24 July 2006
Economic and Social Council
ECOSOC/6233

Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL COUNCIL ADOPTS TEXTS ON SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT,


FORESTS, STATISTICS, POPULATIONS

 


Continues General Discussion on Economic, Environmental Questions


(Reissued as received.)


GENEVA, 24 July (UN Information Service) -- The Economic and Social Council this afternoon adopted texts concerning the work of the Commission on Sustainable Development, the United Nations Forum on Forests, which included proclaiming 2011 as the International Year of Forests, the Global Ministerial Environment Forum of the United Nations Environment Programme, the Statistical Commission, the Commission on Population and Development and the United Nations Group of Experts on Geographical Names.  The Council was acting under its agenda item on economic and environmental questions.


The Council adopted a decision approving the report of the Commission on Sustainable Development on its fourteenth session and its provisional agenda for the fifteenth session; two decisions recommended by the United Nations Forum on Forests entitled proclamation in 2011 of an International Year of Forests, and concerning the dates and venue for the seventh session of the Forum; and it took note of the report of the Global Ministerial Environment Forum of the United Nations Environment Programme on its ninth special session.


The Council adopted a resolution recommended by the Statistical Commission entitled strengthening statistical capacity; and a decision approving the report of the Statistical Commission on its thirty-seventh session and the provisional agenda, dates and documentation for the thirty-eighth session of the Commission.  The Council also adopted a decision recommended by the Commission on Population and Development approving the report on its thirty-ninth session and the provisional agenda for the fortieth session of the Commission.  The report of the United Nations Group of Experts on Geographical Names on the work of its twenty-third session was taken note of.


Two resolutions, on human settlements and on smoke-free United Nations premises were also introduced, but no action was taken.


In between taking action on texts, the Council continued with its general discussion on economic and environmental questions, including the sub-items on sustainable development, human settlements, environment, forests, tobacco or health, statistics, population and development, public administration and development, international cooperation in tax matters, assistance to third States affected by the application of sanctions, and cartography.


Suchitra Punyaratabandhu, Chairperson of the Committee for Development Policy, presenting the report of that Committee, said the report was structured so as to respond to the requests of the Council made to the Committee, namely, the theme of the high-level segment on creating an environment at the national and international level conducive to generating full and productive employment and decent work for all and its impact on sustainable development; the theme coping with economic vulnerability and instability; and the triennial review of the list of least development countries.  In making its recommendations to the Council, the Committee applied three assessment criteria on the inclusion to and graduation from the list of list developed countries.


Axumite Gebre-Egziabher, Director of the New York Office of UN-Habitat, introducing the report of the Secretary-General on the coordinated implementation of the Habitat Agenda, said the urbanisation of poverty was one of the most daunting challenges of the twenty-first century.  An estimated one billion people were currently living in slums in cities of most of the developing countries, and this figure could easily reach 2 billion by 2030, unless urgent action was taken.  Recent studies showed that the combined impact of high-density occupation and the lack of predictable income and access to decent shelter and water and sanitation rendered the urban poor as vulnerable as their rural counterparts to poor health, disease, and malnutrition.


Yumiko Mochizuki-Kobayashi, Director of Tobacco Free Initiative, World Health Organization, introducing the report of the Secretary-General on the Ad Hoc Inter-Agency Task Force on Tobacco Control, said the report of the Secretary-General described the economic and social concerns of tobacco use.  Tobacco was the second cause of death in the world, the cause of approximately five million deaths a year, and the burden of disease and death from tobacco use not only entailed health damages but also economic ones due to loss of income and increased costs for treating tobacco-related diseased.  Tobacco control could help assist in achieving the UN Millennium Development Goals.


Guido Bertucci, Director of the Division for Public Administration and Development Management, DESA, introducing the report of the Committee of Experts on Public Administration on its fifth session, said the Millennium Development Gaols and the Development Declaration had both emphasized the need for good public administration to achieve these goals.  During the fifth session, the Experts had focused on how Governments could provide a concrete option to meet the Millennium Development Gaols.  The Committee had also deliberated on how to support the Council in dealing with the issue of public administration.


Mourredine Bensouda, Chairperson of the Committee of Experts on International Cooperation in Tax Matters, introducing the report of the Committee, said the report contained the conclusions and recommendations of the first session of the Committee.  A number of substantive items were dealt with, and on the basis of the discussion of these topics, the Committee had produced a set of conclusions and recommendations.  The experts agreed to create, as necessary, ad hoc sub-committees composed of experts and observers to work throughout the year to prepare the agenda items and determine the supporting documentation for consideration at the regular session of the Committee.


