Fifty-seventh General Assembly
21st & 22nd Meetings (AM & PM)
IMPLEMENTATION OF RESOLUTIONS AND COMMITMENTS DESCRIBED AS BIGGEST CHALLENGE
TO MAJOR UN MEETINGS AS SECOND COMMITTEE CONSIDERS CONFERENCE FOLLOW-UP
The biggest challenge facing major United Nations meetings was putting all their resolutions and commitments into practice, the representative of Venezuela told the Second Committee (Economic and Financial) today as it discussed the question of follow-up to United Nations conferences and summits on economic and social issues.
Speaking for the "Group of 77" developing countries and China, he called for the strengthening of the General Assembly so that it could provide an integrated, comprehensive and balanced effort in achieving conference goals, with the Economic and Social Council providing the overall political direction and serving as a monitoring mechanism. Financial and technical implementation would be at the heart of such an exercise, which should be carried out at the intergovernmental level, he stressed. Noting that each conference had its own themes and follow-up mechanisms, he stressed the importance of linking common themes and called for more coherent, coordinated follow-up between the General Assembly plenary and its Second Committee and Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) to ensure implementation.
Australia's representative underscored the need to turn the goals of major conferences into reality, noting that too little time had been spent on implementation and practical, fresh, creative ideas. He also stressed the need to make greater use of existing United Nations structures, particularly the Economic and Social Council, for more non-combative and productive debate that would identify barriers to implementation and agree on ways to overcome them.
Japan’s representative questioned the value of successor plus-5 or plus-10 review conferences, asking whether they had produced tangible results on the ground, or had simply ended with fanfare similar to that accompanying the main conferences. Difficult issues resolved by one conference were immediately rehashed with the start of the next, he said, stressing the urgent need for the United Nations to take a more pragmatic, results-oriented approach to conference follow-up.
Echoing that sentiment, the representative of the United States said that the propensity for review conferences had proven increasingly flawed. It was time to focus more exclusively on reaching the targets that governments had agreed upon. He recommended that the functional commissions of the Economic and Social Council should engage in more dialogue among stakeholders, address a limited number of themes and examine results achieved at the national level.
Earlier today, the Committee concluded its discussion on the implementation of the first United Nations Decade for the Eradication of Poverty.
Speaking during the morning meeting included the representatives of Kenya, Brazil, South Africa, Philippines, Tunisia, Indonesia, Mali, Malawi, Iraq, Jordan, Zambia, Lebanon, Suriname, Nepal, Israel and Denmark (on behalf of the European Union).
The representatives of Lebanon and Israel spoke in exercise of the right of reply.
Speaking this afternoon were the representatives of Norway, China, Russian Federation, Pakistan, Mexico, India, Croatia, Egypt, Indonesia and the United Republic of Tanzania.
A representative of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies also made a statement.
The Director of the Division for Economic and Social Council Support and Coordination in the Department of Economic and Social Affairs and an official from the Office of the High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States also addressed the Committee.
The Committee will meet again at 10 a.m. tomorrow for a panel discussion on the topic "Managing Globalization".
The Second Committee (Economic and Financial) met this morning to conclude its debate on implementation of the first United Nations Decade for the Eradication of Poverty. It was also expected to begin its general discussion on integrated and coordinated implementation of and follow-up to the outcomes of major United Nations conferences and summits in the economic and social fields.
Follow-up to Major United Nations Conferences
Before the Committee was a report of the Secretary-General on Integrated and coordinated implementation of and follow-up to the outcomes of the major United Nations conferences and summits, including the United Nations Millennium Summit (document A/57/75-E/2002/57).
The report analyzes the three-tiered system used in 2001 and 2002 to review and implement outcomes of the conferences and addresses the specific follow-up roles of the General Assembly and the Economic and Social Council as well as the role of the Council’s functional commissions on the status of women, sustainable development, social development, population and development and human rights.
Underscoring the importance of integrating the follow-up process of the Millennium Summit with those of other conferences, the report addresses recent developments in conference follow-up, notably the challenges of gender mainstreaming and implementing the Programme of Action for the Least Developed Countries for the Decade 2001-2010.
According to the report, the Economic and Social Council should consider any proposal by the functional commissions to improve the conference and summit review process, and ensure that civil society, the private sector and stakeholders are involved in that process. It draws attention in particular to the global campaign to implement the Millennium Development Goals and advises the Economic and Social Council to encourage the Statistical Commission's efforts to harmonize development indicators used to implement conferences and summits.
