Fifty-Ninth General Assembly
4th & 5th Meetings (AM & PM)
DELEGATES WARN AGAINST INFLEXIBLE POSITIONS IN DOHA TRADE NEGOTIATIONS,
AS SECOND COMMITTEE CONTINUES GENERAL DEBATE
OxfordUniversity Professor Delivers
Keynote Address on Theme of ‘Development and Conflict’
While the recent World Trade Organization (WTO) framework agreement to correct global economic and trade imbalances was encouraging, the upcoming Doha Round of trade negotiations would fail if WTO members were inflexible, particularly on the sticky issue of agriculture, delegates told the Second Committee (Economic and Financial) as it continued its general debate today.
The challenge ahead was to overcome polarization as the negotiations went forward, Singapore’s representative said. Developed countries currently spent hundreds of billions of dollars in agricultural subsidies every year, preventing developing countries from competing on a level playing field. The industrialized world must light the path ahead by opening its markets to exports from developing nations, which must, in turn, reduce tariffs on each others’ exports, including basic commodities and manufactured goods, which accounted for 40 per cent of their total trade. Slashing those tariffs by 50 per cent would generate an additional $15.5 billion in trade, he added.
India’s representative, echoing the call for a balanced outcome to the forthcoming Doha meeting, asserted that current trade rules had most adversely affected developing countries, impeding their ability to achieve the Millennium Development Goals. India called upon WTO negotiators to achieve a balanced outcome in agriculture, non-agricultural market access, services and other aspects of the Doha programme in line with the decisions adopted by the WTO General Council.
Myanmar’s representative said that South-South cooperation was also crucial for development, economic growth and trade promotion. In November, Myanmar and neighbouring Cambodia, Lao People’s Democratic Republic and Thailand had adopted the Bagan Declaration to increase competitiveness and expand regional growth, create jobs and relocate agricultural and manufacturing plants to areas with a competitive advantage. In addition, the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) would form a free trade zone by 2008, while the Bangladesh-India-Myanmar-Sri Lanka-Thailand Economic Cooperation Group would forge an accord by 2011.
Japan’s representative, emphasizing the importance of human security in the development equation, said that protecting and empowering people suffering from poverty, disease and conflict -- through official development assistance (ODA) and other means -- would go a long way towards achieving United Nations objectives. However, he cautioned, peace-building required seamless support from the end of armed conflict through the post-conflict reconstruction phase.
Earlier today, the Committee heard a keynote address on “Development and conflict” by Paul Collier, Professor of Economics at OxfordUniversity and member of London’s Centre for Economic Policy Research. Describing civil war as the greatest threat to mankind, he said that internal conflict severely impeded development and that economic problems left to fester in the world’s poorest nations would push their populations into an intractable cycle of conflict and economic marginalization. Civil war was as expensive as it was destructive, costing $50 billion per war. With two civil wars breaking out annually on average, the annual global cost of war would be $100 billion, three times the global budget for the fight against HIV/AIDS.
Countries with low per capita income or negative growth, as well as economies that depended on exporting natural resource, were particularly at risk, he continued, adding that doubling per capita income in those countries would actually cut that risk in half. However, rather than pushing for good economic governance, the international community tended to blame conflicts on poor governance, prescribing political agreements and immediate funding to get those countries back on track. It must employ more effective means of post-conflict intervention and avoid spending too much too soon. Aid had a greater impact on the development process in the middle of the first post-conflict decade rather than at the beginning.
During the ensuing discussion, Mr. Collier said low-income countries were often able to sustain an armed rebellion for several years, using their natural resources as an incentive and means of financing. Rebel finances must be squeezed, making it more difficult to continue the armed struggle and thus making peace more attractive. The United Nations could put in place templates for good governance, coordinate donor efforts, and help build economic institutions that would be needed in the succeeding decade.
Other speakers during the Committee’s two meetings today included the representatives of Indonesia (on behalf of ASEAN), Saudi Arabia, Algeria, Kenya, Libya, Namibia, Ukraine, Belarus, Ghana, Lesotho, Tajikistan, Philippines, Malawi, Eritrea, Thailand, Nepal, and Venezuela.
