18 December 2007
General Assembly
GA/EF/3208

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

Sixty-second General Assembly

Second Committee

35th Meeting (PM)


SECOND COMMITTEE, CONCLUDING SIXTY-SECOND SESSION, APPROVES TEXT ON TRIENNIAL


POLICY REVIEW OF UNITED NATIONS OPERATIONAL ACTIVITIES

 


As it concluded its work for the sixty-second General Assembly session this afternoon, the Second Committee (Economic and Financial) approved, as orally corrected, a draft resolution titled “Triennial comprehensive policy review of operational activities for development of the United Nations system”.


The text would have the General Assembly underscore that there was no “one-size-fits-all” approach to development, and that United Nations development assistance should respond to the varying development needs of programme countries, in line with their national development plans and strategies.


By other terms of the draft (document A/C.2/62/L.63), the Assembly would note with concern the overall decline in official development assistance (ODA) in 2006.  It would call on developed countries to devote the target 0.7 per cent of gross domestic product to aid by 2015, at least 0.5 per cent by 2010 and between 0.15 per cent and 0.2 per cent to least developed countries.  It would also note with concern the decline in recent years of the share of core contributions -- the bedrock of operational activities for development -- to United Nations funds and programmes, while urging donor countries and others in a position to do so to increase substantially their voluntary contributions to core or regular budgets of the United Nations system.


The Assembly would, by further terms of the text, stress that the mobilization and management of extrabudgetary resources should not adversely impact the quality of delivery regarding the work of the United Nations development system’s funds, programmes and specialized agencies.  It would note with concern that, based on assessed contributions, the regular budgets of many specialized agencies had been stagnating, and would invite countries to consider increasing their contributions to those agencies’ budgets so the Organization could respond more comprehensively and efficiently to the demands of the development agenda.


In introducing the draft -- which was finalized after several days of debate -- Lebanon’s representative thanked all delegations for their hard work, dedication, flexibility and spirit of compromise that had enabled the Committee to reach consensus.


Pakistan’s representative, speaking on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, said that after gruelling months and late nights of discussions, he was pleased with the outcome, though the Group had made difficult compromises.  The draft resolution would determine the course of United Nations activities in the next three years.


Portugal’s representative, speaking on behalf of the European Union, said the Committee, in a spirit of great flexibility, had been able to reach consensus on a text that was not perfect, but encapsulated the main interests of all negotiating parties concerning United Nations system operational activities for development in the next three years.  Everyone aimed for a United Nations development system that inspired confidence and galvanized support at all levels, by all Member States, donors and programme countries alike, to respond effectively to development needs and priorities.  The negotiation process had helped to increase trust among Member States that hopefully would spur further consensus on difficult issues in the future.


The representative of the United States said he had joined the consensus because he wished to move forward, but he was concerned that the text was uneven on certain policy and operational issues.  Among the concerns of the United States was that, while the private sector was recognized in the text, it was not seen as an engine for economic growth, and the section on funding had little regard for how funds were used.  Activities should be results-based, not subject to across-the-board increases.


Japan’s representative said his delegation, like others, had shown maximum flexibility and accepted compromise language.  During the negotiations, Japan had proposed paragraphs on human security and the community-based, bottom-up approach to development that would provide a solution to the many threats facing vulnerable people.  Japan had withdrawn those proposals for the sake of consensus, but would continue to promote human security at the United Nations and other forums, so that it would be mainstreamed into the Organization’s activities.


Norway’s representative, noting that the process built bridges over differences, said the Committee had encouraged a commitment to the process that the previous triennial comprehensive policy review had set in motion.  The frank and open exchange of differences had deepened mutual understanding, and now that a consensus had been found, Norway hoped delegations would work more productively, and the United Nations more effectively.


The representative of Belarus, referring to operative paragraphs 45 and 46, said the point was to help countries introduce new technologies to bolster effectiveness, while preambular paragraph 16 applied to all countries, not just developing ones.


In other business, the Committee adopted its draft programme of work for the sixty-third Assembly session (document A/C.2/62/L.62).


Committee Chairperson Kirsti Lintonen ( Finland), in closing remarks, said that the Committee’s very productive session had successfully set in motion two major initiatives.  It had approved a resolution that set up the procedure for the Review Conference on Financing for Development, to be held next year in Doha, and proclaimed the Second Decade on Poverty Reduction (2008-2017).


During the session, the Committee had approved 34 draft resolutions, including seven by recorded vote, and one draft decision.  It had also shown a united front on the pressing issue of climate change.  Despite a recorded vote on the paragraph regarding funding of the meetings of States parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change from the United Nations regular budget, the draft resolution as a whole had been approved by consensus, sending a strong message to Bali in a timely manner.  Regrettably, the Committee had been unable to reach consensus on the draft resolution on trade and development for the fourth consecutive year.  Hopefully progress would be made in that area in the near future, and there would be a positive outcome next year.


Sha Zukang, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, said the Committee had demonstrated the importance of multilateralism, the role of the United Nations in promoting international cooperation for development, and the Committee’s significant contribution towards renewed efforts for the implementation of all development commitments.  “We have reached a critical juncture in the financing for development process.  We need to sustain political will for the implementation of the Monterrey Consensus.”


Taking the floor again on behalf of the European Union, Portugal’s representative said that while the overall result of the Committee’s work sent a forward-looking message of unity and close collaboration, there was still room for gradual improvement regarding many elements of that work, in particular its repetitive nature.  Some of the Committee’s working methods needed to be further improved and fine-tuned.  Better use of the time available and allocation of venues for informal consultations were matters of concern, but such organizational challenges could be overcome.


Also taking the floor again, Japan’s representative said he regretted that some draft resolutions had had to be decided by recorded vote, and he hoped that Member States would renew their commitments to finding common ground so that all texts could be approved by consensus in the next session.  Next year would be important with respect to efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goals, and it was to be hoped that the programme of work would take into consideration the increased obligations and responsibilities that delegations must bear as a result of the many major development-related conferences scheduled in 2008.


He said particular attention should be paid to avoid duplication between the preparatory process for the Review Conference on Financing for Development and the Committee’s work in the macroeconomic cluster.  Next year would also see Japan host the Fourth Tokyo International Conference on African development (TICAD IV) in May, and the Group of Eight Hokkaido-Toyako Summit in July, and it was determined to use those opportunities to advance the cause of African development, promote achievement of the Millennium targets and contribute to the Committee’s work, as well as that of the Economic and Social Council.


Highlighting some of the Committee’s important decisions, he said the Assembly had set the stage for a 2008 Follow-up Conference on Financing for Development in Doha that would not only assess progress, but also reaffirm goals and commitments.  The Assembly’s consensus adoption of a landmark resolution on the triennial comprehensive policy review would shape the United Nations development activities over the next three years, specifically on funding, national capacity development and development effectiveness.  The Development Cooperation Forum was expected to become a principal mechanism for global dialogue and policy review on key development cooperation issues.  Japan wished to highlight a broad range of actions -- including the eradication of poverty, climate change, globalization and the international financial system -- and to commend the Committee for, among other things, giving a new impetus to implementing the United Nations development agenda.


The Committee will present its reports for action by the General Assembly at 3 p.m. tomorrow, Wednesday, 19 December.


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For information media • not an official record