Speaking in the general debate were the representatives of Finland, for the European Union; the Russian Federation; Azerbaijan; Samoa; Belarus; Guinea-Bissau; Cap Verde; Sri Lanka; Indonesia; and South Africa, on behalf of the Group of 77 and China.  Also speaking were the representatives of the International Labour Office and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.


Speaking in a right of reply were the representatives of Armenia and Azerbaijan.


The next meeting of the Council will be on Tuesday, 25 July at 10 a.m., when the Council will take up further issues under economic and environmental questions.


Documentation


A report (E/2006/33) entitled report on the eighth session of the Committee for Development Policy contains the main findings and recommendations of the eighth session of the Committee for Development Policy, held at United Nations Headquarters from 20 to 24 March 2006. The Committee addressed three themes: the first concerned creating an environment at the national and international levels conducive to generating full and productive employment and decent work for all, and its impact on sustainable development; the second concerned coping with economic vulnerability and instability; and the third concerned the triennial review of the identification of the least developed countries.


A report of the Secretary-General (E/2006/71) on coordinated implementation of the Habitat Agenda says since the 2005 World Summit, UN-Habitat has been realigning and readjusting its work in order to provide Member States with a more integrated and cohesive approach to monitoring, policy development, capacity-building and the mobilizing of investment in affordable housing and sustainable urban development, an approach designed to enhance aid effectiveness and going to scale processes by combining the organization’s core competencies in support of institutional and policy reform and urban governance with longer-term investment by domestic and international financial institutions. While the approach is enabling UN-Habitat to improve coordination and develop more cohesive and innovative responses to the explosive formation of slums and the widespread lack of access to water and sanitation by the urban poor, the report highlights the urgent need for Governments and the international community to mainstream the urban agenda at the global, national and local levels and in their respective development assistance frameworks.


A report of the Secretary-General (E/2006/62) on Ad Hoc Inter-Agency Task Force on Tobacco Control describes the social, economic and social concerns of tobacco use, then focuses on specific areas of concern for tobacco control where inter-agency collaboration can be important, including exposure to second-hand smoke, the link between tobacco and poverty, the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, the development of a protocol to curb illicit trade in tobacco products and the issue of corporate social responsibility of the tobacco industry.


A report (E/2006/29) entitled report on the fourteenth session (22 April 2005 and 1-12 May 2006) of the Commission on Sustainable Development includes matters calling for action by the Economic and Social Council; a draft decision recommended by the Commission for adoption by the Council; a thematic cluster for the implementation cycle 2006/2007; a summary of the high-level segment; the Chairman’s summary; the provisional agenda for the fifteenth session of the Commission; the adoption of the report of the Commission on its fourteenth session; and organisational and other matters.


A report (E/2006/33) entitled report on the eighth session of the Committee for Development Policy contains the main findings and recommendations of the eighth session of the Committee for Development Policy, held at United Nations Headquarters from 20 to 24 March 2006.  The Committee addressed three themes: the first concerned creating an environment at the national and international levels conducive to generating full and productive employment and decent work for all, and its impact on sustainable development; the second concerned coping with economic vulnerability and instability; and the third concerned the triennial review of the identification of the least developed countries.


A report (E/2006/42 and Corr.1 and Corr.2) entitled report of the sixth session of the United Nations Forum on Forests, contains matters calling for action by the Economic and Social Council or brought to its attention, including a draft resolution for adoption by the Council and three draft decisions for adoption by the Council on the Proclamation of an International Year of Forests, the dates and venue for the seventh session of the Forum, and the report of the United Nations Forum on Forests on its sixth session and provisional agenda for the seventh session, also a decision brought to the attention of the Council on accreditation of intergovernmental organizations; implementation of decision 5/2 of the fifth session of the Forum; the date and venue for the seventh session of the Forum; the provisional agenda for the seventh session; the adoption of the report on the sixth session; and the Organisation of the session.


