TWN Info Service on Finance and Development
Informal negotiations on a United Nations ad
hoc Panel of Experts reveal deep North and South divide, with a
final decision by the General Assembly postponed until end 2011
The ongoing annual session of the United Nations General Assembly at the UN Headquarters in New York will consider the establishment of an ad hoc panel of experts as an integral part of the follow-up to the United Nations 2009 conference on the world financial and economic crisis.
Informal negotiations last summer that continued
into the substantive meeting of the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC)
in July in
The informal negotiations acted on the ECOSOC decision taken two years ago in July 2009 on the follow-up to paragraph 56 in the outcome document produced by the UN Conference on the World Financial and Economic Crisis and its Impact on Development (24-26 June 2009). Paragraph 56 requested ECOSOC to carry out five activities, recommendations, and reviews, of which the fifth component is to “consider and make recommendations to the General Assembly regarding the possible establishment of an ad hoc panel of experts on the world economic and financial crisis and its impact on development.”
While no consensus decision could be reached, postponing the Panel of Experts discussion preserves the space for a continuing dialogue in the General Assembly. The rationale for the Panel of Experts is that it would offer independent and technical opinions and analysis for policy making, while also facilitating discussion among a wide array of stakeholders.
Meanwhile, the work agenda of the Ad Hoc Open-ended
Working Group established to address the follow-up of the 2009 UN Conference
that had been meeting in
ECOSOC Resolution on Panel of Experts
The resolution adopted by ECOSOC in its July 2011 substantive session is titled “Follow-up to the Outcome of the Conference on the World Financial and Economic Crisis and Its Impact on Development: consideration of the possible establishment of an ad hoc panel of experts.”
(The ECOSOC resolution in draft form that was the outcome of informal consultations is available at:
This resolution, which concluded two months of
divided and difficult member state negotiations in June (in
The resolution addressed the possible establishment of an ad hoc panel of experts which would be discussed for the purpose of providing “independent technical expertise and analysis which could contribute to informing international action and political decision-making and fostering constructive dialogue and exchanges among policymakers, academics, institutions and civil society.” This is part of the outcome recommendations of the June 2009 UN Conference.
The resolution of July 2011 contains two important developments. The first is an explicit recognition of the contribution of the Commission of Experts on Reforms of the International Monetary and Financial System reforms set up by the 63rd President of the General Assembly in 2009 and chaired by Nobel laureate Joseph Stiglitz. The second step is recognition of the important role of the UN Regional Commissions.
The resolution also pays special emphasis on the valuable contribution of the UN agencies and its various independent bodies, such as the Stiglitz Commission. These bodies are noted for informing and providing intellectual support to the intergovernmental work of Member States.
The resolution “Affirms the need to examine the most efficient modalities to provide independent technical expertise and analysis on issues relating to the world financial and economic crisis and its impact on development, to be made available to the Economic and Social Council and the General Assembly, which could contribute to informing international action and political decision-making and to fostering constructive dialogue and exchanges among policymakers, academics, institutions and civil society”.
In that regard, it recommends that “the possible establishment of an ad hoc panel of experts on the world economic and financial crisis and its impact on development should be further considered by the General Assembly, taking into account the outcomes of the various related processes, including the Ad Hoc Open-ended Working Group of the General Assembly to follow up on the issues contained in the Outcome of the Conference on the World Financial and Economic Crisis and Its Impact on Development, as well as the forthcoming deliberations in the Assembly (starting in September 2011) on the role of the United Nations in global economic governance and development, and on the modalities of the financing for development follow-up process”.
(Two UN conferences have been held on financing for development with commitments and activities adopted by Member States but implementation has remained elusive.)
Finally, the resolution requests the UN Secretary General to explore options which take into account the need to make full use of existing UN bodies, including the regional commissions, and to report to the General Assembly through existing reporting mechanisms.
Informal negotiations marked by North-South divisions
During the informal negotiations in
According to the developing countries’ grouping,
the panel’s operations should also be informed by, and interact with,
member states. The G77 and
The Group held the view that the discussion on
global governance and the role of the UN is separate from the discussion
on an ad hoc panel of experts. The delegate from
The Group was willing to explore how the Financing for Development process, and in particular the role of regional commissions, could contribute to the experts panel discussion. It noted that the “resource capacity” expected from a panel of experts is currently being obtained from the “regional commissions.” For example, “with regard to the global reserve system, there are very few experts on that topic, and the regional commissions are quite useful in this matter.”
The G77 and
The European Union, supported in large part by
The EU noted that independent technical expertise was already being solicited, integrated and valued in the existing UN processes, saying that “if one looks at the index, contributions and references of the reports and the level of outside contributions, with reference to the UN DESA report on The Global Social Crises, it is apparent how valuable the role of outside contributors is.”
In this way, the EU did not agree with the G77 that a panel of experts should be established separately and independently from any UN agencies, in that while cooperation and dialogue between such a panel and the UN system would be supported the panel members themselves would convene and produce materials independently from the UN agencies.
The EU said that it is important to consolidate the full range of expertise from across the UN agencies, and that a recommendation should be made to the General Assembly to look into such an endeavor. It said that the “operative section (of the panel of experts resolution) should recommend to the Secretary General to include the panel of experts in its final report on the role of the UN in global economic governance.”
The EU stressed that although independent technical analysis, affirmed by the General Assembly, would contribute to member state discussions and negotiations, it is also important that the various agencies of the UN produce results through consistent cooperation.
[The facilitator of the informal negotiations
which led to the adoption of the draft resolution in
Civil society calls for the panel of experts
On 12 July, 107 representatives of civil society
organizations and individuals from around the world issued a joint letter
to support the establishment of the ad hoc panel of experts.
The letter requested that governments of the General Assembly endorse
the establishment of the panel in the draft resolution that was being
The civil society letter stated that an expert panel could produce independent technical analysis and provide recommendations on global financial, economic and system issues in line with the mandates of the Conference on the World Financial and Economic Crisis and its Impact on Development. It stresses that such a panel of experts would foster constructive exchanges among UN member states as well as among policymakers, academics, institutions and members of civil society. Recommendations would be made available to the ECOSOC, as well as to the General Assembly.
Civil society members emphasized their shared concern with developing countries about the impact of the world financial crisis on development and the need for adequate responses so as to avoid its recurrence, restore global economic stability and promote underlying institutional reforms required to ensure sustained global economic development for the benefit for all.
An urgent need to strengthen and broaden the participation of developing countries in global economic governance is at the center of these concerns on the impacts of the crises on the South, they stressed. Thus, civil society members asserted that establishing an expert panel within the UN will serve to amplify the views and analyses from a South-focused lens.+