Volume 3, Issue 3 - June/July 1996

In this issue:

ACC First Regular Session of 1996 held in Nairobi
ECOSOC Highlights
Committee for Development Planning Re-examines Global Trends
Members of the Committee for Development Planning
RO-LO-DATES
Youth Activists Strategize at CSD '96
GA Prepares for Mid-Term Review of UN-NADAF
Support to Informal Sector in Africa Moves Ahead
African Countries Promote UN Guidelines for Consumer Protection
DAW Joins Forces with UNIFEM and INSTRAW to Create Integrated Network
International Day of Cooperatives, 6 July 1996
From Grassroots to Global Policy: a look at NGOs

ACC First Regular Session of 1996 held in Nairobi

The first regular session of the Administrative Committee on Coordination (ACC) was held at the United Nations Offices in Nairobi, from 28 to 30 April 1996. It was the first time that the ACC had met in a developing country, and in Africa in particular. This was especially opportune, given the focus of the meeting on Africa. The Division for Policy Coordination and ECOSOC Affairs provides substantive and technical support to the work of ACC.

One of the important substantive issues on the Agenda was the consideration of the next stages of the implementation of the system-wide Special Initiative on Africa. In this connection, ACC Executive Heads reaffirmed their full support for the Special Initiative, and considered it to be an integral part of a renewed commitment by the United Nations system to African economic recovery and development, and of the system's contribution to meeting the priorities of African governments. It was also considered that the Special Initiative provided a major opportunity for the organizations of the United Nations system to bring coherence and vision in support of a priority concern of the international community. Recognizing that the ultimate success of the Special Initiative would largely depend on the effectiveness of joint action at the country level, ACC also emphasized that UN Resident Coordinators would have a key facilitating role to play in the implementation of the Special Initiative. Executive Heads also undertook to impress upon their country and regional representatives the high priority being accorded the implementation of the Special Initiative. It was also recognized that in the implementation of the Initiative, regional intergovernmental arrangements and organizations, as well as civil society had key roles to play.

ACC called for prompt implementation of a number of manageable projects and programmes which could bring early and tangible results, since this would help to strengthen credibility with African governments and the donor community for the Initiative, thus creating momentum towards its full implementation over the long-term.

At its Nairobi session, ACC also considered the initial steps that had been taken to follow-up, in an integrated manner, the results of recent global conferences, following the establishment, at its fall meeting of 1995, of three ad hoc inter-agency task forces to provide integrated support for country-level action around three interrelated themes: (a) the enabling environment for social and economic development; (b) employment and sustainable livelihoods; and (c) basic social services for all. It was reported that all three task forces had initiated their work with the active involvement of a large number of UN organizations. Terms of references had been prepared, and a number of end products had been identified. ACC emphasized the need for close interaction among the task forces themselves as they undertake their work, as well as between the task forces and the established consultative committees of ACC.

Another issue taken up at the Nairobi meeting was an initial review of the experience with the 1993 re-organization of the ACC and its subsidiary machinery. In general, members of ACC acknowledged that the 1993 re-organization, and the extensive streamlining it had brought about, had served to enhance significantly ACC's functioning and the effectiveness of its subsidiary bodies. There was, nevertheless, a recognition that further improvements should be sought in relation to both the methods of work of ACC itself and the functioning of the subsidiary machinery. A final report will be considered by ACC at its next session scheduled for the latter part of October of this year.

An important decision of the meeting was the agreement to establish an inter- agency committee on women, which would have the primary responsibility of addressing on a comprehensive and system-wide basis, all aspects of the implementation of the Platform of Action of the Beijing Conference, as well as gender-related recommendations emanating from other recent international conferences, and the questions relating to the improvement of the status of women within the UN system.

ACC also adopted a statement committing the Secretariats of each organization to a fully coordinated implementation of the important General Assembly resolution on the triennial policy review of operational activities for development of the UN system.

Finally, ACC approved the creation of an inter-agency project on the theme of universal access to basic communication and information services. The project will examine how the members of the UN family could develop a programme of action with a view to ensuring that communications and information technologies and global information are developed and applied by all societies in support of the goal of sustainable global development.

Christopher Hackett, DPCEA


ECOSOC Highlights

The ECOSOC substantive session of 1996 starts on 24 June in New York. It is organized in four segments, during which participants will take up twelve agenda items, many of which contain as many as nine subitems. Among the highlights:

  • The One-day policy dialogue, with the participation of the heads of the World Bank, IMF, UNCTAD and WTO, will address on 24 June important developments in the world economy and international economic cooperation. The basis of the discussion will be the World Economic and Social Survey, 1996 (E/1996/60).

