SPEAKERS FOCUS ON NEED FOR DEBT CANCELLATION, REFORM OF INTERNATIONAL FINANCIAL ARCHITECTURE, AS SECOND COMMITTEE CONTINUES GENERAL DEBATE
SPEAKERS FOCUS ON NEED FOR DEBT CANCELLATION, REFORM OF INTERNATIONAL FINANCIAL ARCHITECTURE, AS SECOND COMMITTEE CONTINUES GENERAL DEBATE
|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Sixty-second General Assembly
4th & 5th Meetings (AM & PM)
speakers focus on need for debt cancellation, reform of international financial
architecture, as Second Committee continues general debate
The heavy external debt burdens of developing countries clearly illustrated the need for debt cancellation, reform of the international financial architecture and policies that would foster socio-economic advancement in developing countries, several speakers told the Second Committee (Economic and Financial) this afternoon as it continued its general debate.
India’s representative said the international financial system was robbing the poor to help the rich and developing countries were in fact subsidizing developed countries, sending them $667 billion in net financial resources in 2006. That amount was up from $500 billion in 2005. In addition, most official development assistance (ODA) from developed countries was spent on disaster and debt relief rather than long-term economic growth.
He said the United Nations should hire experts to carry out an audit of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and other international financial institutions. It should also establish a commission to review the intellectual property rights system, which currently discouraged technological assimilation, which was a necessary driver of development.
Ghana’s delegate agreed, saying the debt burden on African countries constrained spending on public investment and retarded job creation. The Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) Debt Initiative was supposed to reduce their external debt substantially but that reduction had been slow to materialize, as had economic reforms intended to stimulate private capital flows. While Africa’s debt stock had fallen considerably relative to gross domestic product, its total debt service obligations still stood at 4.1 per cent last year and 4.2 per cent the previous year due to higher interest rates.
The representative of the Philippines pointed to the debt-for-equity initiative as an innovative way to erase the debt problem and help developing countries achieve the Millennium Development Goals. Under that initiative, developed creditor countries, multilateral institutions and large commercial banks would put 50 per cent of previously agreed portions of the debt-service payments owed by debtor countries into such projects as mass housing, safe water systems, hospitals, micro-financing, infrastructure and reforestation.
Venezuela’s representative said external debt exacerbated the already unequal distribution of goods and thwarted human development. A more human economic model was needed to foster economic diversification and education, science and technology as tools for sustainable development.
In a similar vein, Jamaica’s delegate called for comprehensive, equitable and development-oriented solutions to the challenges facing middle-income countries, saying it was wrong to assume they did not require special international support.
Other speakers today were the representatives of Zambia (on behalf of the Southern African Development Community), Iran, Cuba, Chile, Tunisia, El Salvador, Malaysia, Qatar, Peru, Algeria, Sudan, Republic of Korea, Honduras, Kuwait, Mozambique, Kazakhstan, Ghana, Kenya, Uruguay, Cameroon and Uganda.
Also making statements were the United Nations representatives of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO).
The Committee will meet again at 10 a.m. tomorrow, Wednesday 10 October to conclude its general debate.
The Second Committee (Economic and Financial) met this morning to continue its general debate.
LAZAROUS KAPAMBWE (Zambia), speaking on behalf of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), said that despite a positive picture painted by the World Economic Outlook 2007, the mix of least developed countries, landlocked developing countries and middle-income developing countries in the region were all vulnerable to any slowing down in global economic growth. Challenges included limited capacity to mobilize the domestic and external resources required for development, unsustainable debt burdens, and rapidly declining levels of official development assistance (ODA) for development programmes, all issues pertinent to the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals.
What was needed to address those issues was, among other things, debt cancellation, meeting ODA levels, reforming the United Nations to deliver more efficiently at the country level, and science and technology transfer, he said. The SADC called on the General Assembly, through the Second Committee, to put in place a framework that would ensure continuous assessment of the progress being made in poverty eradication. It also called on developed countries urgently to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, and to take action to prevent some of the destructive impacts of climate change, such as the droughts, floods, desertification and land degradation that plagued the subregion.
