Brown told: 'Rich don't have the answers to the crisis'

By staff writers
June 22, 2009

Campaigners have today criticised Gordon Brown for refusing to send a cabinet minister to the United Nations summit on the economic crisis, whilst personally attending the 'outdated and elitist' G8 meeting in July.

The UN Summit takes place from 24-26 June 2009 in New York.

Jubilee Debt Campaign, the World Development Movement and War on Want argue that as the vast majority of the world's countries are not invited to the G20 or G8 meetings, the UN summit is vital in enabling those least responsible for the crisis to make fair and effective decisions on the future of the world economy.

A commission, chaired by the Nobel economic science laureate Joseph Stiglitz, has already devised a series of radical recommendations for global economic reform, but campaigners say the UK and other western governments have been trying to water down proposals, including threats of a boycott and public denigration of the summit.

There are also signs that the UK has been putting pressure on developing countries to downgrade their own support for the summit. UN diplomats have revealed that British government officials have been visiting developing country capitals in order to "persuade" them not to send high ranking officials to the UN conference.

Nick Dearden from Jubilee Debt Campaign, said: "If we're ever going to see a more just economy, the Prime Minister and other western leaders need to start listening to the majority of the world. It's surely become apparent over the last 12 months that the rich don't have the answers. If we need to clean up politics in the UK, it's needed even more internationally, where the rule of the richest is still taken for granted."

Campaigners are particularly anxious that the summit should agree that transformative, structural change to the global economy is needed, not simply tinkering at the edges. Particular support is being given to Professor Stiglitz's proposals for a powerful global economic coordination council within the UN which would bring a more just and sustainable form of global economic coordination than is currently offered by the World Bank, IMF and World Trade Organisation. They also want consideration of a debt restructuring mechanism, leading to cancellation of unpayable and illegitimate debt in developing countries, an end to the practice of forcing economic policies on developing countries and radical reform of international financial institutions and the WTO.

New arrangements for a global reserve currency to replace the dollar are also being urged.

Campaigners are also calling for climate change to be tackled through the United Nations and fear that the G8 will pre-empt an international discussion at Copenhagen in December.

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