Saturday, November 28, 2015

World Financial and Economic Crisis

Statement by H.E. Dr. Zahir Tanin

Permanent Representative of Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to the United Nations

Head of Delegation

at the Conference on the World Financial and Economic Crisis and its Impact on Development
24th to 26th June 2009



H.E. Dr. Zahir Tanin addresses General Assembly on the world financial and economic crisis and its impact on development

H.E. Dr. Zahir Tanin addresses General Assembly on the world financial and economic crisis and its impact on development

Mr. President,

I am honored to have the opportunity to speak on behalf of the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan in this timely and important discussion on the Global Economic and Financial Crisis. At the outset let me thank H.E. the  President, for his initiative in convening this meeting at a time when the global financial and economic crisis seriously threatens the livelihood and well being of millions of people all over the world. I would also like to thank the Secretary-General for his efforts in this regard. In order to prevent lasting damage, particularly to developing countries, we must maintain focus and resources on the development agenda, particularly for those countries in a special situation, we should improve and encourage both North-South and South-South partnerships, and we must improve the quality of aid and accountability.
Mr. President,

The international community is facing the most severe financial and economic crisis of the past several decades. And it is those least responsible for it, the poorest among us, particularly women and children, who are hit the hardest.
The global financial crisis exacerbates other already severe problems: of energy, environment and food that particularly affect the developing countries of the South. Already poor countries are becoming even more mired in poverty.
Mr. President,

The global financial crisis poses challenges for all countries, but post-conflict countries, least developed countries and land-locked least developed countries face particular challenges. Afghanistan as a post-conflict, least developed and land-lacked country has
been hit severely by this crisis and will find it difficult to implement its National Development Strategy and achieve its MDGs and other IADGs without intensified international support. Moreover the impact of the insecurity caused by the Taliban in parts of Afghanistan combined with several recent natural disasters has increased the need for additional resources for humanitarian assistance to hundreds of thousands of displaced and vulnerable people. Afghanistan and other countries in a special situation need additional funds and resources for social protection, food security and human development.

Mr. President,

We are at a critical juncture that requires rapid, decisive and coordinated action. To defuse this crisis, to address the causes of the crisis and to prevent similar crises in the future, we all have to work together to prevent the current tenuous situation from becoming a social and human disaster with implications for the lives of millions of impoverished people, the implementation of the MDGs, political stability and peace.

Mr. President,

Afghanistan believes that the United Nations is in a position to play an important role in coordinating international co-operation towards solving international problems of an economic, social, cultural, or humanitarian character. We encourage our international colleagues to make sure that UN development agencies are fully resourced so that they can increase their technical and financial assistance to the governments of LDCs,  LLDCs and other countries with special needs. The Government of Afghanistan also supports the Secretary General’s High-Level Task Force on the Global Food Security Crisis in connection with international efforts on setting-up a Global Partnership on Agriculture and Food Security.

Mr. President,

Afghanistan also sees the necessity and potential of North-South collaboration, in addition to cooperation between countries in the South. We have an active and crucial partnership with our regional neighbors, and also with the international community as a whole, and we can testify to the value in different sorts of partnerships. Cooperation can be best accomplished through improving the operations of international and regional institutions, supporting international and regional cooperation, and increasing the effectiveness of international and regional efforts in recipient countries.
We urge donor countries to execute their bilateral and multilateral Official Development Assistance (ODA) commitments. We urge them to meet their commitments made at the G 20 Summit in London and other international forums such as the Monterrey Consensus, the G8 Summit in Gleneagles, the Doha Declaration and others. We urge them to reduce allocation of ODA outside of the government system and channel more funds through the core budget and trust funds. We also call on developed countries and

donor agencies to adhere to the Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness in order to ensure national ownership in the development process.
Lack of donor coordination, incomplete reporting, lack of transparency and unpredictable aid are all challenges that need to be addressed in order to ensure the best use of our money. And particularly now, at a time of limited resources, it is important that donors prioritize the efficiency, accountability, and the principle of national ownership.

