Concluding Remarks by Mr. José Antonio Ocampo, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs to the Second Committee
New York, 8 December 2006

Chairperson,
Distinguished Delegates,

We have come to the close of an intense and productive session of the Second Committee, which itself marks the end of a remarkable year for development issues in the United Nations. The Committee adopted more than 40 resolutions on a broad range of issues, addressing both existing and emerging challenges. These resolutions, in their own right, constitute significant contributions to our efforts to advance the United Nations Development Agenda, including the MDGs.

The work of the Committee was once more enriched by a series of panel discussions. We had the privilege of interacting with key policy makers and world renowned scholars addressing a diverse set of issues, from the future of globalization to innovative ways to finance measures to combat climate change, energy security, and strengthening entrepreneurship.

Poverty eradication remains the most urgent global goal in the UN development agenda. With its resolution on the issue, the Committee has requested the Secretary-General to submit a comprehensive report evaluating the impact of the first UN Decade for poverty eradication and recommending how to take forward the UN’s work on that front.

Reaching the MDGs remains a formidable challenge for many Least Developed Countries (LDCs). This was also a message from the Midterm Comprehensive Review of the Programme of Action for the LDCs, held earlier this year. To address this challenge, the review process generated the Cotonou strategy for further implementing the Brussels Programme of Action, prepared by the LDCs, as well as an important Declaration. Both the Declaration and the Committee’s resolution should help advance the Programme’s timely and effective implementation.

The High-Level Dialogue on International Migration and Development and the follow-up deliberations in the Second Committee provided an opportunity to discuss the multidimensional aspects of this global challenge and showed widespread support for its incorporation into the UN Development Agenda and, especially, into national development strategies. The Committee’s resolution calls for consideration of options for appropriate follow-up of the Dialogue in 2008, thus providing ample time for evaluating the impact of the state-led initiative, the “Global Forum on Migration and Development”, which will take place for the first time in Belgium next year. The Committee noted the establishment of the “Global Migration Group” and underscored its objective to increase coherence in the UN system’s response to international migration and development issues. I know that the Group is taking this mandate seriously. And I look forward to the Global Forum as an instrument to advance all countries’ engagement in developing strategies to improve the outcomes of international migration for all. You can count on our continued support as you embark on this important initiative.

In the field of development finance, the Committee agreed to hold the Follow-up International Conference on Financing for Development to Review the Implementation of the Monterrey Consensus in Doha, Qatar in the second half of 2008. The meeting will provide an important opportunity to assess progress made, to identify obstacles and constraints encountered, and to agree on actions to overcome them. It should also serve to strengthen this pillar of the global partnership for development.

The Committee also addressed the priority issue of enhancing voice and participation for developing countries in the Bretton Woods institutions. The Committee’s resolution on the International Financial System stresses the importance of an early agreement on a credible and time-bound package of quota and voice reforms in the International Monetary Fund. We know some progress has been made and hope that the BWIs will be in a position to report further steps on this issue at the High Level meeting of the Economic and Social Council next April.

On globalization and interdependence, the Committee endorsed several of the recommendations put forward in the report of the Secretary-General, focused this year on science and technology. I should underscore, however, that while North-South cooperation was mentioned in the resolution, South-South cooperation was not, despite its being critical in promoting science and technology for development. A promising step in this regard is the decision of the Third World Network of Scientific Organizations—TWNSO—to upgrade its status to the Consortium of Science, Technology and Innovation—COSTIS, as endorsed in September by the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the G77. I should also mention that, after a gap of two years, the Committee was able to agree on a theme for next year’s globalization report. I commend the Committee for selecting the timely theme of the linkages between national and international policies.

We must also acknowledge the areas where, over the last 12 weeks, the deliberations did not produce the desired results.

One such area is trade. The lack of consensus on the trade and development resolution, for the third consecutive year, is symptomatic of the growing gap between negotiating partners. As the Secretary-General noted in a recent speech to the General Assembly, the successful conclusion of the Round is a “sine qua non” for achieving the MDGs. This makes our inability to come together to send a positive message from the UN all the more concerning. We need to redouble our efforts to build bridges and to ensure that the Doha Round is concluded successfully and in a timely manner.

Chairperson,
This year we also had two important events: the “Informal Thematic Debate on “Partnerships towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals” and the “International Forum on the Eradication of Poverty”. From them, four key messages emerged. First, good intentions remain to be matched by concrete action. Second, low-cost, low-tech, high impact interventions to fight the calamities of the poorest of the poor are readily available. Third, there is an urgent need for scaling-up. Fourth, the potential of civil society and the private sector still needs to be more fully tapped, particularly through partnerships at the global and national levels.

At the outset of this year, one group of countries called upon delegations to act boldly to ensure that 2006 will be remember as a “year of implementation”. This year might not have brought the decisive shift—moving the UN from policy making to an implementation mode—as many of us had hoped for. And there might not be one single big success to point to. But I believe that many steps in the right direction have been taken, some of which I have highlighted this afternoon. Taken together, they constitute significant progress towards implementing the United Nations Development Agenda.

In this regard, a crucial achievement was the approval by the General Assembly of a resolution on ECOSOC that gives the Council two new functions: the Annual Ministerial Reviews and the Development Cooperation Forum.

The Reviews can help us in keeping focused on implementation by serving as a platform for political engagement and as a mechanism for continuous assessment of substantive progress on the various aspects of the UN Development Agenda. By providing a forum where lessons learned and examples of good practice can be shared, they can also help in determining what works and hence what should be scaled-up. Moreover, Reviews with broad-based participation can help to unlock the potential of civil society and the private sector and to facilitate new partnerships.

Similarly, the Development Cooperation Forum is expected to serve as an important vehicle by enhancing the effectiveness of monitoring and oversight provided by ECOSOC of the global development cooperation system and by bringing the discussion on aid effectiveness to a truly multilateral arena. Because efficient and effective development cooperation remains a cornerstone of all our efforts to reach the internationally agreed development goals, including the MDGs, providing effective intergovernmental oversight and guidance on this important matter is crucial. This is a point also highlighted by the Secretary-General’s High-level Panel on UN System-wide Coherence in its recently published report.

I look forward to building on all of your hard work thus far, upon your return from a well earned Holiday break.