  • The High-level segment will consider the issue of narcotic drugs from 25 to 27 June, under the agenda item on: International cooperation against the illicit production, sale, demand, traffic and distribution of narcotics and psychotropic substances and related activities. The report of the Secretary-General on the item has the symbol E/1996/57.

  • The High-level meeting of the Segment on operational activities for international development cooperation of the UN will consider on 28 June strengthening collaboration between the United Nations development system and the Bretton Woods institutions in the areas of social and economic development at all levels, including the field level. DPCEA's Unit on Operational Activities for Development has prepared a note by the Secretariat on the item.

  • The Coordination segment will consider coordination of the UN system activities for poverty eradication on 1 July, in particular: facilitating national plans and programmes for poverty eradication as well as providing basic social services; ensuring that the gender perspective is taken into account in the process; and, performance monitoring in the context of the harmonization of the multi-year programmes of work of the functional commissions of the Council. The report on the item, with symbol E/1996/61, was prepared by DPCEA in cooperation with DAW, DSPD and DSD in the Department, and numerous other units in the system, in particular UNDP, UNICEF and UNFPA.

    The Coordination segment will also consider the implementation of the agreed conclusions on the coordinated follow-up and implementation of the results of major UN conferences in the economic, social and related fields. The report on the item bears the symbol E/1996/59.

  • The General segment will consider towards the end of the session a new agenda item, on: New and innovative ideas for generating funds. The item was introduced in February at the request of Australia.

The session will conclude on 26 July.

Documents for the 1996 session of ECOSOC can be found online at: http://www.un.org/esa/coordination/ecosoc/1996doc.htm


Committee for Development Planning Re-examines Global Trends

The Committee for Development Planning (CDP) met for a two-day organizational session on 28 and 29 May, to decide on their work programme for the next year. They decided to work on three issues: the impact of globalization on development, with a focus on global capital markets; re-examining stabilization, structural adjustment and economic reform in the context of globalization; and the triennial review of the list of least developed countries and the criteria for their designation.

The CDP was established by ECOSOC in 1965 as a group of experts on development policy who would assess world development trends and prospects and advise the Council. Over the years, its members have included Gamani Corea (Sri Lanka), Jean Ripert (France), Bernard Chidzero (Zimbabwe), Hernando de Soto (Peru), Robert McNamara (USA), Celso Furtado (Brazil), Shridath Ramphal (Guyana), Keith Griffin (UK) and other prominent development experts. They serve for a term of three years, with a number of them reappointed for the following term to provide continuity. While the reports of the Committee are formally submitted to the Council, they have also generally been issued as sales publications for wider distribution and have been influential with development policy-makers inside and outside the UN.

The CDP last met in 1994, when it completed the work programme begun in 1992 but did not consider a continuing work programme because of uncertainty concerning its future. In 1995 ECOSOC decided to reconvene the CDP and appoint new members, asking them to consider how the Committee might better reflect the work of the Council and asking the CDP Chairperson to address the Council each year on the results of the Committee's work. The organizational session was thus held to restart the CDP work cycle.

One of the functions of the CDP is to advise ECOSOC on the list of least developed countries, which receive a certain priority and concessions in international and national development assistance programmes. The list was first established in 1971 with 23 members and has since expanded to 48 members. The criteria for designation, which were originally based on per capita GDP, share of manufacturing in GDP and literacy, were expanded in 1991 to add life expectancy, nutrition, school enrolment, economic diversification and natural handicaps such as those of small island developing states. Over the years, the CDP has added countries to the list as new countries have become independent (e.g. Eritrea, Vanuatu) or as conditions have deteriorated (e.g. Angola, Cambodia, Mozambique). In 1994 Botswana became the first country to graduate from the list, and Vanuatu has since been recommended for graduation if its development continues. Having last been reviewed in 1994, the list and the criteria must be reviewed again in 1997, and this task will be undertaken by a working group set up at the organizational meeting.

While the organizational session only needed to decide on the topics to be studied without entering into substantive discussions, many of the members indicated their views on the issues. On the question of globalization, it appears that some members want to challenge the ideology of liberalization of trade and capital markets that has dominated development policies during the past decade. They noted that the most successful developing countries have generally had a strong state role and protected markets, while many countries that have strongly liberalized their markets have suffered economic stagnation or deterioration and rising inequality. Privatization, which was supposed to reduce opportunities for corruption or favoritism, has commonly been accompanied by increased non-productive profiteering of various sorts.

On the question of structural adjustment, it appeared that most members were critical of the "Washington consensus" policies that have been the conditions of IMF and World Bank assistance in dealing with balance of payments problems and the debt crisis. It was also noted, however, that the Committee should go beyond criticizing the Fund and the Bank and find positive policy recommendations to help countries face their continuing problems. It was agreed that the Committee should address recommendations to the developing countries, to the international development organizations and to the developed countries that provide aid and dominate the international financial institutions.