A report (E/2006/44) entitled report on the fifth session of the Committee of Experts on Public Administration contains the conclusions and recommendations of the fifth session of the Committee of Experts on Public Administration, held at United Nations Headquarters from 27 to 31 March 2006.  The Committee dealt with the following substantive items: (a) innovations in governance and public administration for the achievement of the internationally agreed development goals, including the Millennium Development Goals; (b) searching for a bottom-up approach and methodologies for developing foundations and principles of sound public administration; (c) creation of a compendium of basic terminology in governance and public administration; and (d) review of the activities of the United Nations Programme in Public Administration and Finance.  Based on the discussion of the above-mentioned topics, the Committee recommended to the Economic and Social Council a draft resolution for its consideration and adoption. The Committee also produced a set of conclusions for consideration by the Council, Member States and the Secretariat.


A report (E/2005/45) entitled report of the first session of the Committee of Experts on International Cooperation in Tax Matters contains the conclusions and recommendations of the first session of the Committee of Experts on International Cooperation in Tax Matters, held at the United Nations Office at Geneva from 5 to 9 December 2005.  The Committee dealt with the following substantive items: (a) treaty abuses and treaty shopping; (b) mutual assistance in collecting tax debts; (c) international tax arbitration; (d) earnings stripping; (e) taxation of income derived by participants in development projects; (f) modified permanent establishment definition; (g) revision of the United Nations Model Double Taxation Convention between Developed and Developing Countries; and (h) review and adoption of the revised draft Manual for the Negotiation of Bilateral Tax Treaties between Developed and Developing Countries.  On the basis of the discussion of the above-mentioned topics, the Committee also produced a set of conclusions and recommendations for consideration by the Economic and Social Council, Member States and the United Nations Secretariat.


A report (E/2006/24) entitled report of the Statistical Commission on its thirty-seventh session, contains matters calling for action by the Economic and Social Council or brought to its attention, including draft resolutions for adoption by the Council; items for discussion and decision; items for information; programme questions, the provisional agenda and dates for the thirty-eighth session of the Commission; the report of the Commission on its thirty-seventh session; and organisation of the session.


A report (E/2006/25), entitled report on the thirty-ninth session (14 April 2005 and 3-7 April and 10 May 2006) of the Commission on Population and Development, says the special theme of the session was “International migration and development”.  The report addressed the demographic, social and economic aspects of international migration and development, describing recent trends; interactions between international migration and population factors; economic aspects of international migration; and policy responses.  Other reports covered: the intersessional meeting of the Bureau of the Commission; the monitoring of population programmes, focusing on international migration and development; the flows of financial resources for assisting in the implementation of the Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development; and the programme of work of the Population Division of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs in the field of population in 2005. The Commission also adopted a resolution on national, regional and international action in the sphere of international migration and development.


A report (E/2006/57) entitled report of the United Nations Group of Experts on Geographical Names on the work of its twenty-third session describes the activities carried out by the session, and presents the major findings of the Group of Experts with a primary focus on the importance of its work in supporting the United Nations Conferences on the Standardization of Geographical Names and the essential contribution it continues to provide to Member States in the geographical information field, particularly in the context of natural-disaster preparedness and responding to humanitarian needs.


Action on Texts


On the report (E/2006/29) entitled report on the fourteenth session(22 April 2005 and 1-12 May 2006) of the Commission on Sustainable Development, the Council adopted a decision in which it took note of the report of the Commission on Sustainable Development on its fourteenth session and approved the provisional agenda for the fifteenth session of the Commission.


On the report (E/2006/42 and Corr.1 and Corr.2) entitled report of the sixth session of the United Nations Forum on Forests, the Council adopted a decision contained in this report, by consensus, as orally amended, that the year 2011 is to be proclaimed the International Year of Forests.  A second decision contained in the report, adopted by consensus, concerns the dates and venue for the seventh session of the Forum.


In a resolution on strengthening statistical capacity, adopted by consensus and contained in the report of the Statistical Commission on its thirty-seventh session, the Council calls on Member States to intensify their efforts to strengthen national statistical capacity in order to produce reliable and timely statistics and indicators for the monitoring of: national development policies and strategies and the implementation of commitments and the achievement of all development goals at the national, regional and international levels; calls upon the United Nations system, including the United Nations Statistics Division and the regional commissions and international agencies to support national efforts in building and strengthening national statistical capacity; urges donor countries and organizations and the international and regional statistical community to support developing countries and countries with economies in transition in strengthening statistical capacity in support of development; and requests the Secretary-General to report on the implementation of the present resolution in the context of the regular report on statistical capacity-building to be presented under the relevant agenda item for discussion by the Statistical Commission at its thirty-eighth session.


