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Reform of the UN and the World Economy

Tuesday, 18 June 2013, 2:00 p.m., Room A/B

Hosted by United Nations Conference on Trade and Development

According to estimates by British economist Angus Maddison, average income increased by a mere 50 percent in the period between Christ and 1820. That is the equivalent of what has been achieved by the German economy in the last 25 years. Since the end of World War II, global GDP increased approximately elevenfold, although world population more than doubled, and average life expectancy grew from 47 years in 1950 to 68 years today. In the developing world, the number of people living in extreme poverty has more than halved, despite strong population growth in most of these countries. All these are impressive gains, resulting from dynamic development of market forces and supportive governmental policies.

Yet the development of the economic and global governance systems themselves have seen some major turns. The post-war era of reconstruction in Europe and the achievement of political sovereignty of many developing countries were characterized by a strong role of the development state, placing particular emphasis on the creation or improvement of infrastructure and the meeting of essential and basic consumer demands. Economic growth translated into increasing incomes of virtually all parts of the population because of a largely just income distribution. However, the type of growth was very much extensive, i.e. resource intensive and environmentally damaging. With very few exceptions, most industrializing countries relied on raw material supply and countries dependent on commodity-export in the periphery.

At the same time, the global environmental crisis, in particular the apocalyptic implications of global warming, require a re-thinking of the growth paradigm and mankind's co-existence with nature.

What has been the role of the UN system in global economic governance in recent decades? Has the organization been effective in contributing to a constructive global dialogue on the development challenges? How does the UN system deal with the development aspirations in the global South? Confronted with the current crises, is the world economy at a crossroads or are we merely encountering more potholes than usual? What can the UN system do in dealing with the recent crisis, what new visions and answers can it offer, and how has the UN system adapted to respond to this challenge?


Feyder, Dr. Jean
Former Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Luxembourg to the United Nations and World Trade Organization, Geneva, Switzerland

Hoffmann, Ulrich
Senior Trade Policy Advisor to the Director of the International Trade Division, Secretariat of the UN Conference on Trade and Development, Geneva, Switzerland

Jara, Alejandro
Deputy Director General of the WTO

Valles Galmés, Guillermo
Director for International Trade in Goods and Services and Commodities, United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, Geneva, Switzerland

Complete workshop on soundcloud:

WS31 - Reform of the UN and the World Economy

Wiemann, Dr. Jürgen
Economist, Associate Fellow, German Development Institute / Deutsches Institut für Entwicklungspolitik (DIE), Bonn, Germany

Audios and videos on the topic