DESA News Vol. 12, No. 09 September 2008

Global dialogue on development

Food crisis, UN democratization expected to dominate General Assembly debate

High-level meeting on Africa’s development needs, on 22 September, and on the Millennium Development Goals, on 25 September, will also be in the spotlight

The General Assembly general debate, which provides Member States the opportunity to express their views on major international issues, gets underway on 23 September in New York through 3 October. This year, the debate is expected to focus on the impact of the global food crisis on poverty and hunger in the world as well as the need to democratize the United Nations, a theme proposed by the President-elect of the 63rd session, H.E. Miguel d’Escoto Brockmann, of Nicaragua.

The practice of selecting a specific issue of global concern for the session dates back to 2003, when the General Assembly decided to introduce this innovation in an effort to enhance the authority and role of the world body. The annual debate traditionally features statements by dozens of heads of State and Government as well as foreign ministers.

Prior to the general debate, on 22 September, there will be a high-level event organized by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Africa’s development needs while on 25 September a second high-level event will be held on the subject of the Millennium Development Goals. A plenary meeting devoted to the midterm review of the Almaty Programme of Action on landlocked developing countries will feature on 2 and 3 October. The 63rd session formally opens on 16 September.

The Assembly’s Second Committee – dealing with the economic and financial aspects of development – will convene starting 6 October with a focus on globalization and interdependence. Economic forces powering globalization, including trade and cross-border flows of capital and labour, have important economic, social and environmental impacts on countries. The realization of the MDGs is dependent on the concerted management of the globalization process by the international community and the strengthening of the global partnership for development. Developmental consideration must be placed at the centre in managing globalization at the national, regional and global levels to ensure that the benefits can be shared among all countries and people.

As part of the Second Committee’s consideration of the globalization item, DESA’s has planned a number of side events, including a panel discussion on globalization and health. The panel will address challenges to public health systems and communicable disease interventions in the context of globalization with a keynote address to be delivered by Prof. Richard Hausman of Harvard University.

The Assembly’s Third Committee – dealing with social, humanitarian and cultural matters – will also convene on 6 October to discuss items questions relating to advancement of women, youth, ageing, the disabled, humanitarian assistance and related issues. The Committees seek where possible to harmonize the various approaches of States, and present their recommendations, usually in the form of draft resolutions and decisions, to a plenary meeting of the Assembly for its consideration.

The Assembly is the chief deliberative, policymaking and representative organ of the UN, a forum for multilateral negotiation. While it is empowered to make only non-binding recommendations to States on international issues within its competence, it has, nevertheless, initiated actions – political, economic, humanitarian, social and legal – which have affected the lives of millions of people throughout the world. The Millennium Declaration, adopted in 2000, and the 2005 World Summit Outcome Document, for example, reflected the commitment of Member States to reach goals to achieve development, poverty eradication, promote the rule of law, meet the special needs of Africa and protect the environment.

For more information:

H.E. Srgjan KerimH.E. Srgjan Kerim, President of the 62nd session, presents his views on the global food and energy crisis at a meeting of the General Assembly devoted to the issue on 18 July (9 minutes)

Draft outcome of Doha review conference

Preparatory process moves into final stages with informal consultations on draft outcome document starting 8 September

A draft of the outcome document on review of implementation of the Monterrey Consensus was issued on 28 July, paving the way for informal consultations on the agreement by General Assembly delegates from 8 to 10 September in New York. Additional consultations and drafting sessions will be held, as necessary, through November when the international review conference gets underway in Doha.

The review conference and the preparatory process leading up to it are meant to assess progress on the 2002 Monterrey Consensus, reaffirm goals and commitments, and share best practices and lessons learned. They are also expected to identify obstacles to implementation of the Consensus, initiatives to overcome them, and other emerging issues. DESA’s Financing for Development Office serves as the focal point in the UN Secretariat for overall follow-up at the national, regional and global levels.

For more information: