Volume 5, No. 6, December 2001 - -January 2002

General Assembly Supplement

 

In this Issue:

Highlights of the General Debate of the 56th Session
     Executive Summary of the Debate
    
Analytical Summary of the Debate
Analytical Summary of the General Debate of the Second Committee
Statement of Mr. N. Desai to the Second Committee
Statement of Mr. N. Desai to the Second Committee, Introducing Item 98: 
   Environment and Sustainable Development

Highlights of the General Debate of the 56th Session of the General Assembly 10 to 16 November 2001

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY OF THE GENERAL DEBATE
(ECONOMIC, SOCIAL AND RELATED ISSUES)

A total of 188 speakers participated in the general debate.  This included 42 heads of State or Government, 9 Deputy Prime Ministers and 96 Foreign Ministers.

Almost without exception, speakers highlighted the need for common action to combat terrorism.  At the same time, a large number of speakers underscored the need to deal in parallel with the many concerns that had been on the United Nations’ agenda before the events of 11 September, and which often were at the root of conflict and social disintegration.

Speakers agreed that the Millennium Declaration , adopted by the Heads of State and Government one year ago, provides a blueprint for tackling the root causes of conflicts , and the international community must pursue vigorously its implementation. There was agreement that the eradication of poverty must be pursued as a priority if the goal of halving the number of the world’s extremely poor is to be reached by 2015. Many speakers emphasized the role of the United Nations as a center of multilateralism , especially in the aftermath of the attacks of 11 September, and as a forum of cooperation for pursuing the objectives of the Millennium Declaration and all other concerns. The Secretary-General’s Road Map was seen as a very useful document towards the Declaration’s implementation.

Speakers were concerned that the present global economic slowdown made the achievement of the poverty reduction goal more difficult.  In addition to a resumption of economic growth, this would require the mobilization of resources for economic and social development.  The slowdown also highlighted the need to deal more effectively with globalization, and to humanize this trend.  Emphasis was placed on the UN’s role in international cooperation for development in response to globalization.

Speakers identified several critical components in the fight against poverty and underdevelopment, and for the implementation of the goals of the Millennium Declaration.  Most frequently, these included free trade and market access, ODA, debt relief and capital flows, and sustainable development policies. Three upcoming events ( WTO, FfD, WSSD ) would offer opportunities for concrete commitments to achieve these goals.  Especially FfD and WSSD were seen as opportunities for achieving the principal goals of the Millennium Summit.

Several speakers underlined the important role of women in socio-economic development, and their commitment to gender equality and the implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action and Beijing+5, as well as the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women.

Attention was drawn to the development needs of Africa , as well as of least developed countries, small islands developing states and land-locked developing countries .  Emphasis was placed on the New Partnership for African Development as an expression of leadership for Africa’s development and ushering in a new concept of cooperation between Africa and its development partners.

The role of information and communication technologies in an era of globalization was highlighted, and attention was drawn to the Secretary-General’s ICT Task Force as a catalyst in harnessing the potential of ICT for development and for overcoming the digital divide.

The threat of HIV/AIDS was a focus of concern.  The achievements of the UNGASS on HIV/AIDS of June 2001, and the Secretary-General’s initiative to establish a Global Fund on HIV/AIDS and other diseases were commended.

A number of delegations put forward specific proposals and mentioned forthcoming meetings in the economic, social and related fields.  These are reflected at the end of the analytical summary (see below).

ANALYTICAL SUMMARY OF THE GENERAL DEBATE (ECONOMIC, SOCIAL AND RELTED ISSUES)

Common action against terrorism and for the United Nations socio-economic agenda:
Almost without exception, speakers highlighted the need for common action to combat terrorism.  At the same time, a large number of speakers underscored the need to deal in parallel with the many concerns that had been on the United Nations’ agenda before the events of 11 September, and which often were at the root of conflict and social disintegration.  

          In reference to the Secretary-General’s opening statement on 10 November, several delegations underlined that the events of 11 September had removed none of the challenges that had been on the agenda on 10 September, nor had these become any less important because of the common fight against terrorism. (UK, Romania, Honduras, Norway, Ireland, Barbados).

Many speakers therefore stressed the need for collective action and concerted reply to old and new tasks, in parallel to steps against terrorism.  Because of short-term needs, one should not lose sight of the long-term agenda, or ignore the human development agenda for the fight against terrorism. The latter should not overshadow the search for solutions to underlying causes and challenges faced by the poor and disadvantaged, including: Conflicts, underdevelopment, poverty, hunger, ignorance, inequality, injustice, discrimination, violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms, environmental threats and degradation, health concerns especially HIV/AIDS.  Questions such as marginalization, exclusion and globalization also needed to be addressed in this regard.  These, and a number of political and humanitarian issues were seen as root causes and breeding ground for conflict, extremism, war and terrorism, putting at risk the basis for global societies itself and threatening human security.

The present opportunity to examine all possible causes should not be squandered.  Decisive efforts were necessary to eradicate these root causes, and therefore many speakers called for coalition-building to address them, to turn the war against terrorism into a war for peace and against poverty, vulnerability and discrimination.  A lasting victory would require, among other things, a fairer distribution of wealth, and guaranteeing sustainable development everywhere.

A number of speakers (including Brazil, Mexico, Colombia, India, Peru, Bolivia, Mongolia, Bangladesh, Samoa, Uzbekistan, Guyana, Bulgaria, Angola) identified links between terrorism and problems related to crime, including transnational organized crime, drug abuse and drug trafficking, money laundering, illicit diamonds, the existence of tax havens, arms trafficking, and corruption.  These needed to be addressed as part of the common fight against terrorism as they constituted sources of financing of terrorism.

Implementation of the Millennium Declaration:
Speakers agreed that the Millennium Declaration, adopted by the Heads of State and Government one year ago, provides a blueprint for tackling the root causes of conflicts, and the international community must pursue vigorously its implementation. There was agreement that the eradication of poverty must be pursued as a priority if the goal of halving the number of the world’s extremely poor is to be reached by 2015. Many speakers emphasized the role of the United Nations as a center of multilateralism, especially in the aftermath of the attacks of 11 September, and as a forum of cooperation for pursuing the objectives of the Millennium Declaration and all other concerns. The Secretary-General’s Road Map was seen as a very useful document towards the Declaration’s implementation.

The Millennium Declaration was seen as an outstanding achievement and reflection of multilateralism, and an affirmation of the interdependence of peace, security and development.  The Declaration was now more relevant than ever and its implementation was seen as constituting the decisive front in the struggle against terrorism.  Speakers therefore strongly supported action in that regard.  The Declaration recognized existing inequalities and offered a strategy for greater prosperity for all through greater partnership among countries, and thus also a commitment to resolving the root causes of conflict.  While the events of 11 September had cast a shadow over the hopes for implementation, the international community should keep to these targets. Moving from an era of commitment of the 1990s to an era of implementation, the international community had to mobilize the will and resources needed to fulfil promises made.  Additional efforts were urgently required in a spirit of solidarity and shared responsibility, in particular political will to carry out commitments and existing strategies, to meet expectations and overcome constraints.  Progress in implementation was still faced with daunting challenges, and the international community remained far from fulfilling all the objectives set out by the Millennium Summit (including Belize, Mali, Ireland, Tanzania, Guinea, Mongolia, Guatemala, Samoa, Madagascar, Cyprus, Finland, Italy, Ecuador, Tunisia, Paraguay, Belarus, China, Canada, South Africa, Myanmar, Barbados, Suriname).  It was also suggested that the Summit’s vision and goals appeared to have been consigned to a fate of non-fulfilment by the rich nations (Malawi).  Concern was expressed that the last five special sessions convened under the auspices of the General Assembly had not come close to the level of commitment of the Millennium Summit, requiring an increase in momentum to uphold multilateralism (Finland) while it was also found that these special sessions had been steadfast in upholding the objectives of the Declaration (Maldives).  Reliable data, follow-up machinery and processes were needed, as was the cooperation and contribution of all actors to attain the goals set (EU).

It was emphasized that the United Nations was the foremost tool for solving global problems (Norway) that should focus on crisis prevention and the root causes of conflict (Finland).  A clear setting of priorities (Germany) and ongoing reform were needed to make the Organization more effective and to enable it to respond to old and new global challenges (EU, Czech Republic, South Africa, Republic of Korea, Slovenia, Romania).  Now more than ever there was a need to recognize the pre-eminent role of the UN in the search for lasting solutions (Barbados). As the only forum with universal membership, it must play a unique role in ensuring implementation of the Millennium Declaration (Myanmar).  The UN needed to continue its activities to promote sustainable development, and the fight against AIDS and environmental degradation (Czech Republic, Madagascar). It remained the forum for addressing all concerns (Mauritius), including globalization (Togo).  A need for greater democracy and equity in the functioning of the different organs of the UN was identified (Algeria).

