutional adjustments of the international system are recommended. Given the disastrous economic and social effects of the current financial crisis, the UN should take the lead (see Section IV below) in developing a new paradigm of sustainable development by institutionalizing community interests. One of the underlying hypotheses of this article is that the impact of the current crisis on international institutions offers a major chance for the world to define its ‘community interest’ from an innovative and more sustainable perspective. The current financial and economic crisis with (p.341) its global ramifications may open up the road for the international community to reflect critically the dominant growth paradigm and to bring it into line with sustainable development and economic, social, and cultural rights—a topic at the centre of Bruno Simma's academic life for so many years.8
II. Implications of the Financial Crisis for the Development Agenda: A New Human Crisis
There are signs that the financial crisis is about to turn into a major development crisis. In its Global Monitoring Report 2009 the World Bank declared a ‘Development Emergency’.9
After years of relatively high growth rates, also in developing countries, world trade was predicted to decline by about 11 per cent in 2009.10 Most recent data even show a decline of almost 13 per cent.11 Developing countries in Africa, South America, and the Middle East are most vulnerable. Many of them suffer from falling prices for commodities and textiles, but also from a decrease in tourism. Remittances from migrants working abroad are shrinking as well.12 Only 25 per cent of vulnerable developing countries have the ability to deal with the economic recession by job creation or safety net programmes.13
One of the major implications of the financial crisis on a worldwide scale is the harm it does to the development of the global South. Many countries, while not being responsible for the current crisis, will experience a dramatic economic slowdown by virtue of a combination of credit crunch, declining commodity prices and (p.342) export earnings, decrease in remittances, negative net private capital flows, and losses of asset values. A sharp drop in per capita income in most developing regions, rising unemployment, and poverty is the result.14 Fewer resources will be devoted to the education and health sector; Tanzania, for example, announced that it would reduce its HIV/Aids budget by 25 per cent in 2009.15
The UN will not achieve its goal to halve the number of people starving by 2015—that was the message of the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) in its new Report published in September 2009. This major setback is due to the global economic and financial crises, making it ‘virtually impossible’16 to achieve the Millennium Development Goals.17 The eight UN Millennium Development Goals, which are drawn from the UN Millennium Declaration18 adopted during the UN Summit in September 2000, are based on time-bound and quantifiable targets, measured by 60 indicators. They are much more than another non-binding declaration of the UN: the Millennium Development Goals build upon many substantial commitments of UN member States made at various UN world conferences in the 1990s. Despite their high moral and political value they now seem to be turning into ‘nothing more than a component in the never-ending “perpetuum mobile” of underdevelopment’, as the author of this article already warned in 2006.19
However, even before the outbreak of the financial crisis and its development into a major economic crisis, promises (for example, 0.7 per cent official development aid)20 were broken. Still, there was hope left for staying on track with achieving the ambitious goals. The UN Millennium Development Goals Report demonstrated (p.343) in 2008 that the overarching goal of reducing absolute poverty by half was still ‘within reach for the world as a whole’.21
Thus, severe problems in fulfilling the Millennium Development Goals are actually related to the current crisis. As UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon highlighted in the UN Millennium Development Goals Report in 2009:
For the poorest in the world, the financial crisis implies a dramatic increase in extreme poverty. The UN Food and Agricultural Organisation in Rome (FAO) has stated that global food production would need to nearly double until 2050, in order to feed the 9.2 billion people living on earth by then.23 Even today 923 million people out of 6.7 billion are starving. The world financial crisis also has far-reaching implications regarding declining food supplies,24 constituting a threat to human security at the same time.25
…many challenges remain and are likely to become even more difficult in the current economic climate. Early indicators are that…the poor have suffered most from the upheaval of the past year.…Economic hardship has pushed tens of millions of people into vulnerable employment and increased the number of those who, though employed, do not earn enough for themselves and their families to rise above the line of $1.25 a day.22
A solution to the world financial and economic crisis will require a common effort, ie the contributions of governments, multilateral institutions, and the private sector.26 Preventing a ‘generalized human crisis’ is a priority task for the international community.27
III. The Reaction of the G-20
Right from the beginning, the leaders of the G-20 (Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Russia, (p.344) Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Turkey, the United Kingdom, the United States (US) and the European Union (EU)) were committed to take the necessary measures in order to stimulate demand and restore confidence in the financial system. The reaction of the leading G-20 to the global financial crisis was mainly to strengthen the capital of financial institutions, to protect savings and deposits, to unfreeze credit markets, and to work to ensure that international financial institutions can provide support for the global economy. The explicit aim was to ‘restore growth’.28
At their initial meeting in Washington on 15 November 2008, the leaders of the G-20 expressed their belief that ‘market principles, open trade and investment regimes, and effectively regulated financial markets’ will foster innovation that is ‘essential for economic growth, employment, and poverty reduction’.29 Developing countries should be assisted to gain access to finance, including through liquidity facilities. Therefore, the introduction of new facilities by the World Bank in the areas of infrastructure and trade finance and the new short-term liquidity facility of the IMF were welcomed by the G-20. Regarding the adequacy of resources of the IMF and the World Bank Group, the G-20 decided to ‘stand ready’ to increase the resources ‘where necessary’.30
Reform of the BWIs was seen as necessary in principle by the G-20. Emerging market economies and developing countries, including the poorest, it was agreed, should have a greater voice and representation. In particular, the Financial Stability Forum (FSF) should ‘expand urgently to a broader membership of emerging economies, and other major standard setting bodies should promptly review their membership’.31
With regard to regulatory deficiencies of the BWIs, the reaction of the G-20 was less determined. While the Council of Europe emphasized the need to ‘revise the collective regulatory schemes’,32 the G-20 voiced their opinion that regulation ‘is first and foremost the responsibility of national regulators’ who are supposed to ensure that their actions avoid potentially adverse impacts on other countries.33 The national level should benefit from capacity-building programmes on the formulation and the implementation of new major regulations consistent with international standards.34 Furthermore, the G-20 expressed their confidence that the international financial organizations would be able themselves to ‘review and adapt their lending instruments to adequately meet their members’ needs and revise their lending role in the light of the ongoing financial crisis’.35 (p.345)
However, the hope expressed by the G-20 for self-regulation seems to be rather discredited by the recent turmoil. Besides, the G-20 is a forum which is barely legitimized. Governance by the G-20 risks alienating a majority of the 192 UN member States. As G-20 decisions exclude more than 170 non-G-20 States from crisis management, they tend to create political tensions between industrialized and developing countries (for example, the ALBA group in South America). The lingering North-South conflict within the UN system is already worsening. Emerging economies seem to show little interest in mediating between factions of North and South—despite the fact that, in view of the disproportionately large harm that international financial instability inflicts on them,36 they have a great stake in the reform process.
