|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Intergovernmental Preparatory Committee
for Fourth United Nations Conference
on Least Developed Countries
1st Meeting (AM)
Secretary-General of May Least Developed Countries Conference Calls for Intensified
Efforts to Forge Action Programme, as Preparatory Committee Opens Final Session
Says Conference Outcome Will Determine Development Priorities ‘for Years to Come’;
Committee Concludes 8 April; Conference to be Held 9 to 13 May in Istanbul, Turkey
The Secretary-General of the upcoming Fourth United Nations Conference on the Least Developed Countries called on Member States to intensify their efforts to forge a programme of action that would have concrete results in improving the lives of people in the poorest States, as he opened the second Intergovernmental Preparatory Meeting for the Conference this morning.
“The new Istanbul Programme of Action will determine the development priorities for years to come,” Cheick Sidi Diarra, said, speaking of the outcome document planned for the Conference, which is scheduled for 9 to 13 May in Istanbul, Turkey, noting there was only a month to go and calling for negotiations to be accelerated.
Mr. Sidi Diarra, who is also Under-Secretary-General for Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States and the Special Adviser on Africa, urged delegations to redouble efforts to agree on new partnerships that go beyond the previous international consensus, known as the Brussels Programme of Action, and to outline a vision that would allow everyone in the Least Developed Countries to “develop their full potential and lead a decent life”, with concrete means to implement that vision.
Jarmo Viinanen ( Finland), Chair of the Preparatory Committee explained that the results of negotiations since the first session of the Preparatory Committee, held in January, were contained in Conference Room Paper 1 and Conference Room Paper 2, which would be further negotiated during this session. Concluding the negotiations well in advance of the Conference was needed for the highest level of participation, he stressed. He and his co-chairs pledged to work day and night for that outcome.
He acknowledged that everyone was not and could not be happy with all elements of the conference papers, but he expressed hope that it could be seen as a basis for the hard work ahead in negotiating a draft. As for the “action part” of the Programme of Action, he said it might be necessary to have another round of consultations on the basis of the original draft, but the co-chairs were ready to come forward with compromise proposals, if needed, as the session progressed. Throughout the deliberations, key questions to be addressed were the nature of the added value of the Istanbul Programme over the Brussels Programme and what specific roles different partners would play in the development of the poorest countries, he stressed.
Ertuğrul Apakan of Turkey, representing the host country, also asked all Member States to continue to work in a constructive dialogue and to assume their share of responsibility in the partnerships needed, and to focus on increasing the productive capacities of the least developed countries. Mobilization of financial resources for that purpose remained crucial and it was important to engage the private sector in that regard. Further incentives for investments were, therefore, needed, as was market access.
Anda Filip, Permanent Observer for the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) reviewed efforts to facilitate the contribution of parliaments to the Conference and to engage parliaments in the implementation of the Istanbul outcome document. In that regard, she reminded delegations to be mindful of the need to include members of parliament in their delegations, with political and gender balance. She outlined parliamentary contributions expected at the Conference.
Arjun Karki, President of the Civil Society Committee, thanked all involved for their efforts to integrate civil society into the Conference, and voiced his expectations that the Conference would be a watershed in international efforts to put people in the centre of development, saying that it was time to end development that placed profit over people and the environment. Noting disagreements between delegations at this point, he expressed hope that they would be resolved without stepping back from the highest goals, including clear targets and tangible commitments, and also including issues that had been considered at other forums, such as debt relief.
Covering a wide range of “essential elements” for the outcome document, including climate change, agriculture, water and energy policy, and unconditioned grants, Mr. Karki said difficult items should not be taken off the agenda. Inclusive development must be a bottom-up process, and help bring a bright future for the world’s most vulnerable.
Addressing the Private Sector Track, Gavin Power, Deputy Director of the United Nations Global Compact Office, expressed hope that the Conference would make the private sector a true member of the development partnership for the least developed countries. He said that many of those countries represented “next-wave” countries, but their potential had not yet been recognized and conducive environments not yet established. The overarching goal was to spur economic and business development in the poorest countries. He anticipated the generation of concrete projects and a private sector statement that presented the opportunities and challenges for business in the least developed countries.
Speaking on behalf of the Global LDC Bureau, Gyan Chandra Acharya of Nepal, said that after two rounds of negotiations, positions should begin to converge on the best measures to support the least developed countries through renewed solidarity in addressing structural weaknesses in those countries. Expectations were high for a coherent outcome that best looked after the interests of the most vulnerable, while recognizing how their fates were intertwined with the future of the entire world due to globalization. Some progress had been made in the past decades, but much more was needed, particularly given crises unforeseen at the Brussels Conference. “Business as usual is not a solution,” he said, urging innovative solutions to challenges, with renewed levels of commitments.
Following those presentations, representatives of State groupings took the floor to reiterate their positions and to pledge their commitments to reaching a successful conclusion. In his statement on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, the representative of Argentina said lack of progress so far had been the result of negotiations being stuck because of inflexibility on the part of donors, and consequently he urged greater flexibility. The representative of Paraguay, who represented the landlocked developing countries, said that Official Development Assistance (ODA) was of critical importance, with the quality and quantity of it needing to be improved.
Among groups containing donor countries, the representative of Hungary, on behalf of the European Union, said the Union was fully committed to the Conference and to making progress in the negotiations this week. Canada’s representative, also speaking on behalf of Australia and New Zealand, agreed that the overarching goal was to address the structural needs of the least developed countries without ignoring controversies, through a strategic approach that recognized emerging trends and conditions.
Indonesia’s representative, speaking on behalf of Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN), stressed that regional partnerships were a key part of the effort to improve the lives of those in the poorest countries, but they should not replace international partnership. ASEAN was undertaking many efforts to assist least developed countries, despite the fact that its Member States had development challenges of their own.
Also speaking this morning, the representatives of China, South Africa, Lesotho, Pakistan, Brazil, Gambia, United Republic of Tanzania and Republic of Korea, pledging their own cooperation, stressed the importance of a successful Conference through the strongest possible outcome document and aiming for economic sustainability on the part of the least developed countries. China’s representative also pledged additional funds to allow the participation of the representatives of least developed countries at the Conference, stressing the importance of national ownership by those countries.
Brazil’s representative said that the goal of the Action Programme should be the graduation from the category of least developed of at least 50 per cent of the countries in it. Gambia’s representative said that all existing programmes must be greatly scaled up, if such a goal were to be possible. The representative of Maldives added that the transition process must be made systematic and effective, rather than leaving graduating countries to fend for themselves, as his had. Benefits should be withdrawn only in a gradual and transparent manner.
A representative of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) also made a statement, noting the role of her Organization’s reports and other analytical work in bringing attention to the actual situation in the least developed countries. A representative of the Common Fund for Commodities stressed the importance that commodity-dependent countries secure sustained commitments for international cooperation at the upcoming Conference, in order to offset market volatility and other persistent problems.
Also this morning, the Second Preparatory Meeting adopted its agenda.
The Preparatory Meeting will reconvene at 10 a.m. on Friday, 8 April, to approve the draft outcome document for submission to the Conference.
* *** *For information media • not an official record