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U.N. task force to suggest global financial reforms

UNITED NATIONS -- The president of the U.N. General Assembly announced Monday that he is appointing a high-level task force to recommend reform of the global financial system, including greater clout for developing countries.

Miguel d’Escoto Brockmann said there is growing recognition that the current financial turmoil cannot be solved through piecemeal responses at the national and regional level but requires coordinated global efforts that should be led by the United Nations.

He said Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz of the United States will chair the task force and take part in a panel on the financial crisis at U.N. headquarters on Oct. 30.

The panel will also include Belgian sociologist Francois Houtart, Indian economist Prabhat Patnaik and Ecuador’s Minister for Economic Policy Pedro Paez.

The task force will “undertake a comprehensive review of the international financial system, including the major international economic institutions, and ... suggest steps to be taken by member states of the United Nations to secure a more stable global economic order,” said a statement from d’Escoto’s office.

D’Escoto’s announcement follows U.S. President George W. Bush’s announcement Saturday that he will host an international summit to discuss ways to fix the world financial system. The Group of Eight major industrial nations — which includes the U.S. — announced Wednesday it would hold a summit to forge common action to prevent another economic meltdown.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy, standing with Bush on Saturday, suggested the summit be held in New York, in the shadow of Wall Street, before the end of November. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon offered Sunday to host an emergency expanded G8 summit at the United Nations to discuss the global financial crisis.

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said the meeting would require vision similar to the creation of the U.N. and the 1944 conference at Bretton Woods, New Hampshire, that laid out an international financial and monetary system and established the World Bank and International Monetary Fund. Sarkozy has said all European Union nations now backed radical restructuring of international institutions like the IMF and World Bank.

Brown said emerging economies such as China and India and European economies outside the G-8 should also participate in the summit.

D’Escoto welcomed the initiatives and declarations of the leading industrialized countries, but he made clear in his statement that he wants a much broader and more inclusive approach to reforming the global economic architecture, noting that developing countries are very concerned and calling for urgent action.

“Currently, developing countries’ voices and interests are not fairly represented in existing global institutions of economic governance,” d’Escoto’s spokesman, Enrique Yeves, said.

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