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Counting On A United Voice

LUSAKA, June 11 - Dr. Kenneth Kaunda's advice to African leaders to demand equitable trading policies and practices from multilateral institutions requires serious introspection from those it is being addressed to.

African leaders should, with deep reflection, heed Dr Kaunda's advice that they should begin to demand equitable trading policies and practices from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank and World Trade Organisations (WTO). This is because in the present state, the three multilateral institutions only exist to jealously guard the interests of the world's economic and trading giants.

And because of that painful reality, we continue to re-echo our demands for the IMF, the World Bank and the WTO to be reformed in order for both world trade and the global economy to be fairly regulated.

In Dr Kaunda's own words, in this globalising world, our leaders need to demand fair trading policies and practices from economically powerful countries, which wield tremendous influence on international organisations, which are supposed to uphold the interests of the international community at large.

We continue to express our disappointment at the lack of progress in democratising the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) where there is still a huge deficit of democracy.

It is our strongly held view that a serious process to reform the governance structures in both the IMF and World Bank and to an extent the World Trade Organisation (WTO) need to be developed to better reflect the global reality of the 21st century rather than the middle of the 20th century.

However, while we have continued to call for a reformed world order - especially with the multilateral institutions, we are saddened that the whole process of reforming these institutions appears to have lost momentum.

We are concerned by the fact that as many as 44 countries of Sub-Saharan Africa are represented by only two chairs on the IMF's executive boards. In addition, the quota share and voting rights of Africa continue to decline, which further undermines the voice and effective participation of sub-Saharan countries in the two institutions.

There is need for sub-Saharan Africa's leaders to strongly demand an increase in the basic votes and additional chairs for sub-Saharan Africa's countries in both the IMF and the World Bank.

We believe that the effectiveness of the sub-Saharan countries' participation in the decision-making process in the multilateral institutions can only be enhanced through additional representation. This is the basic reason why we are calling for an enhanced African voice in these institutions.

But we know that this cannot be realised without the required determination and political will from all us, especially our African leaders.

However, we are not resigned because we know that it can be done.

It was already demonstrated at the WTO Ministerial Meeting in Cancun, Mexico, last year that the days of counting on a unified voice will matter most in the making of global decisions.

The failure of global trade talks in Cancun may have indicated disagreement on a global level, but the unified voice of a small coalition of countries showed that smaller scale negotiations can be very effective too in restoring a global equilibrium.

And if Cancun is anything to go by, such new coalitions may mean a stronger and more effective voice for developing countries on the global trade scene.

Indeed the WTO Cancun Ministerial Meeting could have failed, but at least out of focus and unity, the underdogs of economic development - the African bloc - bailed out the developing world from being economically robbed by the economic giants of the world such as the United States, Western Europe and Japan.

At Cancun, developing countries managed to stand up as a united force to brighten the future of billions of toiling masses in the majority world.

The Cancun experience only shows all of us in the economically struggling world that it is possible, if we acted together and spoke with one voice, to have a world within balance - a world where the voice of every inhabitant is heard.

Source: The Post / allAfrica Global Media

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