Fifty-ninth General Assembly
58th & 59th Meetings (AM & PM)
GENERAL ASSEMBLY discusses PREPARATIONS FOR 2005 high-level
review of MILLENNIUM SUMMIT, major un conferences
Also Adopts Resolution Commemorating Sixtieth Anniversary of End of
Second World War, Declares 8, 9 May ‘Days of Remembrance, Reconciliation’
With many countries -- particularly the world’s poorest -- struggling to achieve the Millennium Declaration’s vision of a world unified by common values and striving with renewed determination to achieve peace and decent standards of living for all, the General Assembly met today to begin planning for next year’s summit-level progress review.
Four years ago, world leaders adopted the Declaration at the conclusion of the United Nations Millennium Summit, setting out a blueprint to build a better and safer world for the next century through collective security and a global partnership for development. The so-called Millennium Development Goals aimed at a series of ambitious targets ranging from halving extreme poverty to halting the spread of HIV/AIDS to providing universal primary education, all by 2015.
Last May, the Assembly decided to hold in New York in 2005, at the beginning of its sixtieth session, a ministerial-level meeting to review implementation of the Declaration and the integrated follow-up to other major United Nations conferences and summits. Today, delegations generally agreed to a broad set of proposals offered by the Secretary-General on the modalities of the event, including that it be held from 14 to 16 September, following the format and structure of the Millennium Summit -- three days of plenary debate, made up of two meetings per day and four round-table discussions.
Highlighting the urgency surrounding a mid-term review of efforts to implement the Millennium Goals, South Africa’s representative said progress towards the eradication of extreme poverty and hunger was uneven -- deteriorating in some cases. Although much of eastern, south-eastern and southern Asia and North Africa were broadly on track to achieve the target on poverty, there had been little or no progress in sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean. In western Asia, poverty had actually increased. Progress was also mixed in other areas such as universal primary education, gender equality and combating HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases.
Part of the problem was that the resources committed by the international community remained highly inadequate, he said, pointing out that sub-Saharan Africa continued to lag behind in the achievement of the Goals. Chapter VII of the Millennium Declaration responded to the call to make the twenty-first century an “African century”, in recognition of the special difficulties facing the continent. As such, the international community should increase support for the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD). As for the 2005 event, the agenda should be comprehensive and cover both development and security-related issues. It should also lead to concrete commitments, enhanced cooperation and coherence at all levels, as envisioned in the Declaration.
Speaking on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, the representative of Qatar said the Millennium Declaration must be implemented in its entirety and that all of its targets were equally important and should be given an equal priority. Their realization required greater collaborative efforts by the international community. And while some countries had met their commitment to provide 0.7 per cent of their gross national product (GNP) as official development assistance (ODA), a large number of developed nations had fallen far short of meeting that target.
He went on to echo the sentiment of many delegations, stressing that trade was now a main avenue of revenue that could help developing nations achieve their development goals. There was a lack of basic resources to empower some nations to participate fully in the global trading system, and certain trade policies had effectively denied a large number of developing countries the benefits of globalisation. In addition, he believed that in pursuing the implementation of the Millennium Declaration and the outcomes of major conferences and summits, their distinct identities should be maintained, while, at the same time, recognizing the need for thematic coherence in the process. That would help, among other things, in promoting synergies and ensuring efficient utilization of resources.
The representative of the Netherlands, speaking on behalf of the European Union and associated States, agreed with the Secretary-General that the review should be a summit, and its outcome should be a succinct, comprehensive and politically meaningful declaration focused on implementation, endorsing progress that had been made and containing a clear reaffirmation of the goals set. In addition, the outcome should contain a clear set of guidelines on the challenges of collective security; agreements to enhance the implementation of commitments undertaken in the Millennium Declaration and through the Millennium Goals; and decisions on organizational reforms needed to achieve goals.
Yuri Fedotov, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, also noted that progress with regard to the Millennium Goals had been uneven. There were both encouraging trends and setbacks. Russia would undertake the necessary efforts to reach specific targets at the national level. On the whole, his nation concurred with the Secretary-General that the attainment of the Goals within the established timeframe remained a realistic target, but it required a new impetus to the implementation of the Millennium Declaration, as well as of the commitments made in Monterrey and Johannesburg. Adopting a resolution on the organization of the 2005 summit as soon as possible, before the end of the year, would be an important step.
Also today, speakers generally supported the Secretary General’s proposals regarding the High-level Dialogue on Financing for Development –- also set for next year, stressing that that event should receive a high level of participation from all stakeholders, be visible and send a message of strong political commitment. Others suggested that more time be devoted to informal discussions on when and where that follow-up to the 2002 Conference, held in Monterrey, Mexico, should take place.
In other business, the Assembly adopted a resolution commemorating the sixtieth anniversary of the end of the Second World War, and declared 8 to 9 May as a time of remembrance and reconciliation and invited all Member States, organizations of the United Nations system, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and individuals to observe annually either one or both of those days in an appropriate manner to pay tribute to all who lost their lives in that War. The Assembly would also hold a special solemn plenary meeting in the second week of May 2005 in commemoration of the sacrifices made during the War.
At the outset of the meeting, the representative of China introduced a draft resolution on enhancing capacity-building in global public health.
Also speaking today were the representatives of Barbados (on behalf of CARICOM), Australia (also on behalf of Canada and New Zealand (CANZ)), Brunei Darussalam (on behalf of the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN)),Algeria, Syria, Tajikistan, Switzerland, Norway, Liechtenstein, Kenya, Republic of Korea, Brazil (on behalf of the Rio Group), Morocco, India, United Republic of Tanzania, Eritrea, Iceland, Tunisia, Nigeria, Mongolia, Malaysia, Japan, Indonesia, Nepal, Kazakhstan, Bangladesh, Ethiopia and Egypt.
The Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation introduced the draft resolution on the commemoration of the sixtieth anniversary of the end of the Second World War. The representatives of the Netherlands (on behalf of the European Union), Azerbaijan and Lithuania spoke after the adoption of the text.
The Assembly will meet again at 10 a.m. tomorrow, 23 November, to conclude its joint debate on the high-level review of the Millennium Declaration and follow-up to major United Nations conferences and summits. It is also expected to take up its item on the occupied territories of Azerbaijan.
The General Assembly met today to discuss follow-up to the outcome of the Millennium Summit, as well as integrated and coordinated implementation of and follow-up to the outcomes of the major United Nations conferences and summits in the economic, social and related fields. It was also expected to consider a draft resolution related to the declaration by the United Nations of 8 and 9 May as days of remembrance and reconciliation.
The guiding document for the Assembly is the Secretary-General’s report on modalities, format and organization of the high-level plenary meeting of its sixtieth session (document A/59/545). It recalls that, five years ago, world leaders adopted the Millennium Declaration that set out a blueprint to build a better and safer world for the next century through collective security and a global partnership for development. Other major conferences were held since then, adding to the global consensus on a number of important issues. In May, the Assembly decided to hold in New York in 2005, at the beginning of its sixtieth session, a high-level plenary meeting or summit, which will review implementation of the Declaration and the integrated follow-up to major United Nations conferences and summits. It will also provide an opportunity to inject new energy into the vision of the Millennium Declaration.
The Assembly asked the Secretary-General to submit a comprehensive report on that Declaration by March 2005, which will cover all areas of the Declaration, including a review of the progress made in the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). The Assembly also asked the Secretary-General to submit, at its current session, a report on modalities, format and organization of the high-level plenary meeting of its sixtieth session. The recommendations of that report (A/59/545), being considered today, are based on the report of the facilitators and on the positive experience of the Millennium Summit (6-8 September 2000), as well as on the experience accumulated in organizing special sessions, major conferences and summits.
The report recommends that the Assembly hold the 2005 high-level meeting for three days. The Assembly may wish to consider holding the meeting from 14 to 16 September 2005. The general debate would then commence on 20 September. The Secretary-General recommends that the Assembly follow the format and structure of the Millennium Summit -- three days of plenary meetings, made up of two meetings per day and four round-table meetings.