The report cites new approaches to conference follow-up for the International Conference on Financing for Development and the World Summit on Sustainable Development. Future meetings should provide an opportunity to further address issues of coherence, coordination and cooperation between the Economic and Social Council, the Bretton Woods institutions and the World Trade Organization (WTO), as outlined in the Monterrey Consensus.
The report advises the Economic and Social Council to promote links between gender mainstreaming and the review of the Third United Nations Conference on the Least Developed Countries.
BOB JALANG’O (Kenya), referring to World Bank statistics, said that 300 million of the 1.2 billion people living on less than a dollar a day were from sub-Saharan Africa and the percentage continued to increase. More than 40 per cent of sub-Saharan Africa's population had no access to potable water, illiteracy rates were at their highest levels, and the toll of infectious diseases like malaria was on the rise. Massive urban migration had led to the rapid growth of slums, which were now home to 56 per cent of the region's urban population.
Achieving the Millennium Goals within set timeframes would not be easy, he said. Economic growth must take hold and progress must be made in education and health, particularly in the struggle against HIV/AIDS, if sub-Saharan Africa was to make a serious impact in poverty reduction. The continent had a wealth of natural resources, which, along with the mobilization of additional funds, could prove effective in winning the fight against poverty.
While private capital flows to developing countries had increased in the last decade, sub-Saharan Africa’s financing needs had yet to be fully met, he said. Developing nations needed predictable and sustainable development resources as well as more effective ODA.
Much remained to be done in freeing developing countries from their debt burden, he added, calling for an overhaul of the ambitious Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) debt-relief initiative. The proposed World Solidarity Fund for Poverty Eradication should be adopted, he said.
CHRISTINE LEONARDO, Adviser, International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, described disaster preparedness as an area of driving concern for the Federation, saying that only coherent and sustainable programmes could address the particular vulnerability of the needy and poor. Such programmes were at the heart of the Federation's work, which focused on populations in disaster-prone areas, migrants, food insecurity, and forgotten disasters like Chernobyl. If poverty was not to be a lasting legacy of disaster, certain needs must be addressed, including the provision of fresh water and sanitation, disease prevention, primary health care, and safe blood supplies.
Highlighting the close and clear relationship between poverty and HIV/AIDS, she said the Federation had scaled up its anti-AIDS efforts through youth education, community and home-based programmes to care for the victims. In more than 30 national Red Cross and Red Crescent societies in Africa, for example, those activities had helped to alleviate poverty, which was driving communities to the brink of collapse. Poverty eradication would be an important issue for the twenty-eighth International Conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent, to be held in December 2003 in Geneva. Its agenda and work programme would be centred on the theme "Protecting Human Dignity".
MARIA LUIZA RIBEIRO VIOTTI (Brazil) acknowledged that a series of United Nations conferences had recognized poverty as an urgent issue to tackle. The Monterrey Consensus, for example, reaffirmed the common goal of eradicating poverty, achieving sustained economic growth, and promoting sustainable development while advancing towards a fully inclusive and equitable global economic system.
In spite of recognizing the problem, however, progress towards the elimination of poverty had been slow and uneven, she said. Many countries were not likely to achieve their poverty reduction goals by 2015 and those goals would remain out of reach until international trade barriers were brought down and developing countries were allowed access to markets in the developed world.
Over the past decade, Brazil had reduced the number of its people living in poverty by 25 per cent, she said, noting, however, that 47 million Brazilians, representing a third of the country's population, still lived in poverty. The Government was implementing long-term social programmes in health, education, rural development, employment, national integration, and social security. Successful programmes featured decentralized decision-making and the involvement of civil society in drafting city budgets.
LINDA SHONGWE (South Africa) said that although the efforts of developing countries required support from their development partners, more use should be made of domestic technical expertise. In the area of trade, it was essential to ensure greater market access for the products of developing countries and to eliminate tariff as well as non-tariff barriers. There should also be more rapid progress on the implementation of the HIPC initiative, especially in getting more African countries to reach the completion point.
One of the key tasks for Africa’s policy makers was to maintain an unwavering commitment to mobilizing domestic resources, she stressed. There was also a need for an enabling domestic environment for private sector participation and enhanced intra-regional trade. Good governance remained an essential ingredient in ensuring that Africa’s governments, civil society and private sectors worked together for the creation of better livelihoods for all.