The central position of the General Assembly for a “true renaissance” of the UN was emphasized (Jamaica).  Mutual cooperation and coordination should be strengthened between the Security Council, the GA and ECOSOC in order to contain problems that threaten peace and security (UAE).  The need to revitalize the ECOSOC as the forum that lays down international development policies was emphasized (Sudan). Greater policy coherence and better coordination among the UN, the BWIs, the WTO and other multilateral bodies was favoured (Romania).

Several delegates welcomed the Secretary-General’s Road Map as a very useful document in the Declaration’s implementation (Romania, Nepal, Cape Verde, Samoa, Denmark, Georgia) and as a step towards integrating poorer countries into the world economy (Sweden), giving guidance on how to maintain the Millennium momentum (Finland). The follow-up process to the Millennium Summit should be an integral part of the UN’s work (Latvia).

There was agreement that the eradication of poverty must be pursued with priority if the goal of halving the number of the world’s extremely poor is to be reached by 2015, as reflected in the Millennium Declaration.

Many speakers highlighted poverty as one of the root causes that leads to conflict and intolerance. Thus, every effort needed to be made to deal in a holistic approach with this multidimensional concern that threatens the well-being of humanity (EU, Iran for G77, San Marino, Benin, Maldives, Tunisia, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Italy, Romania, Mexico, Republic of Korea, Canada, St. Lucia).  Emphasis needed to be placed on the participation of the poor, the elimination of rural poverty, and the strengthening of the economic capacity of women (Djibouti). A suggestion was made to channel money from reduction of weapons into poverty eradication (Peru).  Others pointed out that the eradication of poverty would not be possible without tangible resources (Kenya).  A number of speakers emphasized that achievement of the goal would require increased ODA, a solution to the debt problem, and full market access for developing countries (Bangladesh, Djibouti, Senegal, Azerbaijan, Germany), with the last one being the most effective and least costly anti-poverty measure (Philippines).

Speakers were concerned that the present global economic slowdown made the achievement of the poverty reduction goal more difficult.  In addition to a resumption of economic growth, this would require the mobilization of resources for economic and social development.  The slowdown also highlighted the need to deal more effectively with globalization, and to humanize this trend.  Emphasis was placed on the UN’s role in international cooperation for development in response to globalization.

            Several speakers emphasized that the events of 11 September and their aftermath had a noticeable impact on the already accelerating slowdown of the global economy, thus confirming the reality of global interdependence, especially the growing economic interdependence (Barbados, Suriname, Guyana, Chile, Singapore).  There was concern that the slowdown also impeded the implementation of the goals of the Millennium Declaration (Peru, Bhutan).  Poorer countries would suffer more acutely from the economic and social consequences of the terrorist attacks on the world economy, a fact that caused serious concern  (India, Cape Verde, Guyana, Singapore, Bhutan, Cuba, China, Tanzania, Romania, Iran for G77). The slowdown was, for example, threatening the progress made by Asian economies in emerging from the financial crisis of 1997/98  (Singapore, Myanmar), and was creating difficulties for transition countries.  Caribbean countries already saw the impact on tourism, financial services and related sectors in the region (Suriname, Dominica, Bahamas).  The international community should act with greater sense of urgency, and developed countries needed to make greater efforts to revive the global economy, restore market confidence, and provide greater assistance to poor countries (China).

The global economic slowdown contributed to the widening gap between developed and developing countries and thus highlighted the need to deal more effectively with globalization. Since globalization was “neither a panacea, nor a monster that causes disaster, but rather an objective trend” (China), it needed to be managed better, for the benefit of all so as to create globalization with a human face (Colombia, Peru, Cambodia, Chile, Republic of Korea, Yemen, France).  While recognizing the opportunities for development created by globalization, these had not been widely shared. Despite commitments, including those in the Millennium Declaration, globalization had not yet become a positive force for all.  Many poor countries remained at the margins or outside the global economy.  Existing imbalances and asymmetries could become more pronounced in the rapid process of globalization (Kuwait, Malawi, Guyana, Cambodia), thus requiring a “globalization in solidarity” rather than the present asymmetry (Brazil).

Some speakers felt that the process of globalization was tainted by an undeniable sense of unease (Brazil), and public support for globalization had vanished in developing countries (India).  It needed to be re-engineered, and tempered with compassion (India). Others suggested that more and better globalization was required (Chile), as it was the best long-term chance for developing countries (Singapore).  Globalization also had a number of positive sides, including the spread of individual rights, and the closing of the information and communication gap (Bangladesh). The inexorable march of globalization and interdependence was recognized (Nigeria, Suriname), and the challenges of expanding opportunities in trade, finance and ICT it portends were embraced, while also noting that it should bring benefit for all countries, including through concrete measures for the full integration of African countries into a fair global economic system (Nigeria).  An enlargement of the G7/G8 was called for as discussion of globalization could no longer be restricted to this group (Brazil).

Several speakers pointed out that, despite domestic reforms undertaken by developing countries to adapt their economies to the new competitiveness brought about by globalization and interdependence, a number of factors continued to create obstacles for their integration into the global economy.  These included structural inequalities, as well as the heavy debt burden, lack of a truly open international trading system and persistence of trade and protectionist barriers, low and declining levels of ODA, and uncertain and volatile capital flows especially FDI  (Ecuador, Uganda, Cameroon, Tanzania, Bolivia).

            Several speakers emphasized the role of the United Nations in international cooperation for development in response to globalization, in harnessing its positive forces and managing it (China, Finland, Spain, Kazakhstan). Further attention to matters of international cooperation for development to achieve sustainable development and economic stability was encouraged (Oman).  Others noted a governance deficit in the international sphere (Brazil), and called for better governance of the international system (Italy) to create the conditions for stable growth and prosperity.  A new global institutional architecture, subject to democratic governance, was needed to establish “representative superintendence” of the global economy and to raise global resources for global purposes, to be accomplished through both, existing institutions and more radical reform (Jamaica).

Speakers identified a number of components that are critical in the fight against poverty and underdevelopment, and for the implementation of the goals of the Millennium Declaration.  Most frequently, these included free trade and market access, ODA, debt relief and capital flows, and sustainable development policies. Three upcoming events (WTO, FfD, WSSD) would offer opportunities for concrete commitments to achieve these goals.  Especially FfD and WSSD were seen as opportunities for achieving the principal goals of the Millennium Summit.

Trade and market access

Many speakers from developing countries drew attention to the continuing lack of access for their products to the markets of developed countries.  Until 14 November, speakers highlighted the heavy responsibility for the Ministerial Meeting of the WTO in Doha to address effectively the imbalances in the international trading system, and to resolve concretely the concerns of developing countries, especially the LDCs and other small and vulnerable economies, such as SIDS.  Implementation of the commitments of the Uruguay Round of special and differentiated treatment for developing countries, protectionist practices and barriers, patent rights, access for agricultural and textile products to the markets of developed countries, farm subsidies in developed countries, access to essential drugs and to technology were the issues most frequently mentioned as requiring early solutions.  It was also emphasized that aid was meaningless without market access (Uganda).

The need for technical assistance and capacity building programmes on trade issues for developing countries in support of their integration into the global economy was stressed (Kenya, Singapore, Sweden).

Initiatives such as the EU’s “everything but arms” and the US’ “African Growth and Opportunity Act”, and trade efforts by Japan and China were welcomed (Tanzania, Uganda).  Some speakers emphasized the need to properly address the interests and concerns of poor countries, especially of LDCs, at Doha (Sweden, Italy), and that the new trade round should be one of growth and development (Italy).  After 14 November, some welcomed the outcome of Doha, hoping for a boost to the global economy.  That meeting had confirmed that the needs of poor countries had to be addressed, as they would suffer more from the slowing global economy (Singapore).

Financing for Development and Sustainable Development

A large number of speakers from all regions are looking forward to the International Conference on Financing for Development and to the World Summit on Sustainable Development. Considering these to be very important events, including opportunities for implementing the Millennium Declaration, they intend to participate actively in them. Many speakers from developing countries underlined the significance of these two events and their successful outcomes to progress in poverty eradication by addressing issues such as present ODA levels and their decline, debt relief, market access, financial flows, especially FDI, domestic policy-making, international cooperation and partnerships including with the private sector.

Many comments on FfD were of a general nature, considering the event as an opportunity to discuss the full range of substantive issues.  Others referred to several, or all, of the issues under consideration.