Regarding the themes for the round-table meetings, the Assembly may also wish to consider two options. Each one could cover the Summit’s entire agenda, repeating the practice at the Millennium Summit. The second option would be to allocate the discussion of specific themes to the four round-table meetings. The Secretary-General also encourages all Member States to participate in the summit at the highest level. He underscores that the preparatory process must be open, inclusive and transparent. Second, it must bring together various contributions and produce a single integrated package of decisions to be presented at the high-level plenary meeting.
Third, it must be flexible and efficient. Last, but not least, given the importance and scope of the agenda, preparations must aim to achieve consensus and results. The Secretary-General stresses the importance of reaching decisions on the timing and duration during the main part of the current Assembly session. Also, it would be preferable if decisions on structure and format of the high-level plenary were reached before he presents his comprehensive report on the Millennium Declaration in March 2005.
The report also notes that by resolution 58/230 of 23 December 2003, the Assembly decided to hold the biennial High-level Dialogue on Financing for Development in 2005 at the ministerial level. It also decided to set the time and modalities of that Dialogue at its fifty-ninth session, taking into account other major events. The Secretary-General sees great value in holding that meeting prior to the summit, so that it can provide an input into the preparatory process. The Dialogue should take place at the ministerial level, with the participation of ministers responsible for various portfolios, including finance, trade and development, and should deliver a concrete set of recommendations to the preparatory process for the summit. The Assembly may consider holding the Dialogue in Geneva late in June or early in July 2005.
Also before the Assembly is the Secretary-General’s report on the implementation of the Millennium Declaration (document A/59/282 and Corr.1), which recalls that the Declaration “captured the aspirations of the international community for the new century … [speaking] of a world united by common values and striving with renewed determination to achieve peace and decent standards of living for every man woman and child”.
But the report also recalls that the world’s resolve had been shaken one year later with the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks and their aftermath. In particular, the war in Iraq profoundly divided the international community and brought light to fundamental differences among members of the United Nations on how to ensure collective security in the face of increased threats of terrorism and weapons of mass destruction. These precautions greatly overshadowed other concerns, from HIV/AIDS to extreme poverty and environmental degradation, despite the impact of such issues on the daily lives of hundreds of millions of people.
The Secretary-General states that some progress has been made during the past 12 months on mending the rift in the international community, and adds that “it is essential that we continue on this path, for only a united international community can act effectively to confront the numerous obstacles which stand in the way of realizing the vision of the Millennium Declaration”. His report goes on to illustrate the magnitude of the tasks before global actors, such as addressing the challenges as Iraq struggles towards national unity and reconciliation in a climate of continuing violence and amid competing visions for that country’s future. Another distressing trend of the past year is the very large numbers of civilians who have fallen victim to terrorist attacks, not only in Iraq, but in Istanbul, Madrid, Riyadh, Haifa and Moscow.
Also in the past year, the spectre of gross systematic violations of international humanitarian law reared its ugly head once again in the Darfur region of the Sudan, where massive human rights violations combined with malnutrition and preventable disease, due to lack of access to food, water and basic sanitation, have led to the deaths of tens of thousands of people and the displacement of over a million others. “The situation in Darfur strikes at the very heart of the ideals of the Charter and the Millennium Declaration”, Mr. Annan says. Another concern is that the number of new HIV/AIDS infections was higher in the last calendar year than ever before, which raised serious concerns for the development prospects of entire regions.
“We have the knowledge and the technological instruments that are necessary to achieve real progress in combating poverty and to achieve real progress in combating poverty and to share more equitably the benefits of globalization,” the Secretary-General says. Similarly, there are many avenues open for strengthening collective security and dealing more effectively with the variety of threats confronting the international community. He adds that knowledge, capacity and the political will to act and provide resources are three necessary components of a successful drive to implement the Millennium Declaration, as well as the rule of law, which is equally necessary.
With all this in mind, the Secretary-General states that challenges and threats are never static, so although the goals of the Millennium Declaration have been firmly set, the institutional arrangements required to achieve them must be agile. As the primary actors and stakeholders in the international system, Member States will have to be flexible in their own approaches. States will have to continue the positive trend of integrating the Millennium Goals into their national strategies, while donors will have to incorporate the vision of the Declaration into their own bilateral programmes. He also notes that the report of his High-Level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change should provide an important foundation for serious discussion of changes that may well be needed.
The report of the Joint Inspection Unit (JIU) on achieving the universal primary education goal of the Millennium Declaration, and a related note by the Secretary-General (document A/59/76, Add.1 and Add.1/Cor.1) outlines the global efforts underway to finally allow, by 2015, boys and girls alike, to enjoy their human right to quality education and complete a full course of primary schooling. It also examines whether the international community can ensure that “girls and boys will have equal access to all levels of education” by that same date.
The main report states that, at this time, it is generally recognized that there is a real danger that this particular goal, as well as the second education goal regarding gender equality, will not be met unless the international community strongly resolves to live up to the solemn pledge given at the 2000 World Education Forum in Dakar, Senegal, that “no countries seriously committed to education for all will be thwarted in their achievement of this goal by a lack of resources”, and governments give priority to national education commensurate with their international commitments. In both cases, there is a need for governments to demonstrate they really mean what they say, particularly in the face of current trends, which showed that with the present levels of contributions, countries would fail to reach the agreed goals nationally, as well as internationally.
With present statistics showing that more that 104 million children worldwide –- mostly girls –- are currently deprived of education, the JIU wonders why the lessons of history had not been learned. The Millennium Summit and Dakar were not the first instances of the international community setting time-bound education objectives. In 1961, the Conference of African States on the Development of Education in Africa adopted a plan for achieving primary education for Africa by 1980. In the previous year, 1960, Asian States had adopted a similar plan with a proposed 1980 completion date.
Those and other agreements over the past 40 years were abandoned for manifold reasons, as commitments were taken too lightly or the overall development process was underestimated. The main report suggests that this time, the world could achieve success by, among other things, increasing the common knowledge base about education, devoting more efforts towards the mobilization of private funds, and extending the World Bank-led Fast Track initiative for the world’s poorest countries in danger of missing the goals. The addendum to this report contains the Secretary-General’s comments on the JIU’s findings, and concludes that the United Nations Chief Executives Board (CEB) is in broad agreement with the study. But he stresses that some of the JIU’s conclusions tended to be too broad and others needed clarification. The CEB nevertheless endorses the need for greater cohesiveness and more sharing and learning among the United Nations agencies.
The Assembly will also consider a letter dated 2 June 2004 from the Permanent Representatives of Finland and the United Republic of Tanzania to the Secretary-General (document A/59/98), which contains the report on “A fair globalization: creating opportunities for all”, issued by the World Commission on the Social Dimension of Globalization. That Commission, co-chaired by the Ambassadors, focuses on issues of governance and accountability and recommends, among other things, a series of coordinated measures across a broad front at both national and international levels in the areas of trade, investment, migration and labour.
The report stresses the Commission’s view that the divisive globalization debate must now shift from a narrow preoccupation with markets to a broader preoccupation with people. Moving the globalization debate out of the corporate boardrooms and cabinet meetings onto the streets of local communities and villages means focusing on broad social issues such as jobs, health and education. But such a view goes beyond this and addresses the experiences of people in their everyday lives and their aspirations. Therefore, the report proposes a series of actions in this regard, including, globalizing with solidarity, greater accountability to the world’s people, deeper partnerships and more focused and effective United Nations action.
By the terms of the draft resolution on enhancing capacity-building in global public health (document A/59/L.30), the Assembly would urge Member States to further integrate public health into their national economic and social development strategies, including through the establishment and improvement of effective public health mechanisms, in particular networks of disease surveillance, response, control, prevention, treatment and information exchange. It would also call on States and the international community to raise awareness of good public health practices, and emphasize the importance of active international cooperation in the control of infectious diseases based on the principles of mutual respect and equality.
Furthermore, the Assembly would encourage Member States to participate actively in the verification and validation of surveillance data concerning public health emergencies and, in close cooperation with the World Health Organization, exchange information and experience in a timely and open manner on epidemics and infectious diseases that pose a threat to global and public health. In addition, it would encourage States, as well as United Nations agencies, bodies, funds and programmes, to continue to address public health concerns in their development activities and programmes, and actively support capacity-building in global public health and health-care institutions.