She said that poverty eradication remained at the forefront of the South African Government’s policy. Its poverty reduction strategies targeted children, older people, people with disabilities, people affected or infected by HIV/AIDS, and women, especially in rural areas. Human development and a better quality of life for all South African citizens must also take population issues into account, she said, adding that the Government had ensured the integration of population issues into development planning.
ANTONIO CUENCO (Philippines) noted that despite progress during the first decade for poverty eradication, 1.2 billion people still lived on less than a dollar a day, 1.1 billion were without access to safe and affordable drinking water, and 130 million children, mainly girls, lacked the means to attend school. Referring to the Secretary-General’s report on poverty eradication, he welcomed the best practices and lessons learned, which developing nations could emulate, but expressed concern about the report’s findings that poverty eradication goals had been uneven and were unlikely to be attained by 2015 in several regions.
That assessment, he said, called for renewed intergovernmental cooperation and partnerships with other stakeholders, particularly in providing financing, facilitating technology transfer and capacity-building, and creating an environment conducive to sustained economic growth and development. The Philippines was doing its part to build an open economy, and to create an open trade and investment climate through institutional reforms. But capital and more foreign direct investment (FDI), were required, particularly in areas that would promote sustainable environmental and economic development and improve the plight of the poor. He urged developed nations to reverse the decline in ODA, which was the primary source for capacity-building in many countries.
MOHAMED FADHEL AYARI (Tunisia) said that although many developing countries had made progress in achieving the Millennium goals, most African countries had fallen behind. The number of Africans living in extreme poverty continued to grow. Despite advances in curbing world hunger, an estimated 850 million people still lacked adequate food. AIDS and malaria continued to take thousands of lives, including the economically active populations of many countries.
In order to achieve the Millennium goals by 2015, the global community must move faster and further to spur economic growth in poor nations, he said. Crippled by the global economic downturn, millions of economically struggling people were at risk of slipping into even more difficult circumstances. The global community must mobilize more domestic resources for funding and encourage public and private-sector investment as well as greater international trade. He urged developed nations to do their part by slashing tariff and non-tariff barriers for developing-nation exports and called for the immediate adoption of the proposed World Solidarity Fund for Poverty Eradication.
DARMANSJAH DJUMALA (Indonesia) noted that the Secretary-General's report on poverty eradication included best practices and lessons learned, which could be useful models for countries attempting to overcome poverty. The international community must build databases and develop other means of disseminating that information in such organs as the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the United Nations Centre for Human Settlements Programme (United Nations-Habitat), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the World Bank.
While the primary responsibility for eradicating poverty rested with Governments themselves, he continued, they could not succeed on their own. There was no alternative to international cooperation in overcoming such obstacles as the ODA shortfall, inadequate access to markets and heavy debt burdens. The outcomes of all major international conferences had made a critical contribution to such international cooperation. At Monterrey, major donors had announced significant additional resources for development, and at Johannesburg, the international community had committed itself to revitalizing and fostering sustainable development. If the additional resources pledged at Monterrey could be tied to the sustainable development goals, the international community would be in a good position to combat poverty, he said.
ABRAHAM JOSEPH, Office of the High Representative for the Least Developed Countries (LDCs), Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States, said that LDCs represented the poorest and weakest segment of the world community. Extreme poverty, structural economic weakness and lack of growth and development capacities, often compounded by geographical handicaps, hampered their efforts to improve the quality of life. In the second half of the 1990s, almost nine out of 10 people in African LDCs were living on less than $2 a day. Moreover, the number of LDCs, 34 of which were in Africa, had risen from 25 to 49 over the past three decades
Noting that poverty eradication was the overarching aim of the Brussels Programme of Action and the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD), he said that both initiatives covered human, institutional and productive capacity-building, good governance, as well as the mobilization of financial resources and greater market access. Since the adoption of the Brussels Programme, LDCs had begun to mobilize themselves for its implementation. The Government of Benin had organized the Ministerial Conference of the Least Developed Countries in Cotonou last August, when Ministers discussed progress in implementing the Brussels Programme from the perspective of LDCs, including actions by development partners in meeting their commitments. The conference document reaffirmed the imperatives of poverty eradication and sustainable development in pursuit of improved living standards, based on the strengthening of productive capacity for sustainable production and consumption patterns.
N'GOLO FAMBA (Mali) said that globalization had accelerated so much in the last part of the twentieth century that it had left those who had been dealt a tough hand by history on the sidelines. He stressed that national and international solidarity was building leverage for social and economic development as well as peace and harmony. The Government of Mali had established the National Solidarity Fund, which had become the foundation for national social policy, responsible for financing programmes and actions for development. The fund was also enhancing institutional capacity-building and ensuring financial support for savings in rural and semi-rural areas.