The report entitled report of the Statistical Commission on its thirty-seventh session contains a decision entitled report of the Statistical Commission on its thirty-seventh session and provisional agenda, dates and documentation for the thirty-eighth session of the Commission, which was adopted by consensus.


The Council adopted a decision by consensus in the report entitled report on the thirty-ninth session (14 April 2005 and 3-7 April and 10 May 2006) of the Commission on Population and Development, in which it approved the report on the thirty-ninth session of the Commission and approved the provisional agenda for the fortieth session.


Presentation of Reports


SUCHITRA PUNYARATABANDHU, Chairperson of the Committee for Development Policy, said the report was structured so as to respond to the requests of the Council made to the Committee, namely, the theme of the high-level segment on creating an environment at the national and international level conducive to generating full and productive employment and decent work for all and its impact on sustainable development; the theme coping with economic vulnerability and instability; and the triennial review of the list of least development countries.  In making its recommendations to the Council, the Committee applied three assessment criteria on the inclusion to and graduation from the list of least developed countries.


The first criterion compared the income situation of countries to the established thresholds.  A country would be considered for inclusion in the list of least developed countries if the three-year average of its income per capita was below $ 745.  The graduation threshold under the income criterion was established at $ 900.  The two other criteria referred respectively to the level of human development of a country and its vulnerability to exogenous economic shocks.  The Committee agreed that the thresholds for inclusion with regard to the two corresponding indices, the Human Assets Index and Economic Vulnerability Index, should be chosen such that three quarters of the most disadvantaged low-income countries would be eligible under each of those criteria.  As in the case of the 2003 review, the Committee also decided that the thresholds for graduation should be maintained at a 10 per cent difference from the inclusion thresholds.


Axumite Gebre-Egziabher, Director of the New York Office of United Nations Habitat, introducing the report of the Secretary-General on the coordinated implementation of the Habitat Agenda, said the urbanisation of poverty was one of the most daunting challenges of the twenty-first century.  An estimated one billion people were currently living in slums in cities of most of the developing countries.  This figure could easily reach 2 billion by 2030, unless urgent action was taken to improve the living conditions of existing slum dwellers and to prevent the formation of new slums.  Recent studies showed that the combined impact of high-density occupation and the lack of predictable income and access to decent shelter and water and sanitation rendered the urban poor as vulnerable as their rural counterparts to poor health, disease, and malnutrition.  It was clear that until recently, most developing countries underestimated the consequences of rapid urbanisation. 


In view of these phenomena, UN-Habitat had developed a new strategic approach in order to mobilise, guide and coordinate a more effective and cohesive response at the national and global levels, including mainstreaming urbanisation and the urban poverty agenda at all levels, strengthening the capacity of national and local Governments to adopt and implement pro-poor gender sensitive and environmentally sound slum upgrading and water and sanitation polices and strategies, and promoting innovative financing mechanisms for pro-poor housing and urban development to help prevent the future growth of slums.  UN-Habitat was deeply committed to supporting the efforts of the Member States and the international community in the coordinated implementation of the Habitat Agenda, the Declaration of Cities and other Human Settlements, the Millennium Development Goal 7 and its targets 10 and 11.


YUMIKO MOCHIZUKI-KOBAYASHI, Director, Tobacco Free Initiative, World Health Organization (WHO), said the report of the Secretary-General described the economic and social concerns of tobacco use.  Tobacco was the second cause of death in the world; it was the cause of approximately 5 million deaths a year, which was equivalent to one in ten adult deaths globally.  The burden of disease and death from tobacco use not only entailed health damages but also economic ones due to loss of income and increased costs for treating tobacco-related diseased.  Tobacco control could help assist in achieving the UN Millennium Development Goals.  By helping tobacco users to quit and by discouraging young people to take up consumption – through strong tobacco control measures – the health damages and the loss of basic income could be substantially reduced and could lead to poverty alleviation and consequently to a better economic development in developing countries.


For the WHO, tobacco companies and a social responsibility were an inherent contradiction.  It was unfortunate that three tobacco companies were listed in the UN Global Compact, an initiative with the aim of promoting responsible corporate citizenship.  In order to avoid situations where the tobacco industry could use its social activities to remodel its image and make it positive in order to gain markets, the Council should recommend the UN Global Compact to establish a working group that would examine the extent to which tobacco companies could invest and participate in socially responsible activities, in particular in relation with the United Nations work.


