Efforts to limit an agency that delivers sound advice based on solid research suggest a reductive approach to economics
For those who believed that the north-south divide is history, the goings on before and during the 13th UN Conference on Trade and Development (Unctad) must have come as a surprise. For some time before the conference took place in Doha, Qatar, in late April, there were rumblings from representatives of certain countries the organisation classifies as developed about the work done at Unctad. During the conference itself, negotiations about what to put in the document defining Unctad's work programme extended all night as these malcontents attempted to restrict its areas of work.
Surprisingly, the issue of concern to these countries was not the quality of the work, but rather its scope and reach. Over the past decades this has covered a very wide area, including issues relating to industrialisation, trade and development, financing of development, macroeconomic policies, nature and the impact of financial crises. Unctad has not only made major contributions in each of these areas, but has also been significantly ahead of the curve (and certainly far ahead of the multilateral lending organisations) in terms of anticipating global economic developments, pointing to possible areas of concern - as well as potential - for developing countries, and suggesting feasible alternative strategies that are now increasingly recognised as more sensible.
Consider a few examples. Unctad was among the first to note the potentially damaging implications of financial deregulation and capital account liberalisation, which are now widely recognised to be associated with financial crises in both developing and developed countries. It identified problems such as the impact of financial activity on commodity ...[view whole blog post ]