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Kirchner, a Multilateralist

30 October 2010|Op-ed

Op-ed by Alicia Barcena, Executive Secretary of ECLAC, published in La Nacion, Argentina, 30 October 2010.

The premature death of former president Néstor Kirchner is a great loss not only for Argentina, but for the entire international community. Kirchner was a friend of the United Nations and a national and international leader who firmly believed in true multilateralism.

A long and distinguished career in public service, which included being intendent of his home town Río Gallegos and governor of Santa Cruz, prepared him well for the challenges he would face early into his presidency. From 2003 to 2007, he boldly tackled the effects of the deepest financial and economic crisis in Argentina's history and was able to put the economy in motion again, reestablishing economic growth and lifting millions of people above the poverty line.

His decisive leadership during that time of economic and social crisis led him to adopt innovative measures that allowed for a quick and sustained recovery. In doing so, he paved the way for the fundamental reforms that years later would hold international financial institutions responsible for the financial difficulties of mid-income countries. By making the voice of the global South heard, Kirchner made a lasting contribution to multilateralism.

Speaking before the United Nations General Assembly in 2007, then president Kirchner said: "Argentina will be present in multilateral instances, promoting more fair and democratic rules in decision-making. Multilateralism is the most effective weapon against hunger, poverty, exclusion and environmental degradation".

Last month in New York, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon had the honour of receiving Kirchner with President Cristina Fernández in the context of the General Assembly.

It was the occasion to congratulate Argentina for its presidency of the Group of 77 (G-77) and China and for Néstor Kirchner's leadership in Unasur. At a time in which new economic and decision-making models are needed, Argentina, and particularly President Fernández, have much to offer as leader of the G-77, as a member of the G-20 and of the Latin American region in general.

President Fernández deserves much of the credit for all of this and the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean will be by her side to help her.

Alicia Bárcena,
ECLAC Executive Secretary