IV. The Role of the Bretton Woods Institutions from the Perspective of the Countries of the South
Regarding the role of the BWIs in the current financial crisis, it is important to note that the World Bank and IMF have different mandates: while the World Bank is mainly responsible for technical and financial assistance to low income countries and emerging economies with the aim to promote economic growth and reduce poverty, the IMF is responsible for the promotion of international monetary cooperation, exchange stability, and exchange arrangements. Furthermore, it provides temporary financial assistance to countries regarding balance of payments adjustments. The IMF plays not only a financial but also a regulatory role, in particular by engaging in surveillance over countries seeking to ensure that their economic policies will contribute to the stability of the global system of exchange rates.37 With increasing globalization, the IMF's role as a regulator has taken on ‘increasing importance’, also in order to prevent balance of payment crises.38 However, the capacity of the IMF to maintain stability of the global economy ‘has been significantly undermined by the vastly greater (and more volatile) financial resources of private actors with global reach’.39
Even before the new global financial crisis started, there was a considerable debate on the reform of the BWIs, including voting rights, transparency, and (p.346) accountability.40 In the aftermath of regional financial crises in the 1990s, several reform proposals were made, including funding and policy of the IMF.41 However, opposition from shareholders and relatively fast resumption of growth in most countries hindered implementation of these proposals.
The new global financial crisis has further highlighted the need to address democratic deficits in the BWIs, among them the representation of developing countries in the decision-making procedures. ‘Addressing systemic issues and ensuring the coherence and consistency of the international economic financial and trading system in support of development is perhaps the area where decisive action is need most’, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon stated.42 The Doha Declaration on Financing for Development 2008 called for a comprehensive reform of the BWIs:
The core objective is equitable participation of all developing countries and countries with economies in transition in the BWIs’ governance, and the enhancement of legitimacy, credibility, and accountability of operations. As far as the World Bank Group44 is concerned, there is a range of options for reform (for example, raising voting power and shareholding of developing countries in the World Bank Group, strengthening their representation at the Board through composition of (p.347) seats, increasing the representation of nationals of developing countries among Bank staff).45 An increase of voting power of developing and transition countries by increasing Basic Votes in the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development has been approved by the Board of Governors and is currently awaiting acceptance by members.46 Discussions to implement the approved addition of a third Executive Director for Sub-Saharan Africa to the Boards are also under way.47 A second phase of reform in 2010 included, inter alia, shareholder realignment, International Finance Corporation and International Development Association Voice Reforms, and institutional reforms.48 Regarding the IMF, in March 2008 the Executive Board adopted a major package of reforms. Approved by the Fund's Board of Governors in April 2008, the agreement adjusted quota shares to reflect better the relative weight of member countries in the world economy. The reform included a new quota formula and an ad hoc quota increase to all under-represented countries. It also tripled the number of basic votes to increase the voice of low income countries within the IMF. In addition, resources for an additional Alternate Executive Director for the two African Chairs represented in the Executive Board were provided.49 However, in contrast to the World Bank Group, the number of Executive Directors in the IMF remains unchanged.50
We underscore that the Bretton Woods institutions must be comprehensively reformed so that they can more adequately reflect changing economic weights in the world economy and be more responsive to current and future challenges. We reaffirm that the enhancement of voice and participation of developing countries in the Bretton Woods institutions, in accordance with their respective mandates, is central to strengthen the legitimacy and effectiveness of these institutions.43
Apart from structural reforms, there are two other areas that are of key importance for countries of the South, related to the IMF. The first concerns crisis response, the second crisis prevention.