He said much hard work had been done to consolidate and deepen integration in the subregion, and SADC leaders had declared in August 2007 its readiness to establish a free trade area in 2008. Free trade had the potential to contribute to economic and social development, but SADC was aware that the issue of market access must be addressed at the global level under the World Trade Organization. Concerned by the Doha stalemate, SADC called for concerted efforts and the exercise of political will by developed countries to provide the required leadership in the search of consensus on the early conclusion of the Doha Development Round.
DEIDRE MILLS ( Jamaica) said least developed countries, landlocked developing countries, small island developing States and African countries were constrained in their ability to respond to the vagaries of the global environment. The long-term economic recovery and development of countries emerging from conflict also merited special attention. Foreign direct investment (FDI) and ODA had stagnated, decreased or been uneven. The Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) noted in its economic outlook for 2006-2007 that despite positive trends, the share of FDI to the region had fallen for the second consecutive year and accounted for just 8 per cent of total global foreign investment. Such trends were worrying given the crucial importance of long-term sustained flows of private capital and associated technology transfer.
She said that despite the decreasing debt in the Latin American and Caribbean region, which comprised primarily middle-income countries, it was still the second-highest level of external debt in the world. That was a vivid reminder of the need for a comprehensive, effective, equitable, durable and development-oriented solution to the debt problems of developing countries, including middle-income developing countries. It was incorrect to assume that middle-income countries did not require special support by the international community. Several initiatives, including the high-level meetings held this year by the Governments of Spain and El Salvador, aimed to change that perception. That should create a new phase in international cooperation for middle-income countries, consistent with the 2005 World Summit decisions. Jamaica supported full realization of the Doha Work Programme’s development dimension, with particular attention being paid to the different levels of development among economies and the asymmetries between developed and developing countries.
EDUARDO MENEZ ( Philippines) said his country was committed to pursuing the internationally agreed development goals and was on track to achieving the Millennium Development Goals due to its relatively stable economic growth. With continued growth, it should be able to ensure that positive economic achievements trickled down to benefit the masses. However, not all countries were on track to achieve the Millennium targets; some were way behind schedule. In that regard, the Philippines was particularly interested in the debt-for-equity initiative that would help solve the debt problem of developing countries. Under the initiative, developed creditor countries, multilateral institutions and large commercial banks would put 50 per cent of previously agreed portions of the debt-service payments owed by debtor countries into such projects as mass housing, safe water systems, hospitals, microfinancing, infrastructure and reforestation.
He said the Philippine President had recently created a Presidential Task Force to assess the impact of climate change on the country, particularly in such vulnerable areas as water, agriculture, coastal areas, and the terrestrial and marine ecosystems. The Task Force would ensure strict compliance with air emission standards and act urgently to combat deforestation and environmental degradation. It would also apprehend violators of relevant rules and legislation. The Legislative Executive Development Advisory Council would make climate change a priority in policy formulation and legislation designed to progressively reduce the per unit water and energy usage of farms, factories and other systems of economic output. Energy security must also be considered in the context of climate change. The Philippines had launched a sustainable programme on alternative energy sources and had passed a biofuels law. An Executive Order on Generating Investments in Geothermale Areas had also been signed recently.
MOHAMMAD KHAZAEE ( Iran) said the current global economic imbalances had brought both hope and fear on the road to the realization of the Millennium targets and viable solutions were still awaited. Further international cooperation and a favourable global environment were required to boost the economy worldwide and to achieve sustainable economic growth. Bilateral and regional cooperation among developing countries had the potential to support national development strategies, while North-South and triangular cooperation remained crucial to improving the world economy and promoting development activities.
Iran firmly supported appropriate reforms in the work of the Bretton Woods institutions, including strengthened participation and increased voting power for developing countries in decision-making processes, he said. Attention should be paid to the development efforts of middle-income developing countries especially in light of strategies identified at the Madrid International Conference on Development for Middle Income Countries, held in March 2007. To further assist developing countries achieve the Millennium targets, the Triennial Comprehensive Policy Review was crucial to achieving sustainable economic growth. Iran also highlighted the importance of predictability and stability and the need to increase financial resources, access to and transfer of technology.
