20 October 2011
General Assembly
GA/EF/3315

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

Sixty-sixth General Assembly

Second Committee

17th Meeting (PM)


Appeals for Help for World’s Poorest, Least Developed, Landlocked

 

Countries Are Heard in Assembly’s Economic Committee

 


Full Implementation of Istanbul Action Programme Is Urged; Some Say

Debt Relief Is Key Factor, along with Aid, Access to Markets, Improved Transport


Looking to move forward on agreements made at the Fourth United Nations Conference on Least Developed Countries in Istanbul, delegates in the General Assembly’s Second Committee (Economic and Financial) today stressed the need for full implementation of the Programme of Action to address the many challenges and vulnerabilities still facing least developed countries, small island developing States, and landlocked developing countries.


As the Committee met to consider groups of countries in special situations, delegates welcomed the Istanbul Programme of Action and urged an end to “business as usual” approaches, with a firm emphasis on learning from the past.


Nepal’s representative, speaking on behalf of the least developed countries, said results of the Istanbul programme would not be achieved without commitments being implemented in their entirety.  It was imperative that the international community mainstream the priority agenda for those countries into debates and outcomes of relevant major United Nations conferences.  The key priority of the Istanbul programme was enhancing the productive capacity of the least developed nations, which was inextricably linked to structural transformation.


Also addressing the strengthening of production capacities, Haiti’s representative (on behalf of the Caribbean Community) noted that least developed countries were largely confined to the export of raw products and commodities and diversification was essential; the Istanbul programme could not succeed without the participation of all relevant actors, global follow‑up and the essential monitoring mechanisms.


Echoing the calls of many delegates for strong implementation, Argentina’s representative said success of the programme depended highly on the least developed countries themselves taking the ownership and leadership role in making and implementing effectively the relevant policy choices.  With the number of least developed countries having doubled in the last three decades, it was essential to address their debt problem.


Debt relief was also urged by the delegate of Bangladesh, who said that under the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) Debt Initiative and the Multilateral Debt Relief Initiative (MDRI) some resources had been released for poverty reduction and human development, but not all least developed countries were eligible.  Those programmes should be extended to cover all of them.  “All outstanding debt … of all least developed countries should be written off without further delay,” he said.


The delegate of India said the least developed countries also needed financial and technical support, especially to help their adaptation to the effects of climate change.  She said India’s partnership with the least developed had gone far beyond technical assistance and included trade, investment and humanitarian assistance, and was an example of South‑South cooperation.


Mongolia’s representative stressed the fragility and vulnerability of landlocked developing countries to external shocks, owing to their limited export diversification, narrow base of productive capacities, lack of export competitiveness and high transport and transit costs.  Mongolia strongly supported the establishment of research into the vulnerability of those nations to such shocks, and the development of a set of vulnerability indicators that could be used for early warning purposes.


Paraguay’s representative, speaking for the group of Landlocked Developing Countries, stressed the importance of the Almaty Programme of Action, because it acknowledged the requirement for the landlocked development countries to achieve sufficient transport systems.  As the period of the Almaty Programme of Action reached its end, it was time to assess where it had succeeded and where it had failed. 


Russia’s representative underlined the importance of integrating landlocked countries fully into global and regional trade and said Russia was attached to the Almaty Programme of Action.  She said that Russia’s unique geographical position allowed it to act as a link and participate in transit systems to help landlocked developing countries to trade better.  It would focus on making improvements in trans‑Siberian transport links, and would create an integrated Eurasian transport system of highways and railways bringing significant advantages to landlocked developing countries, and allowing them to participate and integrate into the transport structure.


Under‑Secretary‑General Cheick Sidi Diarra Special Adviser on Africa and High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States, introduced the Secretary‑General’s reports on the Follow‑up to the Fourth United Nations Conference on Least Developed Countries and on Implementation of the Almaty Programme of Action.


The current President of the General Assembly also spoke to the Committee, saying he had chosen this particular day because of the special importance of the agenda item that the Committee was discussing.


Also speaking today were representatives of Paraguay (on behalf of the landlocked developing countries), Indonesia (on behalf of Association of South‑East Asian Nations), the European Union, Finland (on behalf of the Nordic Countries), Yemen, Malaysia, and Brazil.


