In the wake of the global financial and economic crisis, the President of the UN General Assembly, Miguel d’Escoto Brockmann, set up a commission of experts chaired by Nobel Prize Laureate Joseph Stiglitz, whose mandate is to reflect on the causes of the crisis, assess its impacts on all countries and suggest adequate responses to avoid its recurrence and restore global economic stability. The “Commission of Experts of the President of the UN General Assembly on Reforms of the International Monetary and Financial System” (hereafter referred to as the “Commission on Financial Reforms”) is composed of leading economic specialists from developed and developing countries who will put forward a range of “credible and feasible proposals for reforming the international monetary and financial system, in the broad interest of the international community, and identify and evaluate the merits and limitations of alternatives that are at the center of current global debate.”
The Commission will thus produce a report on recommendations to be considered in the preparatory process leading to the UN Conference at the highest level on the world financial and economic crisis and its impact on development called for in the final document adopted at Doha in December 2008 (resolution A/RES/63/239).
Process for producing the Report
The Commission will hold at least three formal meetings to discuss the issues related to the crisis and to begin drafting the report. The Commission held its first meeting on 4-6 January 2009 in New York. The second one is planned on 8-10 March 2009 in Geneva.
In the process, the Commission will solicit comments and suggestions from a wider body of interested stakeholders including policymakers and government officials, representatives of international agencies, academics and members of civil society. Together, these deliberations and inputs will feed into a final report, which will be published and distributed to Member States, other involved parties and the wider public, as part of a larger United Nations initiative to achieve the needed reforms.
NGLS has been asked by the Office of the President of the General Assembly to consult with civil society groups across the globe and to compile their views into a single report. This report will be presented to the Commission as an official input to their deliberations. Given the short-time frame and heavy burden of the Commission’s work, this will likely be the only input from civil society that they will review.
To accomplish this task, NGLS is undertaking a three-week online consultation (23 January – 13 February) organized around the Commission’s four Working Groups themes (financial regulation; multilateral issues; macroeconomic issues and addressing the crisis; and reforming the global financial architecture). After the consultation period concludes, NGLS will prepare a compilation report to be submitted to the Office of the President of the General Assembly as part of the preparations of the Commission’s second meeting in March.
“Helping the UN fulfil its historic mission”
In his introductory remarks to the first meeting, Professor Stiglitz emphasized the following points on the Commission’s mission and purpose:
“This unprecedented global financial and economic crisis requires an unprecedented global response. It requires a response not just from the G-7, G-8, G-10, or G-20, but from the entire international community, the G-192. This gives a special importance to this initiative of the President of the General Assembly, which has received so much support from around the world….
The current economic crisis should provide an opportunity to reassess global economic arrangements and prevalent economic doctrines….As we address the short run crisis, we should seize the opportunity for making deeper reforms that enable the world to enter into the twenty first century with a more equitable and a more stable global financial system, which could usher in an era of enhanced prosperity for all countries….
This expert group is devoted to helping the U.N. fulfil its historic mission. The Commission will seek to identify the broad principles underlying needed institutional reforms required to ensure sustained global economic progress and stability which will be of benefit to all countries, developed and less developed. The Commission will suggest a range of credible and feasible proposals for reforming the international monetary and financial system in the best interest of the international community, identify the merits and limitations of alternatives, and will evaluate in particular those that are at the center of current global discussions….
As an expert group, we have a distinct advantage: we can think “outside the box.” We are not constrained to operating within the conventional wisdom. We can ask politically uncomfortable questions….
The global economic landscape has changed unalterably. We cannot go back to the world before September 15… Part of what we will be doing is to discuss how the international community can best respond to this crisis, in ways that are attentive to the concerns of all countries. But part of the task of the Commission is to help the international community think through the changes that will have be made as we go about the more difficult task of creating a new international economic order….
It is too late to prevent this downturn. But it is not too late to try to mitigate some of these adverse effects. And it is imperative that we take steps to prevent a recurrence of this tragedy….”