SECOND COMMITTEE, DISCUSSING INTERDEPENDENCE, HEARS CALLS TO REFORM GLOBAL FINANCIAL BODIES, TACKLE CORRUPTION, REDUCE NEGATIVE EFFECTS OF MIGRATION
SECOND COMMITTEE, DISCUSSING INTERDEPENDENCE, HEARS CALLS TO REFORM GLOBAL FINANCIAL BODIES, TACKLE CORRUPTION, REDUCE NEGATIVE EFFECTS OF MIGRATION
|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Sixty-third General Assembly
21st & 22nd Meetings (AM & PM)
second committee, discussing interdependence, hears calls to reform global
financial bodies, tackle corruption, reduce negative effects of migration
Reforming international financial institutions, tackling corruption, and reducing the negative effects of migration were vital steps towards ensuring that the benefits of globalization were distributed evenly across the globe, several speakers said today as the Second Committee (Economic and Financial) began its consideration of globalization and interdependence.
Noting the uneven spread of globalization’s benefits and costs, Kenya’s representative, speaking on behalf of the African Group, said that the first casualties of increasing globalization were the flexibility and policy space that African countries needed in pursuing their national development policies. Development was increasingly determined by factors outside the continent’s boundaries, while its contribution to global decision-making and norm-setting in trade, finance, investment, technology, and even migration remained minimal. On the other hand, crises originating outside Africa affected the continent most and threatened to marginalize it even further, leading to much suffering.
With the globalization of other factors of production, labour would always follow suit, he continued, pointing out that Africa had not been spared from experiencing the complexity of migration and its diverse impacts on development. International migration, like globalization itself, entailed benefits as well as challenges for destination, transit and origin countries. However, a perception had been created in the industrialized world that migrants benefited only their countries of origin.
Calling for an equitable sharing of globalization’s benefits through strengthened international cooperation and global partnerships for development, the representative of Antigua and Barbuda, speaking on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, said the internationalization of the current world food, energy and financial crises underscored the importance of global governance and sound regulatory frameworks. Global economic growth could not be achieved if it was based on unsustainable and highly unequal non-participatory financial systems.
Expressing concern that the current economic situation threatened to widen further the gap between developed and developing countries, he called for corrective action to prevent a deepening global recession, while paying particular attention to the special circumstances of least developed countries, landlocked developing countries and small island developing States.
Sounding a similar note, the representative of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, speaking on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), said the tides of globalization had washed CARICOM’s shores with its benefits, burdens and unintended systemic consequences. The efficacy of globalization and its continued credibility to CARICOM and other developing countries and regions depended not on broad statistics suggesting global economic growth, but rather on tangible improvements in the quality of life and choices available to citizens. Development must be at the centre of globalization, rather than a by-product.
As the discussion turned to international migration and development, Mexico’s representative, speaking on behalf of the Rio Group, welcomed the Secretary-General’s report highlighting the main conclusions of the 2006 High-level Dialogue on that subject and emphasizing the special measures required to protect migrants from violence, discrimination, exploitation and abuse, and to protect those in need of refuge. It was important to ratify and apply fundamental human rights instruments, including the Protocols against the trafficking of persons and the trafficking of migrants.
He also welcomed the establishment of the Global Forum on Migration and Development, the second session of which was taking place in the Philippines. It could provide a privileged space for broad and coherent discussions of all topics relating to international migration and development. The event derived its legitimacy from its relationship with the United Nations, independent of the high level of exchanges taking place in Manila, and there was a need to maintain a lively exchange between the Forum and the Organization.
India’s representative stressed that globalization should be fair and benefit the whole of humanity with developmental considerations at its core if it was to succeed. The ongoing crises had produced an environment that did not support the efforts of developing countries. While globalization had led to, and been encouraged by, enhanced flows of capital, goods and services, technology, and people, insufficient attention had been paid to the need for protection from the adverse influences arising from those flows. That was particularly true for developing countries, which might lack the requisite capabilities to deal with such adverse impacts. Instead, reliance had been placed on self-regulation by the market.
China’s representative underscored the importance of mutual support and coordination among the countries concerned in dealing with corrupt practices and the transfer of illicit assets. There was a need to explore ways to remove obstacles caused by the different laws of requesting and requested States. Corruption was often intertwined with terrorist activities, drug trafficking and other cross-border crimes. One country’s capability to fight corruption was often inadequate, and international cooperation was needed in extradition, judicial assistance and asset recovery.
Malaysia’s representative said that, in the absence of radical changes in the overall global power architecture and governance structures, globalization would continue to cause greater income inequalities among and within regions and countries, as well as more volatile boom-and-bust cycles, with the rich benefiting disproportionately more during good times and the poor suffering during bad times, as the costs of market failure were socialized. Furthermore, it would continue to create a globalized, transboundary elite that would significantly damage nation-building in developing countries. It was important to stop viewing markets as separate from the societies in which they functioned and as self-correcting when left on their own.
Prior to the debate, the Committee heard several presentations of reports for its consideration. Introducing the documents were Rob Vos, Director of the Development Policy and Analysis Division in the Department of Economic and Social Affairs; Nikhil Seth, Director of that Department’s Office of Economic and Social Council Support and Coordination; Philip Guest, Assistant Director of the Population Division in the Department of Economic and Social Affairs; and Shervin Majlessi, Programme Management Officer of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.
