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Doha, Qatar, 20 April 2012


Good evening, Secretary-General Supachai,
Good evening, Ladies and Gentlemen of the Media,

As President of the UN General Assembly, I am pleased to be here today with H.E. the Secretary-General of UNCTAD, Dr. Supachai Panitchpakdi, on the eve of the opening of this Thirteenth Session of the UN Conference on Trade and Development, here in Doha.

This conference is convened in accordance with a General Assembly resolution.  And this means the conference has the direct mandate of the apex body of the UN system.

Before taking office as the President of the General Assembly, I was deeply involved in development issues in my capacity as the Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Qatar to the United Nations.  Naturally, I am proud of my country’s significant contributions to the overall UN development agenda.

Currently, as President of the General Assembly, I have chosen “Sustainable Development and Global Prosperity” as one of the key pillars to guide the work of the Assembly during this session.   And the objectives of this pillar are closely linked to UNCTAD’s mandate in the context of international trade and development.

So, I am here in Doha to participate in this high-level UNCTAD Conference, because I wish to give this event all the attention and support it deserves.   Since the last Session in the Ghanaian capital, Accra, in 2008, the world has witnessed substantial challenges in international trade and development.  

UNCTAD, as an institution, has a special relation to the General Assembly because the Assembly accommodated UNCTAD under its auspices through a GA Resolution.  This linkage is of great significance to the General Assembly and UNCTAD as the international community strives to achieve the Millennium Development Goals and also deal with global economic and financial issues.

UNCTAD has delivered on its mandate and objectives very well in the 48 years since its creation in 1964. It has been providing developing countries with very valuable independent advice and analyses about the issues of trade and development - that being the purpose behind the creation of UNCTAD.  It is also in the interest of developed countries to support UNCTAD since the benefits would be shared between developed and developing nations based on what we call in the UN, South-South and Triangular Cooperation for development.

This Thirteenth Session gives all of us a crucial opportunity for timely discussions about development issues, because this is the first UNCTAD conference in the aftermath of the world financial and economic crisis. Therefore, the main theme chosen for this conference – “Development-centred globalization: towards inclusive and sustainable growth and development” is most timely and appropriate.

Tomorrow, I will jointly moderate a High Level Segment of Heads of States and Governments entitled : In the Wake of The Global Economic Crisis : New Opportunities for Economic Growth with Social Equity .  We must explore how we can renew our commitment to support international development.  

We have Multi-faceted responsibilities in order to achieve the Internationally Agreed Development Goals and objectives.

Then on Sunday, I will be delivering my main address to this Thirteenth Session of UNCTAD.

Ladies and Gentlemen …

The UN General Assembly remains very concerned about the current global economic situation, because of its impact on development . I am using the convening power and role of the General Assembly to address this concern . So on 17 and 18 May, I will jointly convene with His Excellency the UN Secretary-General, Mr. Ban Ki-moon, a High Level thematic debate on the state of the world economy.   We have invited Member States to participate at the highest possible level.  I hope this High-Level meeting will create a sense of common purpose in finding the right response to our increasingly complex and inter-connected global economic and financial challenges.  The discussions are intended to contribute to the international efforts to secure a sustained, inclusive and equitable recovery of the world economy.  The Chair’s Summary that I am going to present covering the deliberations of the various roundtables and plenary meetings will include practical and creative ideas and suggestions to help the international community in coordinating its actions to overcome the ongoing crisis facing the world economy.

I urge all Member States not to miss this important opportunity to have a say in addressing an issue that affects us all. I am very happy that Dr. Supachai has agreed to contribute as a keynote speaker at this high-level meeting.

Later in May, I will host another thematic debate entitled “The Road to Rio and Beyond”.  This meeting is an important effort in getting all Member States on board to ensure success for the Rio+20 Summit in June.

And then, of course, in June, I will be focusing my attention and the attention of Member States on the Rio+20 Summit itself. The world – our planet - needs success in Rio.

Let me end by making an important background note. Underlying all my initiatives, efforts and words on matters of development is my firm belief that the United Nations and its General Assembly must play a more prominent role in global economic governance.   

One of the issues is: How can we renew our commitments to the multi-lateral negotiations for trade liberalization after the Doha Round Stalemate.

However, concerns have been expressed that there has been a noticeable marginalization of the United Nations in key areas of economic governance.  We’ve also seen weak accountability for commitments made by Member States at UN summits and conferences.  At the same time, the General Assembly has adopted a landmark resolution on the role of the United Nations in global governance, emphasising the key role of the Assembly in this regard.

The United Nations remains the most universal and inclusive multilateral forum for our world.  As its highest decision-making body, the General Assembly should provide the needed political and strategic guidance, in order to ensure coherence, coordination, effectiveness and legitimacy to global economic policymaking.
That is the objective we – in this session of the UN General Assembly - are pursuing.  And this session of UNCTAD is also an important step in this effort.

I thank you.