UN chief condemns “cruel” tactics of rich countries against poor


UN chief Antonio Guterres slammed the global financial system for being predatory. (File)

Doha, Qatar:

UN leader Antonio Guterres on Saturday denounced the world’s rich countries and energy giants for smothering poor countries with “predatory” interest rates and crippling fuel prices.

Guterres told a summit of the world’s most deprived states that rich countries should give $500 billion a year to help others “stuck in vicious circles” that block their efforts to boost economies and improve health and education.

The 46 Least Developed Countries (LDC) summit is normally held every 10 years, but has been postponed twice since 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Afghanistan and Myanmar, two of the poorest countries, will not attend the Doha meeting because their governments are not recognized by UN members.

Not a single leader from one of the world’s largest economies attended.

Opening the summit, Guterres immediately lashed out at the way poor countries are treated by the powerful.

“Economic development is challenging when countries are resource-hungry, drowning in debt and still grappling with the historic injustice of an uneven COVID-19 response,” he said.

The LDCs have long complained that they were not getting their share of the Covid vaccines concentrated on Europe and North America.

“Fighting a climate catastrophe you didn’t create is challenging when the cost of capital is skyrocketing” and the financial aid received is “a drop in the ocean,” Guterres said.

“Fossil fuel giants are making huge profits while millions in your countries cannot put food on their table.”

Guterres said the poorest countries were left behind in the “digital revolution” and the war in Ukraine has only increased the prices they pay for food and fuel.

Broken promises

“Our global financial system was designed by rich countries, largely for their benefit,” he said.

“Deprived of liquidity, many of you have been locked out of capital markets by predatory interest rates,” the UN leader said.

Rich countries had failed to fulfill a pledge to give 0.15-0.20 percent of their gross national income to LDCs.

With poorer states mired in a “perfect storm for perpetuating poverty and injustice,” Guterres said LDCs needed a “minimum” $500 billion a year to overcome their problems, build job-creating industries and repay debt. pay.

Wealthier countries have also vowed, but failed, to produce hundreds of billions of dollars to help poorer states fight climate change. Guterres said the UN would “continue to push for the resources already promised”.

Malawi’s President Lazarus Chakwera, the president of the summit, also lashed out at the “broken promises” of the international community.

He said aid was “not a favor or charity” but a “moral responsibility”.

Under proposals called the Doha Program of Action, a food stockpile system will be set up to help countries facing hunger crises due to drought and high prices.

The plan also calls for an investment center to help LDCs attract foreign financing and lower interest rates to ease the impact of their debt.

Bhutan will become one of seven countries this year – along with Bangladesh, Laos, Nepal, Angola, Sao Tome and Principe and the Solomon Islands to “graduate” LDC status by 2026.

But they will gradually lose trading and auxiliary privileges. Guterres said they are at risk of “falling victim to the cruellest magic trick — support systems disappearing before their very eyes” and need help after rising on the wealth scale.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is being published from a syndicated feed.)

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