Other speakers participating in the general discussion were the representatives of France (on behalf of the European Union), Indonesia (on behalf of the Association of South-East Asian Nations), Bangladesh, Sudan, Russian Federation, Morocco, Colombia, Peru, Philippines, Guatemala, Algeria, Ecuador, Togo, San Marino, Singapore, Switzerland, Norway, Armenia, Iran, Iraq, Belarus and Libya.
Representatives of the International Organization for Migration, the International Labour Organization and the United Nations Industrial Development Organization also made statements.
The Second Committee will meet again at 10 a.m. on Monday, 3 November, to begin its debate on groups of countries in special situations.
Committee members had before them the Secretary-General’s report on the Impact of globalization on the achievement of the internationally agreed development goals, including the Millennium Development Goals (document A/63/333), which notes that the economic forces powering globalization, including trade and cross-border flows of capital and labour, have important economic, social and environmental impacts, and that, to meet the Millennium Goals, the international community must strengthen the global partnership for development and manage globalization.
According to the report, new threats to attainment of the Goals include contagion by the economic slowdown in the United States, the fragility of global financial markets and rising food and fuel prices. In the wake of the food crisis, there is a need for emergency food aid, national safety nets for the poor and vulnerable, increased funding for agriculture, support for small farmers, and policy space to enable developing countries to protect their agricultural sectors. There is also a need for efficient policies to promote biofuel production without sacrificing food security and environmental sustainability, and for second-generation biofuels obtained from plant residue and animal waste that could minimize emissions associated with certain current biofuels.
The report outlines the social and environmental impact of globalization on each specific Millennium Goal, concluding that great consistency is needed among national macroeconomic, trade, aid, financial, environmental and gender equality policies to make globalization work for everyone. Developing nations need greater decision-making powers and fairer representation in international institutions. In addition, stronger domestic resources and institutions are needed to advance national development agendas and country-specific responses to global trends. Safety nets and social protection schemes that shelter the assets of the poor during crisis must be given high priority, and improved statistics are needed for sound analysis of the impact of globalization on development.
Also before the Committee was the Secretary-General’s report on International migration and development (document A/63/265 and Corr. 1), which considers options and follow-up to the September 2006 High-level Dialogue on International Migration and Development, and assesses related activities and cooperation mechanisms of the United Nations systems and other relevant organizations. Participants in the Dialogue said that, if supported by the right policies, international migration could have a positive impact on development in countries of both origin and destination. Promoting the temporary or permanent return of skilled migrants could help fill skill gaps at home. Special measures are needed to protect migrants from violence, discrimination, trafficking, exploitation and abuses, and those in need of asylum. Participants stressed the importance of ratifying and implementing core human rights instruments, such as the Protocols against trafficking in persons and smuggling of migrants.
The report states that Member States called for the granting of special consideration to initiatives resulting from the Global Forum on Migration and Development, first held in July 2007, with a focus on identifying good practices to leverage the development impact of migrants’ resources and on encouraging migrants abroad to help develop their communities back home through trade, investment and circular migration. Many Governments engaged in regional processes for international migration and development still faced the challenge of ensuring implementation of plans and decisions. Member States called for periodic high-level dialogues in the General Assembly to take stock of advances made by all stakeholders regionally, intra-regionally and globally, and for better monitoring of financial resources.
Also before the Committee was the Secretary-General’s report on Preventing and combating corrupt practices and transfer of assets of illegal origin and returning such assets, in particular to the countries of origin, consistent with the United Nations Convention against Corruption (document A/63/88), which provides an account of the second session of the Conference of the States Parties to the United Nations Convention against Corruption, held from 28 January to 1 February 2008 in Nusa Dua, Indonesia.
The report gives an overview of the implementation status of the Convention, technical assistance needs and activities for implementation, and international action to prevent and criminalize corruption and recover assets, including the Stolen Asset Recovery Initiative of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and the World Bank, as well as other UNODC efforts, both on its own and in partnership with other organizations and the private sector. Reaching agreement on the terms of reference of the review mechanism for implementation would be the greatest challenge facing the Convention’s third session. The working group of the Conference of States Parties must engage in constructive dialogue to reach agreement and discuss steps for full implementation of Chapter V on asset recovery, which would continue to be a top priority.
The Secretary-General’s report on Integration of the economies in transition into the world economy (document A/63/256) provides an overview of the progress made by transition economies in global economic integration during 2006 and 2007 and highlights the major policy challenges they face. South-Eastern Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) have continued to post strong economic growth and further progress in integration through trade, foreign direct investment and labour migration. However, the export production pattern remains narrow-based, limiting the region’s potential benefits from full global economic integration. The major challenges are broadening the growth base and reducing vulnerability to external shocks.
Included in the report is a summary of the relevant policy issues and strategies for encouraging investment, including foreign direct investment; strengthening trade linkages; improving the business environment to advance market reforms; and increasing investment in human capital. It particularly highlights the policy challenges threatening growth and poverty reduction in small CIS member States and makes several recommendations on how international organizations can strengthen policy advice and technical assistance to transition economies, including by supporting export and investment promotion.
