International

UN ROUND-UP: The 15-member Security Council held closed-door consultations Sept. 5 to debate a new U.S. draft resolution that seeks to send a multinational force to Iraq. The U.S. draft also seeks greater financial assistance for the Iraqi reconstruction and acceptance of the U.S.-installed governing council. UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan called a foreign ministers meeting of the five big powers on the Security Council to work out a compromise. The session was to take place Sept. 13 in Geneva. Diplomats said the differences could be bridged if the U.S. agreed to move faster to restore Iraq's sovereignty and give the UN more power to rebuild the country. * The Security Council Sept. 4 nominated Gambian former justice minister Hassan Bubacar Jallow as chief prosecutor for the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR). He is due to take office on Sept.15, replacing Swiss judge Carla Del Ponte, who will remain responsible for the investigation of war crimes committed in the former Yugoslavia.

IMF & WORLD BANK ROUND-UP: The World Bank announced a new multi-million dollar initiative in Cancun Sept.11 to loan funds to poor countries implementing trade accords and to support investment in roads, ports and customs facilities to speed the flow of imports and exports. A second component of the initiative could increase lending by as much as $800 million annually to help developing countries improve trade-related infrastructure such as ports, roads and customs facilities. * Liberalization in agriculture alone could benefit the global economy to the tune of $350 billion and an appropriate WTO trade deal addressing the concerns of developing nations could spur global growth and reduce poverty for as many as 144-million people by 2015, says the World Bank in a new report,. Global Economic Prospects 2004: Realizing the Development Promise of the Doha Agenda. * The World Bank warned in a new report, "Better Governance for Development in the Middle East and North Africa," that accelerating the Arab world's disappointing economic growth will require more transparent and accountable regimes that allow greater participation in decision-making. World Bank economist Arup Banjeri told reporters that bank staff and Arab and Iranian scholars produced the report to "help opinion leaders in the region to think more about better governance; because it is something you cannot do from the outside." study emphasized the negative impact of oil wealth on the region's political progress. "Exceptionally high oil and gas revenues have accrued directly to government coffers, thereby reducing the incentives of incumbent regimes to strengthen mechanisms of external accountability." It said that at a time when population growth rates remained high and unemployment was rising, no country in the region had been able to move on a sustainable growth path. * World Bank president James D. Wolfensohn said the bank would produce a report on Iraq by the end of the month to serve as a basis for discussion preparing for a donors' conference October 23-24 in Madrid, Spain. The bank wants to help finance the reconstruction of Iraq through flexible financing methods with few conditions, he said. * The African Trade Insurance Agency (ATI) and the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA), the political risk insurance arm of the World Bank Group, Sept. 4 signed a memorandum of understanding to boost African private sector investment. The agreement called for the two agencies to jointly promote foreign investment within Africa. ATI is African continent's only pan-African, multilateral import and export credit and political risk agency. * In a report to be published this week, the IMF warns that some Asian and Latin American governments are worryingly in debt. The total public debt of Asian governments has risen to nearly 70 percent of their GDP, from less than 60 percent at the height of the Asian financial crisis in 1998, the fund said. In Latin America, the debt ratio has climbed to 60 percent from about 40 percent. By contrast, the debt ratio of industrialized countries is about 40 percent. * Nicholas H. Stern, the World Bank's chief economist and senior vice president for development, will leave Washington next month to become the No. 2 two official under Britain's chancellor of the exchequer, Gordon Brown.

About the author