GUIDO BERTUCCI, Director of the Division of Public Administration and Development Management, DESA, introducing the report of the Committee of Experts on Public Administration (E/2006/44), said that Millennium Development Gaols and the Development Declaration had both emphasized the need for good public administration to achieve the goals.  During the fifth session, the Experts had focused on how governments could provide a concrete option to meet the Millennium Development Goals.  The issue of transparency and accountability had also been stressed. The Committee had also deliberated on how to support the Council in dealing with the issue of public administration.  When the next session of the Committee would take place in Vienna, the Austrian Government would provide its support.  The Committee had also provided valued advice to the United Nations Secretariat.


Mourredine Bensouda, Chairperson of the Committee of Experts on International Cooperation in Tax Matters, introducing the report of the Committee, said the report contained the conclusions and recommendations of the first session of the Committee.  A number of substantive items were dealt with, and on the basis of the discussion of these topics, the Committee produced a set of conclusions and recommendations.  The experts agreed to create, as necessary, ad hoc sub-committees composed of experts and observers to work throughout the year to prepare the agenda items and determine the supporting documentation for consideration at the regular session of the Committee.


Among its conclusions and policy recommendations were that treaty abuse needed to be dealt with in the United Nations Model Convention.  It was important to ensure that, in considering the issue of treaty abuse, there was a balance between the need to provide certainty for investors, and the need for tax administrations to combat such abuse.  Further consideration needed to be given to the important issue of the definition of permanent establishment.  In order to deal with issues relating to the agenda on a continuous basis, subcommittees would use electronic communications where possible, however, efficient operation might in the future require face-to-face meetings, and funding for such meetings should be included in the next budget.


General Discussion


JARL-HAKAN ROSENGREN (Finland), speaking on behalf of the European Union, said on the United Nations Forum on Forests, tobacco and health, and generally with regards to this agenda item, that the European Union welcomed the conclusions of the United Nations Forum on Forests.  The European Union had adopted a pragmatic line in the intensive negotiations, with the objective of reaching common ground on the work at hand.  While the European Union remained convinced that a legally-binding instrument on all types of forests would be the most effective means to address forest issues at the international level and promote policies and practices for sustainable forest management, the European Union considered that the outcome of the sixth session was a good basis for the continuation of the Forum in coming years.  Great importance was attached to the work of the Forum, and it was hoped the date of the future meeting would be maintained.


The European Union welcomed the Secretary-General’s report on progress made in the task force on tobacco control, and the proposed resolution on smoke-free United Nations buildings everywhere in the world, as a smoke-free working environment was a basic right for all.  All individuals exposed to the smoke of cigarette workers were faced with serious health risks.  An increasing number of European Union Member States had adopted legislation prohibiting smoking in the workplace and in public facilities.  Tobacco use and production had a broad impact on the poverty of individuals and economies, as well as an impact on the environment.   The work of the subsidiary bodies was appreciated.  On sustainable development, this was a fundamental and overarching objective of the European Union, governing all its policies and activities.


A. SUROVTSEV ( Russian Federation) saluted the work of the Commission on Sustainable Development.  With regard to human settlements, the work done by UN-Habitat was important.  It was also necessary to further improve human settlements with a healthy environment.  It was essential to sustain the development of human settlements to ensure human development.  The Russian Federation commended the work of UN-Habitat.  The United Nations Environment Programme, as a key UN body, had carried out significant work with regard to the improvement of the environment.


With regard to the United Nations Forum on Forests, the Russian Federation appreciated the work done to give priority to forests and to design policies in that regard.  The promotion of a global policy on forests was essential. The adoption of a code on forests was supported by the Russian Federation.


RASHAD NOVRUZOV ( Azerbaijan) said the reports were welcomed.  The ever-growing role of the Council in addressing the issue of sustainable development in the context of synergy was recognised.  Azerbaijan had developed its economy at more than 11 per cent over the last few years.  Nevertheless, it was a country that had steadily cared for the protection of the environment.  It had nine out of eleven climactic zones, and was committed to viewing its economic development through the lens of environmental protection and the care for water resources.  The Government had incorporated alternative sources of energy into its policies.  However, there was a misconception that if a State extracted hydrocarbons, it polluted.  Oil rigs that operated in Azerbaijan were provided with the latest measures to reduce pollution, and it was planned to recultivate hectares of soil that were currently polluted to a certain extent.