The report concludes that, to attract foreign direct investment, transition economies need to continue focusing on systematic and market-enhancing reforms, institutions capable of supporting markets, legal and regulatory systems designed to promote competition, intellectual and property rights, the rule of law, good governance, and financial services. Regional cooperation in the context of the Central European Free Trade Agreement must be strengthened and non-tariff barriers eliminated to boost intra-regional trade. Adequate resource mobilization, including from multilateral development banks, is necessary to develop infrastructure, which is crucial for the successful upgrading of industries and increasing foreign trade.
Also before the Committee was a Letter dated 6 October 2008 from the Permanent Representative of Namibia to the United Nations addressed to the Secretary-General (document A/C.2/63/3) which transmits the Windhoek Ministerial Declaration on Development Cooperation with Middle-Income Countries, adopted at the Third International Conference on Development Cooperation with Middle-Income Countries, held in Windhoek from 4 to 6 August 2008.
A Letter dated 17 September 2008 from the Chargé d’affaires a.i. of the Permanent Mission of the Dominican Republic to the United Nations addressed to the President of the General Assembly (document A/C.2/63/4) transmits the Declaration adopted as the outcome document of the First Workshop-Conference on Energy and Development on Oil Speculation, held in Santo Domingo on 30 August 2008.
Introduction of Reports
ROB VOS, Director, Development Policy and Analysis Division, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, introduced the Secretary-General’s report on the integration of the economies in transition into the world economy (document A/63/256), noting that while most of them had shown strong economic performance in recent years, the global financial crisis was making it painfully clear how vulnerable their growth path had been, since it was based on a high dependence on primary-commodity exports in combination with large inflows of foreign capital.
In many transition economies, the rapid recent growth of consumption and domestic investment was fuelled by heavy borrowing from abroad, which had led to mounting external debts in the banking sector and in both private and public corporations. With the rapidly deteriorating global outlook, transition economies were facing increasing fiscal problems, widening current account deficits and weakening financial sectors. It was critically important that they move away from their current reliance on primary exports and external financing and identify relevant policy questions for greater economic diversification into production activities with higher added value if they were to reduce their current economic vulnerability.
NIKHIL SETH, Director, Office for Economic and Social Council Support and Coordination, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, introduced the Secretary-General’s report on the impact of globalization on the achievement of the internationally agreed development goals, including the Millennium Development Goals (document A/63/333), saying the current financial crisis showed how interdependent the world had become. Global interdependence encompassed trade, communications, technology, migration and the exchange of ideas, with direct implications for development strategies and outcomes.
Despite positive developments resulting from globalization, it remained a challenge to ensure that all people benefited from it, he said. While global forces such as trade and cross-border flows of capital and labour had created opportunities for some, in the recent grim economic climate, it was the negative consequences that must be addressed if the world was to avoid severe setbacks. The Committee may wish to consider a specific theme for next year, so that it could focus on a certain aspect of globalization.
PHILIP GUEST, Assistant Director, Population Division, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, introduced the Secretary-General’s report on international migration and development (document A/63/265 and Corr.1), saying that, in accordance with General Assembly resolution A/61/208, it presented possible options for the appropriate follow-up to the High-level Dialogue on International Migration and Development of 14 and 15 September 2006. It also included an evaluation of existing cooperation mechanisms on migration and development, as requested in General Assembly resolution A/62/270.
The governing bodies of the European Union had spearheaded a number of initiatives to foster cooperation on international migration with developing countries, he said. In May 2007, for instance, the European Commission had launched a multi-year programme to help developing countries improve the overall management of migration flows. In 2006, the African Union had adopted a Migration Policy Framework. The League of Arab States had adopted a declaration entitled “Activating the Role of Migration in National Development and Arab Regional Integration”, which recognized the contributions of international migration to development in the Arab region.
In January 2007, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) had adopted a Declaration on the Protection and Promotion of the Rights of Migrant Workers and created a committee to oversee its implementation, he continued. In Latin America, the Ibero-American General Secretariat had convened the Ibero-American Forum on Migration and Development in Cuenca, Ecuador, which had drafted a Plan of Action to implement commitments made at preceding summits and ensure respect for the human rights of migrants.
The report concluded that intergovernmental cooperation on international migration had increased substantially since the High-level Dialogue, he said. However, regional consultative processes had been less successful than formal regional groups in following up on commitments made, mainly because they lacked the institutional support necessary for follow-up.
SHERVIN MAJLESSI, Programme Management Officer, United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, introduced the report of the Secretary-General on preventing and combating corrupt practices and transfer of assets of illicit origin and returning such assets, in particular to the countries of origin, consistent with the United Nations Convention against Corruption (document A/63/88) and the report of the Conference of the States Parties to the United Nations Convention against Corruption on its second session (A/63/86).