ILEANA NÚÑEZ MORDFOCHE ( Cuba) said developing countries remained victims of poverty, lack of resources and marginalization. Their dire economic problems continued to grow, along with armed conflicts, natural disasters and the spread of diseases. Their distressing economic situations could not be disguised through arithmetic juggling acts. Due to the persistence of an unfavourable international economic and financial situation, and an unjust world order -- which were direct consequences of neoliberal globalization -- the world was increasingly far from reaching the Millennium Development Goals. One per cent of the world’s richest people owned 40 per cent of its wealth. Full realization of the right to development continued to be a pipe dream for developing countries. The external debt of developing countries had grown to $2.85 billion and while they remained unable to access international markets, the suspension of the Doha Round illustrated the developed countries’ lack of political will.
Environmental deterioration threatened to exhaust natural resources and the entire human race, she continued. Still, developed countries continued their unsustainable production and consumption patterns, the main cause of environmental damage. ODA was still well under 0.7 per cent, and only reached 0.3 per cent of developed countries’ gross domestic product. The Millennium targets could be reached with $150 billion, barely 10 per cent of today’s military expenditures. Amid the so-called trade liberalization, the implementation of coercive economic measures, sanctions and extraterritorial laws against developing countries continued to be a bad practice. For more than 40 years, Cuba had been subjected to a brutal economic, financial and commercial blockade imposed by the United States Government.
ALFREDO LABBÉ ( Chile) said meeting the Millennium targets and addressing climate change were high on the list of issues needing urgent attention. Climate changes and its global impact should be addressed by developed countries, which emitted the most greenhouse gases, and by the international community. It was crucial to protect the environment and those issues affected everyone in the world.
Regarding Millennium Development Goals, he said a number of countries were unlikely to reach the finish line by the 2015 deadline and urgent action was needed. Some steps to improve their chances included enhanced South-South cooperation, narrowing the digital divide, the promotion of transparent and competitive markets and reform of the United Nations, specifically the Triennial Comprehensive Policy Review. Resolutions concerning the review and the forthcoming financing for development review conference to examine the Monterrey Consensus, were among the most important matters before the Committee.
HABIB MANSOUR ( Tunisia) said African countries needed special attention if they were to achieve the Millennium Development Goals. Development remained at the centre of actions needed in moving towards equality, stability and peace. Poverty eradication was one step. On the heels of the International Decade for Poverty Eradication, which ended in 2006, the United Nations should declare a second Decade to complete that task.
The world must also work together to address other global issues related to development, such as climate change, bridging technological gaps and the integration of global and financial markets, he said. Tunisia urged other countries to seize opportunities at the High-level Dialogue on Financing for Development, to be held this month, and at the Doha review conference, set for 2008, to forge a new momentum.
CARMEN MARÍA GALLARDO HERNÁNDEZ ( El Salvador) stressed the need to study recent international flows of public and private capital to developing countries as well as new initiatives designed to strengthen international institutions dedicated to providing stable financing for development. El Salvador supported reforming the Bretton Woods institutions, including their system of voting rights and representation, to give a greater voice to emerging economies and ensure that low-income countries were adequately represented. Developing countries must be able to reap the benefits of globalization and create more productive, competitive economies. Solving the external debt problem of developing countries was also a concern, as was the need for developing countries to have better access to markets. The international financial architecture must be reformed so that developing countries could effectively participate in the decision-making process.
Noting that commerce was indeed the engine of economic growth and development, she said the Doha Round should result in the creation of an open, non-discriminatory and equitable multilateral trading system and true trade liberalization. Remittance transfers could help mobilize resources for poverty eradication and attainment of the Millennium targets. There was a need to promote better ways for migrants to send money home, taking into account that remittances were private, not public, transfers. El Salvador supported South-South cooperation, which was essential for developing countries, as well as greater public-private partnerships, corporate social responsibility, accountability, transparency and innovative financing to support development. The international community must also step up efforts to promote capacity building and technology transfer.
HAMIDON ALI ( Malaysia) said that at the present pivotal period in history, the world’s actions would have a significant impact on the future, specifically on the environment and the global economy. It was to be hoped that the international community would invest now to deter the effects of climate change by urging developed countries to reduce harmful emissions and ensure the transfer of technology to developing countries.
He said the current inability to make significant progress halfway to the Millennium target date of 2015 should be addressed. Despite commitments to double aid to Africa by 2010, actual ODA had barely increased in 2004 and no country in sub-Saharan Africa had received the promised resources to implement national policies for attaining the Goals. Aid remained too project-driven and unpredictable. The international financial system must ensure distributive justice for all.
