A Crisis that Affects Us All
(The following post was offered by Fr. Kevin Dance, CP of Passionist International who attended the United Nations Conference on the World Financial and Economic Crisis and Its Impact on Development.)
The financial and economic crisis that has swamped the world points to an urgent need to reform the international financial system to meet the needs of a changed world.
The World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (Bretton Woods Institutions), the core of the world financial system, were designed for a world that no longer exists. In the dying days of World War 2, in a world still ruled by a few colonial powers with their many far-flung colonies, these few powerful nations could dictate the shape of the institutions that would bring ‘order’ to the world.
But that world is no more. The colonial powers have largely lost their colonies, but not their hunger to rule. Those possessions have long since claimed their independence. The colour of the world map has changed dramatically since 1945. Yet still we act as if the few – whether that is the G7 or the G8 or the G20 – is entitled to speak for the rest.
The radical changes of the past 60 years have opened into the 21st century in which the welfare of both poor and rich, developed and developing nations is interdependent. The rapid contagion of the recent financial collapse of the North that spread to every country shows beyond doubt that ours is an increasingly integrated world economy.
We are not simply speaking high finance. It is a matter of life and death for so many brothers and sisters. The financial crisis is killing people. To stop the bleeding, we need short term measures to stabilise the current situation that has flung millions out of work and into poverty.
But long term measures are needed to replace the old financial architecture that is now unsafe. It is imperative that the views, the needs and the perspective of all countries are taken into account in the massive task of reshaping. More effective regulation of financial markets and control of corporate greed are needed. But also needed is a redesigned structure for the international financial institutions that have so much power to affect, for better or for worse, countries, the domestic policies of governments and the hopes of people in the developing countries.
The global crisis offers us a kairos moment, a moment of grace and possibility. We have a once-in-a-century chance to change the balance of power in our world. The UN, composed of 192 nations – the G192- must be the place where the challenging task of rebuilding a more equal and just world is carried out.
June 1-3 will see the United Nations Conference on the World Financial and Economic Crisis and Its Impact on Development has taken place this summer. In the next week I will offer another post related to the discussion of this conference.