By the terms of the draft resolution on commemoration of the sixtieth anniversary of the end of the Second World War (document A/59/L.28/Rev.2), the Assembly would declare 8 to 9 May as a time of remembrance and reconciliation and invite all Member States, organizations of the United Nations system, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and individuals to observe annually either one or both of these days in an appropriate manner to pay tribute to all who lost their lives in the Second World War. It would also request the Assembly President to hold a special solemn meeting of the Assembly in the second week of May 2005 in commemoration of the sacrifices made during the war.
CHENG JINGYE (China) introduced the draft resolution on “Enhancing Capacity-building in Global Public Health” (A/59/L.30). He said the theme of the text was an important element of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Three out of eight of the Goals were health related, while Goal six was specifically to halt and begin to reverse the spread of HIV/AIDS and the incidence of malaria and other major diseases by 2015. The promotion of capacity building would certainly facilitate the early realization of the Goals.
Today was the second time his country had proposed a draft resolution with the same title, he noted. A number of elements, however, had been added after broad consultations with other delegations, including those addressing HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria and Avian Flu, as well as the holding of the XV International AIDS Conference. He also proposed, at the request of Benin, Chair of the Group of Least Developed Countries (LDCs), oral changes to operative paragraph seven of the draft. The draft now had 166 sponsors -- 40 more since its issuance on 15 November.
He urged Member States to earnestly begin preparations for the 2005 high-level summit, if the event was to be a success. He also called on the international community to further mobilize resources and increase development inputs, in order to help all countries, particularly the developing ones, to make greater progress in achieving the MDGs. He stressed that it was necessary, through integrated and coordinated efforts, to ensure that there was a comprehensive and balanced implementation of and follow-up to the outcomes of the major United Nations conferences and summits in socio-economic and related fields.
Highlighting that next year would be the tenth anniversary of the Fourth World Conference on Women (Beijing, 1995), he said preparations by his Government and relevant non-governmental organizations (NGOs) for the celebrations were underway, underscoring that protecting and promoting women’s rights and interests were important parts of the Beijing Declaration. Regarding next year’s high-level review meeting, he agreed in principle with the recommendations of the Secretary-General on dates, format and other organizational matters. He hoped the Assembly would adopt a resolution as soon as possible on that issue and work out a road map and timetable to ensure an orderly preparatory process.
JAMAL AL-BADER (Qatar), speaking on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, said the Millennium Declaration must be implemented in its entirety. All of the Millennium Goals were equally important and should be given equal priority. Their realization required greater collaborative efforts by the international community. While some countries had met their commitment to provide 0.7 per cent of their gross national product (GNP) as official development assistance (ODA), a large number of developed nations had fallen far short of meeting that target. Trade was now a main avenue of revenue that could help developing nations achieve their development goals. There was a lack of basic resources to empower some nations to participate fully in the global trading system. Certain trade policies had contributed in denying a large number of developing countries the benefits of globalisation.
Equally important, he said, were the outcomes of other United Nations conferences and summits, which had laid the foundation for the adoption of such a historic document as the Millennium Declaration. The goals of those conferences were linked with the objectives of the Declaration. For that reason, implementation of those outcomes was crucial to the achievement of the Goals. He believed that in pursuing the implementation of the Millennium Declaration and the outcomes of major conferences and summits, their distinct identities should be maintained, while, at the same time, recognizing the need for thematic coherence in the process. That would help, among other things, in promoting synergies and ensuring efficient utilization of resources. As for the high-level dialogue on financing for development, he believed that it should receive a high level of participation from all stakeholders, be visible and send a message of strong political commitment.
DIRK JAN VAN DEN BERG (Netherlands), speaking on behalf of the European Union and associated States, said the year 2005 would be one of tremendous opportunity. The review of the Millennium Declaration next September would provide an opportunity to devise solutions to major issues. He agreed with the Secretary-General that the review should be a summit, and its outcome should be a succinct, comprehensive and politically meaningful declaration focused on implementation, endorsing progress that had been made and containing a clear reaffirmation of the goals set. In addition, the outcome should contain a clear set of guidelines on the challenges of collective security; agreements to enhance the implementation of commitments undertaken in the Millennium Declaration and through the Millennium Goals; and decisions on organizational reforms needed to achieve goals.
He welcomed the Secretary-General’s report on modalities. Regarding the preparatory phase, he said that a resolution on modalities should be adopted in December. From January to March 2005, informal exchanges of views on major issues should be entered into. The presentation of the Secretary-General’s report for the event in March would help frame discussions. That report should demonstrate the interconnectedness between the agendas of the major United Nations conferences. Financing for development, in particular, was essential in the comprehensive review of progress made towards fulfilling the Millennium Declaration and achieving the MDGs. With regard to the summit itself, he supported the suggested dates and welcomed examining innovative ways of involving all stakeholders, including civil society, the business sector and the international financial and trade institutions.
CHRISTOPHER HACKETT (Barbados), speaking on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), said the attainment of the Millennium Goals was essential for ensuring a safer and better world. Since it was generally agreed that the issue of integrated and coordinated implementation of and follow-up to the outcomes of the major United Nations conferences had to be closely linked with the implementation of the Millennium Declaration, it was necessary now to emphasize the nature of those linkages. It was particularly important for the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) to finalize the identification of the cross-cutting themes common to the outcomes of major United Nations conferences and summits, to be used as a basis for the implementation of the outcomes of those conferences in an integrated and coordinated manner.
Secondly, given the primary responsibility that the regional commissions had in assisting Member States within their respective regions in implementation of conference outcomes, he also suggested that the links between the commissions and a reformed Economic and Social Council be strengthened. That would contribute to dynamic debates within the Council on the reports of the regional commissions with the presence of the Executive Secretaries, who were expected to be held accountable for ensuring that all of the subregions under their responsibility were fully and effectively covered.
Also of concern was coordination between the activities of the United Nations funds and programmes, he said. Given the significant role that the bodies of the United Nations system played in assisting Member States in the implementation of conference outcomes, it was particularly essential to have greater consistency and coherence among the strategic development frameworks of the funds, programmes and specialized agencies, particularly including the Bretton Woods institutions, since those frameworks invariably were the bases on which programmatic issues were undertaken.
He added that global peace and security were under constant threat due to large-scale and persistent poverty and the absence of a good system of global governance that would help to manage the world economies in a manner that would distribute the world’s resources more equitably. Against that background, he believed that the report of the High-level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change and the Secretary-General’s comprehensive report on the Millennium Declaration should be examined together if the correct linkages were to be made in the critical decisions that the Assembly would make following their consideration.
JOHN DAUTH (Australia), speaking also on behalf of Canada and New Zealand (CANZ), said he firmly believed that, for next year’s follow-up to the outcome of the Millennium Summit to be successful, no one area, whether it was development, peace and security, human rights or institutional reform, could be singled out to the detriment of another. Neither could any issue be ignored. In that regard, the preparatory process for the Summit was crucial. The process had to be transparent and inclusive, as well as flexible and effective, and ministers needed to be included in a deliberate and targeted way.
The High-level Dialogue on Financing for Development, he said, was an opportunity to demonstrate the international community’s commitment to development. It should have a high profile, as well as substantively contributed to the Summit. Thus, holding the Dialogue back-to-back with the Summit would give the Dialogue the profile it deserved, but would be too late to feed into the Summit’s outcome. Similarly, having the Dialogue earlier, perhaps in conjunction with the Economic and Social Council, would enable it to substantively contribute to the Summit, but would not give sufficient profile. Hence, he saw value in considering a two-stage process, and urged the Assembly President, in conjunction with his facilitators –- Norway and Nicaragua, to quickly introduce a modalities resolution, which would deal with all organizational issues. The involvement of both the Assembly President and the Secretary-General was vital to ensuring the success of the event.
