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UN expert welcomes Doha emphasis on ODA commitment, financial crisis
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The emphasis on honoring official development assistance (ODA) commitments despite the current financial crisis and the pledge to advance global financial reforms are among the most important achievements of the just concluded conference on financing for development in Doha, Qatar, a senior UN economist told Xinhua in a recent interview.

In past financial crises, developed countries had cut assistance to developing ones, but at the Doha meeting, donor countries, mainly developed ones, sent out a positive signal by reckoning the importance of not cutting back on ODA commitments at a time of financial crisis, said Hong Pingfan, senior economic affairs officer at the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, on Tuesday.

"This was a very successful outcome," said the economist, who heads the UN global economic monitoring unit.

The other important outcome from the UN-sponsored meeting, which attracted high officials from more than 160 countries, including nearly 40 heads of state or government, was the consensus on the need for the United Nations to advance global financial reforms and to discuss relevant issues within the framework of the world body, Hong said.

The Doha gathering, officially known as "the Follow-up International Conference on Financing for Development to Review the Implementation of the Monterrey Consensus," also called for the convening of a UN summit or high-level event on the financial crisis.

Such a meeting would no doubt have far greater representation than discussions on the topic at recent G20 summit in Washington and the economic leaders' meeting of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum in Lima, Peru, Hong said.

The Doha meeting also arrived at some consensus on how to reform the international financial system, which are similar to those reached at the G20 summit in mid-November, Hong said.

This shows that the international community has not only agreed on the necessity to reform the international financial system, but also laid some foundation for specific reform measures to be taken in this regard, Hong added.

Solving the international financial crisis needs time, and one cannot expect that one meeting would settle all questions, Hong warned, noting that in the final analysis, the UN is only an international organization and a political entity; it is not a central bank, nor a financial institution.

"Specific financial problems such as the credit crunch and toxic loans cannot be addressed through UN meetings," Hong said. " They can only be solved through policies and measures by national governments and special international organizations like the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank."

The four-day Doha meeting, which concluded on Tuesday, was convened to review the consensus adopted at the 2002 International Conference on Financing for Development in Monterrey, Mexico, on domestic resources for development, international resources for development, international trade, increasing international financial and technical cooperation, external debt, and addressing systemic issues.

(Xinhua News Agency December 4, 2008)

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