LONDON (Reuters) - The financial crisis has given world leaders a unique opportunity to create a truly global society, Prime Minister Gordon Brown said on Monday.
Brown, who has spearheaded calls for the reform of international financial institutions, said that Britain, the United States and Europe are key to forging a new world order.
“The alliance between Britain and the U.S. — and more broadly between Europe and the U.S. — can and must provide leadership, not in order to make the rules ourselves, but to lead the global effort to build a stronger and more just international order,” Brown said in a speech in London.
Brown and other leaders meet in Washington next weekend to discuss long-term solutions for dealing with economic issues following a series of coordinated moves on interest rates and to recapitalise banks in a bid to fight the financial turmoil.
“Uniquely in this global age, it is now in our power to come together so that 2008 is remembered not just for the failure of a financial crash that engulfed the world but for the resilience and optimism with which we faced the storm, endured it and prevailed,” Brown told the lord mayor’s banquet.
“...And if we learn from our experience of turning unity of purpose into unity of action, we can together seize this moment of change in our world to create a truly global society.”
In his first foreign policy speech since Barack Obama won the U.S. presidential election, Brown said Britain’s “closest ally” had given new meaning to its founding creed that all are created equal and said America stood at a “dawn of hope.”
Brown set out five great challenges the world faces: terrorism and extremism and the need to reassert faith in democracy; the global economy; climate change; conflict and mechanisms for rebuilding states after conflict; and meeting goals on tackling poverty and disease.
Brown called on Iran to accept an offer of help to acquire civilian nuclear power “or face new sanctions and growing isolation” over its nuclear programme, which the United States and Britain suspect is aimed at building an atomic bomb. Iran denies it is making such a weapon.
He said Britain was making progress in Iraq so it can fulfil its aim of withdrawing troops there.
Afghanistan, where British troops are part of a NATO-led force battling Taliban guerrillas, was a “test the international community cannot afford to fail. And we will not fail,” he said.
Brown identified five stages for tackling the economic crisis, starting with recapitalising banks so they can resume lending, and better international coordination of fiscal and monetary policy.
“As was the case with the bank stabilisation plan, the benefits of any individual country’s fiscal actions will be all the greater if this is a part of a concerted and fairly distributed international response to maintain global demand.”
The prime minister hinted again government borrowing in Britain is likely to increase to help economic recovery.
“There is now a growing international consensus that, especially for those countries with low debt like the UK, maintaining essential public investment is the right and sensible approach, while allowing a temporary and affordable increase in borrowing to support economic growth.”
He called for immediate action to stop the spread of the financial crisis to middle-income countries, with a new facility for the International Monetary Fund, and agreement on a global trade deal, as well as reform of the global financial system.
Editing by Janet Lawrence