            For example, the EU will attach importance to improving cooperation between all the development actors, using resources more effectively and mobilizing them better. Some saw it as a critical opportunity for a resumption of economic growth and as a contribution to poverty reduction (Togo, Algeria), and the sharing of responsibilities between developed and developing countries (Iceland).  Others considered it as an opportunity to form partnerships for the future (Sri Lanka, Sweden), and to forge a broad global consensus on economic and financial issues (Belarus), or on the international trade and financial architecture (Samoa, Colombia, Malaysia) to support long-term development.  It should provide opportunities to launch new multilateral development cooperation projects (China), as well as new and innovative financial instruments (Papua New Guinea).

Several speakers saw the event as the forum for dealing with the means for implementing the development agenda, including the Millennium Declaration, for reducing the wealth gap, and for achieving a broad consensus on mobilizing new and additional resources for development, (Colombia, Barbados, Solomon Islands, Maldives, Suriname, Guyana, Panama), especially for the LDCs and Africa (Angola, Guinea, Gambia).  Some emphasized the need to take into account the different needs of countries at different stages of development (Belarus, Paraguay) so that they can take advantage of globalization (Mongolia).

Several speakers hoped that appropriate consideration would be given to debt relief, including the situation of highly indebted middle-income countries (Ecuador), ODA and FDI as critical for fighting poverty and underdevelopment (Tanzania, South Africa, Oman, Dominica). 

A fundamental change in the current debt strategies was called for, including outright debt cancellation (Nigeria).  There should be enhanced opportunities for participation of small countries in decision-making institutions on global financial, monetary and trade issues (Samoa).

Issues such as international taxation for the purpose of infrastructure building in LDCs should be addressed (Malaysia).  The fact that international tax cooperation would be one of the issues was welcomed (Barbados).

Many speakers referred to the WSSD and the FfD together, and several identified common expectations for both events (Mongolia, Sweden, FRYOM, China).

            In relation to ODA, some speakers from developed countries emphasized the need to achieve the 0.7% target (Italy), to be reached within the next five years (Ireland).

            With regard to the WSSD , a number of speakers emphasized that there should be no renegotiation of Agenda 21, that the event should assess progress made, accelerate the implementation of Agenda 21, identify remaining gaps, address new challenges that have emerged since 1992 and expand partnership for its implementation (Barbados, Samoa, Oman, Guyana, Gabon, Gambia).  Several saw the event as an opportunity to renew strong international commitment to sustainable development (Samoa, France, Iceland, Austria), and the preservation of the global environment (Maldives).

In the EU’s view, WSSD should promote sustainable use and management and protection of natural resources, integrate action on environment and poverty eradication, and promote better management of public resources.  Obstacles to implementation, especially in capacity building, transfer of technology and in financial support, should be removed (Samoa, Guyana), and practical outcomes and mechanisms for implementation (Oman, Guinea, Suriname, Belarus, Ukraine), as well as concrete commitments, socially responsible and environmentally sound development policies (South Africa) achieved.   It should promote the interests of all, especially the needs, vulnerabilities and special circumstances of small countries such as SIDS, so that they can effectively participate in a globalized economy (St. Kitts).

            Energy policy must be fully integrated into the global sustainable development agenda (Austria), and due consideration must be given to desertification, land erosion, and land degradation (Namibia).  UNEP must be strengthened institutionally, financially and operationally (Germany).  Attention was drawn to the need for protection of oceans from hazardous pollution (Tuvalu).

A number of speakers referred to the Kyoto Protocol as representing a significant step forward in regard to action against climate change and called for its entry into force in 2002 (Solomon Islands, Nauru, Iceland, Germany, Tuvalu, Marshall Islands, Antigua, Brazil, EU, Malta, Belize).  Reference was also made to the successful Marrakesh Ministerial Declaration, including as a step towards the WSSD (Antigua and Barbuda, Morocco, Spain, EU).

Gender equality

Several speakers underlined the important role of women in socio-economic development, and their commitment to gender equality and the implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action and Beijing+5, as well as the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (EU, Ghana, Cote d’Ivoire, Yemen, Bolivia).  The gender gap was part of the development gap and had to be addressed with equal vigor (Philippines).  The importance of implementing Security Council resolution 1325 (2000) on women, peace and security was stressed (EU).  The responsibility of every government to ensure equal rights of men and women was stressed (Sweden).  Several speakers highlighted national action to ensure equality of opportunity for women and men (Suriname, Bhutan, Ghana, Pakistan), while others called for programmes and measures for the empowerment of women, including in the reconstruction of Afghanistan (Austria).  One CEDAW State party mentioned that it had amended its reservation to the Convention with a view to withdrawing it at a later stage (Lesotho).  INSTRAW needed to be supported (Dominican Republic).

The situation of Africa

Many speakers, especially from Africa, highlighted the adoption, by the 37th summit of the OAU, of the New African Partnership for Development (NEPAD) as an expression of leadership for Africa’s development and ushering in a new concept of cooperation between Africa and its development partners.  Hope was expressed that its implementation would receive the necessary support from donors for its realization. It was also pointed out that the United Nations would have to play a critical role in its implementation. In welcoming the past meeting between the G8 and African leaders, some expressed their hope that the G8 would remain committed to providing assistance to Africa in implementing NEPAD (South Africa, Malawi, Togo, Benin, Botswana, Zambia, Ghana, Gabon, Mauritius, Libya, Nigeria, Angola, Guinea, Cape Verde, Mali, Namibia, Egypt, Algeria, Lesotho and others).

Several countries from outside the region expressed their support for the initiative. The EU strongly welcomed the new African initiative, and would continue to give priority to development in Africa (also UK, Spain).

The situation of certain groups of countries

A number of delegations emphasized the need of dealing with the problems faced by the least developed countries, (34 of which are located in Africa), and land-locked countries. Issues such as their growing marginalization and the crippling impact of external debt on domestic development were highlighted. Given these countries’ minuscule share in global trade, more opportunities for trade were needed. An expansion of the HIPC initiative with particular focus on LDCs was called for.  Several speakers welcomed the outcome of the LDC III Conference in May 2001, and called for full support from development partners to ensure its implementation.  (Tanzania, Guinea, Yemen, Comoros, Maldives, Bangladesh, Djibouti, Solomon Islands, Benin, Gambia, Nepal, Lao PDR, Vanuatu). The EU stated its support for the outcome of LDC III.

The situation of small islands developing states was also referred to by a number of speakers.  Particular emphasis was placed on the need to include follow-up to the Barbados Programme of Action on SIDS in the preparations for the WSSD. Concrete action by the international community was urgently required to address their fragility in the global economy, and to overcome their vulnerabilities, especially to global climate change, environmental disasters and economic shocks.  The graduation criteria for LDCs needed to be refined by the CDP (Samoa, Grenada, Federated States of Micronesia, Barbados, Maldives, Mauritius, Solomon Islands, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Antigua and Barbuda, Tuvalu, Fiji).

ICT for development

The role of information and communication technologies in an era of globalization offered new opportunities for many developing countries, but at the same time, much more effort was needed to deal with the digital divide.  In this regard, the Secretary-General’s ICT Task Force should be a catalyst in harnessing the potential of ICT for development and for overcoming the digital divide (Romania, Italy, Suriname, Bangladesh, Republic of Korea, Samoa).  The ICT Task Force was a welcome example of the SG’s outreach towards civil society and the private sector (Finland). Attention was also drawn to the World Summit on the Information Society in 2003 and 2005 (Tunisia). Continued support for SIDSNET was called for (Tonga). The international community needed to treat ICT as a special priority for African development (Lesotho)

HIV/AIDS

The threat of HIV/AIDS was a focus of concern.  Many delegations welcomed the achievements of the UNGASS on HIV/AIDS of June 2001, and commended the Secretary-General for his initiative to establish a Global Fund on HIV/AIDS and other diseases.  A number of developing countries called upon all relevant actors to contribute to the Fund so that it could become operational very soon and to ensure support to developing countries in their fight against the pandemic and the implementation of the Declaration.

Other issues

A few speakers drew attention to the upcoming World Assembly on Ageing (Bahamas, EU, Suriname).  Djibouti drew attention to the looming scarcity of water as an emerging crisis and urged the international community to act. Finland welcomed the Secretary-General’s outreach to civil society and the private sector , noting in particular the Global Compact, and Romania suggested that greater opportunities should be given to hands-on involvement of the private sector, NGOs and civil society in the accomplishment of the UN’s goals and programmes.