These two issues will be explored by two working groups, which will meet in the fall and present the results of their work to the whole Committee next spring for incorporation into the final report. It remains to be seen whether the unorthodox views expressed by some of the more outspoken academic members will be accepted by the whole group and whether the final report will reflect the strong and differing views of members or will adopt more general consensus recommendations which may have more impact.

Ralph Chipman, DSD


Members of the Committee for Development Planning

AUGUSZTINOVICS, Maria: Professor of Economics, University of Budapest; Senior Research Adviser to the Institute of Economics of the Academy of Sciences, Hungary. Research interests include macroeconomic theory, quantitative models for economic decision-making, household life-cycle behaviour and macroeconomic theory.

CARNEIRO-NETTO, Dionisio Dias: Professor of Economics, University of Rio de Janeiro. Research interests include structural adjustment, macroeconomic policies, external debt, inflation and stabilization policies.

DIOUF, Makhtar: Professor of Economics, University of Dakar; Chairman, Centre for Applied Economics; member, World Institute for Development Economics Research (WIDER) network. Research interests include determinants of growth in developing countries; macroeconomic and monetary issues in developing countries.

FAALAND, Just: Member, Chr. Michelsens Institute, Bergen; Director of the Institute's Department of Social Science and Development and of its Development Research and Action Programme (1952- ).

EL-HINNAWI, Essam: Research Professor of Natural Resources and Environment, National Research Centre, Cairo. Research interests in the areas of geochemistry, mineralogy, natural resources and environment.

GAO Shangquan: Member, National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference; member, Overall Research and Coordinating Panel on National Economic and Social Development of the State Council; President, China Society of Enterprise Reform and Development and other institutions. Author of China's Economic System Reform and several other books and articles.

GUILLAUMONT, Patrick: Director, Centre for Study and Research of International Development, and Professor of Economics at the University of Clermont-Ferrand. Author of numerous publications on economic development, including Prix relatifs des produits primaires et developpement (1982).

HIRONO, Ryokichi: Professor of Economics, Seikei University. Other posts held in the past include Assistant Administrator and Director, Bureau for Programme Policy and Evaluation, United Nations Development Programme; Author of numerous publications on economic development, including "United Nations and international development co-operation" (1989).

ISLAM, Nurul: Senior Fellow, Centre for Policy Dialogue, Dhaka; Emeritus Fellow, International Food Policy Research Institute, Washington D.C. Research interests include development planning, food and agriculture, poverty and socio-economic development issues. Author of several books and numerous articles.

KATSELI, Louka T: Special Economic Adviser to the Prime Minister of Greece; Professor of Economics, University of Athens; Research Fellow, Center of Economic Policy Research Foundation. Research interests include exchange-rate policies in developing countries, transmission of external price stocks in small open economies, macroeconomic policy, and structural adjustment.

KANAAN, Taher: Consultant in economics and business. Previous positions include General Management, Industrial Development Bank of Jordan; Minister of Planning, Government of Jordan; External Financing and Development Branch, UNCTAD. Research interests include development finance, agricultural development and input-output analysis.

LIM, Linda: Research Director, South-East Asia Business Programme, Centre for South and South-East Asia Studies, University of Michigan; member of Executive Committee, Centre for International Business Education; Associate Professor of International Business, School of Business Administration. Research interest include foreign direct investment, ethnicity and economic activity, women in the economy, women in multinational enterprises, women workers in manufacturing, the political economy of poverty, equity and growth.

LIPUMBA, Nguyuru H.I. : Associate Professor, Department of Economics, University of Dar es Salaam, United Republic of Tanzania; visiting Professor, William College. Research interests include agricultural development, exchange rate and stabilization policies, regional economic integration, international trade and African economic development.

LUSTIG, Nora: Senior Fellow, Foreign Policy Studies Programme, Brookings Institution, United States. Previous positions include Professor of Economics, Centre of Economic Studies, El Colegio de Mexico. Specializing in the economic transformation of Mexico during the 1980s; the development of a North American Free Trade Agreement, as well as other economic integration initiatives within Latin America and with the United States; and income distribution and poverty in Latin America.

MONSOD, Solita C: Professor of Economics, University of the Philippines. Former posts include Minister of Planning and Director-General of the National Economic Development Agency, Manila. Received professional education in the Philippines and the United States.

PERSAUD, Bishnodat: ALCAN Professor of Caribbean Sustainable Development, University of the West Indies and Director, Centre for Environment and Development. Research interests include Caribbean and international development issues; environment, agriculture, trade and finance. Author of numerous articles.