Mr. President,

The Government of Afghanistan considers the substantive and comprehensive reform of the international economic and financial institutions to be a matter of urgency. This sort of crisis must not occur again.
Afghanistan joins all developing countries and reiterates their call for an early, successful and development-oriented conclusion of the Doha round of trade negotiations that places the needs of developing countries at its highest priority. Afghanistan also supports the Hong Kong Ministerial Declaration to implement duty-free and quota-free access for LDCs.

Mr. President,

Afghanistan trusts that the outcome of this important historic Conference will reduce the suffering of millions of vulnerable people all over the world and will protect the world from future crisis.

I thank you.


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Don’t forget to reform the UN

Zahir Tanin

–After the focus on the G20 and the financial crisis, we must remember the security council is also in dire need of change

After a week during which the eyes of the world were on the G20 summit and the state of the world economy, we should not forget that our international peace and security institutions are in equal need of reform – first and foremost the UN security council. After all, the next emergency calling for a global response could be in foreign rather than financial affairs.

Away from the cameras and under the public radar so far, diplomats at the UN in New York are quietly working towards strengthening multilateralism’s muscle, the security council. This February finally saw the successful launch of real reform negotiations, which I have the privilege of chairing on behalf of the president of the UN general assembly. While differences on, for instance, the size and composition of a revamped security council remain, all delegations have agreed to work them out at the negotiating table and all aspire to forge a council that reflects the global realities of the 21st century, not the mid-20th century.

The international economic institutions now under intense scrutiny were set up during the Bretton Woods conference back in 1944. Only slightly younger and just as stuck in a timewarp is the security council, the most powerful multilateral political body. When they signed the UN charter at the 1945 San Francisco conference, world leaders entrusted the maintenance of international peace and security to the council, with the ultimate goal of, in the words of the charter, saving succeeding generations from the scourge of war.

Special rights and responsibilities were assumed by the big three second world war allies, Russia (then still the Soviet Union), the UK and the US, plus China and France. These five took up permanent seats around the horseshoe-shaped table and secured the right to veto any resolution tabled in the council.

From those post-war days to our post-cold war era, the council did not change much, even if the world did. With many African and Asian nations throwing off the shackles of colonialism, the UN’s membership nearly quadrupled from 51 to 192. We saw not just new countries but also new powers emerge outside the west, as “the rise of the rest” created our contemporary multipolar world.

Yet while the times were changing at breakneck speed, the security council remained more or less the same, with the sole exception of the addition of four non-permanent seats in the 1960s. The current composition of five permanent (the P5 in UN-speak) and 10 non-permanent members, drawn from different regions and elected for two-year terms by all countries in the UN, is the enduring result of that 1963 tweak.

In the same year, a young and charismatic American president made the case for ongoing change at the UN when he addressed the entire UN membership: “The United Nations cannot survive as a static organisation … Its charter must be changed as well as its customs. The authors of that charter did not intend that it be frozen in perpetuity.” But ever since the year John F Kennedy spoke those words at the height of the cold war, the security council, the UN’s most powerful body, has actually remained frozen in time.

Fortunately, it seems that we are now finally heeding his words. All the UN’s 192 member states have signed up to the current negotiation effort to create a more legitimate and effective security council. Arguably, today’s general public is more often dissatisfied with the UN because it has done too little, such as in Rwanda in the 1990s or Darfur, rather than too much. The security council can become more effective and save more lives if it is widely perceived as a more representative and thus more legitimate body. Harvard professor Joseph Nye, who coined the now oft-used term “soft power”, has stated that legitimacy, an important part of soft power, is in fact the main tool the UN has to carve out a place for itself in the international order.

Most high-level actors in that international order are now understandably preoccupied with putting out the economic fire raging in the global village. But they neglect the need to also modernise international peace and security institutions, especially the security council, at their own peril. The world needs to be vigilant in both financial and foreign affairs and ready to deal with not just incomes falling down but also peace falling apart in the blink of an eye. Only a few blocks from the ground zero of this recession, Wall Street, we find a strong and stark reminder of that imperative: the gaping hole of the World Trade Centre site, the real Ground Zero.