Saturday, April 28, 2012

Silencing UNCTAD

Naked Capitalism links to this RNN video in which they interview Vijay Prashad on the topic of controlling debate on trade policy, a topic that is getting more attention after that letter written by the likes of Dani Rodrik; here's what Yves has to say of the video:
"Real News Network segment gives a window into the efforts to squash criticism of the neoliberal orthodoxy in the world of international agencies. Even though the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) gets very little attention in the major media, its well researched and often prescient reports are enough of a threat to the orthodoxy to produce efforts by the advanced economy block in the UN to try to clip the wings of the agency. The start of this interview may seem like a bit of inside baseball, but it shortly gets to issues that are critically important."

Prashad talks about the multiple reports issued by UNCTAD that accurately predicted the financial crisis and "warning the world about what has basically taken place, which is that our social lives have become financialized," while the IMF continued to champion financialization and "in the midst of crisis was recommending the exact same recipes that it had recommended when there was no immediate crisis."  Then he talks about the institutional structure of negotiation in the UN, and talks about the attempt by Switzerland to railroad the discussion, redlining anything about financial controls and regulations.

Around 10:40 in, Prashad starts talking about IMF reports and UNCTAD reports--"for my sins, I read almost all of the IMF Reports, I read the UNCTAD reports,"and of which he says
"if you were relatively objective you would see that the IMF reports don't seem to learn from each other.  There's a lot of religion in the IMF reports.  The UNCTAD reports, on the other hand, are very strongly empirically based, there's a lot of evidence in the reports, and they have warned about specific, concrete problems in the financial sector.  This is not just a kind of religious document.  These are very precise documents that warn about specific things.  So the North has been saying that UNCTAD writings about finance exceed the mandate of UNCTAd, and it needs to return to its mandate, so what does that mean?"
He says it means deal only with the effects of the financial crisis on the developing world--don't look at the root causes of the crisis, which would entail looking at the institutions and regulations of the global north.  Prashad asks who is looking at the causes, and the answer is, no one is, and those in the global north would prefer to keep it that way.

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