Specific proposals put forward and forthcoming meetings mentioned during the General Debate:  

  • Wants to explore with its partners the scope for achieving a Global Pact on Sustainable Development at Johannesburg .  To contain: commitments from both governments and from other actors, and lead to concrete action to improve the implementation of sustainable development policies (EU)
  • Would be happy to lead a Comprehensive Global Dialogue on Development , to address the highly unstable situation in which 1/3 of the world’s population lives in luxury and the rest in poverty and want.  Immediate objective: mobilize resources for poverty alleviation programmes in developing countries.  Preliminary agenda: accelerated liquidation of external debts, poverty alleviation programmes for countries facing financial crises; commodity price stabilization; and programmes for children for education, health, nutrition, and protection from hazardous work. (India)
  • Energy policy must be fully integrated into the global sustainable development agenda.  CSD-9 and LDC III have recognized the strong connection between energy policy interventions and poverty reduction.  Vienna, as a host to four international organizations in the field of global energy policies – UNIDO, IAEA, OPEC and IIASA – could offer a framework for developing an innovative platform in this regard (Austria)
  • Is prepared to become a regional node for the UN ICT initiatives . (Romania)
  • Recommends the urgent establishment of a highly visible and effective mechanism for follow-up to the LDC III Conference (Benin)
  • Calls for the establishment of an effective monitoring mechanism for the implementation of the Millennium Declaration (Spain)
  • Renews its call for the establishment of a World Solidarity Fund to fight poverty (Tunisia)
  • Pleads for an institutional arrangement between the United Nations and the World Trade Organization to allow developing countries easier access to this body (Suriname)
  • Strongly supports better coordination between the major organs of the UN, i.e. General Assembly, Security Council and Economic and Social Council for working out a long term strategy for sustainable peace and development .  Pleased that the Secretary-General has proposed a system-wide coordination in the context of prevention of armed conflict (Bangladesh)
  • Recalls its suggestion, put forward at the Millennium Summit, that an international convention on the Caspian Region be elaborated (Turkmenistan)
  • Calls for the early elaboration of a framework convention on the protection of the Caspian Sea environment.  The necessary work is being carried out with the help of UNEP (Kazakhstan)
  • Urge support for an international instrument on preventing corruption and combating the transfer of funds of illicit origin (Pakistan, Nigeria)
  • The ECOSOC reform paper by UN-DESA contains very valuable contributions to the ongoing debate of strengthening ECOSOC.  A coordination and an integration of the UN system’s reporting in economic and social affairs and the preparation of a comprehensive “state of the world” report by the SG would enhance ECOSOC’s role in policy formulation (Austria)
  • In order to address the issue of brain drain, we should start thinking about legally binding international instruments that would build on a broader interpretation of intellectual property to ensure a fairer distribution of the benefits of knowledge.  Perhaps in the form of international intellectual partnerships, mutually beneficial for the countries having advanced technologies and infrastructure and for those generating human creative energies.  (Romania)
  • P roposes an informal forum between members of or aspirants to the EU and OIC, for the discussion of issues pertaining to “Harmony of Civilizations”, in a political perspective.  Hopes to realize the conference by February 2002 (Turkey)
  • Requests support for the formalization of cooperation arrangements between the United Nations and the Pacific Island Forum as expressed by the Pacific Islands Forum leaders in their communiqué (Nauru)
  • Continues to seek UN’s support for a Special Regime for the Caribbean Sea to protect the environment (Belize)
  • An international conference on financing of the New African Initiative will be convened in Dakar in January 2002 (Senegal)
  • Appeals to the GA to endorse the convening of an International Ministerial Meeting of Land-locked and Transit Developing Countries and Donor community on Transport Cooperation in 2003 in Kazakhstan (Lao PDR)
  • Will host the SAARC Summit in January 2002 after a two-year postponement (Nepal)
  • Has submitted its candidacy for the presidency of the 57th session of the General Assembly (Czech Republic)
  • Suggests that this GA consider the convening of an international group of eminent persons on terrorism and its prevention , with the appropriate backgrounds from all relevant fields, representative of all regions of the world, appointed by the President of the GA, the President of the SC and the SG, with the request that they report to GA and SC, and SG, within appropriate time frame.  (Sri Lanka)
  • Proposes to declare 11 September as UN Day to Combat International Terrorism , as a symbol of unity and resolve  (Ukraine)
  • Calls for world-wide public information campaign to make drug users realize that drug users are, even if inadvertently, helping to finance terrorism.  (Brazil)
  • Several speakers renewed the call for the convening, under UN auspices, of an international conference against terrorism , including to find a clear definition of terrorism (Libya, Cuba, Maldives), upon or immediately after the conclusion of a comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism (Malta)
  • It would be useful to establish a mechanism within the United Nations to monitor the fulfillment by States of their treaty obligations concerning the suppression of terrorism (Russian Federation)
  • Idea of establishing under the aegis of the UN a center for the coordination of assistance to States in resolving crises caused by terrorist acts is promising (Russian Federation)
  • Consideration should be given to organizing, under the aegis of the United Nations, of a world forum to discuss what contribution civil society and in particular mass media can make to combating terrorism (Russian Federation)

 


Analytical summary of the general debate of the Second Committee
1, 2 and 3 October 2001

            In light of the scheduling changes due to the tragedy of 11 September, the Second Committee held its general debate a week earlier than originally planned.  Out of 79 speakers (as compared to 69 in 2000), three (EU, USA and Japan) were from developed countries, seven spoke on behalf of groups (G77, EU, CARICOM, LDCs, land-locked developing countries, Alliance of Small Island States-AOSIS, Forum of South Pacific Island Countries-SOPAC), and four were from UN system entities (World Bank, UNESCO, FAO, ILO). Mr. Nitin Desai, USG of DESA, and H.E. Mr. Martin Belinga-Eboutou, President of the ECOSOC, made introductory statements.

          Mr. Desai provided an overview of the state of the world economy, including the possible consequences of the 11 September attacks. He noted the deeper-than-expected slowdown in the major industrial economies with growth rates now forecast at 1.4 % for 2001 and 2% for 2002, and declining consumer and business confidence.  He drew particular attention to the discussion of vulnerability in the context of globalization contained in Part II of the World Economic and Social Survey.  An update of the forecasts of the Survey will be issued.  Mr. Desai went on to highlight four issues that would prominently figure in the work of the Second Committee this year, namely: globalization, both with regard to its macro-economic and its process dimensions; Financing for Development; Triennial Comprehensive Policy Review; and Africa.

            The President of ECOSOC gave an overview of the main outcomes of the Council’s 2001 substantive session of relevance to the work of the Committee, including on Africa, ICT, and the TCPR.  The commitment by the GA President to give priority to African development and ICT was a welcome step towards enhancing consistency in the work of GA and ECOSOC.  The session had confirmed the Council’s new vitality where all stakeholders can contribute to policy development, and the Council would continue its efforts to strengthen its role as set out in the Millennium Declaration.

          During the general debate, it was generally felt that the Committee could best contribute to the medium- and long-term struggle against terrorism by working towards eradicating poverty that can breed fanaticism and extremism.  The attacks, which occurred at a time of global economic downturn, underscored the urgency for the Committee to promote sustainable development and strengthen international cooperation to help foster peace and social and economic progress.

          Many speakers referred to the Millennium Declaration as the overall framework for the work of the Second Committee.  The EU, for example, linked all aspects of its statement to particular paragraphs of the Declaration. Delegations greatly welcomed the Road Map for highlighting concrete steps towards reaching the Millennium Declaration goals.  It should serve as guidance to UN bodies in supporting the implementation of these goals.  Many delegations also established a clear link between the Millennium Declaration and the Fourth Ministerial Meeting of the WTO in Doha, Qatar, the International Conference on Financing for Development (FfD ) and the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD ).  All three were seen as opportunities for concrete action to implement the Millennium Declaration.  Expectations are high for the FfD process to secure the necessary financial resources for achieving the international development targets.  Speakers also agreed that WSSD should reaffirm, not renegotiate, Agenda 21, and adopt pragmatic measures to ensure its coherent and integrated implementation.

          As in past years, globalization was the major thread in the debate.  Speakers considered globalization to be an interactive process that can be harnessed and directed through policy choices. Interventions emphasized the impact, in an interdependent world, of the economic downturn in industrialized countries on a growing number of developing countries, visible in reduced exports, stagnant capital inflows, and tighter credit conditions. While recognizing the primary responsibility of each country for its own growth and development, speakers from developing countries also highlighted the role of international cooperation, including ODA, and the need to strengthen North-South cooperation on the basis of equality and mutual interest.  In managing the globalization process, greater attention should be given to its social and environmental impact, the marginalization of vulnerable groups of countries, as well as in society, and the need for greater and more equitable participation of developing countries in the governance of global trade and finance.  A number of group statements, including by the LDCs, SIDS and land-locked developing countries, emphasized that their heightened vulnerability to changes in areas such as private capital flows, trade, and to natural disasters should be taken into account particularly in the wake of the global economic slowdown.  Reference was also made to the discussions at the high-level dialogue, 20-21 September.