To begin with the first aspect, the IMF's crisis response in the past was criticized as following a certain pattern: ‘capital accounts are kept open despite rapid outflows (p.348) and depletion of reserves, policy conditionality continues to be pro-cyclical and the IMF is increasingly relying on funds borrowed from its main shareholders’.51 In contrast to that, and apparently under the impression of the global financial crisis, the need of counter-cyclical policies ‘including for social safety nets, sustaining infrastructure and other priority investments, trade finance and bank recapitalization’ is highlighted by representatives of the African, the Asian, and the Latin American Group.52 Pointing in the same direction, the UN Secretary-General stated that ‘[o]vercoming the pro-cyclicality of regulatory approaches and reliance on “self-regulation” by market participants is a key element for strengthening the global financial system’.53 The need for more ‘policy space’ for developing countries has already been highlighted by other UN bodies in the past.54
In order to stabilize international trade, financial markets, and capital flows, a number of reform initiatives have been undertaken in recent months, some of them implying systemic changes. A variety of measures were taken to improve the access of developing and emerging market countries to multilateral financing. In this respect, borrowing limits for the poorest countries were raised (for example, the Poverty Reduction and Growth Facility and Exogenous Shock Facility). A new Flexible Credit Line was established for crisis prevention in emerging economies. Members who do not qualify for the Flexible Credit Line can apply for the High Access Precautionary Standby Arrangements.55 It is difficult, however, to forecast to what extent these initiatives will meet the financial needs of the developing world. According to UNCTAD the shortfalls of developing and emerging economies could go up to US$2 trillion.56
Also, IMF conditionality changed, meaning that structural performance criteria in all Fund programmes, including those with low income countries, were discontinued. However, it was criticized that despite modernization of conditionality, the IMF has continued to impose pro-cyclical macro-economic measures in most recent standby programmes, ie fiscal tightening took place in Pakistan, Hungary, and Ukraine.57 (p.349)
There are more open questions. It is unclear, for example, if the IMF will act in future as a so-called ‘lender of last resort’, ie lending without limit and without conditions, except for penalty rates, to countries which qualify in its view. Far-reaching bailouts, it is feared, tend to promote irresponsible lending and create moral hazard as creditors do not have to bear the consequences of the risks they take.58 Proposals were therefore made to involve international creditors and investors in the resolution of financial crises and to restrict the IMF lending to them. The Communiqué of the Intergovernmental Group of Twenty-Four on International Monetary Affairs and Development (G-24) of 24 April 2009 welcomed the proposal ‘to increase the single borrower limit’.59
Another area of concern is related to low income countries, ie countries in an income group of a maximum of US$975 of gross national income (GNI) per capita, measured by 2008. Generally, additional measures are seen as necessary for low income countries, among them the option to make a one-off permanent Special Drawing Rights allocation to them, based on criteria of need.60 The cost of drawing on such allocations, the South Centre in Geneva suggested further, should be financed collectively from IMF resources, including gold sales, combined with a moratorium of servicing debt, without any additional interest charges.61 In April 2009, the G-24 welcomed the proposal to use resources from the agreed sale of gold to provide additional concessional financing to the poorest countries in response to the crisis and to encourage the IMF to apply in its lending to low income countries the same flexibility as agreed for other lending facilities.62 Ministers from Africa, Asia, and Latin America also called for a significant increase in assistance from the International Development Association and for an additional replenishment of the Association.63
Another important issue concerns crisis prevention. Here, the aim of developing and emerging market countries is to reduce vulnerability to international financial instability, calling, inter alia, for an international reserves system not based on a national currency or currencies, and addressing effective regulation and supervision of financial markets and capital flows.64 For countries facing severe balance of payments and debt difficulties the ‘Sovereign Debt Restructuring Mechanism’ as proposed by Anne Krueger in 2001 was designed,65 but (p.350) abandoned because of opposition of shareholders. In order to resolve debt crises, a new mechanism may be needed; this may be important for crisis prevention as well.66
To sum up, there are numerous systemic questions which need more attention.
V. Reform: Institutionalizing ‘UN Leadership’
The current crisis is marked by a contrast between the G-20 on the one side and the G-192 on the other. The US is clearly opting for a limited role of the UN, with a distinct focus on development cooperation. In particular, there should be no UN mandate of the General Assembly's working group to deal with questions of the international financial and economic architecture, including a reform of the BWIs. Most industrialized countries—Germany included—are also resistant to see the UN mandate extended beyond development policy. They prefer financial questions to be dealt with by international financial institutions and economic issues by the World Trade Organization (WTO). Consequently, in the worst-case scenario, the UN could become ‘collateral damage’ in the global economic and financial crisis, as Silke Weinlich put it.67
The wish of the US and others that the UN should concentrate on development cooperation while the G-20 is addressing the international financial architecture is hardly substantiated by the UN Charter: the UN has a comprehensive mandate for social and economic affairs, its Economic and Social Council being one of the principal bodies of the world organization.68 With its inclusiveness and universality the UN is the only and most important ‘bridge’ between countries of the North and countries of the South.
In reforming the international finance system the G-20 States should acknowledge the value the UN offers as the cornerstone of multilateralism. The current crisis may offer a chance to strengthen the UN and develop a global system of financial, social, and economic regulation, based on credible international rules for early warning, financial oversight, and monitoring. If ‘club governance’—exercised by the G-7, G-8, G-20, or whatever club forum—is servicing the UN, it may be a helpful tool, despite the fact that it may allow for forum shopping by UN member States.69 (p.351)
To conclude, the G-20 does not seem to provide a viable alternative to the legitimacy and inclusiveness of the UN. Instead, it may constitute a pillar in the construction of a sustainable global governance architecture by the UN.
VI. Modalities of Institutional Reform
There are several ways to institutionalize further UN leadership in the financial and economic field:
1. One possibility would be to establish a UN Economic Council, as the German chancellor Angela Merkel suggested in Davos in 2009.70 This idea was also brought forward as a longer-term measure by the Commission of Experts of the President of the United Nations General Assembly on Reforms of the International Monetary and Financial System, established in 2008, chaired by Joseph Stiglitz, of which the German Minister Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul was a member.71 Meeting as a High-level Event every year or every two years, such a forum would relate mainly to development cooperation—financial stability not being part of its mandate. Furthermore, the new body would have to act subsidiary to the UN General Assembly (cf Art 60 UN Charter). If instead a World Economic Council were created in analogy to the Security Council and on an equal footing with the General Assembly, then a revision of the UN Charter would be needed.72
2. Another, short-term way to institutionalize UN leadership in financial and economic affairs was proposed by the Stiglitz Commission with the establishment of an International Panel of Experts that could analyse the risks of pandemics, climate change, and food shortages and give recommendations on causes and effects concerning world trade and global development. However, its mandate would most probably be purely scientific, similar to the International Panel on Climate Change, meaning its regulatory capacity would be low.
