Ban arrives in Moscow ahead of Afghanistan conference

27 Mar 2009

Ban arrives in Moscow ahead of Afghanistan conference

KABUL - Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon arrived in the Russian capital today ahead of the first of two conferences on Afghanistan that he will be attending in the next several days.

Tomorrow’s conference, convened under the aegis of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), will focus on the impact that the situation in Afghanistan is having on neighbouring countries, and will also identify ways to jointly confront threats in the strife-torn nation, such as terrorism, drug trafficking and organized crime.

Mr. Ban is also slated to open the International Conference on Afghanistan on 31 March in The Hague. The meeting, which follows similar events held previously in Bonn, London and Paris, will assess the current political, security and development issues in the South Asian nation.

This evening, the Secretary-General will have a working dinner with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.

In addition to Russia and the Netherlands, Mr. Ban’s current tour will include a stop in the United Kingdom for next week’s Group of 20 (G-20) meeting, as well as visits to France and Turkey.

In a letter to G-20 leaders ahead of the 2 April meeting, the Secretary-General has cautioned that as the economic crisis engulfing the world continues to intensify, it could potentially herald political instability and social unrest.

“Unless urgent and decisive action is taken to buffer the blows of the global downturn on the most vulnerable, the economic crisis may soon be compounded by an equally severe crisis of global instability,” he wrote.

He called for a four-pronged strategy to prevent the onset of new catastrophes, beginning with “a truly global stimulus package” that meets the needs of developing countries.

“The United Nations has estimated that the total financing needed to support developing countries through the crisis is at least $1 trillion for 2009 and 2010,” he noted, adding that a quarter of the resources urgently needed would be for the protection of the most vulnerable people and countries.

The Secretary General urges the G-20 leaders to meet the funding needs of the programmes of the UN and the World Bank to enable them to respond effectively to the crisis – including through the proposed Vulnerability Fund – as well as the funding needs of established vehicles such as the Global Fund to fight AIDS, TB and Malaria.

He also stressed the need to firmly reject protectionism and revive the Doha round of trade liberalization negotiations to allow real benefits to reach developing nations, as well as to “green” the global economy.

Lastly, he highlighted that “a genuine solution of the crisis requires a new international financial and economic architecture that reflects the changing realities in the world and gives greater voice to emerging and developing economies.”