Azerbaijan was prepared to see a negative effect on its budget in order to preserve its environment.  Azerbaijan was pleased to see many of its partners aligned with it in respect for its care.  The region faced few but serious problems on its agenda with regards to environmental protection, including water pollution.  The areas that were under Armenian occupation were, in some cases, polluted, and Azerbaijan was concerned about this.  Illegal logging was also taking place in the occupied areas, and this was of great concern.  Azerbaijan had created vast national parks, protecting great areas, but could not understand why the world kept silent on ecological and environmental degradation in the occupied areas, where deliberate acts of environmental vandalism were taking place.


ALI IOAIGA FETURI ELISAIA ( Samoa) said that geo-physical characteristics made Small Island Developing States inherently vulnerable to external shocks; they were not temporary but permanent.  They would not just disappear, with the passing of time.  It was asserted that the economic vulnerability index should be the sine quo non for graduation and should be made one of the criteria for countries to satisfy before coming out of the least developed countries list.  Of the countries that graduated recently, or were considered eligible for graduation, all, except one, were SIDS, and four of those were all Pacific SIDS, Kiribati, Tuvalu, Vanuatu and Samoa.  The same group of highly vulnerable States was suddenly and simultaneously being projected as having some members strong and capable of sustaining their economic and social development efforts.


The fact that Samoa had continuously performed poorly over a decade under the economic vulnerability index (EVI) criteria, and continued to do so, including the 2006 review, conclusively confirmed Samoa’s continued economic vulnerability.  He requested the Council to defer Samoa’s graduation during the current triennial review.

ANDREI TRIBUSH ( Belarus) said with regards to the issue of the environment, this was an inalienable part of life in society, but increasing use of natural resources for development raised the issue of regulations for their use and for clean technologies.  This year was the sad anniversary of the Chernobyl accident, from which Belarus had suffered greatly.  Safe energy and renewable sources of energy were a focus of Belarus.   It was necessary to have a balanced and careful approach to resolving issues related to this type of energy, in particular technologies for the disposal and recycling of nuclear materials.  The exchange of advanced techniques, international partnership programmes and others were substantive ways of creating an equitable and democratic system for the coordination of environmental activities.


The gradual reduction and destruction of ozone-destroying sources was being applied in Belarus.  The country would continue to contribute to the international discussion on this topic.


ALFREDO CABRAL (Guinea Bissau) said that Guinea Bissau recognized the work done by UN- Habitat in fighting poverty due to lack of cleanliness.  The backing of the international community should be present in supporting that body in providing decent housings.  With regard to tobacco, its use in public was detrimental to non-smokers, and the effort to prohibit smoking should be strongly controlled.  The representative of Samoa had demanded the deferral of the graduation of his country from the list of least developed countries, and this should teach a lesson on the progress made so far in the development sector.  The draft resolution prepared with regard to Samoa should therefore be deferred.  So many things had been said about tsunami but not much about the situation in Samoa.  The Council should therefore respond favourably to Samoa’s request for non-graduation.


BELARMINO SILVA (Cap Verde) said the decision to graduate Samoa was taken by the General Assembly in December 2004, in a resolution which defined the process of transition from countries which were graduating from the status of least developed countries.  Cap Verde had also submitted a proposal in order that its graduation should not be harmful, given its specific vulnerabilities as an island economy.  Cap Verde had a right to seeing its advantages maintained with regards to trade and technical assistance.  Awareness-raising and mobilisation of all partners was essential in order to sustain implementation of Cap Verde’s strategy to graduate from the least developed countries group.


SARALA FERNANDO ( Sri Lanka) said that it had never been a least developed country, but was a small island, and it had a small economy.  The statement of Samoa was therefore supported, and the assertion that the economy of the country needed to be at a certain level in order to come off the least developed countries list.


DAVID GOLD of the International Labour Organization (ILO) said the ILO was among those bodies which were fighting tobacco consumption in the workplace. The ILO had been working on a series of programmes to prevent smoking in the workplace.  The health of workers was important, and a healthy environment should be maintained to protect workers from hazardous materials.  The ILO had taken up a number of initiatives with regard to tobacco-free working places in many countries.  Seeing the gravity of the issue of smoking in the workplace, the ILO had also taken further measures that were being implemented by its Member States.