3. Another proposal was made by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. In his report to the General Assembly presented in the context of the 2007 High-level Dialogue on Financing for Development he recommended that ‘the General Assembly might consider it timely to decide on a fundamental strengthening of the institutional arrangements for intergovernmental (p.352) follow-up of the financing for development process’.73 At the special high-level meeting of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) in April 2009 he suggested the establishment of a Committee on Financing for Development, consisting of 36 members, among them 18 from ECOSOC, the rest from the IMF, WTO, UNCTAD, and non-governmental organizations.74 The Secretary-General recalled that such a committee could also ‘serve as continuing interface, at the intergovernmental level, with relevant bodies of the Bretton Woods Institutions, the WTO and other stakeholders’.75 Similarly, the Rio Group of States had, in preparation for the Doha conference, called for a ‘Forum on Financing for Development’ which would meet twice a year before the meetings of the BWIs, followed by a discussion in the UN General Assembly.76 The Forum itself should be composed, inter alia, of a limited number of UN member States; Executive Directors from the Boards of the World Bank and IMF; the President of the WTO's Governing Council; one representative from civil society organizations; and one from the business sector.
4. In contrast, the IMF does not seems to be a ‘natural candidate’ for a more prominent role in the establishment of a global governance architecture, despite the fact that it has a universal membership (187 members as of October 2010). A series of crises in the past led to serious doubts whether the IMF as an international organization is able to prevent crises. As experts have rightly stated, ‘crisis management of the Fund was often bad’.77 In several cases IMF programmes even contributed to the escalation of crises (for example, Asia 1997–98). Consequently, the IMF has a very low reputation in non-European countries; its transatlantic orientation on the directorate's level also being unhelpful. Thus, in order to attribute a more important role to the IMF, a fundamental change in the organization is seen to be of utmost importance.78
5. Another solution which is relavant in the ongoing reforms process of the UN is to upgrade ECOSOC further. In his Report In Larger Freedom for the 2005 World Summit, the Secretary-General stated that the ECOSOC: ‘needs an effective, efficient and representative intergovernmental mechanism for engaging its counterparts in the institutions dealing with finance and trade. This could either be achieved by expanding its Bureau or by establishing an Executive Committee with a regionally balanced composition.’79 (p.353) Subsequently, the Outcome Document of the UN World Summit in 2005 recognized the need for a more effective ECOSOC ‘as a principal body for coordination, policy review…and recommendations on issues of economic and social development’.80
The wish to have a strong role for the UN in the reform of the international economic and financial system was also seen in the ‘Outcome Document of the Conference on the World Financial and Economic Crisis and its Impact on Development’. Its decision to integrate ECOSOC more actively in reform efforts undertaken is reflected by the fact that ECOSOC was invited by the Outcome Document of the New York Conference to make recommendations to the General Assembly on the establishment of an ad hoc group of experts in order to promote dialogue between policy-makers, academia, and civil society.81 More importantly, ECOSOC was mandated to revise the relationship agreements between the UN and the BWIs, in order to improve cooperation of the latter with the UN.82 Furthermore, ECOSOC was invited to make recommendations for a follow-up to the UN Conference on Development Financing.83 Finally, the New York Conference in June 2009 set the road map for the years to come, stating:
From a longer-term perspective ECOSOC should become a second ‘Security Council’, acting on an equal footing with the former. However, there is a constitutional limit to that approach as Article 60 UN Charter states that ECOSOC is always ‘acting under the authority’ of the General Assembly,85 ie it will not be possible to turn ECOSOC into an organ entirely responsible for economic and social affairs without revision of Article 60.86 Besides, in practice, many of the former tasks of ECOSOC have been deferred to other UN bodies, such as the UN Development Programme, UNCTAD, and the UN Environment Programme. The relationship with the World Bank Group and IMF is also poor. A thorough revision of the existing special relationship agreements87 with the (p.354) specialized agencies of the World Bank Group is therefore important for enabling ECOSOC better to serve the UN constitutional aim of creating ‘conditions of stability and well-being which are necessary for peaceful and friendly relations among nations’.88
…we are resolved to strengthen the role of the United Nations and its Member States in economic and financial affairs, including its coordinating role.84
VII. Financing for Development
In the light of the dramatic implications of the current crisis for the development of the global South, financing for development should have top priority. There are serious weaknesses in the current system though. Only four days in a two-year period are allocated to the follow-up of the Doha Conference (spring High-level meeting of ECOSOC with BWIs, WTO, and UNCTAD and the High-Level Dialogue of the General Assembly), without any agreed outcomes.89 In addition, the financing for development mechanisms are weaker than those concerning the follow-up of other economic and social UN world conferences, for example, on sustainable development, social development, population, and women, the latter meeting more frequently.90
Moreover, it is an open question how to organize financing for development. The EU member States view financing for development as depending ‘primarily on domestic resources mobilization’, stating also that ‘[p]artner countries must be able to mobilize their own human and financial resources’.91 Industrialized countries show a clear tendency to view the current crisis as an emergency case, less as a structural crisis requiring far-reaching and long-term measures. In an effort to avoid new binding financial commitments they are reluctant to accord the UN a more important role in economic, financial, and social affairs. As was indicated above, they prefer governance by the G-20 and are interested in having G-20 decisions confirmed by the UN. The recommendation therefore is to devote more time to the topic of financing for development and to elaborate ‘concrete policy recommendations that can be translated into action by stakeholders’.92
In succession to the 2002 UN Conference on Financing for Development in Monterrey, Mexico, the Follow-up International Conference on Financing for Development took place in Doha, Qatar, in December 2008. As governments were not able to give substantial answers to the current crisis, they finally agreed on organizing a new conference concerning the situation of the countries of the South: the UN, it was decided ‘will hold a conference at the highest level on the world (p.355) financial and economic crisis and its impact on development’.93 The modalities of the new conference, which were prepared by the President of the UN General Assembly, Miguel d'Escoto Brockmann, were highly controversial, particularly with a view to the political role the UN is supposed to play in global crisis management.94 Whereas the G-77 wished to attribute to the UN a major role in the institutionalizing of the global economic and financial framework, the EU, the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and Japan emphasized the competencies of the BWIs, ie the IMF and World Bank. In the view of the latter, the role of the UN should be restricted to development-related aspects of the crisis.