Also addressing the meeting were the observers for the Holy See, the Organization of the Islamic Conference and the African Union.
A representative of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) also spoke.
The Second Committee will meet again at 10 a.m. tomorrow, Wednesday, 6 October, to conclude its general debate.
The Second Committee (Economic and Financial) met this morning to hear a keynote address by Paul Collier, Professor of Economics at OxfordUniversity and member of the Centre for Economic Policy Research, as well as to continue its general debate.
The greatest threat to mankind was the incidence and consequences of civil war, which powerfully retarded development and significantly increased the risk of relapse, Mr. Collier said. Failure to redress the economic woes of the 1 billion people living in extreme poverty would trap the world’s poorest nations in an intractable cycle of conflict and economic marginalization. Modern rebellion was economically, socially and politically disastrous, with more deaths occurring after the war ended and half of all wars relapsing into conflict within a decade. The economic growth rate of countries in civil conflict typically decreased by between 2 and 2.5 per cent.
The economic spillover was equally powerful with neighbouring States losing 1 per cent of their growth rate, he said. Civil war typically cost $50 billion. In the last 50 years, two civil wars had broken out each year, on average, making the annual global cost of war 100 billion dollars. By contrast, the economic gain of prevention would be equivalent to triple the global budget to fight HIV/AIDS. Moreover, the $100 billion figure ignored costs that did not accrue. In addition, 95 per cent of hard drugs production occurred in civil war environments.
Civil war could be prevented by long-term prevention, shortening or ending ongoing conflicts and intervening in post-conflict settings, he said. A study of the social, historical and economic conditions of countries experiencing civil wars over the last 40 years revealed three major risk factors, all economic. Countries with low per capita income, low or negative growth, and economies dependent on natural resource exports were most prone to civil war. They were in effect “playing Russian roulette”, often experiencing long periods of peace before stumbling into conflict, as in the case of Côte d’Ivoire. Ethnic diversity did not make a society more dangerous; doubling per capita income in those countries would halve that risk, while each percentage point added to their growth rates would reduce the risk by one percentage point.
Typically the international community blamed the conflict on poor governance and tried to rectify it through aid, he said. However, the same political mistakes in middle-income countries with diversified economies were less dangerous. In high-income countries they posed no risk at all. The global community should address the economic conditions that exacerbated risk through a broader range of instruments, including by employing good economic governance practices designed for the world’s poorest nations. A good example was the extractive industries transparency initiative adopted by Nigeria to more effectively harness oil revenues for development.
On trade, he said that a common Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) time-bound effort was needed to give temporary market advantage for the least developed countries. Moreover, governments and rebel groups must make use of the same conflict-resolution techniques for settlement -- such as mediation and enforcement -- used in international wars. Civil wars lasted more than 10 times longer than international wars and it was necessary to squeeze the finances of rebel groups, such as revenues from natural resource predation and diaspora groups.
Post-conflict intervention was crucial, he said, stressing that political solutions were new and contestable, and would not alone substantially reduce post-conflict risk. Neither did democratic institutions radically slash risk. Rather, countries should expedite post-conflict economic recovery and initially focus on installing proper economic policies and institutions. Instead of flooding countries with aid during the first two years of post-conflict periods, which was the norm, aid was more useful in the development process during the middle of the first post-conflict decade. It was important to avoid spending too much too soon. The greatest priority for post-conflict growth was social rehabilitation, a signal to potential investors that the future would not be a repeat of the past. Government military spending in post-conflict settings significantly increased the risk of further conflict. The world could learn the wrong lessons from the war in Iraq as it had from the war in Somalia. Peacekeeping and security cost benefits were four times greater than the cost of peacekeeping and aid.
Questions and Answers
During the ensuing discussion, speakers asked Mr. Collier to describe the characteristics of civil war, as opposed to other types of conflict. They also asked whether rewarding rebel parties to draw them to the peace table was wise, what the role of the United Nations should be in post-conflict situations, and who would benefit most from conflicts, especially in countries with rich natural resources.
Mr. Collier responded by saying that a civil war was made up of at least one organized rebel army fighting government forces, with at least 1,000 combat-related deaths as its toll. Low-income countries were often able to sustain an armed rebellion for several years, using their natural resources as an incentive and means of financing.