The forthcoming High-level Dialogue on Financing for Development must address the needs of higher-income developing countries to further promote their role in the development efforts of other countries, he said. As the Committee considered the “big-ticket” agenda item on the Triennial Comprehensive Policy Review, it should establish a solid framework for negotiations.
NIRUPAM SEN ( India) said Mr. Phelps’ statement yesterday that innovation was crucial for development was true in emerging and middle-income countries. Innovation was an important and perhaps the most crucial factor in development. It led to imperfect competition and high returns. Technology and science were crucial for development, particularly in Africa. India was building technology centres with satellites and fiberoptic cable in 26 African countries to enable them to “leapfrog” the problems of socio-economic development. Until there was a critical mass of scientific and technology capacity, the world needed the Millennium Development Goals. But unless those targets were followed by sustainable economic development, they would become “welfare colonialism”. Countries must be able to fully eliminate malaria, not just have malaria nets.
Intellectual property rights were geared against technological assimilation and were expressly designed to set up monopolies, he said, adding that the intellectual property rights regime did not protect biodiversity or access to generic medicines. Rather, it blocked the growth of technologies. Scientists in the developed world were hesitant to develop new medical technologies because they feared consumers could not afford them. Intellectual property rights were not good for the North or the South, but only for pharmaceutical companies.
While it was good to develop technologies to address climate change, they must be affordable to the countries needing them most, he said. Technology transfer was essential, but intellectual property rights were used to prevent that flow. The Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPs) regime was cumbersome and “bad news” for such public goods as climate change and public health. The United Nations must take centre stage on that issue. It should set up a commission of economic experts to look at the intellectual property rights system as a common good of mankind.
The net transfer of financial resources from developing to developed countries was $667 billion in 2006, up from $500 billion in 2005, he continued. In other words, developing countries were subsidizing developed countries. The international financial system was robbing the poor in order to help the rich. The international community could not underestimate the magnitude of the “topsy turvydom” in which it was living. It must examine some of those issues and look at practical solutions. Most ODA from developed countries was spent on disaster and debt relief, not long-term socio-economic development. Where then would countries get the money they needed to address climate change and for the adaptation fund? The United Nations, particularly the Economic and Social Council, should hire experts to carry out an audit of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and other international financial institutions.
NASSIR ABDULAZIZ AL-NASSER ( Qatar) said developing countries had responded to calls for the restructuring and liberalization of their economies, and to improve public administration in line with controls imposed by the IMF and the World Bank as prerequisites for aid and FDI. Developing countries had thus fulfilled their commitments. The Doha Round, which had been expected to result in an agreement between developed and developing countries by the end of June 2005, had failed so far. Developed nations, with a few exceptions, had not fulfilled their commitment to provide an annual 0.7 per cent of their gross domestic product for ODA. Rather than new commitments, what was needed was the implementation of existing ones in line with a clear timetable and assurances that the needs of developing countries would be taken into account.
International institutions must be reformed to make their decision-making processes more democratic, fair and representative of all countries, he stressed. Development cooperation should be demand-driven and followed up on the basis of the national strategies of developing countries. Countries of the South had gained greater economic weight due to increased South-South cooperation and they were now in position to be effective actors in the global economic system. The volume of South-South trade accounted for one third of world trade due to increasing procurements and great demographic growth. However, South-South cooperation should not substitute multilateralism, but rather strengthen it. Economic integration among countries of the South should be multifaceted and increase the share of developing countries in international trade.
LUIS ENRIQUE CHÁVEZ ( Peru) said the global community suffered from alarming poverty, social inequality, civil wars, the collapse of States, genocide, terrorism, transnational crime and environmental degradation, all of which put the internal stability of States and international security at risk. The global economy desperately needed effective multilateral controls to coordinate macroeconomic policy and include both developing and developed countries in that process. The General Assembly was the forum where middle-income countries could effectively contribute innovative solutions to conflicts and new threats.
Peru’s economic stability and growth in the last 76 months had created national and international confidence and expectations, he said. That sustained growth was due to investment and productivity and it was enabling the country to make strides toward national stability and development. Poverty eradication was Peru’s most formidable challenge and the Government had adopted a social policy based on productivity, access to education and technological innovation, and institutional development.