          Many speakers emphasized the increased urgency, because of the present economic circumstances, for effective poverty eradication strategies to achieve sustainable development.  These should integrate various dimensions including capacity building, the consolidation of democratic processes, peace, conflict prevention, and good governance particularly on economic, financial, legal and public matters.  Some considered gender equality as an essential dimension of sustainable development, and the role of human rights was also noted.

          Delegations hold high expectations for the forthcoming International Conference on Financing for Development .  It must produce real, substantive commitments on innovative measures to finance development.  Effective cooperation and partnership in the FfD process should continue among all development actors including Governments, UN, BWIs, the WTO, the private sector and civil society.  It should also explore modalities for public-private partnerships to enhance the role of the private sector in increasing the net financial flows to developing countries, and launch the debate on global public goods.  The effective mobilization of women in development and their equal access to financial resources also requires appropriate attention.

          More specifically, speakers felt that FfD needs to address adequately the reform of the international financial architecture to make it more participatory, transparent and development-friendly.  Reforms are needed to make international economic governance inclusive and democratic, and to enhance the decision-making power of developing countries.  Speakers also expressed a need to further improve coherence among the UN system, Bretton Woods institutions, regional organizations and regional commissions. Multilateral surveillance of economic and financial policies should be considered as part of global public goods.

          Many delegations, including the EU, voiced their concern about the present situation of ODA , and drew attention to the significant impact of its continuing decline on the development of Africa, LDCs, SIDS and land-locked countries.  Many speakers pointed out that ODA was indispensable, especially for LDCs, and called for a reversal in its downward trend and achievement of the ODA target of 0.7% of GNP by donor countries. Speakers also felt that funding for global public goods should be over and above ODA assistance, and that FDI should not be considered as a replacement for ODA. The FfD needs to deal with the decline in ODA, and should enhance its effectiveness.

          FfD should address the structural causes of debt and achieve a durable solution to this problem.  Several speakers were concerned about the level of funding for the HIPC Initiative, and the slow progress in its implementation, noting that only one country (Uganda) has so far reached completion point. It was suggested to extend HIPC to all low-income countries, and to pursue appropriate debt relief also for middle-income developing countries.  New initiatives such as debt moratoriums, debt swaps and debt cancellation should be further explored.  As the portion of private debt has increased, the participation of private creditors should be sought in the orderly restructuring of debt obligations.  Debt relief should not come at the expense of ODA flows, but rather must be funded from new and additional resources.  Resources freed up from debt relief should be used for poverty reduction programmes.

          Trade has taken on new importance, including because of its important role in the FfD process, where it is recognized as an important element in mobilizing and expanding financial resources for development.  Speakers noted that an open, equitable, secure, non-discriminatory and predictable multilateral trading system is critical for realizing trade as a means for accelerating growth and development.  Speakers from developing countries voiced concern about the slow progress in liberalizing sectors of particular interest to them, limited market access, the significant imbalances between rights and obligations in multilateral trade agreements to their detriment, tariff peaks and non-tariff barriers, and unjustified anti-dumping measures.  They called for the restoration of confidence in the multilateral trading system through full and faithful implementation of the Uruguay Round Agreements and effective attention to the concerns of developing countries in future trade talks.  In this regard, great hopes were placed in the forthcoming WTO Fourth Ministerial Conference in Doha, and the launching of a true ‘development round’ that would take into account the concerns of the developing countries, especially of LDCs, SIDS, land-locked and transition countries, and improve market access for their manufactured goods, textiles and agricultural products.  Trade liberalization should be carried out on a gradual and orderly basis and in conformity with national conditions. Protectionist measures in the form of environmental and labour standards should not be introduced.  The institutional capacity of WTO to extend technical assistance to developing countries should be enhanced, especially so that they can fully use the WTO dispute settlement mechanisms.

          Speakers agreed that the World Summit on Sustainable Development should reaffirm, not renegotiate, Agenda 21 and adopt pragmatic measures to ensure its coherent and integrated implementation.  Several speakers were concerned that provisions on resources and on transfer of technology of Agenda 21 had been insufficiently implemented. The principle of common but differentiated responsibilities should also guide the preparations of WSSD, which should adhere to the three pillars (economic, social and environmental) of sustainable development in a balanced and mutually beneficial manner. Gender equality should be part of all preparations.  Inputs from regional preparatory processes should be considered effectively. Among the main goals proposed for the WSSD were the eradication of poverty and the promotion of sustainable patterns of consumption and production.  Speakers also identified a number of areas for specific initiatives, including fresh water resources, energy, land degradation and biodiversity. Measures to fully implement the Barbados Programme of Action for the SIDS should also be explored.

           Speakers from both developing and developed countries referred to the ongoing discussions on strengthening international environmental governance. Reference was made to the need to strengthen UNEP in accordance with GA resolution 53/242, as well as the Commission for Sustainable Development as a unique forum for high-level policy dialogue on sustainable development.  The views of other relevant Conferences of the Parties, agencies and institutions could enrich the on-going discussions on IEG.

          Attention was drawn to environmental conventions, especially those on climate change, desertification, and biodiversity, and to the UN Forum on Forests, all of which have important contributions to make to sustainable development.  Adequate replenishment of GEF should be ensured, and its expansion to cover land degradation and desertification activities welcomed.

          Speakers underlined the potential of ICT for development.  They welcomed the establishment of the ICT Task Force, and its anticipated contribution to enhancing developing countries’ capacity to use ICT for development, to reducing the digital divide, and to mobilizing resources in this area. ITU’s decision to hold a World Summit on the Information Society was also welcomed.  In this regard, the GA could explore ways that are conducive to the successful preparation of the Summit.

          Speakers were largely positive concerning the outcome of the Third UN Conference on LDCs and found that its outcome document contained modest and achievable measures.  Active follow-up and full implementation of the Programme of Action should now be a key priority, requiring new resources.  Further work on LDCs in the FfD should be based on these agreements. Support, including from the EU, was expressed for the proposed follow-up mechanism, ie a High Representative of the Secretary-General for LDCs.

          With regard to operational activities , ECOSOC had made several recommendations to facilitate the triennial comprehensive policy review.  Poverty eradication should continue to be the major pillar of operational activities.  Funding should be sufficient, secure and stable on a predictable, continuous and assured basis, and concern was expressed about the decline in ODA which had harmed UN operational activities. Speakers supported a country-driven approach supported by collaborative and coherent assistance from the UN system and donors.  Efforts to harmonize procedures should be intensified in the context of CCA, UNDAF and PRSP.  Regional dimensions should be better integrated.

          Speakers discussed the role of the United Nations , frequently along the lines of the Millennium Declaration.  Because of its u niversal nature, it should have a pivotal role in leading the international response to the changing global context, for building the necessary consensus for practical and results-oriented reforms, and for facilitating policy dialogue and consensus-building among the relevant stakeholders on global economic, financial and development problems. The role of ECOSOC in coordinating the follow-up to UN conferences was reaffirmed.  Its work on African development was appreciated.  Coherence and coordination between the policies of UN and BWIs should be further enhanced.  Effective partnerships should be created between the BWIs, regional development banks and the UN development agencies to improve efficiency of service to developing countries.  The comparative advantage of the functional commissions together with UNCTAD, as important actors in promoting policy coherence, should be maximized.

          A number of speakers welcomed, and expressed support for, the New African Initiative . South-South cooperation should be further strengthened.  Partnerships with civil society and the private sector could contribute to the sharing of responsibilities pertaining to globalization.  The Secretary-General’s efforts to forge a Global Compact were commended.  Support was expressed for the Global Fund for HIV/AIDS and other infectious diseases. Speakers also urged to sustain the political momentum for the Special Session on Children .

Specific action proposals emanating from the general debate of the Second Committee

  • Russia proposes to host a conference on global climate change in 2003 in support of the Kyoto process.
  • EU will formulate a draft resolution on eradication of poverty.
  • Tunisia will introduce a draft resolution in support of the World Summit on the Information Society.
  • EU supports the appointment of a high-level representative of the SG for the follow-up to LDC III.  ECOSOC should also include a regular item on the follow-up to LDC Conference.
  • Possible major themes for WSSD proposed by EU:
    1. protection of natural resources which are the basis for economic and social develoment
    2. integration of environment and poverty eradication
    3. putting globalization at the service of sustainable development
    4. improving governance and participation
  • South Africa (for SADC) proposes theme for WSSD: “Poverty eradication as a key to sustainable development”
  • A more formalized relationship UN-WTO through, for example, a regular dialogue patterned after the ECOSOC-BWI dialogue should be considered. (Philippines)
  • UN should continue to coordinate the international activities to mitigate and study the Chernobyl disaster. (Ukraine)
  • Venezuela reiterated its proposal from 2000 for the creation of a Development Council.
  • Lithuania will hold the first World Forum on Information Technologies in August 2003.
  • Laos strongly supports the recommendation to convene an International Ministerial Meeting on transit transport cooperation in 2003 in Kazakhstan.