Regarding rewards for rebels, coming to the peace table, he said rebel finances must be squeezed along with such rewards, making peace more attractive as continuing the armed struggle became more difficult. As for the role of the United Nations in post-conflict situations, the Organization could put in place templates for good governance, coordinate donor efforts, and help build economic institutions that would be needed in the succeeding decade.
Delegates also commented that civil wars were often financed by outside forces, as was the case in Lebanon, for example, and were frequently the result of long-standing realities created by colonialism. They also noted the often contradictory visions of post-conflict peace priorities among international institutions, questioning why such bodies acted so differently in the field. Various humanitarian interventions had taken place in Haiti, for instance, but the country was still suffering from conflict. Did its lack of natural resources have anything to do with that?
Addressing the case of Lebanon, Mr. Collier commented on the extraordinary situation fuelling that war, which had combined internal and external forces. External influences included neighbouring countries as well as Lebanon’s involvement in the West African diamonds trade, which had financed both sides of the conflict. As for cooperation between international institutions in post-conflict situations, everyone wanted to play coordinator but no one wanted to be coordinated. International agencies often had strong turf interests that made coordination among them unfeasible. Post-conflict governments would be much more credible coordinators than global bodies, but often had no capacity to coordinate.
Concerning Haiti, he agreed that the country lacked rich natural resources, but had a criminal environment highly suited to the drugs trade. One of the biggest problems was that Haiti was a dirt poor country in the midst of economic decline. A greater regional effort was needed to contain conflict in the country since most of the costs of the crisis were borne by Haiti’s neighbours.
As the Committee resumed into general debate, PALLAM RAJU (India) said the framework agreement reached during the August talks of the World Trade Organization (WTO) was an important intermediate step on narrowing the economic and trade imbalances which adversely affected developing countries in particular, impeding their ability to achieve the Millennium Development Goals. India called on WTO negotiators to achieve a balanced outcome in agriculture, non-agricultural market access, services and other aspects of the Doha programme in line with the decisions adopted by the WTO General Council.
The lack of available environmentally sound technologies had also constrained developing nations from achieving the goals, he said. Current global rules impeded developing nations’ ability to reap the full benefits of technological advancement. An arrangement similar to last year’s WTO agreement on intellectual property rights would give developing countries access to pharmaceuticals critical for addressing serious health concerns.
The report of the World Commission on Social Dimension of Globalization had offered several recommendations worthy of intergovernmental consideration, he continued. For example, wide-ranging reform of international trade, monetary and financial institutions would directly benefit developing nations, taking into account their needs and interests. It would also help restore the effectiveness and authority of the General Assembly in trade, money and finance.
SUSANTO SUTOYO (Indonesia), speaking on behalf of the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN), said that the region was on track to achieve the Millennium Development Goals in poverty reduction, primary education, gender equality, and health care for children and mothers. It was also making progress in reversing the spread of such infectious and deadly diseases as HIV/AIDS, SARS, bird flu and malaria, and taking the necessary measures to ensure environmental sustainability.
He said ASEAN was strengthening its relations with dialogue partners, enhancing its commitment to achieve the Millennium Development Goals and helping to transform the region into the ASEAN community through political, economic and socio-cultural initiatives. It was seeking to align regional initiatives with the Goals, prioritizing rural development and poverty eradication, emphasizing the challenges of globalization, trade liberalization and regional economic integration and identifying 10 priority areas regarding sustainable development.
Information and communication technologies (ICT), trade, financing and sustainable development played key roles in achieving the Millennium Development Goals in ASEAN as well, as realizing its vision for an ASEAN community, he said. The ICT played a key role in the region’s economic integration, but the digital divide still existed between most countries. Trade liberalization was also vital for the region’s development, and further enhancement of the international economic and trading systems would complement ASEAN’s efforts to open up trade and investment. There was a particular need to improve market access for developing-country exports and to eliminate trade-distorting subsidies as well as barriers to trade for agricultural products.
