01/10/2001
Press Release
GA/EF/2953



Fifty-sixth General Assembly

Second Committee

4th Meeting (PM)


SPEAKERS IN SECOND COMMITTEE URGED TO MOVE FROM RHETORIC TO ACTION

IN PURSUIT OF MILLENNIUM SUMMIT GOALS


The Second Committee (Economic and Financial) had a major responsibility to address deprivation, degradation and despair and bridge the disparities plaguing the world, the representative of Indonesia told the Committee this afternoon as it continued its general debate.


The Millennium Declaration had identified crucial issues essential for fostering development in the twenty-first century and had furnished nations with a blueprint for progress, he said.  Nations must implement its tenets to ensure that the power and potential of globalization would be harnessed to foster peace and prosperity for all rather than dividing humankind and setting its people one against the other.


The devastation of the terrorist attacks and their effect on sustainable development should also be addressed by the Committee, said the representative of Samoa, speaking on behalf of the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS).  The attacks had come at a time of general economic downturn in the United States and other major economies, with the real risk of more global spread.  His greatest fear now was that the commitment of the developed countries and donor organizations would suffer.  It was therefore important to ensure that there was no diminishing of efforts in the area of sustainable development.


The representative of Ghana said the Committee could and should seek consensus on creating an environment capable of responding to the challenges and possibilities of globalization.  Instead of continuing in the business-as-usual mode, with wide gaps between rhetoric and performance, discussions should focus on addressing the most fundamental issues before the Committee in a holistic and coherent manner, guided by a recognition of common interests.


The representative of the World Bank called on nations to address the “ethics of development”.  Work should be aimed at enhancing human capacity to freely shape the expanding opportunities of humanity.  Nations must work together to move from rhetoric to implementation, to know how to wisely select and prioritize within limitations, and always ultimately, to keep the poor person at the forefront.


Statements were also made by the representatives of Bangladesh, China, Lithuania, Nauru (on behalf of the Pacific Island Countries Forum), Mongolia, Morocco, Philippines, Ecuador, Senegal, Solomon Islands, Peru, Turkey, Libya and Viet Nam.  A representative of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources also spoke.


The Committee will meet again at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, 2 October, to continue its general debate.

Background


The Second Committee met this afternoon to continue its general exchange of views.


Statements


SHAMEEM AHSAN (Bangladesh), speaking on behalf of the least developed countries (LDCs), said that while this year’s Second Committee agenda was similar to other years, there was considerable scope for notable progress.  Issues concerning the details of the International Conference on Financing for Development and the upcoming World Trade Organization (WTO) meeting in Doha would be considered, and issues of implementation arising from the Third United Nations Conference on the Least Developed Countries required urgent attention in the Committee.  Aside from raising awareness, not much had been done since previous discussions, where it was agreed that globalization would increase inequality unless governments took strong corrective actions in the areas of finance and trade related to development.


The last decade had seen an unprecedented number of major global conferences touching on all phases of sustainable development in which progress had been made in many areas.  The progress had been unsatisfactory.  Lack of resources for achieving development goals was a common obstacle, so the issue of mobilization of resources should be looked at squarely.  Markets had been opened with the expectation of reciprocal action and long-term benefit, but developing countries still needed greater access to global markets.  It had been argued that LDCs would be first to benefit from duty-free treatment, but concrete global efforts to realize that expectation had never materialized.  It was particularly remarkable that products from LDCs faced tariffs that were 30 per cent higher than the global average, while quotas, export restraints and antidumping measures further impeded market access of the few products LDCs could turn out.


Years had gone by without the goal of eliminating trade restrictions against LDCs being achieved.  Agreements reached at the Conference on Least Developed Countries should be the basis for any further work at the upcoming International Conference on Financing for Development.  The outcome of the work of the Committee would feed into the upcoming conferences on development, and agreement should not be postponed, but reached on actions to be taken to boost the development process.  The agreements made in the Programme of Action from the Conference on Least Developed Countries should be transformed into concrete actions, or the Conference would have had no useful outcome.  A decision to determine the best implementation mechanism needed to be taken in the Committee. 