However, the fledgling solidarity fund needed international support, which could be provided through the World Solidarity Fund, he said. Mali supported the Secretary-General’s recommendation that the proposed Fund must not be financed by the redirecting of resources, but rather through income-generating activities. Priority must be given to beneficiaries in its management, he added.
ISAAC LAMBA (Malawi) said that the 6.3 million Malawians living below the poverty line, 65.3 per cent of the population, lacked education, primary health care, nutrition, transportation, communication, clean water, sanitation and electrical power. Sectoral analysis of poverty in the country showed that life expectancy had dropped from 43 years in 1996 to 39 years in 2000. Agriculture was the main source of income, jobs and food for the rural poor, but, due to the current drought, as many as 3.2 million people had been affected by food shortages and many more would suffer by the end of the year. That gloomy situation was further exacerbated by the untold tragedy facing families affected by HIV/AIDS.
He welcomed the increase in ODA for basic social services over the past seven years, but appealed to development partners to honour the agreed ODA target of 0.7 per cent, as reiterated at Monterrey and other international conferences. Stressing the need to translate the aspirations of developing countries into reality, he said that the removal of balance of payments shortfalls, resource constraints on capital accumulation and impediments to growth in poor countries, including through increased debt relief and greater market access for African agricultural goods, must be given urgent consideration.
SABAH AHMAD (Iraq), calling for greater commitment in implementing the United Nations Decade for the Eradication of Poverty and for the adoption of the World Solidarity Fund, pointed to a lack of resolve on the part of developed countries to respect development financing commitments, including an increase in ODA, which had continued to decline despite robust economic growth in the North. The role of financing development in poorer nations had been relegated to international financial institutions and the WTO, which were dominated by developed countries. Their decisions had not been in the best interests of developing countries and LDCs, he said, stressing also the need to bridge the digital divide between the North and the South and to ease the debt-servicing burden of the South.
He said that prior to the embargo imposed on his country, Iraq had been a significant provider of credit to developing nations, particularly in Africa, participating in the financial credit programmes of 102 regional and international financial institutions for socio-economic development and poverty reduction. The embargo had hurt not just Iraq but also developing nations and LDCs with which Iraq had friendly relations.
Noting that Iraqi President Saddam Hussein had been among the first to call for creation of a world fund to assist developing countries, and in which developed oil-exporting countries would participate, he said that such a fund could resolve many problems resulting from poverty. Still, obstacles continued to keep developing countries in the vicious cycle of poverty. Financial assistance to developing nations must not have political strings attached, he emphasized.
ALI AL-ALAYED (Jordan) said that his country’s national strategy for eradicating poverty ensured a certain level of social security for the people. Jordan had set up a national solidarity fund, developed a national database and a geographical information system to track poverty. The country was fighting poverty through its social and economic policy, and seeking new economic opportunities to achieve that goal.
Poverty had many different faces and one could not adopt a rigid approach in combating it, he said. However, the problem of acute poverty in Jordan demanded a specific strategy that could be applied to reinforce initiatives that had already been developed. Short-, medium- and long-term measures were needed to improve social security, expand employment and to make education and health services more accessible.
Regarding its long-term strategy, he said, Jordan must find a way to reduce its dependence on the public sector. The Government had tried to create high-level partnerships to overcome that problem and had fostered awareness among private sector managers and business leaders.
LUKWESA KAEMBA (Zambia) said that while poverty levels were steadily dropping in many parts of the world, there was barely any progress in the fight against poverty in sub-Saharan Africa. The mere 1 per cent decline of poverty in that region during the 1990s was a cause of great concern for Africa and the international community at large. Zambia had done its part to combat poverty in the last decade, creating the Zambia Social Recovery Programme, which was cited in the Secretary-General’s report on poverty eradication.
While independent sector-wide programmes had helped reduce poverty in Zambia, much work remained, prompting the Zambian Government to adopt a more integrated approach, he said. In conjunction with non-governmental organizations (NGOs), civil society, eminent persons and international development organizations, the Government had set up a national poverty reduction strategy for 2002 to 2004 and its medium-term plan clearly stated the role of various economic sectors in reducing poverty and spelling out practical and measurable objectives. He supported the proposal to set up the World Solidarity Fund and appealed to international development partners to commit adequate resources for mutually agreed development programmes.