SAUD AL-JABRI (Saudi Arabia) welcomed the recent declaration against hunger and poverty adopted at the World Hunger Summit in September as part of the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals. In financing that effort, donor countries should commit the agreed upon figure of 0.7 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP) for official development assistance (ODA). Regarding the impact of oil prices on the world economy, the main cause of the recent price rise was not due to supply and demand controlled by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), which had no control over such factors as import speculation. Taxes imposed on oil imports in industrialized countries also affected prices as did the political conflict in the Middle East.
It was incumbent upon the international community to live up to its commitment to eradicate poverty and promote sustainable development as called for in the Millennium Development Goals. Saudi Arabia was doing its part and had provided more than 4 per cent of its GDP on ODA to the least developed countries in the last 20 years. It was contributing fully to the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) Initiative. Sustainable development required not only liberalized markets, but also better standards of living, poverty eradication and the effective prevention and treatment of disease.
U WIN MRA (Myanmar) said global growth was not strong enough to make significant progress in achieving the Millennium Development Goals. The World Bank had estimated that developing countries would need an additional $30 billion to $70 billion annually from higher domestic revenue, external assistance and government borrowing in order to reduce poverty. The international community must play a bigger role in fulfilling that need. Regarding trade, Myanmar supported the 1 August agreement of the World Trade Organization (WTO) to push forward multilateral trade negotiations in agriculture, non-agricultural market access, development, trade facilitation and services. Developing countries needed a trading system that would not only promote trade but also support their development efforts.
South-South cooperation was an important tool for development, he continued. Regional and subregional cooperation agreements were needed to accelerate economic growth, promote trade and achieve sustainable development in developing countries. For example, last November, Cambodia, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Myanmar and Thailand had adopted the Bagan Declaration to increase competitiveness and expand growth in the region; relocate agricultural and manufacturing plants to areas with competitive advantage; create jobs; and enhance peace and shared prosperity. ASEAN would establish a free trade zone by 2008, while the Bangladesh-India-Myanmar-Sri Lanka-Thailand Economic Cooperation Group was negotiating a free-trade zone by 2011.
ABDALLAH BAALI (Algeria), noting the close interdependence between development and peace and security, stressed the need to refocus development efforts through North-South partnerships. Globalization had given rise to uncertainties, and multilateral dialogue was needed to turn it into a beneficial force for all. Goals laid down in the Millennium Declaration and agreed at various international conferences had provided a global framework for common action to meet the development challenge. The financial, human and technical means needed to effectively implement those agreements called for increased coherence at all levels.
However, development in the South could not be realized under the current unfair rules of international governance, he continued. Developing countries desperately needed increased ODA, debt relief, open markets for their goods, more foreign investment and reform of the international financial system. Increased environmental degradation threatened the future of the planet, and the adverse effects of climate change were of serious concern. The recent hurricanes recalled the gravity of the situation and the need for urgent action.
ONG YEN CHENG (Singapore) said that dislocations created by globalization should not be lightly dismissed as the unavoidable consequences of change. The international community urgently needed a new framework to sustain a global consensus on open markets. Multilateral fora like the United Nations and the World Trade Organization (WTO) could play a vital role in helping to create a global framework of partnership for managing the downside of globalization.
Despite recent progress, the upcoming Doha Round of trade negotiations faced many difficult issues, he continued. The challenge ahead was to overcome polarization as negotiations went forward. The Doha Round would not succeed if WTO members took an inflexible approach, especially on agriculture. The hundreds of billions of dollars in agricultural subsidies spent by developed countries every year kept developing countries from competing on a level playing field. Developed nations should light the way ahead by opening up their markets to products from the developing world.
He stressed that developing countries must also adopt a pragmatic approach if the Round was to succeed. Over 40 per cent of developing country exports, including basic commodities and manufactured goods, went to other developing countries, and that trade was increasing by 11 per cent a year. If developing countries agreed to reduce tariffs on each other by 50 per cent, they would generate an additional $15.5 billion in trade.