To achieve the Millennium targets, he said, Peru had set the goal of cutting poverty down to 30 per cent by 2011, reducing malnutrition by 25 per cent to 16 per cent, and extending potable water and electricity services to 90 per cent of the population. It also aimed to eradicate illiteracy, reduce informal-sector employment from 53 per cent to 35 per cent, create 1.5 million jobs and slash the foreign debt by 24 per cent to 13 per cent of gross domestic product. Considering the uncertain outcome of the Doha Round and its own evaluation of integration in the Andean region and Latin America, Peru was forming free trade agreements with commercial heavyweights, with a view to assuring market access, creating just, predictable trade rules that would complement those of the World Trade Organization, diversifying its export markets and attracting investment and technology.
MOHAMED OMAR, Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), said that despite efforts to diminish the number of undernourished people, projections showed that 582 million people would still be hungry in 2015 -- the deadline for attaining the Millennium Development Goals. More international assistance was needed to achieve hunger reduction. In 2002, FAO had launched the National Programmes for Food Security, which was now active or soon to be active in 50 countries. It had taken a village-by-village approach as an effective way to achieve hunger reduction. But of the estimated $5 billion investment requirements in 12 low-income food-deficit countries, only $1.2 billion had been raised so far.
There was a need to build strategic alliances, invest in agriculture and address climate change issues in order to remedy food deficits, he said. The direct and indirect impacts of climate change had severely threatened development efforts in all parts of the world. Concerning the Committee’s agenda item on sustainable mountain development, FAO stood ready to assist delegations while they deliberated that important issue.
Noting that World Food Day would be observed on 18 October in the Economic and Social Council Chamber, he said FAO would launch the International Year of the Potato (IYP) during that occasion. In addition, the thirty-fourth FAO Conference, to be held in Rome next month, would include side events on such subjects as Aid for Trade and Food Security, and the Financing of Agriculture.
AURA MAHUAMPI RODRIGUEZ DE ORTIZ ( Venezuela) denounced initiatives designed to favour industrialized countries and evade international commitments, as well as countries that wished to enhance protectionist measures for their industries to the detriment of poorer countries. Everyone knew that the persistence of external debt harmed the economies and finances of the South, exacerbating the unequal distribution of goods. That was a serious and unsustainable obstacle to human development in the world’s poor countries. The net flow of capital from debtor nations to creditor nations had served to finance consumption, social security and wellbeing in the creditor nations. A more human, economic model was needed that would foster the creation of a modern, diversified economy that would promote education, science and technology to achieve sustainable development. Unsustainable production and consumption patterns must also be eliminated.
In the past few years, she said, Venezuela had entered a process of economic recovery that enabled its own economic sectors and contributed to the economic development of neighbouring countries, particularly in the energy sector. The country had developed regional financial mechanisms that would help reduce costs while spurring development. Venezuela had also helped other Latin American countries out of grave economic crisis by promoting the creation of a Bank of the South. Fully committed to achieving the internationally agreed development goals, Venezuela was part of ALBA, a regional cooperation initiative focused on poverty reduction, technological advancement, responsible energy use and socio-economic development, among other things.
YOUCEF YOUSFI ( Algeria) said that despite the positive affects of globalization, many developing countries were marginalized. The international community must resolve global imbalances by remedying their underlying causes. The IMF, World Bank and the World Trade Organization must play their proper roles and establish an equitable system of decision making in their respective organizations.
The Millennium Goals, United Nations reform and climate change were intertwined with development, he said. South-South cooperation must be bolstered by triangular cooperation, and regional cooperation between developing countries must support national development strategies, with the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) being the appropriate instrument to address Africa’s political and economic issues. The international community should forge a joint, integrated response, supported by financial mechanisms that would promote sustainable development in view of global warming. But that could only be effective if the response was based on a coordinated international effort.
AKEC KHOC ( Sudan) said that despite global economic growth and political reform, developing countries, particularly least developed ones, were still subjected to systemic external pressures beyond their control. Those pressures exacerbated the problems associated with efforts to eradicate poverty and hunger while striving for sustainable development. According to the 2007 LDCS Report of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), the recent growth spurt among least developed countries was fragile as it depended on high commodity prices and could easily be followed by growth collapses. Globalization had yet to be a fair, inclusive force.