SHOFRY ABDUL GHAFOR (Brunei Darussalam), speaking on behalf of the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN), said that the ASEAN had mapped out clear objectives and measurable targets, through a number of action plans, to attain the MDGs. That would also include the creation of a genuine global and regional partnership among governments, international organizations and all stakeholders. Highlighting some of the regional efforts, he said the “Healthy ASEAN 2020” declaration, adopted in Yogyakarta, Indonesia, in April 2000, envisioned the region’s citizens leading healthy lifestyles consistent with their values, beliefs and culture in supportive environments.
Also, the Sixth ASEAN Health Ministers meeting in Vientiane, Laos, in March 2002, adopted the Regional Action Plan of the Framework for Promoting Healthy ASEAN Lifestyles. During that meeting, ASEAN agreed to place priority to a number of areas including women’s and children’s health, and communicable diseases control, including HIV/AIDS and malaria. The prevention and control of diseases was a very important foundation in the region’s efforts towards realizing its vision of Health ASEAN 2020, he explained, stressing ASEAN’s recognition that diseases spread across borders and, as such, any efforts to combat diseases had to involve cooperation among countries.
On the environment, ASEAN shared and was supportive of the global vision of sustainable development and was committed to integrating environmental considerations into economic, social and development activities. Such commitments, he noted, were reaffirmed at the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development and were guided by the ASEAN Vision 2020. Additionally, ASEAN had worked closely with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) in proactively promoting regional and national cooperation in implementing the various United Nations multilateral environmental agreements. The group’s members had a high rate of participation in those agreements, a fact that reflected the region’s commitment to address global environmental issues. He added that ASEAN member States had put together a comprehensive Framework Action Plan, which would be implemented over the next six years and would serve as the key strategic plan for ASEAN to respond to the challenges of poverty alleviation.
ABDALLAH BAALI (Algeria) said the high-level mid-term review of the Millennium Declaration would coincide with the Organization’s sixtieth anniversary and provide an opportunity to look at past achievements and forcefully remind everyone of the 2015 target dates for the achievement of many of the MDGs, as well as the obstacles and challenges in that regard. He was concerned that the reports before the Assembly noted the generally agreed view that many countries, and even some whole regions were in danger of missing the Goals. Indeed, how could the international community not be concerned when the Secretary-General had noted that the picture for the development prospects for the world’s poorest countries had never been bleaker and, specifically, that HIV/AIDS infection rates were on the rise.
But there was still time to make change, he continued, and the high-level review would provide an opportunity for world governments to recommit themselves to the MDGs. Following on the conclusions of a draft report compiled by Dr. Jeffrey Sachs, the Special Advisor on the Millennium Goals, it was clear that every State must develop a national strategy based on poverty reduction, particularly including the objectives of the Doha Development agenda (on market access) and the Monterrey Consensus (on ODA). The high-level review must also take into account the relevant findings and studies undertaken by the commissions of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). In short, the MDGs must be seen as a world covenant, resting on reciprocal commitments and shared responsibilities, he said.
The high-level meeting would also have to address questions related to shared security and the United Nations reform, based on the findings of the High-Level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change. Algeria believed that the Panel would outline recommendations aimed at rehabilitating the system of collective security and also serve as the bases for future debates, allowing Member States to arrive at a consensus on shared concerns. But the panel must envisage threats from a global perspective, linking security and development, and resist the temptation to view those threats from the perspective of this or that country.
Here, he stressed that the practice of pre-emptive action conveyed a vision of the world that might lead to dangerous departures from international norms, undercut the United Nations Charter and “define the law of the jungle”. Pre-emptive actions aimed at ensuring or maintaining security could not and must not be equated with the right to legitimate self-defence or preventive action involving longer-term situations that might drift towards imminent threat. For those situations, the Charter provided a range of options. The current collective security regime must be re-examined to avoid unilateral action.
The high-level review must also consider Security Council and wider United Nations reform, he said. As for the Security Council, the status quo could not continue. That body must reflect new international realities and be strengthened to face new international threats. Agreeing on that reform would allow the United Nations to enhance its credibility and increase the organization’s efforts in the service of humanity. Council expansion -- only a small part of the reform, he stressed -- must not be bound by rigid formulas, and all States must reach consensus on outstanding issues. Touching briefly on terrorism, he urged the international community to elaborate a global convention on the scourge, which contained an internationally agreed definition and did not conflate it with people’s legitimate right to self-determination.
FAYSSAL MEKDAD (Syria) said if multilateralism was the basis for international relations, why then had progress in implementing all aspects of the Millennium Declaration and the Millennium Goals been so slow and progress in many cases even absent? People were dying, the poor were getting poorer and diseases were on the rise. All of those were taking place alongside an increasing arms race and a scenario in which the situation of the world’s people was deteriorating. There were trends in the Secretary-General's report that were worrying, particularly the realization that until now there had not been any real historical success to speak about.
Instead, he said, stagnation was affecting the majority of the world's countries, while progress was uneven and taking place at different rates. Primary education, infant mortality and women’s rights coupled with threats such as HIV/AIDS and malaria must be addressed more resolutely, he underscored. Another concern was that people under foreign occupation saw their rights being eroded and trodden upon. The conferences of the 1990s had examined a number of issues ranging from development to human rights, and provided an opportunity to reach international consensus on policies that should have been linked and implemented in various spheres.
The international community, therefore, had an obligation to work together in a global framework to implement all the agreements reached in the outcomes of the various conferences. Those conferences had expressed an international vision based on a common responsibility. The High-level Dialogue on Financing for Development, he said, must include all stakeholders. He underscored once more the importance of multilateralism and strengthening the United Nations system. There was a need for collective action at the global level, he added, stating that there could be no failure when it came to saving successive generations from global scourges.
HENRI RAUBENHEIMER (South Africa) said progress with regard to eradication of extreme poverty and hunger was uneven, even deteriorating in some cases. Although much of eastern, south-eastern and southern Asia and North Africa were broadly on track to achieve the Millennium Goal on poverty, there had been little or no progress in sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean. In western Asia, poverty had actually increased. Progress was also uneven in other areas such as universal primary education, gender equality and combating HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases. Part of the problem was that the resources committed by the international community remained highly inadequate. He highlighted the importance his nation attached to Goal Eight, whose attainment would depend on development partners meeting their commitments.
He was concerned that sub-Saharan Africa continued to lag behind in the achievement of the Millennium Goals. Chapter VII of the Millennium Declaration responded to the call to make the twenty-first century an African century. That was an important recognition of the special difficulties facing African nations. As such, the international community should increase support for the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD). Under NEPAD, numerous sectoral action plans had been developed, covering key priority areas for development. Those actions, however, need to be complimented by the support of the world community to achieve long-term success and for the achievement of the MDGs on the continent.
He was concerned about the links between crime, civil and political strife, noting that the resulting negative effects of crime on peace, socio-economic development, good governance and democracy would hinder the implementation of the Millennium Declaration. As for the 2005 summit, its agenda should be comprehensive and cover both development and security-related issues. It should also lead to concrete commitments, enhanced cooperation and coherence at all levels as envisioned in the Millennium Declaration.
RASHID K. ALIMOV (Tajikistan) said that currently about 40 per cent of all budget revenues were channelled to serve the country’s external debt. If that debt was written off, the freed resources could be invested in areas that were critically important to achieving the Millennium Goals. His nation was confronting urgent problems, and its Government was aware of the responsibility it had. Of special significance was the issue of providing its population with drinking water. With that goal in mind, Tajikistan was actively working to advance the water theme on the international arena. The fact that his nation had been chosen for the implementation of the well-known Millennium Project testified to the commitment of his Government to implement the MDGs. The Government had approved the idea of being a “pilot” country for the project, and had confirmed its readiness to implement it.
Within a short period of time, the country had managed to overcome the humanitarian crises caused by civil conflict and was working to advance sustainable development, he said. According to the World Bank, progress had been made in poverty reduction, with the poverty level decreasing by 17 per cent. In the past five years, the gross domestic product (GDP) had increased by almost 50 per cent. Thanks to an improved investment environment, investors found the Tajik market more appealing. Currently, there were plans to increase both domestic and foreign investments, with due consideration to the country’s assessed needs and relevant institutional and political changes. However, broad investments and continued international assistance would be necessary. What was urgently required was further consolidation of efforts on the part of the Government and its partners, donor nations, the United Nations and international financial institutions to move from urgent humanitarian assistance to long-term economic assistance.