FRANKLIN ESIPILA (Kenya) stressed that an enabling external economic environment, taking into account trade, monetary and finance, was urgently needed for development. Characteristics of the current economic environment that had led to marginalization and underdevelopment in the South included unfair global trade, declining ODA, imbalances in foreign direct investment (FDI) flows and external debt. Achieving the internationally agreed target of ODA at 0.7 per cent of GDP was still below target. Attention should be given to ensuring the effectiveness and quality of aid through better coordination, predictability, lower administrative costs and adherence to national priorities in developing countries.
He also emphasized the importance of increased and effective market access in developed countries for developing country exports, especially agricultural products. In addition, the external debt burden in developing countries had remained a major hindrance to development, with governments having to choose between debt servicing and investment in health and education.
JABER RAMADAN (Libya) stressed the urgent need to achieve the Millennium Development Goals of poverty eradication and sustainable development and to remove all barriers to developing countries’ access to international markets. The ODA was crucial to those goals. International solidarity to achieve the global development agenda was the only way to establish a fair economic order. Libya urged multilateral creditors to cancel poor countries’ debts.
Turning to environmental concerns, he said that making potable water available to all and combating desertification were top priorities. Libya also called for the removal of all explosives and landmines and urged the belligerents of World War II to provide financial compensation and rehabilitation to war victims, particularly those who had been left disabled.
On the domestic front, he said Libyan authorities were embarking on wide-range economic reform, encouraging private-sector investment, adopting a foreign investment law and reducing import taxes. Lawmakers were hammering out a bill to privatize certain sectors of the Libyan economy and the country had applied for membership in the World Trade Organization.
CELESTINO MIGLIORE (Holy See) said that steps to proceed more quickly towards sustainable development must be taken by a broad group of stakeholders. Through their active involvement, the essential principle of solidarity would be respected and stakeholders would come to perceive that the needs of all must be considered. It was important to guarantee the accountability of those directing programmes on sustainable development, so that their decisions would reflect people’s concerns.
In that respect, he continued, it would also be helpful if people living on or beyond society’s margins were actually considered as true actors in their own development. People were central participants in determining their own future, and should be allowed to exercise creativity in their specific economic and political circumstances. Sustainable development should be aimed at inclusion, which would only be attained through equitable international cooperation, participation and partnership.
TOSHIRO OZAWA (Japan) said a discussion of the Millennium Development Goals was unrealistic for countries mired in conflict. Peace-building was crucial and Japan had made the consolidation of peace as well as human security major pillars of its foreign policy. In that regard, Japan was making good on its pledge to provide up to $5 billion in aid for Iraq and its Self-Defence Forces were engaging in humanitarian and reconstruction programmes. Later this month, Japan would host a meeting of the International Reconstruction Fund Facility for Iraq. Japan was also playing a leading role in Afghanistan’s reconstruction, particularly in infrastructure development, comprehensive rural development, disarmament, demobilization and reintegration.
Peace-building required seamless support from the end of armed conflict through the post-conflict reconstruction phase. Ordinary people’s livelihood must steadily improve, otherwise peace-building would be meaningless. Japan was committed to using ODA and the United Nations Trust Fund for Human Security to achieve human security and to protect and empower people suffering from poverty, disease and conflict. In the past 25 years, its total ODA to sub-Saharan Africa had been $210 billion, compared to $140 billion to East and South-East Asia.
MARTIN ANDJABA (Namibia) noted that much had been said about progress made by developing countries to create an “enabling environment” for investment. However, assistance from development partners had not been forthcoming. It was also known that asymmetry in the global economic and financial systems had continued to grow at the expense of developing countries.
Therefore, he emphasized, developing countries themselves must take ownership of their development programmes, and make external assistance supplementary to national efforts. In the case of Africa, ownership of the continent’s future had been underscored and elaborated in the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) development framework.
Namibia had long resolved that its development should be nationally driven and people-centred, he continued. Hence, it had given high priority to social, economic and infrastructure development, and was committed to invest in its people, as demonstrated by budgetary allocations of 25 per cent to education and 15 per cent to health. Development programmes had been guided by the National Development Plan and Vision 2030, which were medium- and long-term development plans.
