Commonwealth leaders seek reform of Brettonwoods Institutions
The Commonwealth Heads of State who met in London over the last two
days to discuss the reform of international institutions such as the
World Bank and the International Monetary Fund issued a point statement
outlining the essence of their deliberations and positions taken
Commonwealth Heads of Government, representing one third of humanity
and more than one quarter of the world's sovereign governments,
collectively expressed the concern of our 53 member states at Kampala in
November 2007 that the current architecture of international
institutions no longer responds adequately to the challenges of the 21st
Century Since then, the world has witnessed continued financial
turbulence, and record levels of prices for food and fuel.
Excerpts from the statement: "These challenges have further
illustrated the fundamental weaknesses of a number of today's
international organizations that are charged with promoting economic
stability and sustainable development.
Such institutions do not have adequate capacity, governance
structures, or in-built responsiveness either to anticipate or to
address global needs in a timely fashion. In some cases, such as energy
and the environment, there is an absence of institutions with the
mandate to deal globally with these issues of global public policy.
We have therefore met as a representative Group of Commonwealth
leaders to identify underlying principles and the actions that should be
taken, as a global priority, to achieve reform of international
institutions and lead to new institutions where necessary.
We recognize that sovereign states must have the capacity and freedom
to determine national goals and implement national policies and
strategies. Equally, we recognize that many national goals cannot be
achieved without international collaboration and support. Global crises
require truly global and universal responses.
The inadequacy of the current responses calls into question whether
incremental and ad hoc approaches to reform will create a new generation
of international institutions fit for today's world.
Well designed international institutions have a fundamental role to
support all countries to meet their economic, political, humanitarian
and security challenges.
Through collective co-operation, embodied in international
institutions, the global community will foster the conditions for a
fully inclusive and equitable global society.
The commitment of the world's major powers to multilateralism and its
underlying values remains central to any successful settlement on a new
architecture of international institutions in this century.
As members of the Commonwealth, we recognise the strength of
multilateral cooperation founded on consensus amongst countries with
diverse backgrounds, interests and cultures. We believe that reform and
construction of new international institutions should be built on the
following guiding principles: * Institutions must enjoy the legitimacy
not only of their member states but also of the wider international
community in order to command confidence and commitment.
* It is essential that all countries have equal voice and fair
* A voice for all countries is only valuable if it is listened to and
is reflected in decision-making. It is essential that institutions are
responsive, with the interests of all members, especially the smallest
and poorest, being taken into account.
We are committed to reform that creates an effective multilateral
system, and that supports a more democratic global society with greater
equity and fairness. The new generation of international organizations
should reflect a new cooperative spirit.
We welcome the reform processes and debates under way in many
international institutions. The United Nations has a unique role and
legitimacy, and we acknowledge the reforms that are occurring to
strengthen the coherence of the United Nations system and the efficacy
of its development and humanitarian activities in particular.
It is imperative that the UN's "Delivering as One" initiative is
further implemented with urgency.
We also acknowledge the discussions and welcome actions taken to date
to reform the International Monetary Fund. However, these and proposed
reforms of other international financial institutions including the
World Bank, must now be addressed further with greater ambition.
These institutions as well as their policies and instruments should
be redefined so that they serve the needs of all members and the broader
We intend to pursue the redefining of the purposes and governance of
the Bretton Woods institutions, including working towards a Commonwealth
consensus and wider international support for an international
conference to achieve these goals.
We intend to pursue the possibility of an international conference to
achieve improved global environmental governance, including the
possibility of a new international organization or reform of existing
arrangements, again working on the basis of a Commonwealth consensus and
wider international support.
The Commonwealth is committed to advancing a programme of reform of
international institutions. The existing crises in finance, food, and
fuel demand no less.
We acknowledge that high quality reform will not be achieved unless
all those with a stake in future global governance have their voices
heard. We are conscious that the conferences that we propose to pursue
will require careful preparation and wide consultation to achieve the
essential universal acceptability.
The Commonwealth will work closely with the institutions concerned.
To that end, we will work with the wider Commonwealth community,
including at an extraordinary meeting of Commonwealth Heads of
Government on September 24, 2008.
We have given guidance to the Commonwealth Secretary-General to
develop an Action Plan on Reform of International Institutions. We will
use the full extent of Commonwealth networks, including our civil
society and professional associations.