The UN Conference on the Worldwide Financial and Economic Crisis and its Impact on Development took place in New York from 24 to 26 June 2009. Its main objective was to get a clearer picture of the dramatic economic and social implications of the crisis for the developing world and to decide international measures to overcome them. In a reference document for the preparations, the need for a ‘step towards more inclusiveness and representative governance at the IMF’ was emphasized, requiring an ‘improved quota formula and/or alternative procedural reforms’.95 Given the importance of the event, it was surprising to see that only seven heads of State and government participated, several States being represented by ministers (for example, Germany by Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul) and most by their permanent representatives, with no representative of the IMF and World Bank at the same time.96 Despite this rather low-ranking political attention, the UN Conference took some important decisions. First of all, the Outcome Document 2009 addressed the UN General Assembly. It was decided that an ad hoc open-ended working group of the UN is to be established with the task of submitting a report on the progress of its work before the end of the 64th session of the General Assembly in September 2010.97 Experts rightly noted that this decision (p.356) reflected the consensus of a majority of States not to marginalize the UN in the current financial and economic crisis.98
The topic of financing for development is closely related to another issue of priority concern: a tax on financial transactions between 0.01 and 0.05 per cent, which could generate additional income, for example, in Germany of about ₠10–20 billion a year.99 The additional resources raised by a ‘Tobin tax’, it was proposed by Jeffrey Sachs, Director of the Earth Institute, could be used by the World Bank in order to invest in important infrastructure of developing countries (electricity, streets, water, sanitation, and communication).100
Still, it seems as if a thorough (re)-regulation of financial markets is politically not wanted—due also to ‘pressure groups’ who wish to maintain the finance market-driven capitalism.101
VIII. Conclusion: The Road to ‘Community Interest’
There is little doubt that crises with global impact will also occur in the future, even worse than the current one. The risk is that stand-alone crises (finance, food, climate, human security) connect in a way that sharply reduces existing problem-solving capacity. As the UN member States stated in the Doha Declaration 2008, the international community faces ‘multiple, interrelated global crises’.102 The international community is challenged by the severe impact on development, ‘such as increased food insecurity, volatile energy and commodity prices, climate change and a global financial crisis, as well as the lack of results so far in the multilateral trade negotiations and a loss of confidence in the international economic system’.103
The harm that future crises will do depends on the responses the UN and its member States will give at national and international levels. Effective multilateral discipline over financial and macroeconomic policies and close multilateral cooperation in the UN system will help to ease the consequences. ‘Global rules for (p.357) global capitalism’ is the short message given by Christoph Stückelberger, director of the international ethics network in Geneva.104
The crisis reflected major deficiencies of all stakeholders—economic and financial, state and individuals105—neglecting common interests and public good. Current crisis phenomena therefore do not allow for any ‘business as usual’ attitude. What is needed most is an entirely new regulatory approach of sustainable financial, economic, social, and environmental governance, requiring a fresh impetus of (new) values as well.106
Therefore, the future international debate should focus not only on the financial and monetary international architecture and global economic governance, but also on global issues of management of food and energy security, climate change, and the fight against pandemics, taking the interests of developing countries into account.
International community interests to solve the current financial crisis exceed the State-centred interest, as the former are related to mankind as such.107 Not only for the author, but for so many of his students, Bruno Simma sparked a life-long passion for human rights, questions of injustice, and constitutional questions—his enthusiasm and support at the same time being unique. Thank you, Bruno, for your exceptional commitment!
(1) Cf J Bellamy Foster and F Magdoff, The Great Financial Crisis. Causes and Consequences (Monthly Review Press, 2009); J Huffschmid, ‘Internationale Finanzmärkte: Funktionen, Entwicklung, Akteure’ in J Huffschmid et al (eds), Finanzinvestoren: Retter oder Raubritter? Neue Herausforderungen durch die Internationalen Kapitalmärkte (VSA_Verlag, 2007) 10–50; J Huffschmid, ‘Jenseits der Spekulationskrise—Das Diktat der Finanzmärkte und Perspektiven der Gegensteuerung’  Blätter für deutsche und internationale Politik S 1331; E Stockhammer, ‘Charakteristika eines Finanz-dominierten Akkumulationsregimes’ (2007) 60 WSI-Mitteilungen 643.
(2) The Global Plan for Recovery and Reform. The Communiqué from the London Summithttp://www.londonsummit.gov.uk/resources/en/PDF/final-communiqueibid
(3) G-20, Declaration, Summit on Financial Markets and the World Economy, 15 November 2008, para 3 〈https://www.g20.org/Documents/g20-summit-declaration.pdf〉.
(4) Note by the Secretary-General, ‘Coherence, Coordination and Cooperation in the Context of the Implementation of the Monterrey Consensus and the Doha Declaration on Financing for Development, Special high-level meeting of the Economic and Social Council with the Bretton Woods Institutions, the World Trade Organization, and the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development’ (New York, 27 April 2009), UN Doc E/2009/48, para 6.
(6) Council of the European Union, Council Conclusions—Guidelines for EU Participation in the International Conference on Financing for Development (Doha, 29 November–2 December 2008), Brussels, 11 November 2008, 15480/08, para 6.
(7) Note by the Secretary-General, ‘Coherence, Coordination and Cooperation’ (n 4) para 8.
(8) B Simma and S von Bennigsen (Schorlemer), ‘Wirtschaftliche, Soziale und Kulturelle Rechte im Völkerrecht, Der Internationale Pakt von 1966 und sein Kontrollverfahren’ in JF Baur, KJ Hopt, and KP Mailänder (eds), Festschrift für Ernst Steindorff zum 70. Geburtstag am 13. März 1990 (de Gruyter, 1990) 1477–502
(9) International Bank for Reconstruction and Development and World Bank, Global Monitoring Report 2009. A Development Emergency, 〈http://siteresources.worldbank.org/INTGLOMONREP2009/Resources/5924349-1239742507025/GMR09_book.pdf〉 accessed 11 November 2010.