SAWYERR, Akilagpa: Director of Research, Association of African Universities; Member, Panel of Arbitrators, International Centre for Settlements of Investment Disputes; Chairman, Ghanaian Minerals Commission; Member, National Economic Commission. Author and editor of numerous publications on law and economic development, including "The politics of adjustment policy" (1989).

SCHWAB, Klaus: President of the Foundation Board, World Economic Forum; Professor of Business, University of Geneva. Author of books and numerous articles on global competitiveness and other issues.

SENGUPTA, Arjun: Member-Secretary, Planning Commission of India. Previous positions include Special Adviser to Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF); Executive Director, IMF; Chairman, Working Group of 24 on Reform of the International Monetary System. Research interests include international financial cooperation, North-South negotiating processes, development policies of developing countries.

SHOKHIN, Alexandre: Member, State Duma (Parliament). Previous positions include Minister of Labour and Employment; Deputy Prime Minister, Economic Relations; Chairman, Currency and Economic Committee of Russian Federation; Director, Institute of Employment Problems.

STEWART, Frances: Director, International Development Centre, and Fellow, Somerville College, University of Oxford. Research interests include adjustment policies and poverty; decentralization of government expenditure and impact on human development; trade liberalization in Africa; war and underdevelopment.

TAYLOR, Lance: Professor of International Cooperation and Development, New School for Social Research. Previous positions include Associate Professor of Economics, Harvard University; Professor of Economics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Research interests include economic planning, growth and trade, income distribution and food security. Author of books and numerous articles.

UMANA, Alvaro: Associate Professor and Director of Natural Resources, Management Programme of the Central American Business Institute (INCAE); member, World Bank Inspection Panel; President, Arias Foundation for Peace and Human Progress; President, Centre for Environmental Studies; Board Member, World Resources Institute. Research interests include energy, economics, environment and biodiversity.

URRUTIA, Miguel: Chairman, Board of Directors, Central Bank of Colombia. Author and editor of many publications on Latin American and Colombian economic development, including The Political Economy of Fiscal Policy (1989), Financial Liberalization and the Internal Structure of Capital Markets in Asia and Latin America (1988).


RO-LO-DATES

24 June - 26 July, New York
Economic and Social Council
Substantive Session

8-12 July, Geneva
UNFCCC Ad Hoc Group on Article 13, Second Session

8-19 July, Geneva
UNFCCC Conference of the Parties, Second Session

9-15 July, Geneva
UNFCCC Subsidiary Body for Implementation, Third Session

9-15 July, Geneva
UNFCCC Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice, Third Session

11-16 July, Geneva
UNFCCC Ad Hoc Group on the Berlin Mandate, Fourth Session


Youth Activists Strategize at CSD '96

The CSD Secretariat worked with three youth organizations and a number of partner UN Agencies to enhance youth involvement in the work of the CSD, through a collaborative project entitled The Youth Intersessional.

This project involved three main modules, each led by a partner youth organization. Module I, led by the Earth Council, produced a Youth and Sustainable Development Information Kit which was distributed at CSD96 and is currently being prepared in Spanish and French for further distribution. Module II, led by Rescue Mission: Planet Earth, developed the Sustainable Development Indicators for Youth Package and conducted its first testing through regional meetings in Asia, Africa, North America and Europe. The results of this module were distributed in print at CSD96. Module III, led by q2000 of Sweden on behalf of the CSD Youth Working Group, organized a two-day youth workshop which prepared youth statements. The results of the entire project were also presented to the High Level Segment of the CSD through a Youth Panel on 1 May 1996. The article below was prepared by one of the young people who worked as the volunteer Youth Coordinator in New York for the Youth Intersessional project. Ms. Zunec is currently back in her country, Croatia, to complete her degree program in Language Studies in Zagreb. (Further information on the Youth Intersessional, including its Phase II currently in progress, can be obtained by contacting Ms. Zehra Aydin, Major Groups Focal Point, DSD, tel: 212-963-8811, fax: 212-963-4260, email: aydin@un.org.)

***

This year's CSD saw the participation of 60 young activists from more than 30 countries. Major youth events included:

  • The Workshop on Youth and Sustainable Development (16-17 April), coordinated by q2000, a Swedish Youth NGO for the CSD Youth Working Group;

  • the Youth Exhibition "Keyworld" to present priorities of young people for sustainable development (18 April - 3 May);

  • the Youth Panel (May 1).

We also held daily Youth Caucus Meetings to set strategy and help each other understand what's going on. The process was very dynamic and inclusive as we tried to take part negotiations, find and lobby our own governments as well as shape the over-all Youth Statement. Due to our lack of experience, as well as the slow UN process, it was often confusing and frustrating to try to get the message across.