 


STATEMENT TO THE SECOND COMMITTEE 
by MR. NITIN DESAI 
UNDER-SECRETARY-GENERAL 
FOR ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL AFFAIRS 


1 October 2001 

Mr. Chairman,

Allow me to congratulate you and the Chairman of the Second Committee for this session of the G.A. and also convey my congratulations to all the members of the Bureau.  We look forward to working with the Bureau in ensuring that we have a successful session of the Second committee during this session of the General Assembly.

Mr. Chairman,

This meeting of the Second Committee in many ways marks the beginning of the work of the General Assembly.  This and the debate, which will take place in the Plenary, are the first substantive actions that we have taken in the General Assembly, other than the dialogue on globalization.

We are meeting in the shadow of the terrible events of 11 September.  Much has been said about these events in the General Assembly, in the Security Council and by the Secretary-General.  I do not wish to add more to what has been said there except to focus on one dimension which has come out very clearly, first in the Secretary-General’s speech and then in what Mayor Guiliani just said, which is that the best response that we can make right now is to get on with our work. And that is precisely what the Second Committee is doing.

We have of course been pre-occupied with these events, but I think the time has come to start focusing on our agenda because that is probably the best contribution that we can make in this Committee to the challenge that confronts the world community.

Mr. Chairman,

Let me begin in this general debate with an assessment of the state of the world economy.  Later this week we will be presenting you with an update on the forecasts that are contained in the World Economic and Social Survey .  I did say update but I would describe them more as a substantial correction.  Practically every forecast made towards the first half of this year has had to be modified in the later half of this year not just by the U.N. but by the IMF and other organizations.  We have also scheduled very important talks to the Second Committee.  On 11 October, Prof. Larry Klein will speak to you on the state of the world economy and on 23 October, Prof. Bhagwati will speak on the issues of the Doha meeting of the World Trade Organisation.  I hope that between the update and these lectures you will get a sense of what is the best professional assessment of the direction in which the world economy is moving.

The update we have prepared basically tried to take into account the assessments that were made in August/early September that suggested that the slowdown in the world economy was already much deeper than was expected in the beginning of the year.  For instance, even before the events of 11 September, industrial production, business and consumer confidence were falling in many developed countries and several commentators were already forecasting major declines on such high profile indicators as equity prices and the flow of private foreign investment to developing countries.  One of the questions that people ask is, “what is the impact or the further impact of the 11 September events”?  The precise impact will depend on what it does to business and consumer confidence, to investments, to the flow of capital between countries, to trade.  Of course certain industries are bound to be very directly affected – the travel and tourism industry for instance.  But I believe it is a bit premature to predict whether what was a slowdown in the world economy will become a recession.  Our assessments do suggest a very substantial decline in global growth.  Whereas in the World Economic and Social Survey we had originally 2.4% growth for the world economy we are now looking at numbers closer to 1.4% for 2001 and rising to maybe 2% in 2002.  Further details are available in the update.

Mr. Chairman,

With this assessment of the global economy as a backdrop, I now wish to draw your attention to four issues which connect with your agenda.

The first is that of globalization.  This has, of course, been an important part of past discussions in the Second Committee.  It is also an item on your agenda this year.  Following the high-level dialogue a little over a week ago, this will be a useful opportunity for the Second Committee to continue its discussions in this area.

Let me here focus on a few points.  Almost up to 1997 the general assumption was that globalization was improving the global growth rate through increased trade and financial flows.  Globalization was essentially seen as having an essentially beneficial impact on processes of growth and development, despite concerns about marginalisation, and the neglect of certain social and environmental dimensions.

In 1997-1998 we had the first doubts, arising out of the financial crisis.  At that time there were forecasts about the terrible impact this crisis would have on the world economy.  The effect on the countries that were directly affected by this crisis was, in fact, quite substantial.  But in some ways the world economy came out of the 1997-98 crisis reasonably well, with the processes of growth reviving by 1999 and 2000.  The reason for that was precisely globalization.

Because growth processes were strongly maintained in the United States, particularly, it was possible for many of the countries affected by the crisis of 1997-98 to recover quickly.  The globalization of finance contributed to the strong growth of the U.S. economy, while the globalization of production made international trade a more powerful mechanism for transmitting this stimulus from the U.S. to the rest of the world.  So one could say that its first major test, globalization accelerated the recovery from the crisis.

          The situation now is substantially different.  The subsequent slowdown in the United States has been transmitted to the rest of the world economy, initially through increasingly globalized trade flows and subsequently through global financial markets.  Just as trade expanded unusually rapidly during the upturns, so it has suffered profoundly during the slowdown, with no growth in the volume of trade expected in 2001.

          Because of their increased international trade flows, developing countries are more affected than previously by a slowdown in the developed world. Developing countries now account for roughly one third of international trade flows, compared with about one-quarter a decade ago.  As a result, a back-of-the-envelope calculation suggests that today a one per cent decline in the growth of the US economy will reduce the rate of growth in developing countries as a group by 0.4 per cent, compared to 0.3 per cent at the beginning of the 1990s.

One positive feature of the current situation , however, is the recognition amongst countries that this growing interaction between economies requires a coordinated response by the world system.  There is a far greater effort at macro-economic policy coordination in recent months than we have seen in the past.  For instance, there have been simultaneous reductions in interest rates by the leading industrial countries with similar ripple consequences in policy actions in developing countries.

I raise these important issues because you will have to look at them in the context of your discussions on the forthcoming conference on Finance for Development in Monterrey.  We must learn from the experience of contagion during the different crises which the world economy has been confronted with since 1997-98.

Mr. Chairman,

I have focused on the impact of globalization on reducing or amplifying the normal cycles of business activity in the industrialized and in the developing countries.  But our concerns about globalization have gone beyond that.  They have also focused attention on what can be described as the vulnerability of countries to globalization.  A vulnerability is not actually a product of the cyclical fluctuations that I spoke of earlier – it is essentially structural.  This year part II of the World Economic and Social Survey focuses precisely on the issue of vulnerability in the context of globalization.  I would urge you to look at this analysis as a basis for some of the discussions which you will have in this area.

One set of vulnerabilities which it focuses on are those arising from the world of finance and investment.  It explores whether the way in which globalization shapes private capital flows allows these flows to take into account the circumstances and developmental needs of developing and transitional economies.  It also focuses on how international liquidity impinges on the options available to developing countries.

A second area of vulnerability dealt with is that of international trade.  It explores the vulnerabilities of countries which depend on a few primary commodities, the vulnerabilities that arise from protectionism (for instance, the inclusion of non-trade issues in trade negotiations).  It also looks at the vulnerabilities that arise from natural disasters and other such causes.  Finally, it looks at the vulnerabilities which arise when you have a very substantial change in the nature of the economic system, such as in the countries in transition.  Much of this analysis is based on specific country case studies

Mr. Chairman, 

These concerns about globalization are behind the protests we have seen in major international meetings over the past year in Seattle, Washington, Prague, Genoa, Gothenburg and elsewhere.  In many ways the concerns of these protestors are very similar to the concerns which have driven discussions here.  Concerns about the social and environmental impact; about the marginalization of countries which cannot benefit from the processes of globalization, concerns about the nature of the governance processes of global trade and finance and the degree to which  poorer countries and civil society are able to influence these.  The protests have also been driven partially by the feeling that the capacity to lobby within the multilateral system is not adequate.  I believe when we look at issues of globalization we must also address these concerns about the process.  Do we have a way of managing globalization which gives enough of a voice to countries which feel left out, which feel marginalized, which feel that their structural concerns are not adequately reflected in global agreements on trade and finance?

You will have the occasion to consider some of these issues also when you discuss the forthcoming conference on Financial Development in Monterrey.

Mr. Chairman,

The overall focus of my remarks has been on the different dimensions of globalization:  the macro-economic dimension and its impact on the amplification or reduction of cyclical fluctuations, and the structural issues and the concerns that are emerging about the process of managing the interactions of trade and finance.

Now let me turn to some important items on your agenda, apart from globalization.  I have referred to the Finance for Development process several times.  You will be having a preparatory meeting on FfD from 15-19 October.  You have a text as a basis of discussion, prepared by the Facilitator.  I believe that this process has made a lot of progress, but the challenge now is to start focusing on the outcome rather than the inputs for discussion.