Noting that Africa continued to lag behind the rest of the developing world in meeting most of the Millennium Development Goals, he expressed support for the Secretary-General’s pledge to make the continent a priority, and for his new creation, the Millennium Development Goals Africa Steering Group. The prolonged suspension of the Doha Round further reinforced the urgent need to guarantee an equitable international trading system that would safeguard the interests of developing countries for duty-free and quota-free market access and the elimination of agricultural subsidies.
Turning to climate change, he called for political will to push for a new agreement during December’s meeting that would contain concrete and strict emission reduction targets. The international community must assist the poorest countries, who emitted the least and were least prepared but hardest hit by the adverse effects of climate change. South-South cooperation was crucial to assisting developing countries, and the Sudan supported a transparent, inclusive process, based on the principles of national ownership and sovereignty and where countries’ special needs were taken into account.
KIM HYUN CHONG ( Republic of Korea) said a global partnership was essential to taking the steps required towards meeting the Millennium Development Goals. Africa required special attention, and the Republic of Korea lauded the Secretary-General’s initiative to strengthen its efforts through the Millennium Development Goals African Steering Group. Unfortunately, the slow pace of raising ODA had hindered full implementation of national development strategies.
He called for the early resumption and completion of the Doha Development Round in order to create a freer multilateral trading system that would pay special attention to developing countries. Free trade agreements could also help achieve market conditions that would complement World Trade Organization negotiations and help promote development. Steps towards meeting development goals included effective United Nations reform and the inclusion of women and gender issues in all aspects of development.
IVÁN ROMERO-MARTÍNEZ ( Honduras) said it was difficult to set priorities because international commerce, development and external debt were all issues of concern for his country. Honduras was committed to promoting economic and social development and improving the lives of its citizenry. Poverty eradication was a collective responsibility. Social advancement could not occur when millions of people lived in conditions of extreme poverty, inequity and discrimination.
The ECLAC had suffered greatly from natural disasters, which had taken many lives, destroying production and the homes of thousands of citizens. It was important to develop a global strategy for disaster reduction and prevention.
He also supported the development of renewable and alternative energy resources, saying Honduras had suffered from the high price of petroleum derivatives. A sustainable development strategy was needed.
He said his country supported urgent and practical initiatives to address climate change. Honduras’ President had participated in the recent High-level Event on Climate Change and discussed Honduras’ environmental conservation programmes and the involvement of important economic sectors in that process. South-South cooperation was vital for Honduras, but it was not a substitute for North-South cooperation. Honduras favoured the opening of export markets for its products at reasonable, fair prices. The opening of markets would create opportunities for growth that would benefit citizens.
JASEM IBRAHIM AL-NAJEM ( Kuwait) said an international partnership must forge an alliance to turn its development commitments into action towards achieving the Millennium targets, which would save the lives and improve the living standards of many human beings. Kuwait had translated its own commitments made at the 2005 World Summit, including the promotion of the role of women and greater social development. The country had also developed and promoted a programme of assistance for developing countries, and provided assistance to several international and regional funds. Its contributions included a $300 million donation to the Islamic Development Bank’s poverty alleviation fund.
He said his country had supported national, regional and international coordination efforts to overcome problems, including a lack of financial structures and technological shortfalls that had blocked the achievement of its development goals. Developed countries must support developing countries in solving such problems through minimum ODA levels of 0.7 per cent of their gross national product. Kuwait hoped those countries would be permitted to operate in a fair global market with fewer restrictions.
Climate change appeared to focus on the use of fossil fuels, without focusing enough on other types of pollution, he said. Kuwait opposed the enforcement of any limitations on fossil-fuel-producing developing countries until the industrialized countries had followed the requirements set out in the Kyoto Protocol. Kuwait also supported studying the use of renewable energies and other forms of energy.
FILIPE CHIDUMO ( Mozambique) said that despite robust global economic growth in recent years, most developing countries, especially in sub-Saharan Africa, were in a worse situation and not on track to achieve any of the Millennium Development Goals. Such imbalances, coupled with the volatility of international commodity and financial markets, exacerbated their vulnerability and undoubtedly further weakened their participation in the world economy.
He said HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis claimed the lives of 4 million people in Africa annually and 31 per cent of Africans were malnourished, he said. Africa’s share of international trade was insignificant and poverty was a major ill. It was time to make good on the commitment to provide 0.7 per cent of gross domestic product to developing countries in the form of ODA. While the 2005 World Summit had promised $50 billion in assistance to developing countries, aid had in fact declined in 2006 and would likely decrease further in 2007. According to estimates of the United Nations Millennium Project, more efforts were needed to increase aid flows to at least $150 billion annually.