The Youth Panel was our big chance to voice our opinions. In partnership with DPCSD/DSD we shaped the format of the Panel, chose to have only youth as panelists, and Mr. Desai as moderator. The Youth Panel was the time to present the Youth Statement, result of the workshop above and the Sustainable Development Indicators for Youth Package, coordinated by Rescue Mission: Planet Earth.

The Panel identified 7 major issues:

  • Education in Regards to Youth Participation and Developing Local Agenda 21,
  • Technology Transfer,
  • Climate Change,
  • Employment,
  • Food Security,
  • International Lending,
  • National Debts and Trade.

Separate statements were made on those issues by 5 regionally and gender balanced panelists. We decided to focus each statement on the challenges we put in front of governments, the UN, the private sector and, let us not forget, ourselves as youth NGOs.

We were very excited to see the interest Ministers showed both before and at the Panel, by asking substantial questions such as those of the Environment Minister of Sweden: "How would you organise the GA '97 Special Session on Agenda 21, what role would youth have and what can we do to help?", or the Environment Minister of Germany, suggesting that youth involvement may help solve some of the frustrations of political processes and add important perspective. The youth delegate of the Philippines called upon the governments to involve youth in their official delegations next year. We were honoured to have Mr. Desai as the moderator. We thank him for mixing the questions/comments from the floor in the pattern one official delegate-one youth delegate.

The Panel brought up another funky suggestion for the '97 Special Session (and beyond!), that is to have the youth co-chair. The suggestion originally came from Canada, and was endorsed by Mr. Desai and all the panelists. All this gives us a lot of inspiration and energy to work towards the CSD V next year.

Danijela Zunec,
Volunteer Youth Coordinator


GA Prepares for Mid-Term Review of UN-NADAF

The mid-term review of the United Nations New Agenda for the Development of Africa in the 1990s (UN-NADAF) will take place during the fifty-first session of the General Assembly, according to GA resolution 50/160 of 18 December 1995. An Ad Hoc Committee of the Whole has been established to prepare the review, and has been authorized to meet in September 1996, in advance of the opening of the fifty-first session of the General Assembly.

An organizational session of the Ad Hoc Committee of the Whole will be held on 20 and 21 June 1996 at the United Nations Headquarters in New York. This session will consider and make the necessary arrangements for the work of the Committee.

The basis for the Committee's work will be a report to be prepared by the Secretary-General, which will include relevant inputs from Governments, UN organizations and programmes, other intergovernmental organizations such as the Organization of African Unity (OAU), and from non-governmental organizations regarding their experiences in implementing the Agenda.

Findings of the Ad Hoc Committee, including concrete measures for sustained economic growth and sustainable development in Africa beyond the 1990s, will be submitted to the fifty-first session of the General Assembly.

You can visit OSCAL on the World Wide Web to get background documents that will help you prepare for the mid-term review at: http://www.un.org/africa/osaa/

Support to Informal Sector in Africa Moves Ahead

The second meeting of the International Task Force on Informal Sector Development in Africa was held at United Nations Headquarters in New York from 23 to 26 April 1996.

The main objective of the meeting was to finalize the draft outline of the special programme of support for the informal sector in Africa. The development of this sector is viewed by the members of the Task Force as critical to developing an entrepreneurial culture, essential to private sector development and as a way to contribute to the alleviation of poverty. The themes discussed included:

  • infrastructure support and institutional capacity-building; finance and access to credit;
  • informal agricultural business development;
  • appropriate technology, technical services and access to information;
  • entrepreneurship development and business skills;
  • entrepreneurship development and business skills;
  • training, marketing and export; and
  • linkage between formal and informal sector.

OSCAL has been designated as the Secretariat of the Task Force, which also includes, USAID (USA), GTZ (Germany), GDDC (Italy), NORAD (Norway), CIDA (Canada), JICA (Japan), IDRC (Canada), OAU, RBA/UNDP, DDSMS, ECA, UNCDF, UNIDO, UNIFEM, ILO, INSTRAW, World Bank, IMF, PAC (Canada), Trickle-Up (USA), Countryside Foundation (Cameroon), Lucia Manufacturing Industry Ltd. (Ghana), M.M. Awny (Egypt), J.S. Juneja (India) and E.S., Bukuku (Tanzania).

***

One important element in the Task Force discussions was access to credit by informal sector operators. Evidence shows that micro-finance is an effective instrument in the war against poverty but only 5% of all micro-entrepreneurs have access to credit and other financial services. OSCAL will be able to benefit from more in-depth discussions on this issue as it will be participating in the West Africa High-Level Policy Forum on Micro-Finance to be held from 17-21 June 1996 in Bamako, Mali. The Consultative Group to Assist the Poorest (CGAP), a multi-donor effort to promote micro-finance throughout the world, will be organizing the Forum in cooperation with the World Bank and the Government of Mali. The objectives of the Forum are to develop consensus on the role of micro-finance in the fight against poverty, define the fundamental principles to ensure continued access of the poor to financial services and identify policy and regulatory parameters to support the development of micro-finance institutions.

