World Economic Issues and Deterioration of Economies of Developing Nations Discussed in General Debate

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World economic issues and deterioration of economies of developing nations discussed in general debate

A detailed discussion of world economic issues--focusing on the deteriorating economic situation in developing countries, their massive external debt, the fragile economic recovery in developed countries, and the rising trend of protectionism--took place from 8 to 16 October in the Second Committee (Economic and Financial) of the General Assembly.

Widespread support was expressed for the convening of a special session of the General Assembly on the critical economic situation in Africa. Calls for international conferences on the external indebtedness of African countries, and on money and finance for development were also discussed.

At the outset of the Committee's annual general debate, Jean Ripert, Director-General for Development and International Economic and Social Affairs, said that despite disaffection with multilateralism, "the international framework of the United Nations remains essential in certain sectors for the joint pursuit of prosperity and economic and social development'.

There was "greater recognition of the risks of inaction and of the need for more active international co-operation', he said. The Second Committee's task was "to pursue these openings, to broaden them wherever possible and . . . to achieve concrete results'.

In the debate, support was expressed for proposals made at the recent World Bank-International Monetary Fund meetings at Seoul to alleviate the debt burden of developing countries by adopting policies to stimulate those nations' growth and development.

Speakers called for a return to genuine multilateral co-operation and for strengthening the role of the United Nations in the economic field. Among recent positive developments were the consensus on the mid-term review and appraisal of the implementation of the International Development Strategy for the Third United Nations Development Decade and adoption of the "Forward Looking Strategies' by the World Conference to Review and Appraise the Achievements of the United Nations Decade for Women.

Many countries were concerned that the gap between developed and developing countries would only be narrowed through the launching of global negotiations and establishing of a new international economic order.

Debtor's plea: Mr. Ripert said that current strategies to deal with the debt problem needed to be adapted to changing conditions. The plea of developing debtor countries that greater attention be paid to their dramatic situation should not be lightly dismissed, "for harsher economic conditions, unemployment, social misery and political instability were natural allies'. Shared responsibility by debtor and creditor countries and financial institutions should be accepted with emphasis on reducing the interest burden and providing additional finance.

Serious misalignment of currencies was now taking its toll, he went on. Structural weaknesses in the monetary system needed to be addressed. The issues having been defined, and agenda for discussion and action must be worked out. That underlined the importance of the proposal for an international conference on money and finance for development.

He also spoke of world trade, commodity prices, the emergency situation in Africa, science and technology, population, environment, the 1987 International Year of Shelter for the Homeless, the mid-term review of the Substantial New Programme of Action for the Least Developed Countries and more effective co-ordination of the Organization's economic and social activities.

Advantage should be taken, Mr. Ripert said, of the presence at the current Assembly of so many Heads of State and Government so that progress could be made in the North-South dialogue. A meeting of Heads of State and Government "could provide current negotiations on some key issues with the impetus they so needed'. …