The Second Committee will meet again at 10 a.m. tomorrow, 21 October, for a panel discussion on the Fourth United Nations Conference on the Least Developed Countries and at 3 p.m. will resume its discussion of groups of countries in special situations.


Background


The Second Committee (Economic and Financial) met this afternoon to take up its agenda item on groups of countries in special situations.  It considered the follow‑up to the Fourth United Nations Conference on the Least Developed Countries as well as “specific actions related to the particular needs and problems of landlocked developing countries:  outcome of the International Ministerial Conference of Landlocked and Transit Developing Countries and Donor Countries and International Financial and Development Institutions on Transit Transport Cooperation.”


Before the Committee was the report of the Secretary‑General on the outcome of the Fourth United Nations Conference on the Least Developed Countries (document A/66/134), which was held in Istanbul from 9 to 13 May 2011.  The Conference adopted the Programme of Action for the Least Developed Countries for the Decade 2011‑2020 and the Istanbul Declaration.  The report focuses on the main elements of the outcome documents and maps out the way forward for the implementation of the Istanbul Programme of Action.  It concludes that with a much stronger focus on implementation, monitoring and evaluation of the Istanbul Programme of Action and with vulnerable countries prioritized by the international community in the next decade, “half of the least developed countries could graduate”.


The report recommends that the international community, including the United Nations system, prioritize least developed countries and calls for contributions from all stakeholders to implement holistically the agreed actions.  The United Nations system is to be mobilized fully in the follow‑up and will be active in implementation.  The Programme of Action should be implemented into the work programmes and strategic plans of the entire United Nations system, which should contribute to its monitoring, follow‑up and review.  The Programme of Action will act as a guideline for development efforts in least developed countries and should be mainstreamed into the national development plans and strategies of least developed countries.  It should be integrated into cooperation frameworks and policy, and parliaments should play a key role in this process.


The international community must implement the commitments that have been made or renewed in Istanbul in the eight priority areas.  South‑South cooperation and regional initiatives can help with the priority actions.  Civil society groups are integral to implementation of and advocacy for the Istanbul Programme of Action, working closely with the United Nations.  It is recommended that the potential of the private sector be harnessed and the education sector can also contribute, by generating data to facilitate policy discussion and advice for evidence‑based decision-making.


Within the United Nations, the report suggests, least developed country issues should feature regularly in relevant meetings, with their concerns prominent in United Nations initiatives, and with the Secretary‑General continuing to advocate on their behalf.  The United Nations system will also support changes to the international economic system and architecture, making it more responsive to the special development needs of least developed countries.  The United Nations can cooperate with Member States on implementation of key, concrete decisions emanating from Istanbul.  United Nations Resident Coordinators and country teams will support mainstreaming, follow‑up and monitoring at the national level, with regional and global reviews adding to this.


The Office of the High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States needs its capacity strengthened, the report says, allowing it to assist better in mobilizing international support and resources for implementation of the Programme of Action, and to intensify advocacy and outreach activities.  It will also coordinate monitoring of the Programme’s implementation, including mainstreaming.  As United Nations system‑wide coordination broadens, the inter‑agency consultative group should be institutionalized with the rapid establishment of a working group on smooth transition of graduating countries a high priority.


Also before the Second Committee this afternoon was the report of the Secretary‑General on the Ten‑year appraisal and review of the implementation of the Brussels Programme of Action for the Least Developed Countries for the Decade 2001-2010 (document A/66/66-E-2011-78) which deals with reports on the implementation of that action programme to the Fourth United Nations Conference on the Least Developed Countries — identifying lessons learned and best practices, as well as structural constraints and handicaps encountered, resource requirements and resource gaps in achieving the set objectives of the Programme.


It is reported that the Programme of Action did not fully attain its goals, despite some improvements in development, and that a new programme is needed, since “business as usual” will not suffice; it should match priorities with goals and the right tools for achieving them.  Least developed countries should be targeted as a group, but responses will be more effective if complemented by measures tailored to individual countries.  Least developed countries must take greater ownership and leadership in implementation of the new programme, establishing a developmental State that can commit to good developmental governance, encouraging the structural transformations, economic changes and policy flexibility required.


