TWN Info Service on WTO and Trade Issues (Apr12/14)
18 April 2012
Third World Network

Dear friends and colleagues,

In light of the battle over the future of UNCTAD to be able to maintain its mandate to work on key development issues, especially on macro-economics and finance, as well as to provide alternate views to those of the World Bank, IMF and OECD, civil society organisations that gathered on the eve of the thirteenth session of the UNCTAD Ministerial conference (UNCTAD XIII), issued a statement on 17 April. This was released on the opening day of the Civil Society Forum of UNCTAD XIII, and reproduced below.

With best wishes,
Third World Network


The Civil Society Forum of UNCTAD XIII opened today, 17th April in Doha against the background of worrying developments within the official negotiating process arising from threats to UNCTADís mandate from major powers and their opposition to the discussion and consideration of key issues of interest to developing countries.

UNCTAD was established to offer analysis and advice to countries on development issues related to trade, finance, technology and interrelated issues. UNCTAD XII in Accra produced agreement on a broad mandate for the organisation.

The importance of UNCTADís work has been highlighted by the global financial and economic crisis and its continuing catastrophic effects on peoples and economies. Over the years while the Bretton Woods twins led the cheerleading for unbridled liberalisation and deregulation of markets and finances which produced the crisis, UNCTADís analysis consistently pointed out the dangers of these policies. The economic turmoil provoked by the crisis makes UNCTADís mandate and work even more relevant.

The CSOs in Doha are concerned that the JUSSCKANZ group of countries (Japan, United States, Switzerland, Canada, Korea, Australia, New Zealand) and the European Union (EU) are so opposed to UNCTADís vital analytical and advisory work on finance and responses to the crisis that they are refusing to even reaffirm UNCTADís mandate as agreed in Accra. CSOs present in Doha call for a reaffirmation of the Accra Accord by UNCTAD XIII.

CSOs in Doha demand that UNCTADís crucial research and analytical work especially on 1) the global financial crisis, and 2) other development challenges including those arising from globalisation be maintained. UNCTAD serves as an important countervailing forum where the interests of developing countries can be paramount when trade, development and interrelated issues are being discussed. This value and its proven track record is why the attack on UNCTADís mandate has to be resisted.

The JUSSCKANZ and the EU attack on UNCTADís mandate is directly linked to their refusal to acknowledge the historical fact that the global financial and economic crisis originated from the global North as a result of policies advanced by a narrow section of the elite in those countries. The crisis has caused and continues to cause extensive suffering in developing and developed countries, pushing countries such as Greece to the brink of collapse and threatening the very survival of the euro bloc.

CSOs present at the Civil Society Forum of UNCTAD XIII expressed their unequivocal opposition to the attempt by JUSSCKANZ and the EU to destroy a vital institution of global governance. The Group of 77 and China has shown renewed solidarity and strength in opposing the developed country demands in these negotiations. And in a recent statement more than 50 eminent former UNCTAD staffers (including a former Secretary General) noted that developed countries have decided that Ďif you cannot kill the message, at least kill the messengerí (i.e. UNCTAD)!

The CSOs present in Doha contrasted the interest the major powers have shown in strengthening the IMF and World Bank (and in using bodies of questionable accountability such as the G-20 to block truly multilateral responses to the crisis of neoliberalism) with their negative attitude to UNCTAD. They noted that the IMF and World Bank continue to peddle policies which caused and have been discredited by the crisis.

In the view of the CSOs, it is the policies that engendered the ongoing crisis and widespread human suffering that need to be urgently changed and not organisations such as UNCTAD that have been working towards alternatives.

Doha 17th April 2012