Government policy-makers, including Ministers of Finance, Central Bank Governors and their technical advisers from 17 West Africa countries (Benin, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Cote d'Ivoire, The Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Sao Tome and Principe, Senegal, Sierra Leone, and Togo) as well as micro-finance practitioners and donor agencies will be attending the Forum.

Leslie Wade, OSCAL


African Countries Promote UN Guidelines for Consumer Protection

Consumers in Africa received international attention and support from the United Nations at the Africa Conference on Consumer Protection, held at Harare, Zimbabwe, from 28 April to 2 May, which brought together African government officials, consumer leaders and experts from 41 African countries to discuss consumer protection issues. The Conference was organized by Consumers International in partnership with the Division for Policy Coordination and ECOSOC Affairs of the Department for Policy Coordination and Sustainable Development with funding from the European Union and hosted by the Government of Zimbabwe. The following African countries were represented at the conference:

Angola, Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Congo, Central African Republic, Cote d'Ivoire, Egypt, Ethiopia, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea Bissau, Guinea Conakry, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Mouritius, Morocco, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Sudan, Swaziland, Togo, Tunisia, Uganda, Zaire, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

Representing the President of the Republic of Zimbabwe, the Minister of Industry and Commerce, Cde Hebert Murerwa, opened officially the Conference. He expressed the appreciation of the Government of Zimbabwe to the United Nations, the European Union and Consumers International for convening the conference at Harare. In welcoming the participants, Mr. Murerwa observed several issues related to consumer protection: he stressed that basic rights of consumers included protection against products and services which were hazardous to health, the need for the consumer to have freedom of choice and access to redress. He also indicated that the consumer had the right to a healthy environment which should enhance the quality of his life and that of future generations.

The Conference stressed the need for African countries to enact and enforce consumer protection policies and legislation within the framework of the United Nations Guidelines for Consumer Protection (adopted by the General Assembly, by its resolution 39/248 in 1985), in order to protect their citizens as consumers. It was noted the important progress that had been achieved over the last 10 years in promoting the United Nations Guidelines in Africa. In 1985 there were six consumer organizations in four countries of the Africa region. Today, Africa is host to more than 80 consumer bodies in 39 (of 56) African countries.

Areas of physical safety, consumer economic interests, distribution facilities, accessibility to redress, and education and public awareness were discussed in-depth in individual workshops. The need to extend the United Nations Guidelines into other areas, in particular in the light of the increasing globalization, the change in the role of governments - as evidenced by increased privatization, de-regulation - and increased participation of civil society in more market-based approaches, was a key issue addressed at the Conference. In this context, the conference proposed for inclusion in the Guidelines, issues such as basic services (access to health, water, electricity, gas), financial services (accurate credit reporting with privacy protection, regulated rates and terms, disclosure of costs and terms of credit), and consumer representation (representation in trade negotiations, setting of products standards, the need for mechanisms for consumer participation in decision-making processes). Other issues discussed at the conference included the link between the United Nations Guidelines for Consumer Protection and the Model Law for Africa, and the state of consumer protection and legislation in African countries.

The United Nations was represented by Mr. Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah, Special Coordinator for Africa and Least Developed Countries. Mrs. Emma Bonino represented the European Union in her capacity as European Commissioner for Development and Consumer Affairs.

In addition to the plenary sessions and workshops, there were also a number of feature addresses, including the statements delivered by the representatives of the United Nations, and the European Union. The United Nations representative, in introducing the background paper prepared by the Secretariat on the 'Implementation of the United Nations Guidelines for Consumer Protection', stated that there was a close link between production, consumption and disposal of goods and services, and sustainable development. While the formulation and implementation of consumer policies should be optional and voluntary, there was a need for close cooperation between governments and consumer organizations to achieve better results, added the United Nations representative.

In her address to the conference, Ms. Emma Bonino stressed the links between consumer policy and development policy and the need, therefore, for consumer policy to be included in development policy. She highlighted one of the objectives of the Conference in the context of Consumers International's activities, namely to bring about healthy consumption in a healthy environment to maintain sustainable development. At the end of the week-long conference, the European Commissioner launched a Model Law for Africa for "Protecting the African Consumer".

The Conference also developed a number of recommendations to assist the African countries in applying the United Nations Guidelines and for the expansion of their scope into new areas, such as financial services. The proceedings and results of the Conference will be issued as a publication.

It is expected that cooperative activities will continue to be developed between the Department and non-governmental organizations, such as Consumers International.