The report recommends a fourth Programme of Action to cover emerging, significant challenges, especially as they affect least developed countries specifically.  It should address the emergence of new global development players, and should include support measures that can be put in place by the new actors alongside traditional assistance.  It should also emphasize regional integration, including building infrastructure.  The new Programme should also refocus on structural transformation of least developed countries emphasizing home‑grown development paths.  It should account for the impacts of climate change and encourage least developed countries to take the opportunity to “leapfrog” into green technologies and green industrialization and thereby harness the benefits of green growth.  It should also stress human resources development, especially among the youth, focusing on increasing skills and competitiveness, overcoming vulnerability and shifting to the knowledge economy.


Financial resources must increase, the report continues, and should involve domestic resources, official development assistance (ODA), foreign direct investment, innovative sources of financing and other resources.  The programme should also include a crisis mitigation and resilience‑building fund, as well as other regional and global support facilities and mechanisms.  It calls for a genuine partnership against poverty and “compact for prosperity”, with the high cost of failing to act matched only by the high dividends resulting from solidarity and support.  Qualitatively and quantitatively scaled up, enhanced and sustained flows of ODA to least developed countries, the report concludes, will be critical for the next programme of action to achieve its aims.


Also before the Committee this afternoon was the report of the Secretary‑General on Implementation of the Almaty Programme of Action: Addressing the Special Needs of Landlocked Developing Countries within a New Global Framework for Transit Transport Cooperation for Landlocked and Transit Developing Countries (document A/66/205).  This provides an update on the progress made in the implementation of the Almaty Programme of Action by the landlocked countries and their development partners, and it showcases the efforts being made by the United Nations system and other international organizations.  The report identifies the major challenges encountered and makes recommendations on how to accelerate implementation of the Programme.


The report concludes that being landlocked imposes significant constraints on countries’ economic growth.  The economies are fragile and vulnerable to external shocks because of limited productive capacities, and constraints on their ability to export.  It recommends increased international support for landlocked developing countries, particularly in transport and infrastructure building and on trade facilitation projects.  The World Trade Organization negotiations on trade facilitation are particularly important and the international community should help landlocked developing countries to strengthen their negotiation capabilities.


The report also suggests that they consider providing greater market access for goods originating from landlocked developing countries and improving technology transfer.  It underlines the importance of the Aid for Trade Initiative, which is giving landlocked developing countries vital support in implementing international agreements.  Capital exporting countries are encouraged to increase foreign direct investment to landlocked developing countries, while those countries are encouraged to promote and create the environment which will attract foreign direct investment and private sector involvement.  Donor countries should also consider, the report recommends, making voluntary contributions to the trust fund set up to facilitate implementation of and follow‑up to the Almaty Conference.  It also calls for the General Assembly to consider convening a comprehensive 10‑year review of the Almaty Programme of Action.


Landlocked countries should also strengthen cooperation by developing relevant policies and allocating resources to build transit/transport infrastructure.  They should ratify and implement international conventions and agreements, and regional and subregional agreements on transport and trade facilitation.  Initiatives that have proven successful should be replicated and fully funded, and the report calls for a networking mechanism to promote exchange of experiences and information dissemination.  Landlocked developing countries should be given international support in developing and implementing coherent transport policies that support transit corridors.  The report encourages international organizations to research and establish a set of vulnerability indicators to provide landlocked developing countries with early warning on external shocks.  International institutions should also work with relevant regional organizations to support efforts for an intergovernmental agreement on the trans‑African highway.


Statement by Assembly President


The meeting began with an address by the President of the current Session of the General Assembly Nassir Abdulaziz Al‑Nasser ( Qatar), who said that this year the Second Committee was faced with a particularly important responsibility.  The world economic and financial crisis continued to create obstacles to growth and development.  The crisis was hitting hardest the most vulnerable countries, and the most vulnerable populations in all countries.  The deadline for achieving the Millennium Development Goals is rapidly approaching.