He said that since June, nine more States had ratified the Convention, bringing the total number of States parties to 126 and the number of signatories to 140. To date, 73 States, including 66 States parties, had submitted self-assessment reports. Political momentum for the Convention was very strong and States parties had demonstrated a keen interest in and strong commitment to discharging their responsibility to translate it into action. Qatar would host the third session of the Conference of the States Parties in November 2009. The General Assembly could offer invaluable support to the work of the Conference by encouraging Member States that had not yet done so to redouble their efforts and expedite the necessary procedures to ratify or accede to the Convention.
The representative of Mexico, acknowledging that the report on immigration had been prepared before the delicate global financial situation, asked whether there was an opinion on the consequences of the crisis in the areas of migration and remittances, before asking about the return of immigrants to their countries of origin.
Mr. GUEST responded by saying said that, at the current stage, there was only preliminary evidence of the downturn’s effect on migration flows. There was some indication of a reduction in remittances, from the United States to Mexico, for example, but the expected implications for jobs were unknown.
CONROD HUNTE ( Antigua and Barbuda), speaking on behalf of the “Group of 77” and China, said it was important that the United Nations position itself to respond to the increased challenges of globalization. Developing countries, particularly the most vulnerable ones, would require unprecedented support in their efforts to manage globalization and its inherent processes, given the current global food, energy and financial crises, as well as the climate change crisis. The internationalization of the crises underscored the importance of global governance and sound regulatory frameworks. The Group of 77 and China called for an equitable sharing of the benefits of globalization through strengthened international cooperation and global partnerships for development. The United Nations should play a fundamental role in promoting and strengthening international cooperation and coordinating the implementation of development goals and actions agreed by the international community.
Global economic growth was essential for providing the resources necessary for the achievement of national development goals and objectives, he said. However, that aim could not be achieved if growth was based on unsustainable and highly unequal, non-participatory financial systems. The growth rate of finance far outpaced growth in productivity and gross domestic product, a factor that was further exacerbated by the absence of sound regulatory frameworks. The Group of 77 and China was concerned that the current economic situation threatened to widen further the gap between developed and developing countries. Corrective action must be taken to prevent a deepening global recession.
In responding to the current challenges of globalization, he said, the international community must be particularly mindful of the special circumstances of least developed countries, landlocked developing countries and small island developing States. Development partners and the United Nations system must be responsive to the national development plans and strategies of the most vulnerable countries. There was an urgent need to reform the governance of international financial and developmental institutions, especially the Bretton Woods institutions, so as to effect better representation of developing countries in decision-making and norm-setting. The Group of 77 and China called for the building of knowledge and the strengthening of capacity in the area of preventing corruption, and urged developed countries to cooperate further in the repatriation of money illegally acquired from developing countries.
PHILIPPE DELACROIX (France), speaking on behalf of the European Union, said the effects of the crisis would require the bolstering of jobs and decent employment policies -- which was the very crux of poverty eradication -- in particular by improving productive capacities and creating a framework to encourage sustainable, job-creating economic growth. Developing social protection systems would also necessitate more sustained action by States to improve the protection of workers, especially the most vulnerable ones. In that respect, improving education was essential for training a more qualified, competitive workforce. The European Union supported the establishment of specific regulations to ensure a rational use of natural resources and to guarantee sustainable practices involving reforestation, the monitoring of greenhouse gas emissions and the protection of ecosystems. It also promoted the adoption of policies encouraging sustainable production and consumption schemes.
He said that to support the internationally agreed development targets, including the Millennium Development Goals, national policies in macroeconomic, trade, financial, social and environmental areas must be more aligned with development objectives. Seeking policy coherence for development was essential in enabling everyone to benefit from globalization. Policies outside the development field, including those on security, trade and integration, the environment, water, and energy, were very important to achieving the Millennium Goals.
The integration of transition countries into the world economy was a major issue in the context of globalization, into which all national economies must fit, he said. However, the severe slowdown in the world economy would likely affect economic performance in those countries. Their economic vulnerability, which was very often linked to the weak sector diversification of their domestic production and their heavy dependence on the export of a few basic products with low added value, could become greater in that context. States must, therefore, work together in helping them develop their industrial structure and increase production.
The economic integration of transition countries also depended on foreign direct investment, which must be strengthened, in particular to speed up the technological modernization of transition countries, he said. That could be facilitated if those countries continued to encourage a stable economic environment, based on legal and regulatory systems aimed at promoting competition, the rule of law, good governance and financial services.
It was a matter of utmost importance to develop the dialogue between destination, transit and origin countries so that everyone could enjoy the benefits of global migration, he said. It was also vital to continue working for a better understanding of migration and its impact on development. Its effects on origin countries, such as brain drain, should be taken into consideration in national development programmes so that host and origin countries could jointly develop policies that would maximize the potential of migration for their mutual economic development.
DEWI SAVITRI WAHAB (Indonesia), speaking on behalf of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, said the two-way financial flows dominated by short-term capital movements in the form of bank lending, equities and bonds, as well as the mushrooming of cross-border mergers and acquisitions, had had far–reaching implications for the real economy. In the financial sector, the global stock of financial assets had risen 12-fold since 1980. The value of daily foreign exchange transactions stood at close to $2 trillion, a dramatic increase from $80 billion in 1980. Economic growth had contributed to more countries gaining access to better health and education. Women’s roles in development had also been enhanced.
