Tuesday, 7 April 2009

Global Compact’s real home should be at the General Assembly of the UN

Yesterday, at a press conference at the UN headquarters in New York, a senior advisor to the President of the General Assembly called on the Global Compact and the CEO Water Mandate to "see its real home as belonging […] at the General Assembly in the United Nations, rather than as controlled and influenced by the major water companies."

The senior adviser to the President of the General Assembly on Food Policy and Sustainable Development, David Andrews, is also a senior representative for Food and Water Watch, a consumer organization that opposes corporate control of global food and water resources.

At the press conference, which was organized to brief on the General Assembly's interactive thematic dialogue on the global food crisis and the right to food, Mr. Andrews mentioned that he had attended several meetings of the Global Compact's CEO Water Mandate at the last World Water Forum in Istanbul. He said: "It still is troubling to me to find the United Nations allowing itself, as a protector of the voice of the people, especially of the poor, to subordinate itself institutionally to a kind of market-driven vision. I would hope that in the future the Global Compact and the CEO Water Mandate would see its real home as belonging here at the General Assembly in the United Nations, rather than as controlled and influenced by the major water companies. […] What strikes me as someone who pays attention to the structure of agriculture and the structure of water, globally, internationally, is the strength of influence that major agribusiness and water companies have within the United Nations' system. It is striking to me because here is the peoples’ forum and it seems to be, in significant circumstances, subordinating itself to a view of the market. A view of the market that now in the light of the financial system and in the light of the lack of adequate regulation, in the light of outrageous speculation, says tat we need a new global architecture for the financial system. But we also need to marry that with attention to the food system and the water system, and recognize and appreciate the role of the UN in ensuring and working to the right to food and water."

Matthew Lee from Inner City Press will cover this story later this week, ideally after the UN Global Compact has responded to the press conference.

A webcast of the press conference is available here (from 21:15 onwards).

© Photo by Devra Berkowitz.

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