SHEN GUOFANG (China) said that, in today’s context of globalization, individual countries’ efforts to achieve development and eradicate poverty would not be successful without favourable external conditions.  Vigorous efforts should be made to establish an equitable international governance system, different from the current "undemocratic" one, with a few countries holding decision-making power.  The international community should increase the decision-making powers of developing countries to enable them to participate in formulation of the rules at a global level.


Financial resources were key to fulfilling development goals, and the international community needed to spend another $50 billion annually in order to achieve international development goals by the end of the year 2015.  If the objective of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries of donating 0.7 per cent of gross national product (GNP) were met, then the funds necessary to meet those development goals could be available.  The use of trade protectionism, anti-dumping measures, environmental protection and technological regulations by developed countries meant that those countries benefited most from trade liberalization.  Developed countries were called upon to fully implement the agreements made at the Uruguay Round, to open markets and to eliminate trade barriers.  In formulating new trade rules, the special difficulties faced by developing countries should be taken into full account, and trade liberalization should be carried out gradually and in conformity with national conditions.


At the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development, special efforts should be made to help developing countries solve their difficulties.  Concrete suggestions and measures were needed to solve issues of financial resources, technology transfer and capacity-building to realize the goal of global sustainable development as laid out in the Millennium Declaration. 


MAKMUR WIDODO (Indonesia) said that, in the wake of a decade of devastating financial crises that shattered the development efforts of a number of developing countries -- including his own -- reform of the international financial architecture should be squarely addressed at the Conference on Financing for Development in Mexico next year.  In that context, nations should continue to explore ways to enhance the role of developing countries in decision-making and norm-setting in the various international bodies.  That would help nations move towards universal acceptance and legitimacy of international agreements -- and thus to their effective and efficient implementation.  At the same time, increased consultation with civil society and the private sector was inherent to the success of that process.


External indebtedness, he said, was another source of vulnerability that was further aggravated by globalization.  The debt strategies employed so far by the international community had fallen short of resolving the issue.  The Conference should address the structural causes of indebtedness, so that nations could collectively and effectively achieve a durable solution to the pervasive debt problem.  That would include helping all heavily indebted poor countries to qualify for such relief, and addressing the need to extend appropriate relief to low- and middle-income developing countries.


The Second Committee had a unique choice and a major responsibility during its current session, he added.  The urgent need to bridge the disparities plaguing the world could not be overstated.  The world had changed utterly.  Deprivation, degradation and despair could not be allowed to stand.  The Millennium Declaration had identified crucial issues essential for fostering development in the twenty-first century, and had furnished nations with a blueprint for progress.  Nations must implement its tenets so as to ensure that the power and potential of globalization, rather than dividing humankind, would be harnessed to foster peace and prosperity for all.


GEDIMINAS ŠERKŠNYS (Lithuania) said that deeper and more global analysis of the social, economic, environmental, political and cultural factors that created a situation in which violence was tolerated and perpetrated had been made necessary by recent events.  The international community should try to eliminate the digital divide and make sure that developing countries did not fall behind in development.  The role of information and communication technology was indispensable in helping the international community cope with globalization, as it could be used as a tool for knowledge-sharing.  His Government had taken several significant steps to create an information and knowledge society, based on science and innovative technologies.


His country recognized the importance of implementing the strategies for sustainable development and building the preconditions for proper economic growth, through such measures as improving legal and economic instruments of environmental management and the promotion of investment in pollution prevention, especially in the energy sector.  With limited public financial resources available, his country directed its energies at creating favourable legal and economic conditions for private sector investment.


Strategic goals of policy coherence should be laid out to integrate countries at different levels of economic development into the world economy, but adjustment policies needed to consider the specific circumstances of individual countries.  While external financial flows were important in determining the success of development efforts, domestic resources were the primary means for countries to develop themselves.  Individual countries should make every effort to create an enabling environment for the expansion of domestic resource bases, to establish and strengthen mechanisms to increase and preserve those resources, and to use domestic resources efficiently.