PETER MAURER (Switzerland) said the ongoing consultations on the format and modalities of the high-level plenary meeting of 2005 showed just how much attention was currently being focused on the political process launched by the Millennium Declaration and its first five-year review. The imminent publication of the High-level Panel’s conclusions and recommendations on threats, challenges and change, as well as Jeffrey Sachs’ final report on the implementation of the MDGs, would also lead to important political processes that would require the attention of the international community. But without wishing to detract in any way from the importance of those processes, Switzerland stressed not losing sight of the ongoing efforts to reinforce the institutional architecture of the United Nations system and the structural coherence of the various processes to implement the outcomes of major conferences.
The Economic and Social Council must, therefore, be the central platform for operational coordination throughout the United Nations system, he said. To strengthen that body for such a role, its working methods needed to be reformed as soon as possible. The establishment of a multi-year work programme would help the Council reinvigorate the coherence and effectiveness of its management and coordination activities and facilitate the horizontal integration of the work of other functional commissions on cross-sectoral thematic issues. It was important to attempt to synchronize at least the programmes of the high-level segment of the Council and the coordination segment, with a year’s delay for the latter. He also said his Government intended to publish an exhaustive report on its contributions to the implementation of the MDGs before the end of the first trimester in 2005. It would focus closely on the environment and development partnerships.
YURI FEDOTOV, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, said he agreed with the Secretary-General about the indispensable need to strengthen the rule of law as one of the basic elements of modern international relations. One of the priorities in that direction should be the enhanced role of the United Nations as the main universal body that guided and coordinated the interaction of States in combating international terrorism. He was confident that Security Council resolution 1566 would strengthen the United Nations anti-terrorism potential and provide additional impetus to the work of the Counter-Terrorism Committee. It was important to ensure solidarity and also take concrete practical actions. Unfortunately, the international community was still lagging behind in adopting measures to effectively counter the growing terrorist threat. The constant increase of terrorism, characterized by crimes unprecedented in magnitude and cruelty, stressed the need to ensure reliable safeguards to prevent terrorist access to weapons of mass destruction.
He noted that progress with regard to the Millennium Goals had been uneven. There were both encouraging trends and setbacks. Russia would undertake the necessary efforts to reach specific targets within the MDGs at the national level. On the whole, his nation concurred with the Secretary-General that the attainment of the Goals within the established timeframe remained a realistic target, but it required a new impetus to the implementation of the Millennium Declaration as well as of the commitments made in Monterrey and Johannesburg. He believed adopting the Assembly resolution on the organization of the 2005 summit as soon as possible, before the end of the year, would be an important step. Additionally, the summit should be comprehensive and holistic with broad thematic coverage, encompassing the main aspects of the Millennium Declaration.
JOHAN LØVALD (Norway) said terrorism was a serious threat to common security, creating fear and want, seriously hampering economic and social development, and hindering achievement of the MDGs. The fight against terrorism must be waged within the framework of international law, particularly international humanitarian and human rights law. Fulfilling the Millennium Declaration and achieving the MDGs would go a long way towards eroding the basis for international terrorism. But achieving those ambitions would also require a stronger and more flexible United Nations, as well as a revised concept of common security. In that regard, the Assembly would be of vital importance, since it was responsible for preparing the five-year review of the Millennium Declaration. All of the chapters in the Declaration should be reviewed, with special emphasis on reform issues and the MDGs.
The international community must also work actively to strengthen the United Nations capacity to achieve peace security, he said. Among other threats, the world was facing new networks of organized crime in a globalized world with more open borders. Highly sophisticated operations were thriving on the inability of nations to combat that form of crime, which was seriously affecting prospects for economic growth, human rights, democracy and good governance. Ongoing conflicts around the world could often be linked to the growth of criminal networks and illicit trafficking in weapons, drugs and even human beings. Those threats and challenges could only be met by increasingly closer international cooperation.
CHRISTIAN WENAWESER (Liechtenstein) said that given the multitude and importance of the tasks ahead, it was essential for the Assembly to reach quick agreement on the process leading to the high-level MDG review. As regards the outcome of that event, Liechtenstein believed that it was of utmost importance to deal with the agendas on security and development in a manner that made it clear that the two principles were inseparable and mutually reinforcing. A concise, comprehensive political declaration seemed the appropriate tool to achieve that goal. It should contain a set of policies to address new threats and challenges in the area of security and a pledge to enhance the commitment to implement the Millennium Declaration. That declaration should also include the necessary issues in the area of institutional reform.
He said the success of the 2005 summit largely depended on the Assembly’s preparations during the run-up, and it was crucial to get the process started by adopting a resolution on the modalities, including level and dates, before the end of this year. Subsequently, or even in parallel, if possible, discussions on an outcome document should begin. He suggested that a first set of informal discussions on the report of the High-Level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change take place at the earliest time possible, hopefully before the end of the year. Quickly tackling the Millennium Project Report, set for March release, was also important. Such extensive informal consultations would put the Assembly in a good place towards an outcome document. On the summit itself, he said that the active involvement of other stakeholders, such as civic actors, the global financial institutions and the business sector, was of particular importance to ensure its success.
SOLOMON KARANJA (Kenya) said progress in achieving the MDGs was uneven, and the Goals were not likely to be achieved by 2015 in some regions, in particular in sub-Saharan Africa. While developing nations had mobilized efforts to ensure a favourable environment at the national level, those efforts had not been matched by action at the international level. The means of implementation necessary to complement the efforts of developing countries were still wanting. More efforts would be required with regard to Goal eight, which was paramount to the achievement of the other MDGs. He commended the work undertaken by the World Commission on the Social Dimensions of Globalisation, and concurred with the positive message of changing the current path of globalisation from a narrow preoccupation with markets to a broader preoccupation with people.
Coordination of the follow-up to and the implementation of the outcomes of the major United Nations conferences and summits were imperative to ensure coherence and avoid duplications, he said. He welcomed the initiative taken by the Assembly by adopting resolution 57/270 B, which provided guidance for various actors to work collaboratively in the implementation of the outcomes of the major conferences and summits. In that regard, he welcomed the establishment of a multi-year work programme aimed at enabling the system and relevant stakeholders to better prepare their contributions. Consequently, the role of the regional commissions in promoting intersectoral and multi-stakeholder dialogues at the regional level was crucial. The 2005 review would accord the international community the opportunity to inject new energy into the pursuit of the MDGs. In order for that to happen, though, the event would need to attract participation at the highest political level and deliver a strong message to the international community.
KIM SAM-HOON (Republic of Korea) said that his delegation believed that coordination between the Assembly and the ECOSOC was essential to achieving the successful implementation of and follow-up to the major United Nations conferences and meetings and, in that regard, supported the Secretary-General’s call for greater predictability in the Council’s work programme. In addition, he believed it was also necessary to strengthen cooperation between the Assembly’s Second (Economic and Financial) and Third (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) Committees and the ECOSOC’s general segment to avoid duplication of work.
He went on to say that global issues such as poverty, the “digital divide” and environmental degradation affected different regions in varying ways. Accordingly, regional organizations, along with the United Nations regional commissions, were often well-suited to offer localized remedies and approaches that could reinforce global efforts. The commissions should play a greater role in coordinating economic, social and environmental issues, as well as act as regional focal points to monitor and assess progress towards achievement of the MDGs. His country also supported enhancing the roles of the regional commissions as promoters of multi-stakeholder dialogues at a more localized level.
The Millennium Declaration represented the common commitment of Member States to achieve peace and development for the wider international community. The Secretary-General’s reports present a mixed picture of both success and setbacks in the implementation of the Declaration. In the area of peace and security, they note peacekeeping successes as well as continuing threats such as terrorism, transnational crime and violations of international humanitarian law. He condemned all terrorist acts, urging the international community and the United Nations to remain vigilant in the combat against that scourge. On the modalities of the upcoming mid-term MDG review, he said that such a meeting must take concrete action to advance implementation, and the outcome document must contain practicable policy options. The meeting must also pursue a balanced agenda that reflected both development and international peace and security concerns.