However, grave problems remained, she cautioned, noting that, despite a globalized economy, the mechanisms and institutions put in place over the past 30 years had not enhanced the coherence, complementarity and coordination of global economic policymaking. The international trading system was also under stress, with the Doha Round of World Trade Organization negotiations struggling to make progress. Migration also demanded attention. While the fundamentals of the ASEAN countries’ economies remained strong, the effect of globalization was such that the region would be adversely affected. ASEAN was also concerned that jobs, capital, technology and skills were concentrated in advanced industrialized countries.
The outlook for 2008 seemed promising for ASEAN, she said, noting that total trade in the first quarter of 2008 had posted an annual growth rate of 31.8 per cent. ASEAN foreign direct investment flows had registered a growth rate of 20.7 per cent on a year-on-year basis, reaching $61.5 billion in 2008 compared to $51 billion in 2006. However, as a result of global financial difficulties arising in the early part of the second half of 2007, the financial intermediation and services sector, which had recorded the second highest growth rate in 2006, had registered a 43 per cent decline in investment.
ASEAN members were very concerned about the adverse impact of the financial crisis on achievements thus far, she said, stressing, however, that the regional bloc’s members were determined to face the financial crisis together. They would continue to work towards establishing an ASEAN Economic Community by 2015, when ASEAN would be a single market and production base, enjoying the free flow of goods, services and investment, as well as the freer flow of capital.
ZACHARY D. MUBURI-MUITA (Kenya), speaking on behalf of the African Group and associating himself with the Group of 77 and China, said globalization had brought new challenges to sustained economic growth and sustainable development in Africa, which remained marginalized, thus confirming that the benefits and costs of globalization were very unevenly distributed. In a world of increasing globalization but unevenly distributed global economic benefits, flexibility and policy space for African countries pursuing their national development policies became the first casualties. Development was increasingly determined by factors outside the continent’s boundaries.
Africa’s contribution to global decision-making and norm-setting in trade, finance, investment, technology, and even migration, were minimal, he noted. On the other hand, crises originating outside the continent affected it the most and threatened to marginalize it further, leading to much suffering. While Africa acknowledged primary responsibility for its own development, global programmes and policies should support its regional and national efforts to meet internationally agreed development targets, including the Millennium Development Goals, and facilitate an equitable sharing of the benefits of globalization. In that regard, the African Group called for the strengthening of international development cooperation with Africa and the enhancement of the Global Partnership for Development.
With the globalization of other factors of production, labour would always follow suit, he continued, pointing out that Africa had not been spared from experiencing the complexity of migration and its diverse impacts on development. International migration, like globalization itself, entailed benefits as well as challenges for destination, transit and origin countries. However, a perception had been created in the industrialized world that migrants benefited only their countries of origin.
The question of respect for the human rights of migrants and their dependants was of paramount importance to Africa, he stressed, adding that migrants -– African ones in particular -– were no less than other human beings. They should be protected and their rights should be respected. As for corruption, regional and subregional efforts could only bear fruit if there were supportive efforts at the global level. There should be no safe havens on the planet for practitioners of corruption and their ill-gotten assets.
CAMILLO GONSALVES ( Saint Vincent and the Grenadines), speaking on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), said globalization had rendered moot the sixteenth century meditation that “no man is an island”. For CARICOM, it was now a truism that no island was an island. The tides of globalization had washed CARICOM’s shores with its benefits, burdens and unintended systemic consequences. The efficacy of globalization and its continued credibility to CARICOM and other developing countries depended not on broad statistics suggesting global economic growth, but rather on tangible improvements in the quality of life and choices available to their citizens. Development must be placed at the centre of globalization, rather than being its by-product. The Caribbean was on the front line of the fallout from climate change, to which the Caribbean had contributed only negligibly.
Emphasizing that the Caribbean did not produce small arms and drugs like cocaine, he said the global trade in them was tearing holes in the fabric of Caribbean societies. The crises in food and energy prices had caused severe hardship and social unrest in the region. Trade-distorting subsidies and barriers continued to be applied in a manner that rendered the Caribbean’s nascent industries uncompetitive. The rule-based systems undergirding globalization had made insufficient allowances for the economies of small island developing States, uprooting their traditional agricultural livelihoods.
While Caribbean counties continued to meet and exceed standards on good governance, open borders and economic liberalization, developed nations continued to skirt their trade obligations and renege on their development pledges, to the detriment of the collective advancement of the Caribbean countries. CARICOM urged donor countries to resist the temptation to curtail official development assistance in response to the financial crisis. Aid commitments had gone unfulfilled for too long, even in times of global prosperity, and they could not be further delayed or avoided. A countercyclical increase in official development assistance was advisable to cushion the impact of the crisis, not in the global financial capitals, but in the streets and villages of the developing world.
CLAUDE HELLER (Mexico), speaking on behalf of the Rio Group, welcomed the Secretary-General’s report highlighting the main conclusions of the High-level Dialogue on International Migration and Development, and highlighted the main conclusions of that event, emphasizing the special measures required to protect migrant women, men and children from violence, discrimination, exploitation and abuse, and to protect those in need of refuge. It was important to ratify and apply fundamental human rights instruments, including the Protocols against the trafficking of persons and trafficking of migrants. The Rio Group also welcomed the establishment of the Global Forum on Migration and Development, the second session of which was taking place in the Philippines. It could provide a privileged space for wide and coherent discussions of all topics relating to international migration and development. The event derived its legitimacy from its relationship with the United Nations, independent of the high level of exchanges taking place there, and it was necessary to maintain a lively exchange between the Forum and the Organization.