ANDRIY NIKITOV (Ukraine) said that despite progress in achieving economic growth and implementing market reforms, many economies in transition still faced serious obstacles to integration into the world economy. Ukraine supported a successor resolution for adoption in the current General Assembly session on providing assistance to those transition economies. Resolving acute environmental problems was also a top priority for Ukraine, which had ratified the Kyoto Protocol earlier this year. The country’s environmental policies were shaped by the Environment for Europe process and environmental concerns were taken into account in socio-economic structural reforms.
Regarding the Millennium Development Goals, Ukraine was particularly concerned with Goal No. 8, which called for developing a global partnership for development, he said. In that regard, it was pursuing regional and European integration through strategic partnerships and economic cooperation with European Union members.
Stressing the importance of the European Union and the United States in recognizing Ukraine’s recent reforms and granting it formal status as a
fully-fledged market economy, he said that the country’s annual economic growth averaged 7.2 per cent in the last four years due to prudent demand management, strong fiscal and monetary policy, a significant improvement in the trade and services balance and accelerated privatization.
FLORENCE CHENOWETH, Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), noted that more than a billion people worldwide were still affected by hunger and poverty. Halving the number of poor by 2015, as stipulated in the Millennium Goals, would bring benefits of $120 billion per year, as people would live longer and more productive lives. Some encouraging signs that the international community was focusing more on hunger included the signing of the New York Declaration on Action against Hunger and Poverty, and the General Assembly announcement that agriculture and its products were vitally important to developing countries.
The FAO was also concerned about the problems of rural African women, especially their lack of labour and land rights, she said. It had continued to incorporate the least developed countries into its work programme, and was actively contributing to the preparatory process for the Mauritius meeting on small island developing States, identifying problems of particular significance to those countries. In addition, the FAO had assisted the secretariat of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) in developing a programme for food security. African heads of State and government had pledged to allocate at least 10 per cent of budgetary resources to implement the NEPAD programme.
ALEG IVANOU (Belarus) called on the Committee to pay particular attention to the economic and financial needs of economies in transition, which needed help to integrate fully into the world economy and become full members of the World Trade Organization. It was essential to scale up development assistance to those countries with fragile economies and without imposing unrealistic conditions.
The problems of transition economies in Central and Eastern Europe were not uniform, he said, stressing that assistance must be tailored to each nation’s needs. Belarus would address those concerns further during forthcoming Committee meetings.
NANA EFFAH-APENTENG (Ghana) said that laudable declarations issued at the end of grand summits and conferences were belied by the persistence of a global economic system that worked largely against the interests of developing countries. Two significant events had taken place on 20 September 2004 at United Nations Headquarters. The first was a meeting of world leaders from the North and South, held in an effort to pave the way for a more equitable globalization. In his address to participants on that occasion, the Secretary-General had noted the uneven distribution of globalization’s benefits, observing that many of its burdens had fallen hardest on those who could least protect themselves. He had urged developed countries to summon the political will to fulfil pledges made on a range of issues, including trade, financing for development and debt relief, and to the leaders of developing nations to strengthen the rule of law, build democratic political systems, respect human rights, to invest in education, health care and infrastructure and to promote social equity.
The second event he said, was a meeting held at the initiative of President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva of Brazil to discuss further international action to fight hunger, overcome poverty and increase financing for development. The meeting had noted that some 300 million people lived in absolute poverty in sub-Saharan Africa and that 1 billion people survived on less than a dollar a day. Millions of children had continued to die each year from lack of health care, clean water, decent housing and adequate nutrition, while 20,000 died each day from hunger-related causes. It had noted that at the present stage of technological progress and agricultural production worldwide, the persistence of that situation was economically irrational, politically unacceptable and morally shameful.
LEBOHANG MOLEKO (Lesotho) said that prolonged poverty remained the primary impediment to human development. Studies had shown that East Asia and the Pacific had reduced the number of people living in extreme poverty, while the situation in sub-Saharan Africa was worsening. Africa must be given special attention to enable it to achieve the Millennium Development Goal of halving extreme poverty by 2015. Africa was facing enormous development challenges, further exacerbated by HIV/AIDS, which had reversed the economic gains of the past few decades and threatened the existence of most Southern Africans, including the population of Lesotho. Greater international cooperation and resources were needed to keep the epidemic at bay.