Edith Castellares, DPCEA


DAW Joins Forces with UNIFEM and INSTRAW to Create Integrated Network

A workshop is being organized by DAW, UNIFEM and INSTRAW entitled WomenWatch: Global Information through Computer Networking Technology in the Follow-up to the Fourth World Conference on Women.

The workshop will be held at UN Headquarters in New York from 26-28 June, 1996. It will contribute to the further development of WomenWatch, the project to create a core Internet space aimed at facilitating global information exchange for the implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action through the use of computer networking technology.

WomenWatch, once it is in place, will also contribute to the outreach to NGOs on global women's issues.

It will be a gateway to key information produced by the UN system, beginning initially with information from the cooperating institutions, DAW/DPCSD, UNIFEM and INSTRAW. The workshop will be attended by potential users of WomenWatch as well as producers and experts on the Internet from developed and developing countries and observers from the UN system.

Kristen Timothy, DAW


International Day of Cooperatives, 6 July 1996

During the first week of July a good proportion of the world's population will observe a day of celebration and solidarity: they will include most of the 760,000,000 women and men who are members of cooperative business enterprises, as well as their family and household members. Together they make up over half the world's population.

On the 6th of July members of the International Co-operative Alliance celebrate the 74th International Co-operative Day. Simultaneously, as a complement to the older celebration, and pursuant to General Assembly resolution 49/155, the United Nations will invite Governments, relevant international organizations and specialized agencies to observe the United Nations International Day of Cooperatives, proclaimed by the General Assembly in its resolution 47/90, and celebrated for the first time last year on 1 July 1995 (observance is always on the first Saturday of July).

In 1996 the theme for the joint celebration of the two Days is "Cooperative enterprise - empowerment for people-centred development". This is intended to be a contribution to global emphasis upon the eradication of poverty, as well as an element in preparations for the World Food Summit in November.

The theme, and preparations for observance, build upon the already substantial recognition by the intergovernmental community of cooperative business enterprise as a quintessential model for a community-based, people-oriented, fully participative and democratic form of societal management and sustainable development.

This realization is manifest in the current series of major international conferences. In their Copenhagen Declaration signatory Heads of State and Government commit themselves to "utilize and develop fully the potential and contribution of cooperatives for the attainment of social development goals, in particular the eradication of poverty, the generation of full and productive employment and the enhancement of social integration" (Commitment 9, sub-para (h)).

In the Beijing Platform for Action Governments include cooperatives among the "broad and diverse range of other institutional actors" whose active support and participation in the Platform's implementation should be encouraged (para.295). The draft Habitat Agenda states that "partnerships among all actors from public, private, voluntary, and community-based organizations, the cooperative sector, non-governmental organizations and individuals are essential to the achievement of sustainable human settlements development" (Principle VII).

Moreover, all three strategies include numerous specific proposals for strengthening partnerships with the cooperative sector for enterprise development, employment and income generation, poverty alleviation and social integration. Both the Beijing Platform for Action and the Habitat Agenda identify cooperative enterprises as important vehicles for the economic empowerment of women.

This year once more world-wide celebrations are being organized by individual cooperative enterprises, national cooperative organizations, the International Co-operative Alliance and the United Nations system, including the Department in collaboration with DPI.

In New York on 1 July there will be held a Panel Discussion on means to strengthen collaboration between the United Nations system and the global cooperative movement, primarily as a means to help follow-up effectively on the Copenhagen, Beijing and Istanbul conferences. Future mutual support will build upon an already close formal relationship, expressed by the 25 years in which the Committee for Promotion and Advancement of Cooperatives (COPAC) has been operation - probably the only formal mechanism whereby the United Nations system and a significant part of the NGO community collaborate in policy making and in operational harmonization.

The Panel will be held under the Chairmanship of Mr. Desai. Panellists will include the President of the International Cooperative Alliance and other leading officials and specialists of the cooperative movement. Leaders of specialist international cooperative organizations, including those of cooperative banks and insurance enterprises, and of major Canadian and United States cooperative business corporations and institutions as well as representatives of cooperative enterprises operating in the New York region will be invited.

The opportunity will be taken also of launching the global review of the cooperatively organized health and social care sector, recently completed by the Department.

Naturally all staff of the Department are invited to take part in the Panel Discussion. It will be followed by a Press Conference. During the day there will be a video presentation in the Dag Hammarskjold Library Auditorium.

It is hoped that the association of the United Nations' observance with the cooperative movement's own celebration will be as close and extensive as it was last year. Then, governmental support was significant: for example, in Argentina the House of Deputies met in special session and set up a Sub-committee on Cooperative Affairs; messages of support were sent by heads of state and government to the cooperative movements in Bangladesh and Fiji; heads of state and government and ministers attended special events organized by the cooperative movement in Egypt, Kuwait, Malaysia, Myanmar and Uganda; governmental agencies responsible for cooperative affairs organized special events and substantial media coverage in a number of countries, and special issues of postage and cancellation stamps were made elsewhere. In Kuwait the Government made an award to ILO in recognition of that organization's support for cooperative enterprise.

