Speaking at today's event commemorating the three decades of the UNCTAD Trade and Development Report, former Secretary-General of the organization, Mr. Rubens Ricupero, called the publication an "encyclopaedia of development thought".
In focusing on the importance of the external economic context and of the active policies undertaken by governments, the publication has often swum against the current of neoliberal thinking, including the collective attitude of denial that has led to the recent crisis. According to him, the crisis was a direct product of the ideological belief that markets would self-correct the imbalances that they themselves had created.
Ms. Jayati Ghosh, Professor at Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, India, expressed the hope that the Report would soon receive wider recognition so that its thinking can in fact become the mainstream. She stressed its importance in raising issues such as development banking, the influence of capital flows on exchange rates, the financialization of the commodity markets, and job and employment implications of growth.
Picking up the employment thread, Mr. Rolph van der Hoeven of Erasmus University, Netherlands, formerly of the International Labour Organization, asked why governments during the global financial crisis served as bankers - but not employers - of last resort. He called for the incorporation of employment policies on both national and international levels into the financial policy framework, a point the Trade and Development Report has raised many times.
Mr. Yilmaz Akyüz of the South Centre, formerly director of the UNCTAD Division on Globalization and Development Strategies, spoke to the gathering of the historical path of the Report, focusing in particular on its excellence in addressing debt and finance issues, and recalled the crises the publication had predicted. Research at international organizations should have a purpose, he said, and the Report has been a highly policy-oriented publication with a holistic approach.
It is exactly this approach that has been one of the key qualities of the Report over the years, argued Mr. Faizel Ismail, Ambassador, Permanent Representative to the World Trade Organization, from the Permanent Mission of South Africa. He shared experiences from his country, where the Report has helped inform active government policymaking.