Famine and food insecurity threatened more than 200 million people in Africa, he continued. African leaders had pledged to allocate 10 per cent of their national budgets to increase agricultural production and had identified rural development and agriculture as top priority areas for action within the context of NEPAD.
RASHID ALIMOV (Tajikistan), noting that the international community had still not attained the solidarity needed to successfully fight poverty, stressed the need to find innovative means to finance development. Tajikistan had lived through civil conflict and still suffered from acute economic and social problems, with many of its people living below the poverty line. Some 40 per cent of the country’s budget went to servicing external debt, limiting the Government’s ability to satisfy the urgent needs of the population. The idea of exchanging debt for sustainable development still did not enjoy the solid support of creditors.
Turning to the International Year of Freshwater, he said that event had enhanced awareness of the use of potable water and sustainable development. The Year was the beginning of a long route towards realizing the objectives laid out in Johannesburg Declaration on freshwater.
MARIA LOURDES RAMIRO LOPEZ (Philippines) said that creating jobs and sustainable livelihoods would contribute significantly to achieving economic security and stimulation as well as halving world poverty and hunger by 2015. The Philippines 2004-2010 Programme of Action embodied that concept, calling for the creation of 6 million jobs, a tripling of the number of loans for small and medium-sized businesses, and the development of 1 to 2 million hectares of land for agribusiness, among other strategies. Economic security prospered in environments with level playing fields.
International trade, investment and development were crucial to raising living standards, she stressed. However, the call for an open, rule-based and multilateral trading system had not eliminated barriers for exports from poor countries. A development approach that took into account the needs and priorities of developing countries was needed. Moreover, developed countries must make good on their commitments to allocate 0.7 per cent of GDP for official development assistance. Only five developed countries had done so last year.
BROWN CHIMPHAMBA (Malawi) said economic growth in his country had increased to 4.5 per cent in 2003, up from 2 per cent in the previous year. However, the increase was not enough to address poverty-reduction needs. For Malawi to rescue itself from abject poverty and meet the Millennium Goals, its GDP would have to grow by 6 per cent every year for 20 years.
The new Government elected in May was committed to achieving the high and sustainable economic growth required to reduce poverty and achieve the Goals.
International support was being sought for an economic growth strategy that would reform the public sector to create the stable macroeconomic conditions for growth and for instilling donor confidence, he said. Private sector reforms would tie businesses in by encouraging the development and strengthening of commercial activity. Finally, as agricultural reforms led toward making Malawi a “hunger-free nation”, the civil service would be professionalized to develop national capacity.
In conclusion, he said his country was a beneficiary of the HIPC initiative and had developed a Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper in 2002. Implementation required coordination among all economic sectors as well as the technical and financial support of its development partners. The initiative was appreciated but the requirements were so arduous that few sub-Saharan African countries could meet them. If preconditions were less stringent, more countries could succeed.
AMARE TEKLE (Eritrea) said conditions in most developing countries were worsening, despite the meteoric growth in production, commerce and information technology resulting from globalization. Indeed, globalization had exacerbated imbalances and widened the gap between rich and poor countries. The Millennium Declaration stated that globalization must benefit the whole of humanity by meaningfully integrating the economies of both developing and rich countries. Any effort to harness the forces of globalization for mutual benefit must be based on an effective partnership between the two. They must benefit from the credible participation of intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations as well as the private sector.
Any partnership between rich and poor countries must be anchored in financing for development, he continued. The Monterrey Consensus and succeeding processes had been sources of frustration and grave concern to developing countries, since they had resulted neither in a comprehensive strategy for mobilizing resources nor in the fulfilment of commitments by rich countries to provide meaningful assistance, nor in the reduction of external debt. Trade barriers were another major hindrance to the developing world and poor countries continued to struggle against severe restrictions on market access, even as they continued to open up their own markets to the exports of rich countries.
KHUNYING LAXANACHANTORN LAOHAPHAN (Thailand) said his country was making a valuable contribution to global development through partnership. It had contributed to an economic cooperation strategy to enhance competitiveness among South-East Asian nations through human resource development, capacity-building and trade facilitation. Thailand was also poised to contribute to the United Nations Voluntary Trust Fund to support the participation of small island developing States in the January 2005 international meeting to review implementation of the Barbados Programme of Action. In November Thailand would host a ministerial conference on alternative development.