Cooperative movements in India, Iran, Malaysia, Myanmar, Romania, Senegal and Sri Lanka used the occasion to organize joint meetings with Governments to discuss improvement in the operation of existing partnerships, their expansion into new areas of common endeavour, adjustments in legislation and other matters of common interest. In Malaysia a seminar was held jointly with relevant ministries to examine ways to promote small- and medium-sized industrial cooperatives.

Cooperative organizations took the opportunity to hold conferences and seminars designed to enhance their own effectiveness: for example, in Italy, where there are a number of major national organizations, these met in Florence to discuss improved collaboration: they set up a "45 society" to work for unification of the movement and to undertake research and development (the name being taken from Article 45 of the Italian Constitution, which recognizes the special role of cooperative forms of business organization in society).

In most countries, from capitals to small towns in remote rural regions, cooperative enterprises and their regional and national organizations organized celebrations ranging from rallies to sports events, exhibitions and concerts. National and cooperative movement media gave considerable coverage to the event, and to United Nations participation. The message sent by the Secretary-General to the global cooperative movement was translated into most local languages and widely diffused. United Nations Information Centres and UNDP offices participated in many of the national celebrations.

Michael Stubbs, DSPD

Prevention of Suicide

The Department's study on this topic, the subject of an article in Volume 3, Issue 1 of Kiosk (February/March 1996), will appear shortly as a United Nations sales publication, Sales No. E.96.IV.10 (document ST/ESA/245).


From Grassroots to Global Policy: a look at NGOs

This issue of KIOSK brings to the fore the contribution that NGOs are making to advance the work of the Organization: the cooperation between Consumers International and DPCSD in Africa is highlighted, as is the contribution of several youth NGOs to sustainable development. The cooperative movement is amply discussed. To provide context, we have asked Barbara Adams, Director, Non-Governmental Liaison Service, New York, to briefly trace the evolution of the role of NGOs in policy development, and the perception of that role in the Organization. NGLS is a jointly-financed, interagency unit to foster and promote greater mutual understanding, dialogue and cooperation between the UN system and NGOs on development and related issues under review and negotiation within the UN system.

***

Non-governmental organizations are a basic element in the representation of the modern world. And their participation in international organizations is in a way a guarantee of the latter's political legitimacy. On all continents, non-governmental organizations today are continually increasing in number. And this development is inseparable from the aspirations to freedom and democracy which today, in different forms, animates international society. I have had occasion to say more than once that I should like non-governmental organizations to occupy an increasingly significant place within the United Nations itself. From the standpoint of global democratization, we need the participation of international public opinion and of the mobilizing powers of non-governmental organizations."

(Secretary-General to the World Economic Forum in Davos, 26 January 1995, SG/SM/5531)

These are not just academic conclusions to be drawn from the tectonic historical shifts of recent years, but have a basis in current UN experience: NGOs have become present and palpable in the intergovernmental policy-making process in ways in which they had not been before. The following outlines some of the characteristics of the NGO/UN relationship as it has evolved over the past few years, particularly through the recent continuum of major UN conferences beginning with the UN Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro in June 1992:

  • large numbers of NGOs: through sheer force of numbers, NGOs raised the political importance of the issues being addressed at UN conferences for governments,the media, and the general public worldwide.

  • emergence of developing country NGOs: Not only were developing country NGOs present in more-nearly representative numbers, but, perhaps even more significant, they made their perspectives known, both with governments and with the NGO community as a whole. This influenced the debate between and within NGOs and Governments, and deepened the legitimacy of the understandings reached.

  • type of organization: in the past, NGOs involved with the UN policy-making process were for the most part large, international organizations, often based mainly in northern countries. In recent conferences, many more and different types of NGOs were involved, including local and grassroots, community-based organizations.

  • ways of working: new, more collaborative ways of working within the NGO community, and more effective ways of interacting with the intergovernmental process, were developed in the conference processes. These included detailed monitoring of the negotiations; engaging in policy dialogue at the national level throughout a conference process; press work before, during and after; the formation of loosely-knit NGO caucuses, both regional and thematic; ongoing dialogue and exchange of information and experience on issues of common concern.

The challenge for the UN in the aftermath and follow-up to the conference continuum is to create a framework which will allow this relationship to be carried over into the ongoing work of the United Nations, and to develop into a form of international decision-making which can address the needs of the 21st century.

Barbara Adams,
Non-Governmental Liaison Service