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UN Prepares for Conference on Financing Development - 2002-01-14

Final preparations are underway for the U.N. International Conference on Financing for Development. U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan says one of the March meeting's key goals will be to discuss ways to reduce debt for the world's developing countries.

The International Conference on Financing for Development opens in Monterrey, Mexico in March.

Delegates from governments around the world will work with representatives of the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, the World Trade Organization and others, to address a host of economic problems plaguing the global economy. For the next several weeks a U.N. body will finalize an agenda to make maximum use of the Conference.

Kofi Annan opened the final negotiating session with a plea to delegates to seize this opportunity. "The Monterey Conference offers us the best chance we have had for many years to unlock the financial resources that are so desperately needed for development," he said. "If we are to seize that chance we must focus very sharply on, in the few weeks remaining to us, on how best to achieve tangible results."

By referring to "tangible results", Mr. Annan is asking for concrete proposals from the delegation that are both realistic and practical. Among them is a call for donor nations of the world to increase Overseas Development Aid to 0.7 percent of Gross Domestic Product.

Mr. Annan also called for a greater sense of equality among nations of the world, regardless of how rich or poor they are. "There is a real need for the developing countries to have a bigger say when the management of the global economy is being discussed," said Kofi Annan. "I think everyone now recognizes this; the conference must come up with practical ways to achieve it."

In order to ensure the conference achieves as much as possible, the Secretary-General has appointed two special envoys to oversee the final negotiating stage. They are Trevor Manuel, South African Finance Minister and Michel Camdessus, former director of the IMF.