INGEBORG BREINES, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), said as a founding member of the taskforce on tobacco control, it had worked closely with the group, and with the WHO, and would continue to do so.  The Organization worked to eliminate poverty, focusing on democratic and participatory governance, environmental protection, harnessing science and technology for development, building on societies and contributing to evidence-based policy formulation.  To contribute to a broadening of the focus on national and international poverty-reduction strategies through various means was a focus of the Organization.  The absence in the reports of the notion of culture or cultural diversity as forces for sustainable development should be noted, and the issue should be taken further into account in the work of the United Nations on sustainable development.


UNESCO was working with a broad range of partners in the field of sustainable development.  A conference of high-level academics and researchers would be held on sustainable development in the context of cultural diversity.  Because the latter was a tool through which capacity could be created, culture should also be seen as a motor for development.


CECEP HERAWN ( Indonesia) said on the United Nations Forum on Forests, Indonesia was committed to the international sustainability of forests, and had contributed to international flora in this regard.  International efforts were required to enhance international and national policy coordination and provide intersectoral harmonisation at all levels to protect forests.


Indonesia welcomed the draft resolution that had been prepared at the Forum, and intended to contribute further, and would convene a country-led initiative on the matter.  Countries should contribute technical assistance and know-how in order to make the event successful.  The outcomes of the open-ended intergovernmental working groups should be taken into account.  Participation would be open to all groups.


HENRI RAUBENHEIMER ( South Africa), speaking on behalf of the Group of 77 and China, said in the report before the Council, a number of recommendations had been made to which attention should be focused.  The Group of 77 and China had introduced a draft resolution to address some of those recommendations.  Elements incorporated in the draft resolution such as the invitation to organize training workshops for developing countries as part of its work, would allow the Committee of Experts on International Cooperation in Tax Matters to fulfil its mandate to provide capacity-building and technical assistance to developing counties.  Suggestions to improve the working methods of the Committee and to look at further opinions to improve financial support to the Committee were also proposed in the same vein.


It was clear from the report that the experts had been taking their responsibilities seriously and that they were working hard to succeed in their mandate of improving broad-based dialogue on international cooperation in tax matters and giving special attention to the needs of developing countries.


N. V. CHULKOV ( Russian Federation) said the activity of the United Nations Statistical Commission was supported.  The consensus adoption at the Commission of an important resolution to strengthen the statistical potential of Member States was welcomed, as this was important for the ongoing monitoring in these countries of the internationally agreed development goals, including the Millennium Development Goals.  The results of the thirty-ninth session of the United Nations Commission on Population and Development were welcomed, and the contributions made there to prepare for the high-level dialogue to take place at the sixty-second session of the General Assembly and its contribution to international migration policy.


Russia attached priority to a comprehensive analysis of the problems related to changes in the democratic situation around the world and in particular countries, and noted the topicality of the special themes selected for the Commission in 2007-2008.  Russia supported the results of the first session of the Committee of Experts on international cooperation on tax matters, as the activities of the Committee were of great importance for the pioneering of international experience to improve national tax systems and for the timely exchange of information in order to avoid treaty abuse.


ALFREDO CABRAL (Guinea Bissau) said Guinea Bissau endorsed what was said by South Africa on behalf of the Group of 77 and China.  Guinea Bissau congratulated the members of the Committee of Experts on International Cooperation in Tax Matters for their hard work.  It was also satisfied with the work of the Statistical Commission, without which it was hard to work.  Countries should have reliable statistical data to clearly perform their work in taxation.


Right of Reply


A representative of Armenia, referring to a statement by Azerbaijan, said that the delegation of that country had addressed accusations and allegations against his country.  He believed that the peaceful settlement required a different approach with the parties taking their responsibilities seriously.  With regard to the forest fires taking place in the lands adjacent to Nagorno-Karabakh, the Azerbaijan speaker had admitted that the forest extended to Nagorno-Karabakh.  An investigation had been dispatched by the OESC.  The findings had revealed that the cause of the forest fire was only natural and not attributed to his country as was alleged.


A representative of Azerbaijan said he was disappointed by the response of Armenia, which he found it to be propaganda.  The Armenian representative mentioned that of the Nagorno-Karabakh authority and raised the issue of the forest fires to be of a natural cause.  The assessment found by the fact-finding mission was not yet known.  Satellite evidence had been added to the fact-finding mission’s work before the final result.


A representative of Armenia, speaking in a right of reply, said reference had been made to the OSCE as the main framework, and this was greatly welcomed in the statement of Azerbaijan.


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