Another major conference on your agenda in the Second Committee is the Johannesburg Summit of 2002.  The preparatory process for this really only begins in January, and in many ways it is very important that the Second Committee discussions on the Johannesburg Summit 2002 start providing a sense of direction.  We have had a very rich preparatory process at the regional level and in civil society, but we have not yet had a strong process at the global level, and there is a sense that this conference is not yet a presence in the work in New York.  I hope that your discussions will start providing the sense of how at the global level we are focusing on the outcome of the Summit.  In this connection, we have organized a series of events during your three days of discussion on this item which will also bring in many of people who have been involved in the regional processes so that you can interact more directly with them.

The third major item on your agenda is the triennial comprehensive policy review of operational activities for development of the United Nations system.  This is a major responsibility of the General Assembly, and you provide the basic framework and guidance for official activities in this area.  You will see that this report is quite far reaching.  Most important, it is a case for a major shift of focus from internal coordination of development assistance to the integration in national efforts, from process oriented reforms of operational activities to substantive achievements in development terms, from nationally focused project execution to capacity-building and national ownership, from internal coherence to greater development impact.  What we are trying to explore is how the U.N. system can respond to what has become a major theme of development cooperation:  partnership.  We are looking at development cooperation as just one of the complex set of endeavours which has to be managed, designed and run by the programme country itself.  I invite you to review this carefully.

A fourth area is Africa.  Of course it will be discussed in plenary, but this is the year when we will have to start focusing on the preparations for the review of the UN-NADAF.  We also have the major development of the New African Initiative which took place in Lusaka.  One of the issues that we will have to look at when we consider our work here is to mainstream concerns about Africa into all of the work that we do in the Second Committee.  This seems to be the direction in which consideration of African development is moving.

In this context, let me also mention a major item that is before you, the follow-up of the Conference on Least Developed Countries, held in Brussels, which connects with the issue of African development.

Mr. Chairman,

I have set out a broad framework in terms of globalization, and highlighted a few items from your agenda which require your attention.  I hope this has been of some value and I look forward to working with you, your Bureau and all of the members of the Second Committee in ensuring that we have a successful session and the United Nations can move ahead despite the many uncertainties that confront us at this time.

Thank you very much.

STATEMENT TO THE SECOND COMMITTEE 
by MR. NITIN DESAI 
UNDER-SECRETARY-GENERAL 
FOR ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL AFFAIRS
INTRODUCING ITEM 98:  ENVIRONMENT AND SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT

New York, 29 October 2001

 

Thank you very much Mr. Chairman,

Mr. Chairman,

            It is a pleasure for me to be here with the Second Committee to introduce this very important item 98 on Environment and Sustainable Development.  As you know, this is the item under which the Committee will address the preparations for the World Summit on Sustainable Development along with a range of other issues.  Before I speak on the World Summit, let me draw your attention to the various reports that are before you.

            The first item that you have is the International Year of Freshwater 2003 .  The Report of the Secretary-General addresses the state of preparations for this year which, as you know, was an initiative launched by the Government of Tajikistan and was co-sponsored by about 148 countries.  This is something that will, of course, be of major interest and importance in the context of the Johannesburg Summit, also a major focus is the publication of the World Water Development Report which is expected to be launched at the Third World Water Forum in Kyoto in March 2003.

            The second item that I wish to draw your attention to is the Promotion of new and renewable sources of energy , including the implementation of the World Solar Programme 1996-2005.  The Secretary-General’s report on this subject focuses on the actions that are being taken for the implementation of this programme.  Once again, it is likely that your discussions will be a major contribution to the preparations for the Johannesburg Summit.

            The third item before you is the Secretary-General’s Report on the Barbados Programme of Action for the Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States .  This too is something which is important in its own right and also as contribution for the preparations for the Johannesburg Summit.

Mr. Chairman,

            Let me now turn to the preparations for the World Summit on Sustainable Development.  You have before you the report of the first PrepCom, which was essentially an organizational session, and the report prepared on the progress in the preparation for the Johannesburg Summit.  In many ways we look to this session of the Second Committee as the launching pad for the global process on the preparations for the Johannesburg Summit.

            Let me say a word first on the process so far.  The major activity in the period since May, when the first Organizational Session of the PrepCom met, has been at the regional level in the form of Regional Roundtables, as well as intergovernmental meetings at the regional level.  Four of these intergovernmental meetings have been held:  two of them, in fact, just last week, and the final fifth one will be held for the ESCAP region towards the end of November in Cambodia.  All of these meetings are basically seeking to make an assessment of the progress in the implementation of Agenda 21 at the regional level and contribute towards the global preparatory process, whose first susbstantive PrepCom will meet in January 2002.

          Besides this, there has been a very rich preparatory process among the stakeholders.  The stakeholders have participated very enthusiastically in the Commission on Sustainable Development, which has, as you know, the dialogue segment, and they have really mobilized themselves to prepare for the Summit.  This is true for the business community, for local authorities, for trade unions, for activist groups, for farmers associations, as well as groups like women, youth, indigenous people, scientists and others.  I would commend your attention to many of the products that are coming out of this stakeholder process.

Mr. Chairman,

            I really want to focus a little now on questions of substance.  One of the problems with the bottom-up preparatory process has been that it is still not entirely clear at the global level what is the agenda of this summit beyond the fairly general proposition that it will review the implementation of Agenda 21 and the other Rio outcomes and identify measures for strengthening implementation.  That’s a fairly general statement and I think one of our challenges is to crystallize this broad objective in terms of fairly concrete ideas which can be pursued in the run-up to Johannesburg and for which we would secure appropriate commitments in Johannesburg. 

          I believe the time has come for us to focus attention on this, and I see this two-day session of this Second Committee as in some ways the launch of the global dimension of the preparatory process.  We have had a rich regional process and we have had stakeholder process.  Ideas are emerging, but the time has come to start bringing all of these things together.  The timing and responsibility for this, of course, rests with the preparatory process which will start in January.  But the Second Committee’s debate here can make a very valuable contribution in the crystallization of this agenda.  What we are looking for is essentially your early views.   It is for this reason that we have asked some of the people that are involved in the regional preparatory process, in the regional roundtables, eminent people who are involved with the regional roundtables, to come to New York.  They will be constituting a Panel this afternoon at 4:30, and present to you what has emerged from their processes.  I hope this will help to give you a sense of  the issues that have come up in the regional process.

            Let me just focus a bit on what I think are the matters that we have to look at in the assessment.  The Rio Summit focussed on sustainable development.  It was an attempt to combine environment and development.  In essence, when we talk of sustainable development, we are talking about two things:  on the one hand, of meeting needs; on the other hand, of protecting the future ability to meet needs.  The first requires us to show results in terms of the human condition, here and now.  The second requires us to show results in terms of the actions taken to protect the resource base on which the human condition depends -- essentially, different dimensions of the protection of natural resources and the environment. 

          These are the two dimensions:  meeting needs and protecting the natural resource and environmental dimension on which our capacity to meet the social and economic developmental needs rests.  What can we say in terms of these two parameters of sustainable development?  Surely the record of the past decade will be a matter of some disappointment.  One can hardly say that over the past decade we have made dramatic progress in reducing poverty or in reducing under nourishment.  We certainly have made some progress in some areas of health, but other problems have surfaced, such as HIV/AIDS.  Surely our assessment is bound to show that we have not made as much progress as we would have liked when it comes to the first dimension of sustainable development.  And, equally if it comes to the protection of environment, practically every measure that we look at suggests that we have not really, as yet, made significant progress.  There are a few plus points here, but in the aggregate, we have not made nearly as much progress as we would have liked. 

          Let me give you a simple measure of the latter:  the World-wide Fund for Nature has produced something that they describe as a Living Planet Report 2000.  There is a very interesting calculation here.  The calculation that they make asks:  “How much land would be required to sustain the consumption that we see today in the world?”  They don’t cover every area; they basically focus on renewable resources.  What is the amount of crop land required, the amount of grazing land required, the amount of forest area required, the amount of fishing ground required?  It takes into account how much land you would require to absorb the CO2 that we emit.  In a sense, there are the biological demands which we as humans make on the planet.  The report compares this with what is actually available.  The conclusion is that the total impact, the total requirement to sustain what we consume today is of the order, in equivalent units, of 2.85 area units per person on Earth.  What is actually available is 2.18, an ecological deficit of close to 30 per cent.  That is, as of today, we as a human race are making demands on the natural ecosystem which is 30 per cent higher than what that system has. 

          And, there are of course differences between countries, between rich and poor people. They make calculations for different groups of countries.  But the calculations given are not in terms of UN categories but in terms of OECD and non-OECD.  In the case of non-OECD there is a rough balance between the demands that human population makes on the natural ecosystem and what is available.  In the case of OECD countries, there is a huge deficit; the total demand is in the order of a little over 7 area units while what is available is of the order of 3.4 area units. 