(11) Note by the Secretary General, ‘Building on Monterrey and Doha: towards achieving the internationally agreed development goals, including the Millennium Development Goals’, Special high-level meeting of the Economic and Social Council with the BWIs, the WTO and UNCTAD (New York, 18–19 March 2010), UN Doc E/2010/11, 8 March 2010, para 16.
(12) As of November 2009, the World Bank expected a decline in remittances by about 6 per cent for 2009 (US$317 billion), compared with 2008 (US$338 billion). For 2010, a shallow recovery is expected: see D Ratha, S Mohapatra, and A Silwal, Migration and Development Brief 11, Migration and Remittances Team, Development Prospects Group, World Bank, 3 November 2009, 〈http://siteresources.worldbank.org/INTPROSPECTS/Resources/334934-1110315015165/MigrationAndDevelopmentBrief11.pdf〉 accessed 11 November 2010.
(13) Note by the Secretary-General, ‘Coherence, Coordination and Cooperation’ (n 4) para 3.
(14) South Centre, Policy Response to the Global Financial Crisis: Key Issues for Developing Countries (May 2009) 4; The Intergovernmental Group of Twenty-Four on International Monetary Affairs and Development: Communiqué (24 April 2009) 〈http://www.imf.org/external/np/cm/2009/042409.htm〉 accessed 11 November 2010.
(15) J Martens, ‘Wie die Wirtschafts- und Finanzkrise in den Süden Transferiert Wird: Vor einem Globalen Entwicklungsnotstand’ in Informationsbrief Weltwirtschaft & Entwicklung (June 2009) 2.
(16) UNCTAD, Trade and Development Report 2009 (n 10) 2.
(17) Goal 1: Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger; Goal 2: Achieve universal primary education; Goal 3: Promote gender equality and empower women; Goal 4: Reduce child mortality; Goal 5: Improve maternal health; Goal 6: Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria, and other diseases; Goal 7: Ensure environmental sustainability; Goal 8: Develop a global partnership for development.
(18) 55/2. UN Millennium Declaration, Resolution adopted by the General Assembly, 8 September 2000, UN Doc A/55/L.2.
(19) S von Schorlemer, ‘Die UN-Millenniums-Entwicklungsziele und Armutsbekämpfung: “Perpetuum Mobile” oder Durchbruch?’ in S von Schorlemer (ed), Sonderband 1 Zeitschrift für Politik, ‘Globale Probleme und Zukunftsaufgaben der Vereinten Nationen’ (Nomos, 2006) 96, 109.
(20) EU Council Conclusions (n 6) para 9 recalled its ODA commitments to reach 0.56 per cent GNI by 2010 and 0.7 per cent GNI by 2015; T Elliessen, ‘Auf niedrigem Niveau’ in (2009) 7 Weltsichten ‘Finanzordnung. Was die Krise lehrt’, criticizes, however, the fact that protagonists of the ‘magic’ 0.7 per cent goal pretend to know exactly how many lives could be saved, children fed, etc (at 7).
(21) S Zukang, UN Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, The Millennium Development Goals Report (2008) 4.
(22) UN, The Millennium Development Goals Report 2009 (UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs, July 2009) Foreword, 3.
(23) Note by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) for the G8 Summit, L'Aquila, 8–10 July 2009, 3 〈http://www.fao.org/fileadmin/user_upload/newsroom/docs/FAO_G8_backgrounder.pdf〉 accessed 11 November 2010.
(24) B Chourou, ‘Implications of Declining Food Supplies: Food Security vs. Market Economy’ in HG Brauch et al (eds), Security and Environment in the Mediterranean—Conceptionalising Security and Environmental Conflict (Springer, 2003) 827–42
(25) BG Ramcharan, Human Rights and Security (Kluwer, 2002)Human Security Nowhttp://www.humansecurity-chs.org/finalreport/index.htmlHuman Security on Foreign Policy Agendas: Changes, Concept and Cases
(26) Note by the Secretary-General, ‘Coherence, Coordination and Cooperation’ (n 4) para 3.
(28) G-20 Declaration (n 3) para 7.
(32) EU Council Conclusions (n 6) para 6.
(33) G-20 Declaration (n 3) para 8.
(36) South Centre, Policy Response to the Global Financial Crisis (n 14) 3.
(37) R Leckow, ‘Developing the IMF, the World Bank and the Regional Development Banks: The Future of Law & Policy in Global Financial Institutions’ (2007/08) 17 Kansas J L & Public Policy 286Selected Decisions and Selected Documents of the International Monetary Fund
(38) Leckow (n 37) 286.
(39) Note by the Secretary-General, ‘Coherence, Coordination and Cooperation’ (n 4) para 35.
(40) See, eg, Y Akyüz, Reforming the Global Financial Architecture, Issues and Proposals (Zed Books, 2002); J Eatwell and L Taylor, Global Finance at Risk: The Case for International Regulation (Polity Press, 2000); I Kaul and P Conceicao (eds), The New Public Finance, Responding to Global Challenges (Oxford University Press, 2006); PG Peterson, M Goldstein, and CA Hills, Independent Task Force Report, Safeguarding Prosperity in a Global Financial System: The Future International Financial Architecture (Council of Foreign Relations, 1999).