He said sustainable development and global prosperity were among his main focus areas during the current session.  He said he chose to speak to the committee on the day that the Committee was discussing its agenda item 22, “Groups of countries in special situations” because the issue was very important and deserved international attention.  He called for the implementation of the Istanbul Programme of Action for the Least Developed Countries, the Almaty Programme of Action for the Landlocked Developing Countries, and the Mauritius Strategy for Implementation in respect of Small Island Developing States.  He also placed great value in South‑South and triangular cooperation for sustainable solutions.  He encouraged the Committee to foster a constructive atmosphere and to strive for consensus in its deliberations.


CHEICK SIDI DIARRA, Under‑Secretary‑General on Africa and High Representative for Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States introduced the reports.  He said the Istanbul Programme of Action represented the shared vision and common aspiration of least developed countries and their development partners based on commitments, accountability and partnership.  The Fourth United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) had recognized the need for effective national development policies, enhanced global support and appropriate mechanisms at all levels to achieve the Programme of Action.


The new Programme of Action represented a qualitative shift in the development strategy for least developed countries over the next decade, with countries focusing on building a “critical mass” of viable productive capacity in all sectors; emphasising technological innovation and transfer; revitalizing and diversifying agricultural production; doubling the least developed countries’ export share by 2020; reducing commodity dependence through diversification; commitment to achieving the Millennium Development Goals by 2015 and making progress after that date; reducing vulnerability to shocks and disasters; mobilizing financial resources for development and ensuring good governance.  These were the priority areas of the Programme of Action.


He said countries of the South had committed to supporting implementation through South‑South cooperation.  An ad hoc working group would work to strengthen the transition process for least developed countries as they graduated.  Comprehensive follow‑up and monitoring measures at all levels would aid with implementation, which was the key ingredient.


Turning to the report on Implementation of the Almaty Programme of Action, he said that the geographically disadvantaged landlocked developing countries still had high transport and transit costs and were marginalized in international trade and vulnerable to global crises.  Those countries had higher export charges than other countries, which diverted resources that could have been used to build productive capacities.  Effective transport systems were vital to reducing transport costs and enhance export competitiveness.


He said the report recommended strategic improvements of production capacities, diversification, strengthened transport systems and increased efficiency.  It also recommended that international organizations and other research institutions should investigate the vulnerability of those countries to external shocks, and to develop indicators to be used for early warning.  The report took stock of progress made in implementing the Almaty Programme of Action, particularly in transit policy issues, infrastructure development, trade and trade facilitation, international support measures, and implementation and review, which were its priority areas.  He outlined the efforts made to meet the five priority areas of the Almaty Programme of Action.


Question and Answer Session


The representative of the United Republic of Tanzania commented on his country’s positive experiences in implementation of the Programme of Action so far.  Argentina said it was concerned that part of the organization which did not have a clear intergovernmental mandate was participating in parallel processes to those of the United Nations to improve the architecture of international aid. 


In response, Mr. DIARRA said Tanzania’s implementation was what was required.  He also pointed to the work done by Bhutan, Nepal and other States that were taking up the priorities of the Programme of Action.  To Argentina, he said that donors more and more wanted to see the results of their aid giving and said he supported that because it helped to promote best practice.


The delegate of Mongolia asked how the preparatory process could be more meaningful in the lead-up to the 10‑year review.  Regarding the recommendation on developing vulnerability indicators for landlocked developing countries, how could Mr. Diarra’s office contribute?  Bangladesh asked what the current status of the road map was?  Afghanistan noted that it had signed a multilateral agreement yesterday. 


In response to Mongolia, Mr. DIARRA said the preparatory process for Almaty+10 would start when the General Assembly accepted the resolution of the Group of 77 and China’s resolution.  That would give a mandate for coordination.  Then, the process would start at the subregional level of different affected regions.  There would be two preparatory committee meetings, if the resolution were accepted, and a number of regional‑level preparatory conferences.  Regarding vulnerability indicators, he said there would be consultation with various other organizations to find the best way to approach and develop indicators for benchmarking future progress by landlocked developing countries. 


To Bangladesh, he said that the Road Map was supposed to guide other United Nations entities.  It helped the intergovernmental process to address problems such as mainstreaming the eight priority areas of the Istanbul Programme of Action.  All stakeholders would be involved in ensuring fulfilment of the priorities and must spread the message on the content of the Programme of Action and ensure involvement of all parties.