MAJDI RAMADAN (Lebanon) said that halving poverty by 2015 seemed impossible for such regions as sub-Saharan Africa and questioned whether the international community would need two or three more United Nations decades to accomplish that goal. If it had learned any lessons from the current experience, developing countries would live up to their commitments to conduct good governance, efficiently effect sound macroeconomic policies to attract foreign investment and promote microcredit for the poorest segments of society. On the other hand, their development partners would increase ODA and help alleviate the foreign debt burden of developing countries. They would also understand that poverty not only threatened the security and economic development of developing countries, but international stability as well.
Lebanon had emerged from war in 1998 that had seriously damaged its infrastructure and human resource base, she continued, and had made enormous efforts during the last decade to rebuild that infrastructure and stabilize the economy. It had brought down inflation and set up the right environment to attract foreign investment and encourage the inward flow of capital. Those challenges had been aggravated by the Israeli occupation of southern Lebanon, which lasted for 22 years. Several episodes of Israeli aggression in 1993, 1996 and 2000 had specifically targeted the newly rebuilt infrastructure and created several new tides of displaced people from southern Lebanon to Beirut, exerting further pressure on scarce resources.
JEANELLE VAN GLAANEN WEYGEL (Suriname) welcomed the Secretary-General’s report on poverty eradication and his proposal to establish a World Solidarity Fund. Suriname was doing its part, creating a Poverty Eradication Programme Plan and a locally designed social assistance programme, for medium-term economic management and long-term development consistent with Suriname’s needs and the country's 2000-2005 Multi-Annual Plan.
The Government would continue its market-economy reforms, stimulate the development of domestic resources and consider, through a broad-based participatory process, policies on trade, environment, sustainable development, democratic governance, gender mainstreaming and HIV/AIDS partnerships. The Government would also continue to work with and welcome the support of the UNDP in poverty eradication. The agency would be instrumental in that process by monitoring key poverty indications, she added.
TAPAS ADHIKARI (Nepal) said that prospects for meeting the Millennium goals were bleak if present conditions persisted. Some countries might be on track for meeting those goals, but most had been lagging behind, owing to slow economic growth and skewed distribution. To halve the number of poor people living in extreme poverty, developing countries would have to grow by at least 3.6 per cent per annum, a rate many poor nations were unlikely to achieve.
Time was running out for poor countries, but LDCs were in the most precarious predicament due to the vicious circle in which there were caught. They would have to redouble their efforts to reduce poverty, provide education, health and other basic services to give impetus to their development. Because they would not meet the Millennium goals on their own, wealthy nations must help them with ODA, debt relief, and market access, which were essential in developing infrastructure, providing basic services and promoting investment and innovation. Wealthy nations must provide the 0.7 per cent of gross national product for ODA to developing nations and 0.15 to 20 per cent to LDCs. They should rapidly help implement the HIPC initiative for all 42 eligible countries and expand its coverage to include all LDCs.
Mr. YAHYA (Israel) endorsed and supported NEPAD, stressing his country's willingness to participate in the programme and calling upon other States to follow suit. Developed countries could no longer ignore the extreme poverty in developing countries. Poverty was a blatant violation of human rights and contradictory to the social vision of developing countries and economic hardship was counterproductive to market demands. The exploitation of cheap labor instead of modern technology led to political intimidation and could also lead to the development of local terrorist movements.
He said poverty elimination required gradual investments in many areas. Programmes were needed to enlist massive and intensive resources from the top down. To avoid misuse or unwise use of resources, poorer nations needed community empowerment and new partnerships with civil society networks, better management of external investment and effective services tailored to their specific needs. He noted the interdependence between the economic and social fields and stressed the importance of improvements in education and health. Anti-poverty programmes should utilize local resources and involve coordination among local and national governments.
SARBULAND KHAN, Director of the Division for Economic and Social Council Support and Coordination, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, introduced a report on integrated and coordinated implementation of and follow-up to the outcomes of the major United Nations conferences and summits in the economic and social fields. He said the biggest challenge in implementation was ensuring that it was coherent, balanced and comprehensive. Implementation should not be selective or focused on the outcomes of conferences that were of particular interest to only one group.
