UN chief appoints eminent persons to boost support for world’s poorest nations

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

25 August 2010 – Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today appointed a Group of Eminent Persons to advise on the support needed to help the world’s poorest nations achieve their development targets, ahead of a major international conference on the least developed countries (LDCs) slated for next year.

The group consists of 10 members chosen for their “high international stature, expertise and strong commitment to global development,” Mr. Ban’s spokesperson said in a statement.

Co-chaired by Alpha Oumar Konaré, former president of Mali, and Jacques Delors, former president of the European Commission, the group will raise public awareness and build strong political commitment in support of the world’s 49 LDCs in key areas, including trade, investments, technology transfer, official development assistance and adaptation to the effects of climate change.

Its establishment comes ahead of the Fourth UN Conference on the Least Developed Countries (LDCs) due to take place in Istanbul, Turkey, from 30 May to 3 June 2011, which is considered a “milestone event,” according to the statement.

The Istanbul conference will assess the implementation of the Brussels Programme of Action for the LDCs – the outcome document adopted at the 2001 LDC conference – and reach agreement on a new generation of international support measures for the LDCs.

The 10-year Brussels Programme of Action outlines measures to be taken by both industrialized nations and the LDCs themselves to reduce poverty and achieve sustainable development.

It includes specific commitments on good governance, enhancing the role of trade in development, reducing vulnerability to natural disasters, protecting the environment, mobilizing financial resources, and speedy implementation of steps to reduce the debt burden on poor countries.

UN officials, including Mr. Ban and the High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States, Cheick Sidi Diarra, have stressed the need for strong international support to help LDCs achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the eight globally-agreed targets to halve poverty and other socio-economic ills by 2015.

The Group of Eminent Persons also comprises Sir Fazle Hassan Abed, the founder and chairperson of BRAC, the Bangladesh Rehabilitation Assistance Committee; Nancy Birdsall, the founding president of the Center for Global Development; Kemal Dervis, vice president and director of Global Economy and Development at Brookings Institution, and a former head of the UN Development Programme (UNDP); and James Wolfensohn, chairman and CEO of Wolfensohn & Company and former President of the World Bank.

Hiromasa Yonekura, chairman of Sumitomo Chemical Company Ltd.; Louis Michel, a member of European Parliament and formerly the European commissioner for Development and Humanitarian Aid; Louis A. Kasekende, Deputy Governor of the Bank of Uganda and formerly executive director at the World Bank; and Sir Richard Jolly, Honorary Professor of the Institute of Development Studies at the University of Sussex, are also members.

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