Days of Remembrance, Reconciliation
Mr. FEDOTOV, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, introduced the draft resolution on the commemoration of the sixtieth anniversary of the end of the Second World War (A/59/L.28/Rev.2), which he said would declare 8 and 9 May as days of remembrance and reconciliation. The text aimed to further efforts to create a secure and just world order in accordance with the United Nations Charter and international law. Since the resolution was first proposed by its sponsors last week, there had been a few changes and that was why it was now issued as Rev.2. Following those amendments, further consultations had resulted in other changes of a clerical and grammatical nature to preambular paragraphs three and four, as well as to operative paragraphs one and two. He then read out the changes and said he hoped the Assembly would adopt the resolution without a vote, as orally amended.
The Assembly then adopted the resolution, as orally amended, without a vote.
Following the adoption of the text, DIRK JAN VAN DEN BERG (Netherlands), speaking on behalf of the European Union, said he had joined the consensus on the resolution after the sponsors had included important amendments. The significance of the end of the Second World War could not be quantified. One could not speak about atrocities without mentioning violations against humanity, such as the Holocaust and other war crimes. While there must be contemplation of the past, there was a need to look forward and create a new environment based on harmony. The resolution did acknowledge progress made in human rights and democratic freedoms. He reminded the Assembly, however, that the same democratic freedom and human rights had been denied for many years to some of the Union’s own members. He believed the final text, nevertheless, reflected that perception.
ILGAR MAMMADOV (Azerbaijan) said the Second World War had claimed the lives of hundreds of thousands of people, including Azerbaijani men and women who had sacrificed their lives. The tribute was not only to the veterans who helped to bring peace on the battlefield but also to those who had done so at home. Although the resolution dealt with the past, it was not just a retrospective but also addressed the future and called on the United Nations to strengthen efforts to bring about peace in the world. That was particularly relevant in view of the ongoing armed conflicts, tragedies, refugees and internally displaced people.
On 8 May 1992, Armenian forces had occupied Shusha and expelled innocent people. The shedding of the blood of innocent people had promoted a response by the United Nations Security Council. And now, by adopting this resolution today, Azerbaijan was not only paying tribute to the past but hoping that there would be resolution with Armenia and the liberation of Shusha and the neighbouring occupied territories.
GEDIMINAS ŠRKŠNYS (Lithuania) said his country fully associated itself with the statement made by the Netherlands, on behalf of the European Union. His country had joined the consensus on the text out of immense respect to the millions of victims of the Second World War, who rightly deserved to be remembered and commemorated. “At the same time, we are deeply convinced that commemoration of the end of World War II should also refer to the legacy of this war and reveal the historic truth”, he said. Each nation had its own destiny and dates to commemorate. Neither 8 May 1945 nor 2 September 1945 –- the official date of the end of the Second World War –- had brought freedom, liberation and sovereignty to central and eastern Europe, including Lithuania “no matter how much we hoped for it”, he said.
Instead, he continued, while 8 May 1945, marked the end of one totalitarian ideology –- fascism, yet another, totalitarian communism, expanded its domination. “May 9 to us is not a victory day since this day also signifies that we were left occupied by the Soviet Union and remained in captivity for decades”, he stated. Therefore, while commemorating the end of the Second World War and remembering all of its victims, “we will also be commemorating victims of occupation and repression”, he concluded.
Statements on UN Conferences
When the Assembly resumed its discussion of follow-up to the United Nations conferences and summits, RONALDO MOTA SARDENBERG (Brazil), speaking on behalf of the Rio Group, said outlining preparations for the mid-term MDG review was among the Assembly’s top priorities for this session. That event would have a major impact on the future of the United Nations and the principle of multilateralism. The Rio Group agreed with the proposal to appoint a small group of facilitators to guide the negotiations on that event. Overall, the preparatory process must be inclusive, flexible and transparent, with the participation of all Member States, and, the Rio Group believed, civil society. He also supported the plan to hold plenary meetings in conjunction with round-table discussions. In addition, the proposed High-level Dialogue on Financing for Development should strive for the highest level of participation possible while maintaining the spirit of the Monterrey Consensus.
He went on to say that the Rio Group hoped that fundamental decisions would be made towards the attainment of the MDGs, and he urged States to press ahead in that regard towards implementation of the agreements set at Monterrey, particularly ensuring that developing countries played a bigger role in matters related to the international financial system. On the overall preparatory process, he stressed that it would be preferable to hammer out every issue on its own merits, while also making sure that progress would not get held up while specific items were being negotiated. He urged Member States to set concrete priorities and areas of action in order to ensure that the high-level event would mark a milestone for the United Nations, and that it led to final, specific and substantive decisions, which was what everyone wanted.
MOHAMED BENNOUNA (Morocco) said today’s debate was critically important because the planned high-level review of the Millennium Declaration was a mere 10 months away. It was clear that the success of the event required the participation of everyone, within the framework of international solidarity, in order to achieve balanced results for the benefit of all States. While security issues and combating international terrorism had dominated global concerns since 2001, development issues must continue to play a pivotal role as well. The interests of developing countries must be given the attention that they merited, he added. Further, there was a need to stress that peace and development were inextricably linked, and countries emerging from conflict should be given the utmost assistance, so that peace won at such a price would never be called into question.
He recalled that the Secretary-General had sounded the alarm that some States, and perhaps entire regions, could fall short of attaining the Millennium Goals. Among other things, that was due to the lack of national resources, lack of good governance, lack of free and competitive space, the debt burden, and poor infrastructures. It was clear that any forward movement on the Goals required coordinated and immediate action, built on concrete agreements to resolve issues related to debt, trade and investment and how they related to or were translated in the developing world.
In addition, States must also explore innovative financing mechanisms to supplement available resources. The world’s poor could not continue to be marginalized, he continued, particularly since there could be no security without development and ensuring human dignity for all. On the High-level Dialogue on Financing for Development, he supported the view of holding that event in Geneva, immediately following the high-level segment of the ECOSOSC, which would strengthen the process and ensure the participation of top ministers. The Dialogue would better orient the discussions to be held at the Millennium review, which would be held shortly thereafter. Morocco also favoured a “procedural” resolution, which would set out all the arrangements for the Millennium review and the Dialogue.
NIRUPAM SEN (India) said that the 2005 review should not just allow a reiteration of commitment to the Millennium Declaration, but also enable Member States to agree on creative and concrete ways of actually implementing it on time. In that context, he took note of the Secretary-General’s suggestion of a “single integrated package of decisions” to be endorsed at the high-level plenary meeting. For that purpose, the preparatory process must produce a basket of decisions, and for that to happen, it would be useful to identify different clusters of topics and work on a series of decisions that could be locked in as the event approached.
Regarding the need to avoid divisive issues, he said that any issue could be considered divisive. Therefore, that should not serve as a pretext to avoid serious discussions, or decisions on institutional reform. In addition, those who desire action-oriented outcomes should be ready for bold approaches that sought to reclaim the role of the United Nations in strengthening multilateralism and also sought to provide the broadest possible agreement using extant rules of procedure. He expressed confidence that developing countries were interested in such results and would not hesitate to grasp the gauntlet of steel rather than just a gamut of statements.
SERVACIUS LIKWELILE (United Republic of Tanzania) said implementing the Millennium Declaration, especially measures to achieve the MDGs, should be more than an inventory of mutual commitments and obligations by development partners. It should be a dynamic dialogue among those partners and within countries involved in the implementation process on crucial issues such as policy reforms, aid, commerce, debt non-sustainability, as well as financing the MDGs and long-term requirements for economic investment.
His country was fully committed to implementing policies and strategies aimed at achieving the Millennium Declaration targets. It had developed its first Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (PRSP) in 2000 and its second –- the National Strategy for Growth and Reduction of Poverty in 2004 –- as a national guiding framework for the fight against poverty and as instruments for achieving the MDGs. The Strategy identified three major pillars, namely growth and reduction of income poverty, including improving food availability, accessibility and nutrition; improvement of the quality of life and social well-being; and good governance and accountability. The new strategy effectively incorporated the MDGs and other regional and international obligations as well as targets.