(41) Cf Y Akyüz, Reforming the IMF: Back to the Drawing Board, G-24 Discussion Paper 38 (UNCTAD, 2005); IMF/GIE (IMF Group of Independent Experts), External Evaluation of IMF Surveillance, Report by a Group of Independent Experts (1999); L Gramlich, ‘Eine neue Internationale “Finanzarchitektur” oder: Der IMF in der Krise?’ (2000)38 Archiv des Völkerrechts 399; see also J Conrady, ‘Eine UN-Sonderorganisation im Wandel: die Reform des Internationalen Währungsfonds (IWF)’ in von Schorlemer, Sonderband 1 Zeitschrift für Politik (n 19) 185–200; S Schlemmer-Schulte, ‘Die Rolle der internationalen Finanzinstitutionen im Nord-Süd-Konflikt’ in W Meng et al (eds), Das Internationale Recht im Nord-Süd-Verhältnis (CF Müller, 2003) 149–221; B Zanker, Internationaler Währungsfonds 2015. Reformbedarf und Reformmöglichkeiten (SWP-Studie S 13, May 2006) 5 et seq.
(42) Note by the Secretary-General, ‘Coherence, Coordination and Cooperation’ (n 4) para 4.
(43) UNGA Doha Declaration on Financing for Development: Outcome Document of the Follow-up International Conference on Financing for Development to Review the Implementation of the Monterrey Consensus, Annex UN Doc A/63/L.57, 12 December 2008, para 77.
(44) The World Bank Group consists of the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development; the International Development Association; the International Finance Corporation; the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency; and the International Centre for the Settlement of Investment Disputes.
(45) See Development Committee (Joint Ministerial Committee of the Boards of Governors of the Bank and the Fund on the Transfer of Real Resources to Developing Countries), Enhancing Voice and Participation of Developing Countries and Transition Countries in the World Bank Group: Options for Reform, DC2008-0013 (10 October 2008), para 12 〈http://siteresources.worldbank.org/DEVCOMMINT/Documentation/21949668/DC2008-0013%28E%29VoiceandParticipation.pdf〉 accessed 11 November 2010. For recommendations for reform see also the report of the High-Level Commission on Modernization of World Bank Group Governance, Repowering the World Bank for the 21st Century, October 2009 〈http://siteresources.worldbank.org/NEWS/Resources/WBGovernanceCOMMISSIONREPORT.pdf〉 accessed 18 October 2010.
(46) For the amendment to be effective, acceptance of three-fifths of members, representing 85 per cent of total voting power, needs to be received. As of late 2010, acceptance of over 80 per cent of members, representing nearly 70 per cent of total voting power, was received: see Development Committee (Joint Ministerial Committee of the Boards of Governors of the Bank and the Fund on the Transfer of Real Resources to Developing Countries), World Bank Group Voice Reform: Enhancing Voice and Participation of Developing and Transition Countries in 2010 and Beyond DC2010-0006 (19 April 2010), para 4 〈http://siteresources.worldbank.org/DEVCOMMINT/Documentation/22553921/DC2010-006%28E%29Voice.pdf〉 accessed 29 October 2010.
(49) IMF, ‘Reform of Quota and Voice in the International Monetary Fund’, Resolution 63-2, effective 28 April 2008, printed in Selected Decisions and Selected Documents of the International Monetary Fund, Thirty-Third Issue, 31 December 2008, 17–22.
(50) C Silva-Garbade and S Mildner, ‘Reform des Internationalen Währungsfonds geht in die nächste Runde’, SWP Aktuell 32, April 2008, 3 et seq.
(51) South Centre, Policy Response to the Global Financial Crisis (n 14), 23.
(52) G-24 Communiqué (n 14) 2; regarding the ‘need of scope for countercyclical fiscal stimuli’, see also Note by the Secretary-General, ‘Coherence, Coordination and Cooperation’ (n 4) para 16.
(53) Note by the Secretary-General, ‘Coherence, Coordination and Cooperation’ (n 4) para 30; see also Doha Declaration where it was stated ‘that the scope for appropriate counter-cyclical policies to preserve economic and financial stability…be expanded’.
(54) See Second Report of the High Level Task Force on the Implementation of the Right to Development, UN Doc E/CN.4/2005/WG.18/TF3, 8 December 2005, para 33.
(55) For detail see IMF, Review of Fund Facilities—Analytical Basis for Fund Lending and Reform Options (6 February 2009).
(56) UNCTAD, ‘Temporary Debt Moratorium Needed for Some Poor Nations, UNCTAD Chief says’, Press Release, UNCTAD/PRESS/PR/2009/013, 30 April 2009 〈http://www.unctad.org/templates/Webflyer.asp?docID=11446&intItemID=1634&lang=1〉 accessed 18 October 2010.
(57) Third World Network, The IMF's Financial Crisis Loans: No Change in Conditionalities (11 March 2009) 〈http://www.twnside.org.sg〉 accessed 18 October 2010; South Centre, Policy Response to the Global Financial Crisis (n 14) 9.
(58) South Centre, Policy Response to the Global Financial Crisis (n 14) 23.
(59) G-24 Communiqué (n 14) 3.
(60) See, however, B Kempen, ‘Die Zukunft des Internationalen Währungsfonds’ (2000) ZEuS 22, arguing that apart from Art I(2) IMF Statute there is no clear legal basis for new development assistance activities of the IMF.
(61) South Centre, Policy Response to the Global Financial Crisis (n 14) 9.
(62) G-24 Communiqué (n 14).
(64) South Centre, Policy Response to the Global Financial Crisis (n 14) 11.
(65) AO Krueger, International Financial Architecture for 2002: A New Approach to Sovereign Debt Restructuring. Address given at the National Economists’ Club Annual Members’ Dinner, American Enterprise Institute, Washington DC, 26 November 2001.
(66) E Borensztein et al, Sovereign Debt Structure for Crisis Prevention (IMF, 2004)Internationaler Währungsfonds 2015
(67) See Deutsches Institut für Entwicklungspolitik (DIE), Silke Weinlich ‘Die Vereinten Nationen: Nutznießer oder Kollateralschaden in der globalen Wirtschafts- und Finanzkrise? (2009).
(68) See Arts 55, 56, 61 UN Charter.
(69) Cf U Schneckener, ‘Globales Regieren durch Clubs, Definition, Chancen und Grenzen von Club Governance’, SWP-Aktuell 47, August 2009, 6.
