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Eva-Maria Hanfstaengl: The UN's Bid for Financial Regulation

On June 26, in New York, the high-level United Nations Conference on the World Financial and Economic Crisis and its Impact on Development adopted unanimously an "outcome document" that opens a door—even if only a small one—to a possible UN role in the reform of global financial governance. The preparations for the UN conference, however, were not without severe difficulties. The run-up to the conference highlighted sharp differences between Southern nations, which want to give the United Nations more say in tackling the financial crisis, and Western governments, who prefer to conduct their business within the Group of 20 (G-20) nations. Until now, global financial and monetary issues have been the responsibility of the International Monetary Fund and the Group of 8 (G-8), relying on the expertise of the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision (BCBS) and the Financial Stability Board, both of which include central banks and treasuries hailing largely from developed nations. However, with the present financial crisis having originated in the North and posing untold negative consequences for the South, political pressure has ramped up on the developed world to include other voices in mitigating this disaster. Impacts of the crisis, such as slowing growth rates, rising unemployment, and declining budgets are beginning to affect developing countries. Developing countries, including the poorest countries, therefore claim that everybody should have a stake in financial regulation. It is in this context that the demand for this global conference on reform of the financial and monetary system emerged.

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