In conclusion, he stressed that although some of the critical prerequisites for the successful implementation of the Millennium Declaration demanded that, at a national level, developing countries continue with and consolidate macroeconomic reforms to permit vibrant pro-poor economic growth and to institutionalise good governance in all aspects, there was also a need to address, at the international level, issues such as external indebtedness; attainment of the agreed ODA target; and assistance to the least developed countries to develop export capacities.
AMARE TEKLE (Eritrea) said reports had indicated that the world would fail to reach the MDG of reducing poverty by 50 per cent by 2015. The goal to achieve universal education by 2000 had been rescheduled to 2015, and progress on decreasing child and maternal mortality, as well as increasing access to safe water and adequate sanitation, was also discouraging. The fate of the MDGs hinged on the steady flow of development assistance from developed countries, and its credible use by recipient countries. It was estimated that $50 billion per year would be needed to meet most MDGs by 2015. It had been reported that the MDGs would only be achieved if the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries met the ODA target of 0.7 per cent of the GNP.
Stressing that development was also inextricably linked to peace, he said armed conflicts and force were the most glaring obstacles to peace, security, stability and prosperity. Such peace had been elusive in regions like the Horn of Africa, where lawless nations had systematically and with impunity flouted the United Nations Charter or refused to abide by arbitration decisions recognized by the Security Council. Such lawlessness would result in conflict and derail any development plans that were on course to meet the MDGs.
HJALMAR W. HANNESSON (Iceland) said it was the international community’s responsibility to make balanced decisions on reform, taking into account all relevant matters, such as development, social issues, peace and security, and human rights. The progress toward achieving the Millennium Development Goals had been mixed and characterized by vast regional differences. While a number of nations had prospered, others had lost headway and even regressed. The lack of progress in sub-Saharan Africa was especially worrisome. Achieving the Goals by 2015 required determination, resolve and a concerted effort by all parties.
A crucial premise for achieving the MDGs was the developing nations’ own commitments to reform, he said. Efforts to achieve macroeconomic stability must be reinforced, institutions and good governance must be strengthened, capacity constraints must be addressed, and the focus on human development enhanced. At the same time, developed nations must deliver. Increased development assistance was a critical instrument. Moreover, international trade liberalization was a key pillar as was the successful conclusion of the Doha development round. The Government of Iceland was committed to achieving the MDGs and had decided to increase its ODA in the coming years. A clear target had been established to double Iceland’s present ODA level by 2009.
ALI HACHANI (Tunisia) said what was at stake in September 2005 was not only taking stock of what had taken place since the Millennium Declaration, but developing the proper conclusions needed to write the future course of action. It would be an opportunity to see what factors had denied progress and to work out an objective approach to advance and restructure the world order. A reading of statements in this year’s general debate showed that the September meeting was at the heart of concerns, and illustrated the imperative to work on a course of action that would be commensurate with expectations. The principles of transparency, flexibility and openness should guide the preparatory process, as well as the stands taken by all players. He found the dates proposed satisfactory, and emphasized the notion of balance, so that adequate time would be provided for successful conclusions.
For example, security should not occupy so much time that it would be to the detriment of development issues, he said. There should also be a balance of interests during both the preparatory process and the final meeting. Those proposed elements for a balanced agenda would promote compromise and a successful summit that responded to great expectations. The United Nations and its members had an obligation to achieve a result. His delegation was also be awaiting the various reports due in the months ahead, as they would shape the debates in September 2005. And while development was a major concern, the implementation of the MDGs was still the cornerstone. Financing for development had also become an urgent priority.
He said one of the most blatant aspects of poverty was the digital divide -- the subject of two separate summits: one held in Geneva in 2003 and one scheduled for Tunis in December 2005. The debates in the months ahead and in September 2005 must be conducted with the objective of achieving the broadest possible consensus and reinvigorating multilateralism as “the means” to solve today’s and tomorrow’s problems.
SIMEON A. ADEKANYE (Nigeria) said that against the backdrop of uncoordinated action at the global and national levels, the need for implementation of the outcomes of major conferences and summits could not be overstated. Poor implementation and the lack of fulfilment of commitments by the donor community had given rise to the duplication of efforts, poor results and unfulfilled expectations. It was incumbent on the international community to redeem its image by regaining the confidence of the poor and weak members of society.
He said that in his nation, as in others, poverty eradication was essential for the achievement of the MDGs; unless it was combated, efforts to promote and manage peace would remain fruitless. It was obvious from the Secretary-General’s report and other sources that, for many developing countries, particularly in sub—Sahara Africa, the path to achieving the MDGs was anything but smooth. The objectives articulated at the United Nations conferences and summits were as valid today as they were at the time the meetings took place. He called on the international community to place development at the heart of the international agenda because there could be no lasting peace without development.
He underscored the need to make globalisation a positive force for all humanity. The benefits of globalisation, as well as its costs, should be shared in an equitable manner. Global economic and financial policies must be supportive of development. As trade liberalization was encouraged, the unencumbered movements of persons should also be encouraged. He urged the international community to act on the useful suggestions of the World Commission on the Social Dimension of Globalisation, contained in its report, “A Fair Globalisation: Creating Opportunities for All”. As such, the Organization needed to be strengthened and remain not only the moral voice for the wishes of the poor, but also the centre for dialogue and action on the challenges of time.
The 2005 review should provide Member States the opportunity to underscore the need for coordination and coherence in policies. The implementation deficit must be addressed through a coordinated implementation of, and follow-up to, the outcomes of all United Nations summits and conferences. As preparations for the 2005 review begin, there should be a reaffirmation of commitment to achieving the MDGs. Nigeria supported participation at the highest political level, as well as the participation of other stakeholders, at next year’s event.
CHOISUREN BAATAR (Mongolia) said he hoped the high-level event next year would give impetus to commitments for delivering the objectives outlined in the Millennium Declaration and the other major United Nations meetings and conferences of the past decade. In the meantime, Mongolia would stress its view that ensuring global political stability was the first and foremost condition for addressing poverty, hunger and underdevelopment worldwide. So if the international community were serious about meeting agreed development goals and objectives, it must exercise every effort to make sure that the world was never again shattered by major wars or conflict.
With the mid-term review of the Millennium Declaration fast-approaching, Mongolia had just launched its first-ever national report on implementation of the MDGs and its endeavours to work towards their implementation, in close collaboration with development partners. Its reporting was a clear manifestation of accountability, ensuring that each and every effort was being made towards achieving the Goals, as well as monitoring progress, sharing information with others and bringing together a wide range of stakeholders. He added that the High-level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change should present bold, practicable and action-oriented policy recommendations, and that Mongolia hoped all States would consider those proposals in a positive manner and on their merits for the common interests of the world community.
RASTAM MOHD ISA (Malaysia) commended the United Nations for its excellent efforts to monitor and implement the MDGs. However, there were reasons to be concerned since the least developed countries would not be able to reach many of those targets. Therefore, additional political will must be mobilized and innovative sources of financing must be found. In addition, there must be progress in creating a level playing field for trade for developing countries.
Good governance at the national level was the key to reform, he said, but it must be matched by good governance at the international level to establish a dynamic and enabling international economic environment. In that regard, the input being prepared for the September 2005 summit would be of utmost importance. That meeting should provide the opportunity to conduct a comprehensive review of the Millennium Declaration and the integrated follow-up to the major United Nations conferences and summits in the economic, social and related fields, as well as to discuss other vital issues -- such as the future of the United Nations.
KOICHI HARAGUCHI (Japan) said that the review of the Millennium Declaration was an overarching exercise, since the document addressed a wide variety of issues ranging from development, international peace and security to institutional reform of the United Nations system. The preparations for the high-level meeting next September were very important, and Japan was firmly committed to making an active contribution to achieving progress in all of those areas. The decisions to be made as September approached would be diverse. Some would be legal decisions involving amendment of the Charter; others might take the form of affirmation of the commitments of the Member States to take certain actions. The preparatory process should be as effective as possible, with a view to making the most of the summit opportunity next year.
