Stop financial crisis from becoming human tragedy: Ban to G-20

November 13th, 2008 - 10:20 pm ICT by IANS  

United Nations, Nov 13 (IANS) UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has urged the G-20 member-countries, including India, to work with “the fierce urgency of now” to prevent the current global financial crisis from becoming a human tragedy.If immediate preventive measures are not taken now, the present crisis threatens to pose a grave security and political challenge, Ban told the leaders of the G-20 countries in a letter written Wednesday and released to the media Thursday.

At the initiative of US President George W. Bush, the leaders of the G-20 countries, comprising top 20 economic powers, are meeting in Washington this weekend to discuss the current financial crisis and find a common way out to it.

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is scheduled to arrive in Washington Friday to attend this important summit.

“If hundreds of millions of people lose their livelihood and their hopes for the future are dashed because of a crisis they have absolutely no responsibility for, the human crisis will not remain just economic,” Ban said in his letter.

“It will assume new and difficult political and security dimensions that could overwhelm the ones we are already facing,” Ban cautioned the world leaders.

Ban will also attend the summit.

Ban acknowledged that there would be differences of opinion among the world leaders on how to resolve the global crisis and emphasized it is essential that the meeting “signals an unmistakable common resolve” to overcome the crisis, to act together, to act with urgency and to show solidarity towards the neediest.

Hopeful that the G20 meeting will lay the groundwork for reforms that will prevent recurrence of the crisis, Ban said: “We need most of all to join forces to take immediate action to prevent the financial crisis from becoming a human tragedy. We must deal with the ‘fierce urgency of now’, to use the unforgettable words of Martin Luther King.”

Observing that political, security, environmental and economic problems are interlinked, Ban said: “Today’s crisis threatens human progress and thereby the very foundations for an open and dynamic world economy and inclusive globalization.”

This crisis also shows, the secretary general said, “how interdependent we have all become, and how we can be both harmed and helped by the policies of others.”

“This is true for climate change. It is true for financial markets, food, energy, trade, employment and of course also for threats outside the narrow economic realm, such as infectious disease,” he argued.

Ban further cautioned the world leaders from going back into an era of protectionism, which he said, lessons from 1930 indicate, can only deepen a recession.

While individual countries may think that restricting trade can help protect jobs, it is more than a truism that one country’s imports are another country’s exports and restricting imports necessarily restricts exports, he said.

Far from helping employment, protectionism undermines jobs in the aggregate, he argued.

Calling for an early resolution of the issues holding up the Doha trade round, he said this could be a great contribution to overcoming the crisis.

“Freer trade must of course rest on the agreed principles of common but differentiated treatment, including capacity building and aid-for-trade support for the least developed countries,” Ban said.

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