Turning to the review of international migration and development in the United Nations system and other relevant intergovernmental organizations, he said it showcased extensive and wide-ranging efforts by different organizations, including those belonging to the Global Migration Group, as well as others like the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, UNODC, Regional Commissions and the International Research and Training Institute for the Advancement of Women (INSTRAW). The diverse areas of focus of various organizations, organs, funds and programmes provided additional proof of the importance of migration and its tight link with the Organization’s mandate. Given the lack of a forum in which those organizations could converge, it would be interesting to explore the possibility of establishing an “interface”, in which the views of each could be expressed, alongside those of Governments and other actors.
The follow-up to the High-level Dialogue should include the Second Committee’s follow-up and consider the work of the Global Forum on Migration as a “technical” platform, governed by the statutes agreed upon by the participants, but with a well-defined link to the United Nations. It was necessary to ensure an integral approach to the topic of migration, and to maintain periodic high-level dialogues within the framework of the Assembly. The Rio Group was willing to discuss the best date to begin that process, but strongly supported the proposal by the President of Guatemala, who had suggested the celebration, during 2009, of panels featuring former Heads of State from origin, destination and transit countries, as events that could provide valuable ideas for deliberations on the subject. Those panels could be regional in nature.
NAHIDA SOBHAN ( Bangladesh), associating herself with the Group of 77 and China, said the relationship between migration and development had long been proven, noting that the contributions of migrant workers to both receiving and sending economies were enormous. It was, therefore, in the collective interest of all States to develop a mechanism that maximized the positive impacts of migration and minimized its negative consequences. In Bangladesh, remittances from more than 4.5 million Bangladeshis living overseas now exceeded 10 per cent of the country’s gross domestic product -- nearly five times the official development assistance, and 10 times the foreign direct investment the country had received last year.
The world was fast embracing economic integration, she said. Globalization had dismantled barriers to trade and goods now moved freely among countries, with few restrictions on capital mobility. Despite the full liberalization of goods and capital markets, the integration of labour markets still faced insurmountable challenges. While foreign capital received preferential treatment, foreign labour often faced negative discrimination. That double standard must end and be replaced by renewed efforts to put labour and capital at par.
States must build a broad coalition to set mutually agreed minimum living wages for migrant workers, which would have a significant welfare-enhancing effect, she said, stressing also the need to simplify the process of integrating migrants. Failure to protect the rights of migrants worldwide would place the world in a more precarious condition. Countries affected by the global financial crisis should remain open to migrant workers, who could help boost their ailing economies amid the economic slowdown.
LIU ZHENMIN ( China), associating himself with the Group of 77, stressed the need to prevent the spread of the financial crisis, which had originated from developed countries but had a global impact. All parties concerned must strengthen cooperation and take resolute, responsible and timely measures to stabilize the market, rebuild confidence, curb protectionist tendencies and maintain a normal trading order. That would help restore market vitality and prevent recession. It was also necessary to undertake an in-depth analysis of institutional issues and seize the opportunity to engage in profound reform to strengthen global economic governance, make the international financial regime more adaptable to circumstances and ensure fair and effective rules to avoid similar crises in the future.
Given that developing countries and poor populations had been hit hardest by the food and energy crises, climate change and the financial downturn, international assistance was vital to mitigating their difficulties, he said. While resolving their own problems, developed countries should bear in mind the bigger picture and honour their commitments. In particular, they must redouble their efforts to help least developed countries and regions, particularly in solving the problems of hunger, medical care and education. They should reduce or cancel the debts owed by least developed countries and provide tariff-free treatment to their goods. The problems exposed by the financial crisis, such as inadequate regulation and lax oversight, warranted attention. It was also necessary to address the marginalization of many developing countries and the fact that the rules of competition were neither balanced nor fair. Developing countries must engage fully in international economic policymaking on an equal footing.
Turning to migration, he said uneven economic development and disparities were the main reasons behind the problems associated with migration, including illegal immigration, human trafficking and cross-border organized crime. Some countries were erecting artificial obstacles to the normal movement of people across borders. To resolve the immigration issue in an appropriate fashion, it was necessary to “open up more legal channels, while plugging the gaps”. On the one hand, there was a need to promote orderly development of the activities of legal immigrants, while, on the other hand, efforts should be made to promote common development across the world to bridge the wealth gap and thus remove the root causes of illegal migration.
On corrupt practices and transfer of illicit assets, he stressed the importance of mutual support and coordination among the countries concerned. It was also necessary to explore ways to remove the obstacles caused by the different laws of the requesting and requested States. They should also sum up their experiences to reduce occasions where assets could not be recovered. Corruption was often intertwined with terrorist activities, drug trafficking and other cross-border crimes. One country’s capability to fight corruption was often not adequate, and international cooperation was needed in extradition, judicial assistance and asset recovery.