VICENTE VALLENILLA (Venezuela), speaking on behalf of the Group of 77 and China, said the greatest challenge regarding major United Nations conferences and summits -- particularly the Monterrey Conference and the Johannesburg World Summit were putting into practice all the resolutions and commitments made. For this reason, the role of the General Assembly, the highest governmental mechanism for formulating economic and social policies, must be strengthened to provide an integrated, coordinated, comprehensive and balanced effort to implement conference goals.
The Economic and Social Council’s role should be further strengthened to promote a coordinated follow-up of the most pressing economic and social outcomes of the conferences, he said. The outcomes should be linked and form part of an integral framework, focusing particularly on poverty eradication, sustainable economic growth, sustainable development and improved living conditions.
While each conference had its own individual themes and follow-up mechanism, it was important to establish and link their common themes, he went on. Financial and technical implementation was at the heart of that exercise and should be carried out at the intergovernmental level. The Economic and Social Council should provide overall political direction in the social and economic fields, serving as a monitoring mechanism for the implementation of internationally integrated goals. He called for more coherent, coordinated follow-up between the General Assembly Plenary and its Second and Third Committees to ensure implementation. He also proposed the creation of an open-ended ad hoc working group in the General Assembly to ensure those objectives. The Group of 77 and
China were currently working on that issue and would introduce the proposal to the General Assembly later in the fifty-seventh session.
ELLEN MARGRETHE LOJ (Denmark), speaking on behalf of the European Union and associated States, stressed the need to make better use of the United Nations system, particularly the Second and Third Committees, the Economic and Social Council, the General Assembly and its functional commissions in implementing and following up the outcomes of major conferences. The European Union supported the creation of an ad hoc open-ended working group, with a concrete and time-bound mandate, to look into that matter. Keeping United Nations reform in mind, the Secretariat should offer input to such a group.
She said that conference follow-up required the participation of stakeholders seen as part of the Organization’s work, namely the World Bank, the IMF and the WTO. She underscored the importance of including also civil society, the private sector and other stakeholders in implementation at the field level, which was an enormous challenge requiring the resources of all development partners.
Right of Reply
The representative of Lebanon, speaking in exercise of the right of reply, said that Israeli occupation had created obstacles that had hindered its development and further protracted the country’s civil war. Israel’s repeated aggression and military campaigns in the 1990s had attacked his country’s infrastructure and had always come at the beginning of the tourist season to prevent the economy from recovering. Israel had continued to threaten Lebanon militarily so that it could not use its resources, while Lebanon claimed less than its rights under international conventions. Israel spoke of the Syrian presence in Lebanon, which, however, was in keeping with agreements between Syria and Lebanon.
Israel's representative, also exercising the right of reply, said that his country’s presence in Lebanon had ended and wished Lebanon prosperity and a good life.
Lebanon’s representative said that mines were also hindering development in his country, preventing farmers from cultivating the land and threatening their livelihoods.
The following statements were made in the Committee’s afternoon meeting.
KJERSTI RODSMOEN (Norway) said the United Nations should use existing structures more effectively in following up and implementing conferences outcomes. The General Assembly and the Economic and Social Council, as well as its subsidiary bodies, should play the primary roles in following up conference outcomes. By entrusting those bodies with follow-up, the General Assembly would become more relevant and have more impact on today’s global agenda.
However, governments had the primary responsibility for implementing conference outcomes, she continued. Further progress was needed to ensure the integration of conference outcomes into country assistance programmes. The resident coordinator system had an important role to play in assisting governments in that respect, she said, noting that the coordinator was vital in enhancing United Nations coordination at the country level, including through the United Nations Development Assistance Framework (UNDAF).
LIU HUE (China) underscored the importance of integrated and coordinated follow-up to major United Nations conferences, noting that development relating to women’s issues, social development, food and agriculture, financing for development and sustainable development had all been major themes at the Doha, Monterrey and Johannesburg conferences. Follow-up actions to those common themes must be upheld through adequate financing, technology transfer on favourable terms and capacity-building.
Agreeing with the Secretary-General’s report that basic indicators were helpful in measuring the progress of implementation outcomes, she said that such indicators could also be helpful in the overall review and evaluation of the outcomes, and would eliminate the need for burdensome multiple data. All countries should participate fully in selecting basic indicators from the pool of indicators currently accepted and widely used by Member States, she added.
YURIY ISAKOV (Russian Federation) stressed that all Member States should support the implementation of conference outcomes, especially in coordinating intergovernmental mechanisms for follow-up work, saying that his country believed in the integrated consideration of issues that were similar in all conferences.