Developing countries were greatly concerned with the deadlock in multilateral trade negotiations, he said, calling upon developed countries to be flexible and break the current impasse. Trade-related problems -- structural constraints such as dependency on a limited number of export commodities, weak technology, and the limited access of farmers to credit and world markets -- were of concern to least developed countries and should be addressed in a holistic, integrated manner. Mozambique had volunteered to be one of eight pilot countries testing the “One United Nations Programme” at the country level. The lessons learned would assist the intergovernmental and decision-making processes of the High-level Panel on System-wide Coherence.
ARMAN ISSETOV ( Kazakhstan) said that while some Millennium targets were on track, developed countries would need to lend more support to help attain them all by 2015. That support would include complying with international obligations, such as the timely implementation of the development dimensions of the Doha work programme. For their part, developing countries should prudently manage their natural and human resources, practice good governance and fight corruption so their resources would not be wasted. Applying proven tools to meet the Millennium targets would lift hundreds of millions of people out of extreme poverty and save the lives of millions of children.
He said his country had implemented a long-term development strategy and established industrial-programmes to diversify its economy, increase the production of value-added goods and services and lay the foundation for a high-technology service economy. By 2017, Kazakhstan would be among the world’s 10 largest oil producers, a position the country would respect by honouring its responsibility to ensure global energy balance and security. Kazakhstan supported the idea of establishing in Central Asian an integrated system of power networks and a Council for Energy Security. They would promote the establishment of a market-based system and guarantee regional and international energy security, and highlight Kuwait’s initiative for a Register of Global Environmental Problems, which the country had proposed at the Johannesburg Summit.
LESLIE KOJO CHRISTIAN ( Ghana) said progress in achieving the Millennium targets had been slow, with many countries, especially in Africa, lagging behind. Many least developed countries were struggling to reduce extreme poverty and hunger. It was important to strengthen international cooperation to ensure compliance with international commitments made at various conferences and summits. Strong global partnerships were needed to help recipient countries make effective use of policy choices and diversify their financing.
Significant reductions of Africa’s external debt under the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) Debt Initiative had been slow to materialize, as had economic reforms to stimulate private capital flows, he said. Although the debt stock had declined considerably relative to gross domestic product, total debt service obligations had remained almost unchanged, at 4.2 per cent in 2005 compared to 4.1 per cent in 2006, due to higher interest rates. Debt burdens constrained spending on public investment and ultimately retarded growth and the generation of employment.
Even with full debt relief, it was difficult to expect lending by private investment and commercial banks to resume with vigour, he said. ODA would still have to supply the additional resources needed for development. Even including debt relief, current and projected levels of ODA fell short of the G8 pledge, made in 2005, to double assistance to Africa by 2010. Sustained growth required poor countries to increase their exports to rich countries and thereby earn foreign exchange to import capital goods. But trade barriers in rich countries hampered export growth. The ongoing Doha Trade Round was supposed to improve market access for poor countries. The Doha negotiations must be consistent with poverty reduction and must not conflict with development assistance priorities.
WELLINGTON GODO (Kenya) said as disparity among countries continued to grow, achieving Millennium targets had become increasingly challenging, especially for Africa, the only continent that had been identified as not likely to meet the challenges by 2015. Climate change has exacerbated development efforts, and ironically, developing countries, especially in Africa, have contributed least to global warming but are most vulnerable. These affected countries should be supported in their adaptation efforts through the provision of adequate resources and technology, and capacity building.
Sustainable development in almost all developing countries over the last decade have faced serious challenges posed by rising levels of external debt and deteriorating trade terms, he said. Kenya expressed concern over the continuing reduction of ODA and foreign direct investment flows, particularly to African countries, and looked forward to the Qatar conference in 2008 to resolve some of these issues.
LILIÁN SILVEIRA ( Uruguay) reiterated her country’s commitment to achieving the Millennium Development Goals, saying it had taken several concrete steps toward that end. They included the creation two years ago of an emergency plan that had thus far pulled 120,000 people out of poverty; a National Health Fund to guarantee primary health care and preventive medicine for all citizens; and a programme requiring all children over age four to attend school. Those efforts were part of an overall strategy to expand and modernize Uruguay’s external sector and create greater opportunities for international commerce.