          I give you this figure in order to say that if you look at the trends there is no indication that there is any improvement.  That is why we have to recognize that we have a major issue ahead of us in the Johannesburg Summit. How are we going to tackle this?  We cannot read this simply as an environmental issue because essentially the problem lies in the way in which development proceeds.  I put it to you that we basically have to think of what we need to do in terms of three broad fields.

          First, sustainable livelihoods and eradication of poverty.  The social dimension, or meeting needs, is a central element in the concept of sustainable development and deserves attention in its own right.  Because a world which is ecologically sound but in which large numbers of people have to live in poverty is not sustainable.  So attacking poverty is something which is relevant to sustainable development in its own right.  And there is a certain amount of political energy in this area.  In the Millennium Summit, our Presidents and Prime Ministers have committed themselves to an ambitious course of halving absolute poverty by 2015 and a string of other goals which relate to other dimensions of poverty.  That is certainly something which we will have to reinforce in Johannesburg.

          But there is something more than that; 70 to 75 per cent of the world’s poor live in the rural areas of the Third World.  Their poverty cannot be alleviated simply through target-oriented anti-poverty programmes.  It requires us to address the land, the water, and the biotic resources on which their livelihood depends.  How are we going to halve absolute poverty unless we also reduce drastically the amount of degraded land, unless we reduce the impact of water scarcity?  In what way can the 70 to 75 per cent of the poor who live in the rural areas of the Third World come out of poverty without our addressing the quality of the resource base on which they depend?  This connection between poverty and natural resources environment is something that we will have to strengthen in Johannesburg.  What we require is not just coordination between anti-poverty programmes and area programmes; we will have to look for integration of programmes in which every area programme includes an anti-poverty component and every anti-poverty programme in rural areas of the Third World includes an area management component.  It is more than just simply reinforcing a commitment to the Millennium goals; we have to design programmes which truly reflect the real nature of poverty and its connection with environment and natural resources.

          Take also the case of the health and environment connection.  We have said that we are going to reduce infant mortality by three quarters by 2015.  Much can be done by delivering individual therapeutic services through immunization and nutrition support.  But, consider the number of children who died because of diarrhoeal diseases related to water and sanitation.  Consider the number of children who suffer from respiratory illnesses because of air quality in many of our cities.  Surely, if we are serious about the infant mortality goal, we will have to address the environmental dimension of health -- the habitat dimension of health. That is yet another example of why we need to connect agendas.

          Natural disasters is another example.  Look at the suffering which arises when people are suddenly thrown into poverty by a natural disaster.  That surely is something which requires an attention to resource use, specifically land and water management.  The figure that I gave you earlier reflects the great difference of the impact on the natural ecosystem between OECD and non-OECD countries.  If one would look at figures for individuals, it would probably be between rich and poor people also.  We have to think in a longer-term basis of sustainable consumption and production.  There is no way in which we can continue accumulating this ecological deficit.  Sooner or later the stocks that we have inherited of ecological capital from the past will be exhausted.  The time to act is now.

          And, there are many areas that we need to address here.  For instance, the discussions that we have had on energy in the Commission on Sustainable Development, focussed on both the dimension of meeting energy needs as they arise in developing countries in a sustainable way, and on the consequences of high levels of energy consumption in the richer countries.  Both of these need to be tackled, so when we speak of sustainable consumption and production, it’s not simply a matter of restraining consumption in order to protect the environment  - this is also addressing issues of what sustainability means in terms of appropriate and immediate increases in consumption in poor houses and in poor countries – for energy, for paper products, for other resource intensive commodities.  This cannot be done unless you also address the other dimension of how can we contain the pressures that arise from high consumption of these resources.  There are areas like energy, tourism, industry, which will have to be looked at in this way.

          But, both of these need a third element.  All development, good or bad, involves human interventions in natural ecosystems.  We interfere with hydrological systems, with material flows in nature.  This is inevitable.  In fact, the history of civilization is in some ways the impact of humans on nature. 

          We have reached the point, as I was trying to illustrate with the calculation by the World Wild Life Fund, at which the scale of our impacts, and increasingly the depth of our impact on these systems, is such that we can no longer take piece-meal decisions on development.  When we look particularly at natural resources and the use of natural resources for development, we will have to bring in what I would describe as an ecosystem approach.  Such an approach looks at developmental projects and programmes not only in terms of the developmental impact, but also in terms of their sustainability in the context of natural ecosystems.  Issues relating to water, to oceans, to forests, biodiversity have to have this ecosystem approach superimposed on the developmental focus on meeting needs, on the strategic focus on balancing needs against availability.  This is a third major dimension that we will have to look at.

          In all of this, we have to aim at specific initiatives, specific programmes, specific commitments.  And, if we are to do this, we will have to address the issue of the means of implementation, which has been a major area of concern.  We will have to address issues about availability of finance for sustainable development, the changes that have arisen because of the growing impact of globalization.  This is an important area of concern and some of these issues will be looked at in the finance for development process, but there are surely some issues which will have to be addressed in the context of Johannesburg also.  Whatever we say are the programmatic initiatives on the substantive side will lack credibility unless there is also a sense of forward movement in this issue of finance for sustainable development.

          On technology development and transfer, have we really seen enough effort being put into global cooperation technology transfer in key areas of technology which are relevant for sustainable development?  I don’t think so.  There was a time when food security was an issue and we put together a great system of international agricultural research and global cooperation for agricultural research.  Where is that system for sustainable development?  Much of what we will say on programmatic initiatives relating to poverty, to health and environment, to energy, to industry, to management of ecosystems, will lack credibility unless they are backed up by effective measures for technological transformation in all countries.

          There are other issues that we have to deal with:  raising awareness, education, science.  And what of the institutional dimension, the most difficult one?  Because the key to what we are trying to do in sustainable development is to bring together people who otherwise are separated by boundaries of ministries, organizations, disciplines, etc. This is one of the most difficult things that we have to do.  This institutional dimension at the global level, at the national level, at the community level, will also have to be addressed.

          These are all great challenges and to address them, we require what I call the three “p’s”. 

          First is political will.  We must recognize that what we are talking of is issues which are absolutely essential to our work on development at the global level.  One of the areas of disappointment for many of us was that during the Millennium, though a third of the Secretary-General’s report dealt with issues dealing with environment, there was virtually no reference to this dimension in the subsequent discussions.  We have to change that.  The Secretary-General recognizes this, which is why a few days ago he took certain steps to raise the profile of the preparations for this process, including for instance, appointing me as Secretary-General of the Johannesburg Summit.  He has also appointed an advisory panel which is meeting now.  In addition, he has requested Mr. Jan Pronk to go around to countries basically to build up support and commitment at the country level for this Summit.  But there is much more we need to do, and we have to recognize that in many ways the key is the mobilization of political will.  We need to recognize the urgency of the problem and to address it in concrete terms.

          That brings me to the second “p”:  practical steps.  We will lack credibility if after Johannesburg we do not come out with something that people recognize as truly practical steps to carry forward the sustainable development agenda that emerged out of Rio and events after Rio.  These steps must take the form of real programmes and commitments built around certain themes, and we have a lot of work between now and Johannesburg to develop them and to secure the commitment to implement and to fund them.

          The third “p” is partnership.  The effectiveness of what we do on sustainable development will of course depend a great deal on what official institutions do at the national and at the global level.  It will also depend on the commitment of the people who have the direct impact on the use of resources: businesses, trade unions, farmers associations, cooperatives, and a whole host of other groups.  And, a great deal of what we can do by way of practical action can be through partnership.  These are the three p’s that I would focus attention on besides the substantive:  political will, practical steps and partnership.

          This is a tall agenda in some ways, but it is a double agenda.  We did it in Rio; there is no reason why we can’t do it in Johannesburg.  And, in many ways, what we have to look for now is a wakeup call.  A wakeup call which truly tells the world it’s now or never.  Not a wakeup call like the alarm clock that I have at home – the first time it rings I can press the snooze alarm and go to sleep for 15 minutes, the second time it rings again I can press the snooze alarm and go to sleep, this time for only five minutes.  But, the third time it rings and I press the snooze alarm it doesn’t go off and I have no option but to get up and get going and come here to my work.  Stockholm was the first alarm; Rio was the second alarm, and now what you are coming to is Johannesburg, the third alarm where you don’t have the option of pressing that snooze button.  We have to get up and get going and our aim, therefore, in Johannesburg, is awareness and action.  What you are going to do here over the next two days is the launch of that process.

            I thank you very much and I look forward to working with you for this great Summit.