STATEMENT BY AMBASSADOR VANU GOPALA MENON PERMANENT REPRESENTATIVE OF SINGAPORE TO THE UNITED NATIONS AT THE INFORMAL BRIEFING BY MR KEITH CHRISTIE, ASSISTANT DEPUTY MINISTER AND G8/G20 FOREIGN AFFAIRS SOUS-SHERPA, CANADA, FOR UN MEMBER STATES ON THE UPCOMING TORONTO G20 SUMMIT, 1000 HRS ON 8 JUNE 2010, AT THE UN NLB CONFERENCE ROOM 3
First and foremost, I would like to thank Canada's Assistant Deputy Minister, G8/G20 Foreign Affairs Sous-Sherpa, Mr Keith Christie, for his briefing to UN Member States on the forthcoming Toronto G20 Summit.
As a member of the informal Global Governance Group, or 3G, Singapore recognizes that the G20 has played a significant role in tackling the recent global financial crisis. However, more work remains to be done, by the G20 and the rest of us, before we can confidently say that a global recovery is underway.
The financial crisis has severely impacted a number of us, developing and developed countries, and in particular the efforts of developing countries to reduce poverty and achieve the Millennium Development Goals. Keeping trade open will therefore be essential for a sustained global recovery. In this regard, I was not sure what to make of Mr Christie's remarks on what the Toronto Summit hoped to achieve on the international trade front. On one hand, I was heartened to hear Mr Christie say that the Toronto G20 Summit would be reaffirming the pledge to avoid protectionist measures. That's good but at the same time, I was reminded of what had happened at the first G20 Summit in Washington DC about 20 months ago. At the time, the G20 leaders made a similar commitment but within two weeks of the Summit, 14 of the 20 G20 countries had erected new protectionist barriers. I hope that this time around, the rhetoric will be matched by action when it comes to the fight against protectionism. Secondly, I was a little disappointed by Mr Christie's comment that we should not to expect too much from Toronot on the Doha Round front. I can understand why we cannot expect a deal on the Doha Round in Toronto. Not all WTO members are represented in Toronto. But, surely, some of the G20 players, who are also the key players behind the current stalemate, can identify ways to overcome the current obstacles in the Doha Round, thereby easing the way for continued negotiations in Geneva.
The G20 must also follow-up on the commitments that it has made. In this regard, I was pleased to hear Mr Christie say that this would one of the priorities of the Toronto Summit.
The reality which all G20 countries must bear in mind is that all countries, big and small, would be affected by how the G20 deals with the issues it takes under its charge. It is therefore essential that the G20's decisions protect the development gains made by developing countries, particularly the most vulnerable.
Having said that, Singapore appreciates the efforts being undertaken by Canada to engage non-G20 members here at the UN. This is (if I am not mistaken) the second time that Mr Christie has visited the UN to hold consultations with Member States. Canada's DFM and Sherpa for the G20 process, Mr Len Edwards, has also been to New York to engage Member States in different configurations.
Singapore has consistently articulated that the G20 should undertake consultations with the UN membership before its Summits, via regular and predictable channels, for all countries, especially smaller states which comprise the majority of UN members, to raise issues of concern. Given the complexities and interdependencies of the global economy, it is important for the G20 to be consultative, inclusive and transparent in its deliberations for its outcomes to be effectively implemented on a global scale. In this vein, I was pleased to hear Mr Christie say that Canada stood ready to provide the UN membership with an update on the discussions at the Toronto G20 Summit. Canada could use that opportunity to take soundings from the wider UN membership on the outcome from the Summit.
We are also pleased to note that Canada has invited the UN Secretary-General and his Sherpa to the Toronto G20 Summit and the related G20 preparatory meetings. The UN Secretary-General and his Sherpa should be invited to participate at all future G20 Summits and preparatory meetings respectively. This arrangement should be formalised and should not become an issue for discussion prior to future G20 Summits. After all, the UN is the only global body with universal participation and unquestioned legitimacy. While the UN Secretary-General cannot represent the national positions of all Member States, we believe that he is able to convey the broad views of the UN membership.
We also welcome the decision to include the Chairs of some regional organizations, such as ASEAN and the AU, in the Toronto Summit. We are of the view that the participation of these and other established regional organizations in G20 Summits should also be regularized. We recognise that this is a matter that goes beyond Canada's remit but since there are other G20 members present in the room, I hope they will heed the call for regularizing the participation of established regional organizations in future G20 Summit.
One additional suggestion is that while the Chairs of some regional organizations in the Toronto G20 Summit have been invited to the Toronto Summit (and hopefully to all future G20 Summits as well), in some cases, these regional groupings alone might not adequately represent the national interests of small and medium-sized states. As such, the G20 decision-making process should also take on board a "variable geometry" configuration to allow non G20 states to participate in the various gatherings and other working groups at all levels on specialised issues. This will ensure that deliberations on key issues of global concern engage all the relevant and interested parties. In this context, Mr Christie referred to Financial Regulatory Sector Reform as being one of the four main agenda items of the Toronto Summit. There are countries in this room (not just Singapore) which are major international financial centres which are not part of the G20 and which would have an interest in any discussion on financial sector reform. I wonder whether they have been consulted by Canada or the G20 in the run up to Toronto? Have their views been taken on board? This is one reason why there is merit in the "variable geometry" configuration when it comes to discussions of specialised issues.
On a final note, let me once again express Singapore's appreciation of Canada's efforts to be consultative, inclusive and transparent ahead of the Toronto G20 Summit. We hope that the hosts of future G20 Summits would build on the laudable example being set by Canada and continue in this positive spirit. We believe that this approach is a good one that could help maximize gains for the G20 and all of us. Thank you.
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