A three-tiered approach, incorporating the most effective intergovernmental mechanisms and clearly defining the work of the General Assembly, the Economic and Social Council and the functional commissions, should be used.
He advised a move away from the automatic five-year review process, while making broader and more effective use of intergovernmental mechanisms, saying that the most opportune time for that would be the September general debate. He also supported the proposal by the "Group of 77" developing countries and China to consider all issues relating to conference follow-up within a special open-ended group that would cover social summits and United Nations processes.
AIZAZ AHMAD CHAUDRY (Pakistan) said that during a previous meeting of the Second Committee, his country had submitted a concrete proposal to secure adequate follow-up to and implementation of the policy commitments and actions plans of various conferences and summits in an integrated, comprehensive and balanced manner. Such follow-up must be streamlined at the policy and programme levels, at the national and international levels, and among various stakeholders.
He said that the proposed follow-up mechanism would function at three levels: functional commissions (trade and development, finance and development, and sustainable development), the Economic and Social Council and the General Assembly. As mandated by the United Nations Charter, the Economic and Social Council would be charged with overall follow-up and implementation. Sectoral commissions, under the Council’s auspices, would conduct a substantive review. While structures had been created to ensure effective follow-up of all past United Nations conferences, budgetary constraints had caused many member States to favour cost-effective alternatives such as permanent or ad hoc mechanisms within the Council to deal with finance and development, and trade and development. In the interest of consensus, Pakistan was willing to explore those options, he said.
MAURICIO ESCANERO (Mexico), echoing the statements of other speakers, said that the biggest challenge facing Member States was the implementation of major United Nations conferences and summits in an integrated and coordinated manner, with concrete, measurable results. That required a renewed commitment to multilateralism. He applauded the Secretary-General’s recent proposal to strengthen the United Nations role in development and stressed the importance of modernizing its work methods and capitalizing on the various strengths of the General Assembly, the Economic and Social Council, and functional commission in the economic, social and environmental areas.
He suggested that in the area of development, the United Nations should make its substantive agenda more coherent and integrated; apply wider and more systematic work methods, such as interactive debates, round tables and discussion panels; synthesize and improve the quality of reports; and negotiate more concise and concrete resolutions.
YOSHIYUKI MOTOMURA (Japan) questioned whether successor plus-5 or plus-10 conferences had produced tangible results on the ground, or had begun and ended with the fanfare that accompanied the conferences themselves. It seemed that the successor process had only resulted in much time-consuming and repetitive debate on the same set of issues. Difficult questions resolved in one conference were immediately re-opened with the start of the preparatory process for the next. Endless hours of time and millions of dollars were consumed in lengthy preparatory processes and review conferences. Japan felt that the United Nations must urgently take a more pragmatic, results-oriented approach when following up the outcomes of major conferences. Now was the right time to implement that change, he stressed.
Member States should share their thoughts on a possible mechanism by which the entire United Nations system could carry out conference outcomes and follow them up, he said. He noted that the Economic and Social Council was the body responsible for coordinating the activities of other United Nations bodies in the economic and social fields, and it should pursue a cross-cutting approach on themes common to major conferences. The relevant subsidiary bodies and United Nations agencies should follow up on technical matters specific to each conference, he added.
V. K. NAMBIAR (India) stressed that shared responsibility in implementing United Nations conferences was not an exit strategy for national responsibility since national governments were primarily responsible for the well-being of their citizens. Shared responsibility meant that indicators measuring progress should be applied to all members of the international community. For developed countries, that meant measuring progress in achieving mutually agreed objectives and targets for ODA, debt relief and market access.
Reviewing conference implementation was of a dual nature, he continued. It meant pursuing an integrated and coordinated approach to common overarching conference goals and maintaining the identity and integrity of every conference through a focused view in order to stimulate progress in the relevant areas. A uniform approach to the follow-up of all United Nations conferences and summits should be adopted. While all Member States had an interest in the follow-up to all conferences, the degree of interest could vary, he said, adding that agreement on adopting a common approach would make consensus easier.
IRENA ZUBCEVIC (Croatia) said that the real challenge facing the United Nations system was the integrated and coordinated implementation of internationally agreed development goals for poverty eradication, sustained economic growth, sustainable development and improved living conditions for people everywhere. The General Assembly, the Organization’s chief deliberative and policy-making body, should focus on overall policy issues emerging from conference follow-up and ensure that they were linked to development goals. However, the Economic and Social Council and its subsidiary bodies should be charged with overall guidance and coordination, and should provide concrete and meaningful guidelines to keep political and policy progress on the right track.