He said that a rule-based multilateral trading system, with more emphasis on development and the interests of developing countries, was needed in order to facilitate the development agenda. Concerted efforts were needed to ensure equitable trade benefits that would reach the grassroots as well as the productive sectors. The international financial architecture must be reformed to enable developing countries to more fully participate in decision-making and to equip them to handle their financial woes.
DURGA SUBEDI (Nepal) said foreign direct investment (FDI) was an essential means for pulling developing countries out of their multidimensional problems. The Monterrey programme for development financing must be fully implemented, along with the other development agendas from international conferences. The ODA targets must be met and development partners must keep the commitments they had made. Globalization had touched all countries and its benefits could be spread to all with a common strategy for making it work for all countries and communities regardless of size or wealth.
He said South-South cooperation could be a pillar for the development of poor countries as a complementary mechanism to a revitalized North-South scheme. Yet, while the recent United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) meeting had put international trade talks back on track, the least developed countries remained marginalized in the global economy. They represented only 1 per cent of world trade and received less than 1 per cent of total FDI. Production capacity and exports bases were also limited. There was an urgent need for a common strategy to get developing country products into developed world markets.
IMERIA NUNEZ DE ODREMAN (Venezuela) said her country was a victim of economic recipes put forth by international technocrats in the 1980s as the solution to widespread economic and social problems. Rather than alleviating those problems, they had increased poverty to unseen levels in poor countries while others in the developed world had continued to increase their wealth through restrictive policies and closed markets.
Venezuela had implemented a social and economic policy for development, which had been combined with action to deal more effectively with social inequalities and poverty, she said. However, the country also needed to export its products, and was committed to any mechanism aimed at designing an international trade and financial system that was open, fair and non-discriminatory.
SHAHID HUSAIN, Senior Adviser to the United Nations of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), said that issues of common concern among OIC members included commodities, external debt and international financing; sustainable development and international economic cooperation; environmental concerns; migration; operational activities for development, particularly South-South cooperation; and permanent sovereignty of the Palestinian people in the occupied Palestinian territory, including Jerusalem, and the Arab population in the occupied Syrian Golan over their natural resources.
Noting that the tragic events of 11 September had adversely affected the economic climate everywhere, he said it was important and prudent to make concerted efforts to identify and address the root causes of the world’s socio-economic ills, such as underdevelopment, treacherous foreign occupations, debilitating conditions, inequitable trading patterns and other harmful practices. The Sixth Committee (Legal) was seeking a common definition of terrorism, including State terrorism, in order to make appropriate recommendations. The Second Committee must put due emphasis on the root causes of desperate measures so that they may be identified, contained and appropriately remedied.
OMOTAYO OLANIYAN, African Union, said it was vital to continually emphasize the need for economic development in an effort to minimize poverty, which was pervasive in Africa. According to the continent’s current state, achieving the Millennium Goals in Africa by 2015 would not be possible. In an attempt to reverse the present trend, African heads of State had adopted a Declaration and Programme of Action against Hunger and Poverty, which focused on employment creation; capacity- and institution-building; programmes based on the agricultural and informal sectors; access to microcredit, especially for women; access to basic social services; integrated and intersectoral policies and programmes related to poverty alleviation and employment creation; and mechanisms to promote a dynamic private sector.
The international community must translate its support and commitments into concrete action for Africa, he said. The recent increase in ODA pledges was commendable, but the region also needed investment and innovative ways to finance its development. Africa was also suffering from huge external debt burdens, which had increased poverty and diverted resources from social and economic programmes to debt servicing. The Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) Debt Initiative had not been effective due to its conditionalities, and it was time the international community considered alternative debt strategies to relieve African economies.
Globalization could help or hinder development in African countries, he continued. On the positive side, Africa stood to gain from such needed benefits as technology and skilled labour, but for the continent to fully realize its potential, developed countries must open up their markets, increase the flow of capital to purchase African products, and remove restrictive tariffs.
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