NANA EFFAH-APENTENG (Ghana) said that at every point, new explanations for failure had been advanced, attempts to address problems in a comprehensive manner rebuffed, and piecemeal solutions agreed on, only to start the cycle again.  Perhaps the worst manifestation of that approach could be seen in the negotiations on the agenda for the WTO Ministerial Meeting, to be held in Doha, Qatar.  Despite the pronouncements of high-level officials that trade should promote development, the ongoing negotiations had been predicated on the need to secure for the developed countries additional benefits through inclusion of new issues as a condition to agreeing on an agenda -- including those issues critical to the development of most developing countries. 


The international community was at a crossroads, he said.  "We can meet the expectations of our peoples if we choose to address the most fundamental issues before us in a holistic and coherent manner, guided by a recognition of our common interests, or we can continue in the business-as-usual mode, which has been characterized by wide gaps between rhetoric and performance and a disturbing negotiating style, which prides itself on reaching constructive ambiguity."  He believed the Committee could and should seek consensus on a core of critical issues whose elements constituted an enabling environment capable of responding to the challenges and possibilities of globalization. 


Among those issues, he said, was deepening the development dimension of multilateral processes and cooperation, including a review of the WTO's mandate, to ensure coherence in policy-making in trade, finance and development.  Another issue was debt relief through cancellation or, where appropriate, through measures consistent with the need for countries to achieve growth rates leading to poverty eradication and appropriate social safety nets.


EDUARDO DORYAN, Special Representative of the World Bank to the United Nations, said that poverty reduction and sustainable development could be best achieved where three conditions existed for poor people:  opportunity, empowerment and security.  Opportunity could be achieved by stimulating economic growth, making markets work better for the poor and working for their inclusion. Empowerment could be achieved by strengthening the poor’s ability to shape decisions that affect their lives and removing discrimination.  Security could be achieved by reducing vulnerability to sickness, economic shocks, crop failure, unemployment, natural disasters and violence.


The issue that nations had to deal with was the ethics of development, he added.  Work should be aimed at enhancing human capacity to freely shape the expanding opportunities of human beings and humanity.  Importantly, it was about linking means and ends.  The same countries governed both the United Nations and the World Bank, and each institution focused on those concerns through a different, complementary and equally important lens; and the homework for all was the same.  In today’s context of both urgency and possibility, nations must work together to prevent “solo” approaches to development, to enhance coherence, to move from rhetoric to implementation, to know how to wisely select and prioritize within limitations, and always ultimately, to keep the poor person at the forefront.


NICHOLAS A. ROBINSON, Legal Adviser, International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN), said that the Union's expertise on matters of ecology, natural resources and sustainable development had been made available in the context of the Assembly's informal consultative process on Ocean Affairs and the Law of the Sea, as well as in the Forum on Forests and the Commission on Sustainable Development.  The Union had actively participated in the work of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), including the preparation of the group of experts to work on the programme to develop environmental law.  It had also worked with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) on the dissemination of the World Energy Assessment, and was active in the regional economic commissions.


The IUCN, he said, had recognized that sustainable development required stronger cooperation among States and societies in order to build genuine environmental security.  Peace and sustainable development alike depended on safeguarding the environment from acts of terrorism.  If the expertise of the IUCN could be of assistance in advancing the work of the United Nations to create better systems of environmental security, the Union was prepared to cooperate in that effort.


TUILOMA NERONI SLADE (Samoa), on behalf of the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS), said the devastation of the terrorist attacks had served to underscore the seriousness and the urgency of the sustainable development and economic issues that the Committee would have to grapple with.  The attacks had come at a time of general economic downturn in the United States and in other major economies, with the real risk of more global spread.  It was a risk that put focus on the bleak economic reality of many developing countries, including  AOSIS.  His greatest fear now was that the commitment of the developed countries and donor organizations would suffer.  It was therefore important to ensure that there was no diminishing energy on the part of AOSIS and the international community on sustainable development efforts.


He expressed strong support for the International Decade for Natural Disaster Reduction.  The vulnerability of small islands required the strongest support for international action on the issue.  In that regard, there was still a need to keep in mind the special situation of small island developing States in preparation for the Decade and the need to allow for greater regional cooperation among them, in situations where such regional cooperation was an appropriate response.