She called for an open, non-discriminatory, non-protectionist multilateral trading system, the elimination of agricultural and other export subsidies and greater access to export markets for developing countries. Greater financing for development was also needed, as was better cooperation between the United Nations and international financial institutions in shoring up development financing.
It was important to revise the term “middle-income country”, which did not reflect the internal inequalities often masked by national averages, nor economic vulnerabilities or diverse populations, she said. While Uruguay was a middle-income country, it faced a series of structural obstacles that impeded sustainable development. It needed technical and financial assistance. According to the ECLAC, 90 per cent of Latin Americans living in extreme poverty did not reside in the region’s poor countries, but in middle-income countries.
She said her country received important investments that contributed to industrial development, but it also maintained strict environmental quality standards and used modern technology to reduce the negative environmental impact of industry. Uruguay shared the Security Council’s concern over the link between natural resources and armed conflict, and reiterated the right of States over their natural resources.
MARTIN BELINGA-EBOUTOU ( Cameroon) said very few countries would meet the Millennium Development Goals targets by 2015 unless ways could be found to swiftly translate commitments to those targets into concrete action. “If these means remain unmet, in 2015, we would still be making speeches while millions of people are still bent under the yoke of poverty, turning their eyes to the United Nations, which for the developing world remains the last hope.”
He said a strengthened South-South cooperation would be one way to achieve coherence, and expressed the hope that the Doha agreement would result in the speedy implementation of the Monterrey Consensus. The international community must reach an agreement regarding modalities on tariffs, agricultural subsidies and duties to safeguard countries of the South. Cameroon also hoped for a credible reform of the international financial system, recognition of developing countries’ needs by the Bretton Woods institutions and the mobilization of predictable financial resources.
Noting that such issues as climate change and HIV/AIDS had deeply affected Africa, he said his country had recently been inundated by floods. That underlined the need to address the causes of climate change. Cameroon reiterated its support for the creation of a carbon market in the Congo Basin, and for the Kyoto Protocol.
FRANCIS BUTAGIRA ( Uganda) urged the Committee to build on the current momentum to reach conclusive decisions on globalization and climate change, and expressed hope that, during the current session it would continue to build on the progress made at the recent High-level Event on Climate Change and the resumed Doha Round. The Committee should be judged on the consensus reached, not the length of its deliberations. The first United Nations Decade for the Eradication of Poverty (1997-2006) had ended without any substantial reduction in poverty, which had, in fact, increased in some least developed countries, particularly those in sub-Saharan Africa. The clear message was that developed countries must invest more resources to support poverty eradication.
Uganda was doing its part to improve its economic performance, he said. Economic growth had more than doubled to 6 per cent annually since 1990, but had slowed slightly in the last five years. Like most developing countries, Uganda faced formidable challenges in sustaining growth with inadequate development assistance, a lack of investment in productive capacity, limited market access and the burden of debt. The adverse impact of climate change was making the situation worse.
He welcomed the Economic and Social Council’s first Annual Ministerial Review and Development Cooperation Forum, held in Geneva last July to assess the effectiveness of United Nations development cooperation. Indeed, some international rules had negatively impacted developing countries in a serious way. The international financial system had been detrimental to the efforts of developing countries to get out of debt. The global trading system had unfairly blocked their access to necessary technology through a strict system of intellectual property rights, maintaining the gap between rich and poor.
DAVID TOMMY, United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), said creating wealth through rapid and sustained economic growth was the best way to eradicate poverty. UNIDO’s work revolved around three thematic priorities: poverty reduction through productive activities, trade capacity building and energy, and the environment. Its trade capacity building programme was built on the premise that, for developing countries to benefit from market-opening measures, they needed to produce competitive products that conformed to the technical requirements of importing countries, which would lead to their integration into world trade.
He said UNIDO believed that improving energy efficiency should be a key element of a country’s energy policy, and that biofuels had tremendous potential for promoting economic growth and employment. Because many poor people had no access to modern energy, much remained to be done in terms of increasing access, particularly to rural areas. The Montreal Protocol was one of the clearest examples that the international community could successfully tackle challenges, and that climate change could be similarly tackled through a well-designed and effectively implemented international agreement, under the auspices of the United Nations.
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