Monterrey Conference Minimalist

The Monterrey Conference failed monumentally in its objectives, to guarantee a sustained credit line to Less Developed Countries. The result was wanton minimalism, an absence of direction and hot air. Nothing new for international summits in the 21st century, devoid of ideas or resolutions.

The main principle behind the Monterrey Conference had been established at the UNO in 1970, namely that the developed countries would donate 0.7% of their GDP to a development fund for the Less Developed Countries (LDCs).

UN Secretary General Kofi Annan had requested an additional 50 bn. USD to fulfil the Conference’s primary objective, to halve the number of people in the world who live on less than one USD per day by 2015. His pleas fell on deaf ears, the President of the United States of America preferring the habitual neo-liberal clichйs which mark his every speech: “the developed nations have the duty to not only share their wealth but also to encourage the sources which produce wealth: economic freedom, political freedom, a state of law and human rights”.

Not impressed was French President Jacques Chirac, who pointed out the parallel between George Bush requesting yet another tranche of financing from the US Congress (a further 27 billion USD) for the fight against international terrorism and the lack of progress on the funding of LDCs.

“What is possible against terrorism is also possible against poverty. We are going to form a coalition to construct a universal civilisation where each one has his place, where each one is respected, where each one has his opportunity”, a good discourse in the run-down to the French presidential elections.

Chirac pressed home his point, calling for an international tax which would provide funds for LDCs. The final result of the Monterrey Conference, however, was the habitual bland document devoid of any real commitment to act. Pressure from the USA saw the request by Kofi Annan left out completely, while a “Monterrey Consensus” was referred to.

This, basically, resulted in a document without any precise commitment, vaguely referring to the need for rich countries to provide aid to LDCs. The document describes as “axes of intervention”, the mobilisation of national financial resources to service development programmes, it speaks about the wish to develop international commerce, as if this was anything new, and refers yet again to the desire to increase technological cooperation with developing countries.

Furious was Fidel Castro, who stormed out of the Conference, claiming that there were “special reasons” for this act. The Cuban government issued a statement claiming that if anyone wanted to know these reasons, they should contact George Bush (referring to the neo-liberal and inflexible discourse proffered by the latter since 11th September).

NGOs observing the Summit were unanimous in their derision at the paltry result. A spokesperson for War on Want, a British organisation, claimed that “The Monterrey Conference on the financing of poverty is an immense abandonment of the planet’s poor”, whereas the spokesperson for the Catholic Committee against Hunger, Alex de la Forest Divonne, said that “The result is nil. We had a unique chance. It was the first time that all the international organisms were united, we had a high-level preparatory process and the NGOs could make their proposals in a constructive manner”.

George Bush preferred rhetoric. “Freedom, law and opportunity are the conditions of development”. The LDCs need food and drinking water first.

Only five nations donate 0.7% or more of their GDP to development schemes (Denmark, the Netherlands, Sweden, Norway and Luxemburg).


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