The AOSIS countries greatly appreciated the willingness of States parties to move forward with the implementation of the Kyoto Protocol, he said.  The Bonn Agreement was a highly significant achievement and nations were now very close to an agreement on the details of the many complex arrangements set up under the Protocol.  Climate change remained a first priority for his group.


VINCI N. CLODUMAR (Nauru), speaking on behalf of the Pacific Islands Forum Group, said the members of that group were flexible and supported the reorganization of five items in this session's agenda.  Such reorganization should not, however, mean marginalization of the issues of special concern to developing States, especially least developed countries, small island developing States, and landlocked economies.


It was hoped that the proposed arrangements to have procedural resolutions only on those items would not prevent important issues from being discussed in future sessions.  The Millennium Declaration had set the platform and the tone in which the Committee should proceed, and the upcoming World Summit on Sustainable Development would provide occasion for the world community to set itself back onto a path for sustainable development.


There were direct correlations between economic activities, the environment, and the societies in which we lived, especially for small island communities.  Natural disasters were serious threats to security and sustainable development of island countries, as one such disaster could result in massive loss of life and the erasure of decades of economic growth.  He hoped that discussions in this Committee would lead to recognition of the many constraints on the Pacific Islands Forum Group countries, and result in ways to improve their socio-ecomic status.


J. ENKHSAIKHAN (Mongolia) said that social inequality and exclusion had never before met the levels they had in this time of abundant wealth and globalization.  At a national level, Mongolia had adopted the Good Governance for Human Security Programme as a means of meeting goals set in the Millennium Declaration.  The poverty rate in his country stood at 36 per cent, with the percentage reaching 45 per cent in some urban areas.  Strategies Mongolia had adopted to combat poverty were acceleration of per capita income, reducing inequality of income, creating employment and placing more responsibility for development on local government and civil society. 


To overcome the donor fatigue that had led to the alarming decline of Official Development Assistance, that aid needed to be used more effectively.  ODA remained crucial, especially to least developed and landlocked countries, and could scarcely be replaced by private financial flows. Landlocked countries faced many obstacles in the area of international trade because they depended heavily on export-based sectors for economic and social growth.  Special consideration should therefore be given to the circumstances and interests of the least developed landlocked countries at the next round of trade negotiations.


His country was susceptible to natural disasters, he said, and with an economy dependent on the environment, the objectives of the Rio Summit held particular significance.  The average temperature had increased in Mongolia at a rate three to five times higher than the rest of the world and had led to recurrent droughts. Almost 80 per cent of Mongolia's pasture had been affected by degradation. Land deterioration and desertification were threatening economic and social structures. While States had agreed that the funding for implementation of Agenda 21 should come from countries' own public and private sources, there was still a need to mobilize new financial resources to meet targets for poverty reduction, environmental protection and economic growth.


ABDELLAH BENMELLOUK (Morocco) said the Millennium Declaration had recognized that the main challenge for the international community was to make globalization a positive force for sustainable development.  While globalization offered many opportunities, developing countries continued to be marginalized and poverty was increasing.  The goal of halving the number of people living in poverty by 2015 was becoming more elusive, particularly for Africa.  One of the major obstacles facing developing countries was a lack of resources to fund development activities.  Urgent measures must be taken regarding financing for development, within a stable and consistent international financial architecture.


It was clear that the primary responsibility for development lay with the countries concerned and depended on various internal mechanisms, he said.  However, the mobilization of domestic resources alone could not ensure development.  Measures at the international level were needed to integrate developing countries into the global economy and achieve sustainable development.  As the international community was preparing to hold the Fourth World Trade Organization Ministerial Meeting, it must learn from the failure of the Seattle meeting.


The ODA alone, he said, was not sufficient to ensure adequate financing resources.  Measures to encourage private investment, both domestic and international, must be taken.  The Monterrey Conference would be an opportunity to address those issues in depth and to take the necessary measures.  The private sector must assume its responsibility in mobilizing resources.  Likewise, the establishment of partnerships between the private and public sector must become a priority.  The need to strengthen international cooperation was becoming urgent.


The digital gap was a major obstacle in the development of many developing countries, which were prevented from accessing the new technologies, he added.  Those technologies could help establish a climate to stimulate growth and attract foreign investment.  It was time to tackle the question of development with greater enthusiasm.


