Remarks by Ambassador Susan E. Rice, U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations, for the ECOSOC-BWI Spring Meeting

Susan E. Rice
United States U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations 
U.S. Mission to the United Nations 
New York, NY
April 27, 2009


Thank you, Ambassador Lucas, for convening this meeting. In these challenging times, we are glad to have the opportunity for a practical discussion about how we can work together to ease the financial crisis’s impact on the world’s poor.

While we all grapple with the effects of the crisis on our own economies and communities, we remain deeply concerned about what it is doing to the poorest and most vulnerable. It should be a call to all of us when we hear estimates that more than half of all developing countries could experience a rise in the number of extreme poor this year. We must work together to safeguard the progress that has been made toward halving extreme poverty by 2015.

Make no mistake: that goal still remains within reach, but only if we insist on not letting our energy flag.

The Economic and Social Council, as the UN body charged with considering economic matters, has fulfilled an important role by convening this discussion among critical stakeholders, many of whom were involved in the “Financing for Development” process that began at the 2002 Monterrey Conference.

Concerns about development, rightly, loom large today. Many countries are grappling with steep decreases in trade and remittance flows—something exacerbated by tight credit markets. We have come here to better understand the impact this crisis is having on development, to hear about the policies countries are pursuing to counteract it, and to discuss the international assistance countries will need to weather the storm.

My government looks forward to hearing from everyone, but especially those countries most directly affected by the current financial situation, learning about their experiences, and discussing solutions and pathways forward.

The severity of the crisis has required responses at the national and international levels.

Over the past three months, the United States has taken unprecedented action to put its own economic house in order, including major efforts to jump-start job creation, lay the foundation for future growth, and put in place regulatory reforms to strengthen our financial system and guard against future crises.

Working together with countries around the globe, we are also taking strong measures at the international level.

As President Obama has said, “We are living through a time of global economic challenges that cannot be met by half measures or the isolated efforts of any nation.”

At the G-20 Summit earlier this month, leaders from developing and developed countries alike agreed to form a united international front—to create jobs and stimulate the global economy; to make more than $1 trillion in financing available to emerging and developing economies, through the IMF and multilateral development banks; to reform the financial regulatory system in a coordinated, fundamental way; to help emerging economies stay afloat; and to encourage trade that will benefit all. Last weekend’s meetings in Washington pushed these initiatives forward.

In London, President Obama also underscored the U.S. commitment to assist the world’s poorest citizens by committing to double funding for agricultural development and to provide $448 million to assist countries most severely and immediately affected by the crisis. In addition to the assistance, we will be working to provide an additional $1.1 billion dollars to affect the challenge of food security.

We understand that this crisis has led to profound suffering and anxiety around the world. This has led some to call for radical change in financial institutions and for the creation of new systems and organizations. We believe, as President Obama has put it, that we “need not choose between a chaotic and unforgiving capitalism and an oppressive government-run economy. That is a false choice that will not serve our people or any people.”

Instead, we believe the international community must advance the important reforms currently underway to strengthen international institutions and make markets function better. These efforts are important to restore the broad-based growth necessary to reduce poverty—and they have firm support of the United States.

At the same time, we must recognize the opportunities that often accompany great challenges.

The United States is seizing this moment to make crucial financial and policy investments in our long-term growth, shifting our economy to a low-carbon future.

As we move ahead together, we welcome your thoughts, your insights, your ideas. Following a suggestion by the Secretary-General, the Chief Executive Board’s recent communiqué mentions the establishment of a “monitoring and alert mechanism to track developments.”

This strikes us as sensible since we still have relatively sparse data on the political, social, economic, and gender effects of the crisis. We welcome comments by other participants about how—working with other global institutions—the UN can tap its large field presence and technical expertise to help fill the gaps.

Finally, it goes without saying, it may none the less be worth reiterating, we have a great deal of work yet ahead of us. And that work can only be accomplished if we come together. We also will need to share ideas and to use all the tools we have at our disposal. And that is the benefit of being here today.

So let me conclude, Madam President by thanking you for convening this valuable and timely meeting and for your strong leadership of ECOSOC. We look forward, all of us, to working together.

Thank you.




PRN: 2009/079