(70) Report, World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2009, Shaping the Post-Crisis World, Davos-Klosters, Switzerland, 28 January–1 February 2009, 13 〈https://www.weforum.org/pdf/AnnualReport/2009/am_2009_report.pdf〉.
(71) The Commission suggested the title ‘Global Economic Coordination Council’: see Report of the Commission of Experts of the President of the UN General Assembly on Reforms of the International Monetary and Financial System, 21 September 2009, 99 et seq 〈http://www.un.org/ga/econcrisissummit/docs/FinalReport_CoE.pdf〉 accessed 18 October 2010.
(72) Arts 108, 109 UN Charter.
(73) Note by the Secretary-General, ‘Coherence, Coordination and Cooperation’ (n 4) para 53.
(76) Document of the Rio Group, dated 3 July 2008, quoted in Note by the Secretary-General, ‘Coherence, Coordination and Cooperation (n 4) para 56.
(77) HG Hilpert and S Mildner (eds), Globale Ordnungspolitik am Scheideweg. Eine Analyse der aktuellen Finanzmarktkrise, SWP Studie, S 4, February 2009, 67.
(79) UN Doc A/59/2005, 21 March 2005, para 180.
(80) UNGA, 2005 World Summit Outcome, UN Doc A/RES/60/1, 24 October 2005, para 155.
(81) Outcome of the Conference on the World Financial and Economic Crisis and its Impact on Development, UN Doc A/RES/63/303, 9 July 2009, para 56(e).
(85) W Meng in B Simma (ed), The Charter of the United Nations. A Commentary (Oxford University Press, 2002) Vol II, 971 et seq
(86) Arts 108, 109 UN Charter.
(87) For detail see the commentary on Arts 57 and 63 by Meng (n 85) 944 and 1002 et seq.
(88) Art 55 UN Charter.
(89) Note by the Secretary-General, ‘Coherence, Coordination and Cooperation’ (n 4) para 46.
(91) EU Council Conclusions (n 6) para 15.
(92) Note by the Secretary-General, ‘Coherence, Coordination and Cooperation’ (n 4) para 49.
(93) Follow-up International Conference on Financing for Development to Review the Implementation of the Monterrey Consensus, ‘Doha Declaration on Financing for Development: Outcome Document of the Follow-up International Conference on Financing for Development to Review the Implementation of the Monterrey Consensus’, UN Doc A/CONF.212/L.1/Rev.1*, 9 December 2008, para 79.
(94) J Martens, ‘UN-Konferenz zur globalen Finanzkrise 2009’ (2009) 4 Vereinte Nationen 179
(95) Report of the Commission of Experts of the President of the UN General Assembly on Reforms of the International Monetary and Financial System, 21 September 2009, 94; interestingly enough, the April 2008 decision by the Board of Governors to adopt a new quota formula was viewed as ‘not sufficient’ as it shifted voting rights to industrial countries at the expense of middle- and low-income countries 〈http://www.un.org/ga/president/63/interactive/financialcrisis/PreliminaryReport210509.pdf〉accessed 11 November 2010; see also Civil Society Background document on the UN Conference on the World Financial and Economic Crisis and its Impact on Development, 23 June 2009 〈http://globalpolicy.org/images/pdfs/SocEcon/2009/The_Global_Economic_Crisis/Final_CS_Background_Document.pdf〉 accessed 11 November 2010.
(96) Martens, ‘UN-Konferenz zur Globalen Finanzkrise 2009’ (n 94) 180.
(97) Outcome of the Conference on the World Financial and Economic Crisis and its Impact on Development, UN Doc A/RES/63/303 of 9 July 2009, para 54.
(98) Martens, ‘UN-Konferenz zur Globalen Finanzkrise 2009’ (n 94) 181.
(99) M Sievers, ‘Merkel will Tobin-Steuer’, Frankfurter Rundschau, 12 September 2009. See M ul Haq, I Kaul, and I Grunberg, The Tobin Tax: Coping with Financial Volatility (Oxford University Press, 1996); NA Yates, ‘Revisiting the Tobin Tax, in the Context of Development and the Financial Crisis’ (2009) 2 L & Development Rev, 265; M Nissanke, ‘Revenue Potential of the Tobin Tax for Development Finance: A Critical Appraisal’ in AB Atkinson (ed), New Sources of Development Finance (Oxford University Press, 2005) 58–89.
(100) Sachs, ‘Eine Agenda für Bretton Woods II’ (n 78) 4.
(101) A Fisahn, ‘Schwerpunkt Finanzkrise. Europäische Union in der Legitimationskrise’ (2009) 42 Kritische Justiz 106
(102) Doha Declaration on Financing for Development: Outcome Document of the Follow-up International Conference (n 93) para 3.
(105) EKD Texte 100, ‘Wie ein Riss in einer Hohen Mauer’. Wort des Rats der Evangelischen Kirche in Deutschland zur Globalen Finanzmarkt und Wirtschaftskrise (2009) 7, criticizing a mentality of ‘fast money’.
(106) W Huber speaks of a ‘Werteaufschwung’, cf ‘Wirtschaftliches Handeln grundsätzlich überprüfen—Ratsvorsitzender präsentiert neuen EKD-Text zur Finanzmarkt und Wirtschaftskrise, EKD 161/2009 〈http://www.ekd.de〉 accessed 18 October 2010; see also EKD Texte 100, ‘Wie ein Riss in einer hohen Mauer’. Wort des Rats der Evangelischen Kirche in Deutschland zur Globalen Finanzmarkt und Wirtschaftskrise (2009).
(107) For further references see B Simma, ‘From Bilateralism to Community Interest in International Law’ (2004) 250 Recueil des Cours de l'Académie de Droit International 217; B Simma and A Paulus, ‘The “International Community”: Facing the Challenge of Globalization. General Conclusions’ (1998) 9 Eur J Intl L 266.