NADIA OSMAN ( Sudan) said that in a globalized world, the relationship between migration and development was growing and the High-level Dialogue had shown the importance that the United Nations attached to that relationship. The Dialogue had presented an opportunity for an exchange of views and the launch of the Global Forum on Migration had helped enrich it. The Sudan called for the creation of a mechanism to follow up those discussions and study the issue from the standpoint of strengthening international cooperation. The unprecedented interest in the development dimension of migration should not be confined to their economic aspect; migration was also important for strengthening interaction and tolerance among members of the international community. Migration must be a useful tool for migrants, countries of origin and recipient countries alike.
Calling for a strengthening of international cooperation mechanisms to ensure that the rights of migrants were not abused, she stressed the need to promote mutual tolerance and respect and to strengthen ties between origin and destination countries. There must be an intensive study of the impact of recent global challenges on migration, which affected individuals as well as entire countries. It was important to get to the root of the problem. The migration question must be addressed in tackling other issues, such as poverty, indebtedness and natural disasters. It also must be addressed in terms of rehabilitation measures in post-conflict countries. At a time of growing global interest in migration and development, the Sudan was concerned about the spread of xenophobia and violence against foreigners. Some countries had stiffened procedures for the entry of migrants. States must consolidate the promotion of humanitarian efforts to protect migrants.
E.M. SUDARSANA NATCHIAPPAN (India), associating himself with the Group of 77 and China, said the principal difficulty managing globalization was that while the phenomenon and its attendant benefits had led to, and been encouraged by, enhanced flows of capital, goods and services, technology, and people, insufficient attention had been paid to protection from the adverse influences arising from those flows. That was particularly true for developing countries, which might lack the requisite capabilities to deal with such adverse impacts. Instead, reliance had been placed on self-regulation by the market. Unfortunately, as demonstrated by recent developments, such adverse impacts not only existed, they had been exacerbated by the forces of globalization and could severely harm development efforts. Thus, the ongoing financial crisis, coupled with the food and energy crises, had produced an environment that was not supportive of development efforts by developing countries.
He stressed the need to enhance the policy space for developing countries through flexibilities in international regimes, so that they might choose the right policy tools in the context of their specific development challenges. That was vital, given that globalization could lead to a reduction in the degree of national policymaking autonomy. However, as the Secretary-General’s report also elaborated, globalization had been accompanied by “one-size-fits-all” policy prescriptions, which had frequently had disastrous consequences. Unfavourable international regimes, in which developing countries had a marginal say, had also prevented them from taking full advantage of globalization in other areas. If globalization was to succeed, it must be fair and benefit the whole of humanity, and developmental considerations must be at its core.
ANNA B. OVCHARENKO ( Russian Federation) said there was a widening understanding among Member States of the demographic situation of migration, human rights and the positive contribution of migrants to development. The practical significance of issues discussed at the first Global Forum on Migration had contributed to the development of partnership links on the migration agenda. The second forum in Manila should become an important step towards developing dialogue on migration and development. The Russian Federation was working with the Commonwealth of Independent States and other regional players in that regard.
She stressed the importance of strengthening cooperation in implementing the United Nations Convention against Corruption. The outcome documents of the Second Conference of Parties to the Convention were geared towards establishing effective mechanisms for monitoring and implementation, as well as the development of technical assistance and cooperation. A May 2008 decree by the President of the Russian Federation had created a presidential department to tackle corruption and the country was working on bills to change legislation, in accordance with the Convention against Corruption.
ABDELLAH BENMELLOUK ( Morocco), associating himself with the Group of 77 and China, said his country, which had long been considered one of immigration, had now become a transit country as well as a host country. That development could be explained by Morocco’s proximity to Europe, its historical, cultural and religious affiliations with the African continent and the economic momentum. In order to tackle challenges raised by migration and take advantage of its opportunities, it was necessary to strengthen dialogue among countries and manage migration in its global dimension rather than focus on one aspect over another. It was also necessary to tackle the root causes of migration and to take part in North-South as well as South-South partnerships in order to fight the criminal networks involved in trafficking migrants and transborder criminals.
Morocco attached great importance to regional cooperation, whether it was with Africa and Europe or within the Mediterranean area, he said. It also favoured a proactive and balanced approach, which took the interests of all other countries and the migrants themselves into account. Thanks to its integrated management of migration, Morocco had seen very encouraging results, especially in fighting criminal networks involved in the trafficking of human beings and migrants. Migration and development lay at the heart of relations between Member States, and they must place the matter on the United Nations agenda and provide it with the necessary visibility. Morocco supported a regular high-level dialogue on migration and development to deal with the challenges and opportunities posed by international migration.
NASHARUDIN MAT ISA ( Malaysia) said the Secretary-General’s reports on globalization and interdependence clearly illustrated that the world had yet to find a humane form of globalization with development at its heart. In the absence of radical changes in assumptions, the overall global power architecture and governance structures, globalization would continue to cause greater income inequalities among and within regions and countries as well as more volatile boom-and-bust cycles, with the rich benefiting disproportionately more during good times and the poor suffering during bad times, as the costs of market failure were socialized. Further, it would continue to create a globalized, transboundary elite that would significantly damage nation-building in developing countries. The situation must be addressed effectively by ceasing to view globalization purely as an economic phenomenon and regulations as intrinsically bad. Rather, the international community must find a level of regulation that balanced equity without killing individual initiatives.