ENRIQUE A. MANALO (Philippines) said there would be unprecedented opportunity to make significant impact in tackling the manifold problems faced by developing countries at the preparations for the International Conference on Financing for Development and the World Summit on Sustainable Development.  If current restraints like the debt burden were not so onerous, countries could build domestic capacities for development more effectively.  Considering the substantial improvement in political and economic governance in nearly all developing countries,new and additional debt relief would be a good investment for the international financial community.


On the international level, he said, more work was needed on giving developing countries access to investment opportunities and open access to markets in developed countries.  Liberalized trade would be meaningful only if developing countries were able to expand their export capacities.  The rules of trade and the WTO itself should be made more responsive to the needs, concerns and priorities of developing countries.


His country supported a more formalized relationship between the United Nations and the WTO to maximize the political impact of the United Nations in developmental matters, particularly in the context of trade.  Funding for global public goods should be allocated over and above funds intended for ODA.  At the World Summit on Sustainable Development, the gulf between hopes and reality must be bridged.  He therefore emphasized the need for adequate funding for the implementation of Agenda 21.


HUMBERTO JIMENEZ TORRES (Ecuador) said the functioning of markets and the characteristics of economies were not uniform around the world.  In order to address the economic problems faced by developing countries, the international community needed to address the varying factors at work in different economies.  Some solutions to problems that worked in some areas would not work in others, and that fact must be internalized before measures to create sustainable development could be realized.


He added that external debt was still one of the most severe obstacles to development.  Because of that debt, the resources needed for sustainable economic development and social needs were not available.  Liberalization and transparency did not yet cover all sectors of the global economy.  Many developing countries were still unable to gain access to markets.  Social demands could not continue to be neglected in those countries without long-lasting, damaging effects.


PAPA LOUIS FALL (Senegal) said that Africa could not achieve the target of halving those living in poverty by 2015 if current trends on the continent continued.  Among those trends was the economic growth of the continent, which peaked at only 2.1 per cent per year compared with a population growth of

2.8 per cent.  There were also the various environmental problems facing Africa, including desertification and forest degradation, which had led to food insecurity.  Also a factor was the terrifying pandemic of HIV/AIDS, which was threatening Africa's growth.


Today, the deficit in leadership and low participation of Africans themselves in various efforts were among the reasons for the failure of numerous initiatives, he said.  The New African Initiative, adopted in July in Lusaka, aimed at creating conditions of good governance and acquiring new communication and information technologies, which would contribute to improving economic growth. The scale of the challenge inherent in implementing the Initiative lay in the fact that everything must be done quickly.  Only through cooperative action would African countries be able to take up that challenge.  The international community must give unswerving assistance to Africa.  In that context, he made an urgent appeal to all delegations to support the New African Initiative.


JEREMIAH MANELE (Solomon Islands) said development cooperation should make societies less vulnerable to violent conflicts.  Aid should go beyond immediate humanitarian needs.  It had to be linked to peace-building initiatives in order to make peace and development sustainable.  Arms for example would not be surrendered as long as there was no alternative source of employment, income and livelihood available.  Hence, development assistance could be a means to prevent conflict, and an instrument to help build peace and foster social and economic progress.


He said the Conference on Financing for Development, to be held in Mexico next year, should seek to increase the effectiveness of official development assistance to enable countries that attract little private investment to create the necessary measures for sustained economic growth and human development.  It should also take into account both the inherent economic vulnerabilities of such countries, as well as the unfavourable conditions and trends in the global economy.  Those factors directly affected the capacity of developing countries to generate sufficient domestic resources to finance development.


Of particular importance to his country and other small island developing States were the problems of natural disasters, climate change and sea level rise.  Those were not just environmental problems for his country.  They were serious threats to the security, survival and sustainable development.  The unique circumstances of such States should be considered in regard to climate change, especially by those mainly responsible for the phenomenon.  The Kyoto Protocol remained a significant first step on the path to ensuring effective global action to combat climate change.