Statements


MARCELO SUAREZ SALVIA (Argentina) speaking on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing nations and China, said he was deeply concerned that the situation in the least developed countries continued to deteriorate as a consequence of the ongoing multiple and mutually exacerbating global crises.  Modest development gains that the least developed countries made over the years were being reversed, pushing a larger number of people to extreme poverty, he said.  The Group of 77 and China expressed “grave concern” that least developed countries were lagging far behind in reaching the Millennium Development Goals by 2015.


He said the number of least developed countries had doubled in the last three decades, with 24 least developed countries in 1971 and 48 today.  This was unacceptable and could not continue to be tolerated; stakeholders must commit to implementing the “Programme of Action for the Least Developed Countries for the Decade of 2011‑2020”.  Success of this programme depended highly on the least developed countries taking the ownership and leadership role in making and implementing effectively the relevant policy choices.  Efforts must be made to address the debt problem of least developed countries, including the cancellation of their multilateral and bilateral debts.


He called on the international community to enhance development assistance to least developed countries.  He also stressed the urgent need to address the special development needs of, and challenges faced by, the Landlocked Developing Countries through the full, timely and effective implementation of the Almaty Programme of Action.


GYAN CHANDRA ACHARYA ( Nepal), speaking for the Group of Least Developed Countries, said the debate taking place could not ensue as “business as usual”; rather, it should be informed by lessons learnt from previous programmes of action.  Economic, financial, food and fuel crises combined with climate change impacts had eroded development gains achieved by the least developed countries over the years.  Consequently those countries were unlikely to meet Millennium or Internationally Agreed Development targets.  International support efforts should therefore be proportionate to structural constraints and vulnerabilities.


Turning to the Istanbul Programme of Action, he said enhancing the productive capacity of the least developed nations, which was inextricably linked to structural transformation, was critical to realization of the goals of that Programme.  Building productive capacity would require access to the development, acquisition, transfer and diffusion of technologies, particularly those that were environmentally sound, as well as “know‑how”.  To this end, he recommended early implementation of the decision at Istanbul to undertake a joint “gap and capacity analysis”, with the aim of establishing a technology bank and supportive science and technology mechanisms dedicated to the least developed.  Noting that these countries were disproportionately affected by climate change, he called for them to have access to immediate financing for climate change adaptation and affordable green technology; for the full operation of the Green Climate Fund; and for the promotion and facilitation of clean development mechanism projects.  Those least developed countries emerging from conflicts also needed additional support in the face of governance‑related challenges.


He said ODA was the most important source of development financing for the least developed; these ODA commitments should be made in full in a timely, transparent and predictable manner.  The world economic and financial crises should not be used as pretext for reducing them.


He said results of the Istanbul programme would not be achieved without commitments being implemented in their entirety.  It was imperative that the international community mainstream the priority agenda for the least developed countries into debates and outcomes of relevant major United Nations conferences.


JOSE ANTONIO DOS SANTOS ( Paraguay) speaking on behalf of landlocked developing countries, said those countries faced serious trade difficulties because of lack of access to sea.  They had to depend on a limited number of products and were vulnerable to shocks.  One of the main stumbling blocks was the cost of transport, he said, and he called for assistance from the international community because “we cannot achieve this on our own”.


Trade was an engine for development, he added.  It allowed countries to make the most of their potential.  The Almaty Programme of action was important, because it acknowledged the requirement for the landlocked development countries to achieve sufficient transport systems.  As Almaty reached its end, this was a critical opportunity to assess where it worked and where it didn’t.  Looking forward, he said it was beneficial to build a close relationship among those countries.


It was important, he continued, to differentiate between ODA and trade aid; one could not be a detriment to the other.  Developed countries must show the political will to complete the Doha Round.


He said improved access to non‑agricultural markets would help those countries develop, and this could contribute to trade infrastructures such as the transport and communications sectors.  He expressed support for the Secretary‑General’s report A/66/205, in that international organizations and other institutions should do research on the vulnerabilities of landlocked developing countries and set up indicators to be used for early warnings.