He offered the following suggestions: time should be used effectively and efficiently to maintain the momentum generated by the reports and to produce as many achievements as possible in the run-up to the summit; participants should assume that the September summit was the only opportunity to make decisions on all matters, thereby ensuring that the efforts would be met with success; and an optimal mechanism should be devised to deal with the various themes. For that, he suggested holding informal consultations of the plenary upon the issuance of the reports of the High-level Panel and of the Millennium Project, along with the authors of those reports. The process should then proceed to parallel thematic discussions, in which delegations engaged in focused and in-depth deliberations on each theme. While efforts to build consensus were commendable, there would certainly be cases where decisions had to be made according to the Charter. At the same time, everyone should be aware of the danger of overemphasizing consensus, as that might stall necessary improvements to the United Nations.
REZLAN ISHAR JENIE (Indonesia) said multilateralism remained the only vehicle by which the complex challenges, posed by international peace and security, poverty, disease and sustainable development, could be resolved. The United Nations must be empowered to serve as the effective tool of multilateralism, including through comprehensive reform to make it more democratic in terms of procedure and representation. Achievement of the Millennium Goals would only succeed if developed and developing countries instituted the right combination of national and international policies. Moreover, it must be recognized that South-South cooperation could complement, but would not replace, existing international cooperation and regional initiatives. That was the context in which the Summit of Asia-Africa would be held in Indonesia from 21 to 23 April 2005.
Next year’s high-level General Assembly plenary, he noted, would provide an opportunity to renew the commitment to international peace and security, and to sustainable development. Endorsing the Secretary-General’s proposal for a three-day high-level plenary meeting of heads of State and government to precede the general debate, he nevertheless cautioned that the purpose of the general debate itself must be clarified, as it would be overshadowed by the review preceding it. Indonesia also endorsed the holding of plenary meetings and interactive round-table discussions, and agreed that specific themes should be assigned to each round table. Regarding the High-level Dialogue on Financing for Development, late June or early July would be the best time to hold that meeting.
DURGA SUBEDI (Nepal) said many developing countries, particularly least developed and land-locked developing countries, lagged behind in progress toward achieving the Millennium Development Goals. Integrated and coordinated action was needed by the international community. He urged developed countries to fulfil their commitments of earmarking 0.7 per cent of GDP to aid for developing countries and between 0.15 per cent to 0.2 per cent to least developed countries (LDCs). He also called for an open, fair, rule-based, predictable and non-discriminatory multilateral trade regime. Free and fair market access to global markets for all LDC products was also essential.
The Economic and Social Council should play a key role in strengthening the link between policy formulation and policy implementation. He called upon regional and functional commissions to further strengthen activities and enhance coordination with the United Nations system to effectively implement the outcomes of major international conferences and summits. Increased dialogue between and among the United Nations, the Bretton Woods institutions and the World Trade Organization (WTO) was creating an international environment conducive for implementing conference and summit outcomes. His Government was working hard to accelerate Nepal’s socio-economic development, taking on the global fight against poverty and making the millennium targets a cornerstone of its national development policies.
YERZHAN KH. KAZYKHANOV (Kazakhstan) said one of the central events of 2005 would be the high-level plenary meeting, which would provide the international community with the opportunity to re-energize the pursuit of the vision embodied in the Millennium Declaration. He hoped that the meeting would provide Member States with an opportunity to reinvigorate the political will of the international community to achieve those Goals in a timely manner. Efforts in the lead-up to the September 2005 event should be devoted to its comprehensive preparation. He expected the General Assembly to adopt, at its current session, a resolution on the format and organization of that major event, taking into account the views expressed by Member States at various consultations.
The Dialogue on Financing for Development, to be held in 2005, was designed to provide a concrete input into that process, he said. He encouraged the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), its functional commissions, regional commissions and other relevant subsidiary bodies to gear deliberations toward making significant contributions to that process. Kazakhstan reiterated its commitment to the Millennium Declaration and the outcomes of the major conferences and summits. The United Nations, he concluded, must continue to pay a critical role in ensuring steady progress towards forging global partnerships for development.
IFTEKHAR AHMED CHOWDHURY (Bangladesh) said crosscutting themes identified in the Millennium Declaration, and other conferences and summits, needed to be addressed in a synchronized manner. It would not be possible to fulfil all commitments without global cooperation. Achievement of the Millennium Goals depended on increased financing for development, as well as successful pro-development outcomes of international trade negotiations within the framework of the WTO. In addition, the United Nations agencies should further strengthen operational guidelines, result-based management and inter-agency cooperation.
Progress made on the achievement of Goals fell short of required targets, he continued. For developing nations, the implementation of outcomes presented an enormous challenge. Many Asian and sub-Saharan African countries needed special support to accelerate progress and to overcome resource deficits. Trade was the most important source of financing. A universal, open, equitable multilateral trading system could play a critical role in stimulating economic growth. Also, international financial systems should be reformed to ensure effective participation of developing countries in the decision-making process.
His nation had achieved considerable success in curbing population growth, reducing child mortality and child malnutrition, gender mainstreaming and empowering women, and mitigating disaster. It had already achieved food self-sufficiency, and had achieved universal access to safe drinking water. Conferences and summits of the past decade had helped bring development back to the central stage. A meaningful preparatory process for the review needed to be open-ended, transparent and inclusive of global diversity. Outcome documents should focus on development and enveloping all its dimensions.
TERUNEH ZENNA (Ethiopia) said that progress in achieving the MDGs in many countries was characterized by mixed results. Therefore, there was a shared responsibility to correct the situation and put every country on track to achieve agreed targets. Developing countries bore the prime responsibility for achieving those Goals and should take up their role in creating environments conducive to poverty eradication, and the promotion of democracy, human rights and good governance.
While Ethiopia was making the greatest efforts to meet the targets set out in the MDGs, it also acknowledged the need for faster and full implementation of those targets. Many of the targets had been made an integral part of his country’s national policies and strategies. The National Millennium Development Goals Report, published recently in collaboration with the United Nations country team in Ethiopia, revealed that progress had been achieved in such areas as universal primary education and access to safe water. In particular, an annual increase of 13 per cent enrolment had been registered in recent years, exceeding the required level of 3.8 per cent and leaving sufficient time to achieve the Millennium Goal of universal primary education even before 2015.
The report, however, pointed out that the major challenge for Ethiopia was financing the Goals, he said. To achieve the 5.7 per cent growth rate required to meet the MDG poverty target, a financing gap of $1.6 billion per year needed to be covered. Similarly, close to $4.6 billion was required in the years leading up to 2015 for poverty-oriented sectors such as education, health, agriculture, water and others. The financial requirements were beyond the means of his Government. He reiterated Ethiopia’s call to the international community to further extend its assistance to help countries meet the Goals through increased aid, more debt relief, improved market access and foreign direct investment (FDI). In that regard, efforts needed to be made to bring the per capita ODA received by Ethiopia to the level channelled to the rest of Africa –- currently it was only about half of the continent’s average.
AMR ABOUL ATTA (Egypt) thanked the Secretary-General for his report, which reflected the weaknesses of current multilateral undertakings. Considering the way crises came to the floor and the reaction of the international community to those crises, the United Nations must be kept in the forefront as the framework to meet those challenges and overcome problems of a long-standing nature. It was vital to recognize the importance of the Charter, he said. Challenges and crises called in to question security and development, and a nation’s ability to tackle issues while respecting sovereignty and the understanding of the root causes of conflict. It was necessary to respect the rule of law, he stressed.
He supported the idea of a high-level meeting in 2005 to review progress in achieving the Millennium Goals. Highlighting the need for a holistic approach, he said meeting global challenges was not about change or reform alone. Poverty was a severe problem and, accordingly, his nation emphasized the importance of coming to grips with that in order to achieve sustainable development. International partnerships, he added, were critical as well. As such, the high-level review must be more than just an analysis. It was critical to overcome problems and strive for a consensus among all. He expected that the High-level Dialogue on Financing for Development would mark a milestone leading up to the review of the Millennium Goals. It was necessary to find solutions to external debt problems, in particular in Africa. Humanitarian aid was also important for nations to translate the MDGs into reality.
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