RAUL SALAZAR-COSIO (Peru) said the outlook for countries such as his own was discouraging.  During the 1990s, many developing countries had undertaken efforts to reform their economic structures.  On the national level, they dismantled subsidies, at times affecting vulnerable social sectors, deregulated State-owned companies and privatized.  In general, those countries had made enormous efforts in favour of reform.  However, the initial momentum created by those reforms had not led to sustained growth and had in fact led to instability.


In the area of trade, the so-called new economy had given priority to products other than basic products, he said.  The coming WTO Ministerial Meeting in Doha represented an opportunity for the international community to take measures to increase access for the products of developing countries in the markets of developed nations.  The Rio Group, during its meeting in August, had stressed the need to strengthen the multilateral trading system and reject protectionist measures.  The new round of trade talks must be balanced and have an agreed agenda.  It must benefit all members, especially the developing and least developed countries.


The situation of the international economy was a source of great concern, he added.  No one could deny that a new international financial architecture was necessary, as well as greater trade liberalization, recognizing the principle of different and preferential treatment.


ALPER COSKUN (Turkey) said that globalization was undoubtedly a defining theme of the times and constituted the background against which the Committee would be addressing many topics.  Globalization and technological innovation constituted a two-edged sword.  Along with the many benefits they brought, they were also fraught with danger.  The gap between the "haves" and the "have nots" was growing.


In today's world, geographical distance could no longer shield anyone from global problems, he said.  Development was a global concern that should transcend ideology and short-term interests.  It was primarily the responsibility of each country, requiring sound and sustainable development of human and natural resources, particularly good governance, transparent legal and regulatory frameworks, and a liberal market economy.  Sustainable development required international cooperation.


He hoped that at the International Conference on Financing for Development, to be held in Monterrey next year, the international community would display a unified approach in an effort to remedy the gap between the developed and developing countries.  It was also his hope that the World Summit for Sustainable Development in Johannesburg next year would yield fruitful results, taking into consideration common but differentiated responsibilities.


AHMED AL-ATRASH (Libya) said that, despite progress achieved in the field of economic development, the degree of success differed greatly from country to country.  Many nations, especially those south of the Sahara, did not have the means to achieve their development objectives.  The task of reducing poverty had become more difficult than in the past, due in part to the great divide between rich and poor countries.  The world today was divided between the affluent North and struggling South.


Was it reasonable that 1.5 billion people lived on an income of less than

$1 per day? he asked.  There was great anxiety over the lack of concern of developed countries for the plight of the developing world.  In that regard, there was greater need to reduce the debt burden of those nations.  There was also a need to urge bilateral and multilateral creditors to reduce that debt burden.


He supported the establishment of an international solidarity fund to eradicate poverty, he said.  Poverty was a challenge that demanded more action. Development had to be sustainable and it had to be human.  Priority should be given to the programmes started by developing countries themselves, and efforts should be made to involve them more in the world economy.  There was a need for a new international order that included developing countries in the global economy and took into consideration the special needs of developing nations.


Trade restrictions and sanctions remained a force restricting development in Libya, he added.  Nations around the world should oppose such draconian measures in order to allow Libya to better participate in the global economy and to help in the effort to eradicate poverty around the world.


NGUYEN THANH CHAU (Viet Nam) said that, for the long-term objectives of global prosperity and in the long-term interests of all nations, globalization must not benefit only rich countries while leaving poor nations farther behind. Maintaining and strengthening economic security should be a responsibility shared by the international community, first and foremost by the developed countries.  A

new momentum was needed in the development endeavour.  The commitments made by the international community at the Millennium Summit should be undertaken seriously and with overwhelming efforts.  The cooperation between the North and South should be strengthened on the basis of equality and mutual interests.


Liberalization of trade had become a vital means to development, he said. International trade to some extent helped poor countries in poverty eradication and connected developing economies to the world economy.  Along that line, there was an urgent need for an open, equitable, predictable, non-discriminatory and rules-based multilateral trading system that could facilitate development.


He added that Viet Nam supported the launch of a new round of negotiations in the WTO on an equal and fair basis and in the interests of all nations.  He also wished to see Viet Nam’s early accession to the WTO, with the necessary preferences applicable to a developing country.


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