JEAN WESLEY CAZEAU (Haiti) speaking for the countries of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) said the Istanbul Programme of Action called for a genuine global development partnership, including South‑South cooperation, the United Nations system and international and regional financial institutions.  The Istanbul objectives, which included reducing by half the number of currently existing least developed countries by 2020, required solutions to structural problems.  Those solutions should entail increasing production capacity to spur economic growth at an annual rate of 7 percent.  Those countries must be primarily responsible for their own development, he said, and development must be approached from a holistic and global point of view.


Addressing specific priority areas outlined at Istanbul, he took up the strengthening of production capacities, noting that the least developed countries were largely confined to the export of raw products and commodities.  It was therefore essential that their economies be diversified through infrastructure for energy transport and access to telecommunications technologies.  Because agriculture was a pillar of their economies, international investment in the agricultural sector of those countries should be encouraged and agricultural export subsidies eliminated.


As for trade, he said access to markets, elimination of quotas, and simplified rules of origin for products originating in the least developed nations must be guaranteed.  Tariff barriers and other unjustified measures that distorted trade should be removed.  Because of their vulnerability to natural disasters and climate change, those countries should receive more technical and financial assistance to adapt to those phenomena.


Because the Istanbul Programme of Action could not succeed without the participation of all relevant actors, global follow‑up and monitoring mechanisms were essential.  At the same time, least developed countries must integrate Istanbul Programme of Action objectives into their development plans.  It was particularly important that landlocked and transit developing countries benefit from increased, prompt and sustainable resources from the international community.  Those resources would allow them to strengthen intraregional interconnection, develop commercial and other networks and promote proper functioning of maritime corridors.  In addition, developed country markets must have access to goods from landlocked developing countries and must transfer technology to those countries, which helped to lower transaction costs generated by their “geographical handicap.”


YUSRA KHAN (Indonesia), for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), said that given the rapidly changing global environment and internal factors, the group of countries in special situations, namely least developed countries and landlocked developing countries remained the most vulnerable to external shocks, and then encountered multiple challenges.  These included extreme poverty, food insecurity, excessive volatility of food commodity prices, fragile economic recovery, global economic and financial crises, negative impacts of climate change, and natural disasters.  The members of ASEAN shared the Secretary‑General’s assessment of the overall implementation of the Brussels Programme of Action for Least Developed Countries, concluding for 2001‑2010, that the structural transformation which would put those countries on the path of sustainable growth had not occurred and that the poorest countries still had a long way to go.


He said this session of the General Assembly was therefore of significance for those countries as it would provide the international community with a unique opportunity to exchange views on the ways and means for a full, timely and effective implementation of the Istanbul Programme of Action. 


With regard to the landlocked developing countries, the Almaty Programme of Action had been a genuine framework for partnership between landlocked and transit developing countries and development partners.  He shared the assessment of the Secretary‑General that most of those countries continued to be marginalized in international trade.


Speaking of the next meeting of the Economic and Social Commission for Asian and the Pacific (ESCAP), he said that enhancing economic integration in the region was important; an efficient transport system was a key priority for regional integration with the global economy.


BEVIGLIA ZAMPETTI, Head of the Economic Section at the European Union Delegation to the United Nations, speaking on behalf of the Union, (the candidate countries and potential candidates), said the Union’s commitment to helping developing countries remained strong.  In the framework of its bilateral and regional programmes, the European Union was determined to “accompany least developed countries” in reaching the ambitious objectives they had set for themselves in Istanbul, most importantly for half of them to meet the criteria for “graduation out of the group” of the least developed by 2020.  He stressed the importance of the least developed countries leading the way in their own development but reiterated that the European Union would play an active supportive role.


The European Union was determined to do its upmost to contribute to the comprehensive implementation of the Istanbul Programme of Action, he said.  In addition, the Union launched its Millennium Development Goals initiative, worth 1 billion euros, which was now being implemented.  By prioritizing the Millennium Development Goals that were most “off‑track”, particularly in the regions and countries most lagging behind, such as sub‑Saharan Africa and the least developed countries, “we know that we can make a genuine difference,” he said.