Citing the Monterrey Consensus and the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation, he said that all parts of the United Nations system must stay engaged in order to implement conference outcomes. The Second Committee, he added, should give more recommendations for implementation in economic and social fields and offer guidance to the General Assembly plenary in those areas.
IHAB GAMALELDIN (Egypt) noted that each United Nations conference had its own independent nature and follow-up mechanism. Synergies of effort in the national and international constituencies responsible for the outcomes and implementation of conference results would be of benefit to all, he said, stressing that conferences should not duplicate ongoing work elsewhere, but rather, focus on key elements. That approach was worth further consideration at the intergovernmental level.
He said cross-cutting issues emerging from conferences should be dealt with at the intergovernmental level, with the follow-up focusing on implementation. Review conferences should not add targets for developing countries, while leaving out support from developed countries and the United Nations system. Restating targets during conferences was not useful and the international community must ensure that they were implemented within the agreed time frames.
GUY O'BRIEN (Australia) noted that the Second and Third Committees had put much, if not most of their energy into major economic and social conferences in the past several years. The coming years would focus on conference follow-up. Australia agreed with the Secretary-General's report on the need for self-restraint in creating new conferences due to the growing summit fatigue among the general public and many governments.
There was a major disadvantage in holding mega-conferences, he said. They detracted from the existing United Nations structure, particularly with respect to the role of the Economic and Social Council; diverted budget funds and Secretariat resources from programmes and on-the-ground assistance; and complicated an already challenging calendar. Too little time had been spent on producing practical, fresh and creative ideas on implementation. The real challenge ahead was to turn the goals already set forth at major conferences into reality.
Australia was encouraged by the increasing attention to the development of practical, results-oriented partnerships with business and other economic sectors, he said, stressing the need to make greater use of the existing United Nations structures and bodies, particularly the Economic and Social Council, and for more non-combative, productive discussions, which identified barriers to implementation and mutually agreed ways to overcome them.
DJAUHARI ORATMANGUN (Indonesia) said the General Assembly, the Economic and Social Council and the functional commissions, acting as a three-tiered system for follow-up to conferences, each played a vital role. The challenge was in ensuring that they all considered the outcomes of major conferences as collectively contributing towards an integrated framework for implementing internationally agreed development goals. He stressed the continuing importance of strengthening the Council’s coordinating role in implementing conference outcomes in the economic, social and related fields.
He emphasized the vital role of the General Assembly as the highest mechanism for ensuring harmonized, integrated policy guidance in those fields and proposed the establishment of an open-ended ad hoc working group under the auspices of the General Assembly President. The group would begin its work by January 2003 so that the Second Committee could submit a report before the current session ended. The working group should make recommendations addressing ways to promote the policy and programme coordination of international institutions and to enhance greater policy coherence between the United Nations, the Bretton Woods institutions and the WTO in achieving internationally agreed development goals.
Ms. MSUYA (United Republic of Tanzania) said successful follow-up and review of the implementation of major United Nations conferences and summits required concerted and joint efforts of the Economic and Social Council, its functional commission, the Bretton Woods institutions and other organizations of the United Nations system. The Economic and Social Council should focus on cross-cutting issues, and ensure that all functional commissions provided substantive and focused contributions. Its mandate over its functional commissions should be strengthened.
Institutional arrangements notwithstanding, Member States had a vital role in conference follow-up and implementation. There was an urgent need for policy adjustment, both among the industrialized rich countries and developing nations. Developing nations needed to improve service delivery and create investment-friendly climates for domestic and foreign investments, while focusing clearly on poverty eradication. Developed nations needed to allow greater market access to developing nations’ exports, to increase official development assistance and foreign direct investment, and to ease the debt burden of developing nations.
JOHN DAVISON (United States) said that a propensity for “plus 5 or plus 10” automatic reviews of conferences had proven to be increasingly flawed. It was now time to focus more exclusively on implementation -– on achieving the objectives of the conference documents and reaching targets governments had agreed on. When mandated, the functional commissions of the Economic and Social Council should continue to have the primary responsibility for the review and assessment of progress made in implementing United Nations conference documents.
He recommended that those commissions should engage in more dialogue among stakeholders, address a limited number of themes and examine results achieved at the national level. Governments should be encouraged to send substantive experts. Members of civil society should participate in the annual meetings. Negotiations on resolutions and other outcome documents should be limited to every three years.
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