ANNA VITIE ( Finland) speaking for the Nordic countries ( Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden), said that the Programme of Action adopted in Istanbul in May renewed the global partnership in favour of the development of least developed countries.  The partnership has been widened to include the United Nations system, international financial institutions, and stressed the role of civil society and the private sector.


The Nordic countries were long‑standing development partners for the least developed countries, providing significant amounts of official development assistance and being fully‑committed to duty‑free, quota‑free market access, he said.  At the same time, he said that least developed countries should lead their own development processes.  The Nordic countries would continue to play an active and supporting role through bilateral and multilateral programmes, including the European Union.  He called on the participation and partnership of all actors in supporting the most vulnerable countries in reaching their development goals.  It was important for the least developed countries to voice their concerns during the upcoming Rio+20 and the Fourth High‑Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness in Busan later this year.


MARINA SIROTKINA ( Russian Federation) said that the Istanbul Programme of Action proposed a new concept of global partnership in development.  She affirmed the Russian Federation’s commitment to development and satisfying the particular needs of least developed countries to achieve the Millennium Development Goals, and said the main responsibility lay with the least developed countries themselves.  She said that the level of ODA given by the Russian Federation would reach $500 million this year.  Russia had worked in partnership with the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Food Programme (WFP) to help establish greater global food security and address food price volatility.  It was also working to improve trade links and access.  She said Russia had a special regime aimed at least developed countries that focused on traditional industries and crafts and agriculture.


She underlined the importance of integrating landlocked countries fully into global and regional trade and said Russia was attached to the Almaty Programme of Action to try to meet the special needs of those countries.  Overall, work in this regard had been positive.  Russia’s unique geographical position allowed it to act as a link and participate in transit systems to help landlocked developing countries to trade better.  Expanding the transit and transport system was one of the targets of the Russian Federation transport programme.  It would focus on making improvements in trans‑Siberian transport links, and would create an integrated Eurasian transport system of highways and railways bringing significant advantages to landlocked and transit developing countries and allowing them to participate and integrate into the transport structure.


FIRAS AL AMRI ( Yemen) said multiple crises had undermined the development achievements of poorer countries.  The main thing hampering countries was, first and foremost, a lack of financial resources, and lack of an international enabling environment.  There were also significant challenges in investment and trade, he said.


He said the present economic performance of least developed countries was not sustainable and for some it had reversed.  The level of performance had not had any effect on lessening unemployment and there was real concern over the flow of ODA to these countries, and this could have dire consequences for their development.  He called on the international community to show its commitment, especially towards those most affected by crises and went on to stress the importance of implementing the Istanbul Programme of Action; he called on development partners to provide the technical support to help with scientific development and the integration and implementation of the Istanbul Programme of Action.


He said that the growing importance of South‑South cooperation showed how useful it was as a supplement to North‑South cooperation, and he urged the international community to lessen the burdens placed on least developed countries and to take positive steps to help with debt relief which would significantly help boost development.


LOH SECK TIONG ( Malaysia) called for the international community to implement the Istanbul Programme of Action.  At the same time, he said, it was important to bear in mind that the success of that programme was highly dependent on least developed countries taking ownership of policy choices, each according to its own conditions and requirements.


He said Malaysia strongly believed that efforts to strengthen South‑South cooperation through the involvement of the countries of the North should be supported.


VIPLOVE THAKUR ( India) said that least developed countries would need international support for the target of reducing their numbers by 50 per cent to be achieved, with the others being brought to the “threshold of graduation”.  Adequate resources needed mobilizing to fill a huge financing gap and strengthen the resource base of those countries.  Least developed countries needed greater integration into the global trading network through full implementation of duty- and quota‑free market access, and she called for a balanced and development‑oriented outcome to the Doha Round.  She also urged donors to provide immediate debt relief and make concessional finance available to spur economic growth.


Least developed countries, she went on, also needed financial and technical support to help their adaptation to the effects of climate change.  She said India’s partnership with the least developed had gone far beyond technical assistance and included trade, investment and humanitarian assistance, and was an example of South‑South cooperation.  India had extended duty‑free tariffs to all least developed countries, with Lines of Credit and Aid for Trade programmes expanding trade between them from $16.7 billion to $20.5 billion between 2008 and 2010.  She said South‑South cooperation would play an important part in support for the least developed countries but could not substitute for North‑South cooperation.


She said landlocked developing countries needed external support, including provision of efficient transportation and communication services to offset transport and access difficulties and costs which, for the exports from those countries, were twice that of other developing nations, and three times more than for developed economies.  India had special bilateral cooperation agreements with its landlocked neighbours for easy transit of their goods through India and would continue to contribute economic and technical support to their development efforts.


ENKHTSETSEG OCHIR ( Mongolia) said landlocked developing countries remained fragile because of their vulnerability to external shocks, owing to limited export diversification, narrow base of productive capacities, lack of export competitiveness and high transport and transit costs.  She said Mongolia strongly supported the recommendation of the Secretary‑General, put forward in his report A/66/205, that international organizations and other research institutions should undertake research on the situation of those countries and develop a set of “vulnerability indicators” that could be used for early warning purposes.    


In addition to enhanced Aid for Trade assistance, she said that increased infrastructure investment and strengthened productive capacity, together with reduction of transit transport and other trade costs were crucial for raising their competitiveness, as a way of confronting their continued marginalization within the global economy.


She said that Mongolia’s national programmes “Transit Mongolia” and “Rural Roads Development”, designed to foster trade and transport facilitation, were being currently implemented.  The Government’s programme also included plans to improve the country’s transport infrastructure, and new export gateways to access the sea at ports of China and Russia were currently being constructed.  Mongolia was working with its neighbours to secure a congressional tariff regime for transport of its export products.


FÁBIO FARIAS ( Brazil) noted that the international community had agreed to a detailed Programme of Action in Istanbul whose ultimate goal was to “graduate” at least half of the least developed countries by 2020.  Those countries had experienced some economic growth based on the high prices of commodities and on the exploitation of their natural resources;.however, the ongoing economic and financial crisis that had prevented developed countries from agreeing to a more ambitious set of “deliverables” could also jeopardize some of the recent social and economic progress in the least developed countries if a common response to the crisis were not reached.


He said Brazil’s experience showed that social and economic consequences of the global downturn could be mitigated by expanding social protection policies.  Revamping the world economy and implementing countercyclical domestic policies would serve the goal of helping least developed countries attain sustainable economic growth.  ODA played a central role in helping these countries overcome structural vulnerabilities and develop capacity to provide services to their populations, but it fell significantly short of commitments.  Donor countries must make good on those commitments.


On the specific needs of landlocked developing countries, Brazil was working with the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) to strengthen support to the two such countries in the region (Bolivia and Paraguay), for which Brazil served as a transit country.  Infrastructure integration was being studied and implemented in South America, as shown by the railway integration project, funded by the Brazilian Development Bank, aimed at linking the railway systems of Paraguay, Brazil and Chile to create an inter‑oceanic railway corridor.


MD TAUHEDUL ISLAM ( Bangladesh) said that the global financial and economic crisis, with fuel and food price hikes, the stock market debacle and climate change crises had undermined the economies of the least developed countries.  The food crisis alone had driven another 100 million people into poverty and hunger, with 1 billion people having been pushed below the poverty line in the last year.  The frequency and severity of drought, floods and other extreme and erratic weather events further intensified the challenge.  The collapse of the Doha Round was a major setback for multilateral trade, particularly for the least developed countries who were marginalized in both North‑South and South‑South trading.


He said debt relief under the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries Debt Initiative and the Multilateral Debt Relief Initiative had released some resources for poverty reduction and human development, but not all least developed countries were eligible.  Those programmes should be extended to cover all of them.  “All outstanding debt … of all least developed countries should be written off without further delay,” he said.  The world community should fulfil pledges already made for those nations.


Recalling what he called the success of the 2002 Monterrey Conference, he said the long stalemate of the Doha review, along with the failure of most development partners to deliver on their commitments, had “rocked the foundation” of that success.  Monterrey was the only United Nations summit in the economic and social field that had not produced a permanent intergovernmental body to oversee and promote the implementation of its outcome, with results that were now obvious.  He urged all development partners to fulfil their Monterrey pledges.


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For information media • not an official record