It was important to stop viewing markets as separate from the societies in which they functioned and as self-correcting when left on their own, he said. There was also a need to establish an objective test for an inclusive form of globalization that benefited the maximum number of people, rather than merely enlarging the area and potential for those with more to make even more. One of the first lessons taught in any economics class in any self-respecting university was that pro-cyclical policies in economic downturns must be avoided. Extending that logic to the present situation implied that the developed world must not adopt isolationist and protectionist policies. Instead, they must increase official development assistance and take measures to rapidly integrate the entire developing world into the global economic mainstream. In that way, the entire developing world, not just emerging economies, could become engines of global economic growth.
CLAUDIA BLUM ( Colombia) said her country was building a comprehensive immigration policy, which would identify migrants as particularly vulnerable subjects requiring State protection in the origin, transit and destination countries. Colombia’s national policy promoted support for citizens living abroad and the adoption of agreements to improve the security and living conditions of migrants. The country had ratified the Convention on the Protection of the Rights of Migrant Workers and Members of their Families in 2005, and domestic law fully guaranteed the rights established in that instrument.
International migration policies should go beyond economic criteria, she continued, stressing that the international community should focus on the quality and safety of the migration experience, in full compliance with international human rights standards. While different approaches to migration persisted, Member States shared common concerns. Their actions should aim at improving the impact of international migration on development; look for immigration to run through regular channels; ensure the protection of migrants’ human rights; prevent exploitation, particularly in vulnerable situations; and combat smuggling and trafficking in persons. On remittances, she said they should be treated like any other source of private income and not as a substitute for official development assistance since they came directly from the work of migrants. Reducing the cost of remittance transfers produced significant benefits for migrants and their families in addition to their positive impact on development.
LUCA DALL’OGLIO, Permanent Observer of the International Organization for Migration (IOM), said the international community had been aware for some time that migration deserved close and continuing attention. The High-level Dialogue had demonstrated that States from around the world could come together for constructive discussions even if their perspectives on and experiences of migration differed. The spirit of positive debate was one of its greatest achievements. The Global Forum now offered an additional modality to build on the outcomes of the Dialogue by identifying practical and action-oriented ways to address the links between migration and development, thus adding a global platform for sustained international cooperation on migration.
Describing the migration and development nexus as critical, he said migration could result from lack of development, while at the same time it could alleviate or exacerbate underdevelopment. Thus, migration was neither categorically an obstacle nor a magic wand in terms of development. Capacity development to realize the development potential of migration was the major task ahead. It was time for migration governance to be a priority focus at the national and international levels. Without the necessary foundations -– comprehensive and coherent policies, fair and properly functioning legal and administrative structures, and well-trained personnel -– Governments would remain ill-equipped to harness the potential benefits of migration.
GONZALO GUILLÉN (Peru) said that, according to the International Labour Organization (ILO), there were an estimated 118 million migrants in the world, and those migrating irregularly were especially vulnerable to threats of detention and deportation, which denied them the ability to join labour unions and placed them at risk of dangerous work situations. In addition to the ILO Conventions of 1949 and 1975, the General Assembly had approved in 1991 the International Convention to protect migratory workers’ rights, which had gone into effect in 2003. Unfortunately, it dealt only with countries of origin. There must be a broad and sincere dialogue on that issue. There was a need to establish clearinghouses for the exchange of knowledge and information between the United Nations and the World Migration and Development Forum. That must take place in the conviction that migration was a tool for development in countries of origin as well as migrant communities.
Underlining the need to restore a central role for migration as an engine of opportunity that could build more tolerant and multicultural spaces, he said that must be based on a practical use of instruments for the protection of migrants. The United Nations and its Member States must redouble their efforts to implement measures to ensure respect for the human rights of migrants, migratory workers and their families. Addressing the question of migration required an integral focus that recognized the positive contributions of migrants to the economy and culture of their countries of destination. It was important to support the principles of shared responsibility set forth in the Lima Declaration adopted at the Fifth Latin America and Caribbean-European Union Summit in May. Both regions had committed themselves to developing a comprehensive approach to focusing on migration in a mutually beneficial way.
HILARIO G. DAVIDE, JR. (Philippines), associating himself with the Group of 77 and ASEAN, noted that the Second Global Forum on Migration and Development was currently taking place in Manila, with the participation of 161 countries, 17 international organizations, and 250 non-governmental organizations. An estimated 10 per cent of the Philippine population were found in about 199 different countries and territories around the world, either as overseas Filipino workers and expatriates, or seeking permanent residency or foreign citizenship. The Philippines was one of the top 10 countries in annual average net migration, and recent figures showed that in 2007, the annual number of Filipinos leaving for work abroad had increased by about 25 per cent to more than 1 million.
The protection of Filipino nationals abroad and the promotion of their welfare were among the pillars of Philippine foreign policy, he stressed, adding that the conduct of Philippine foreign relations was driven in no small measure by the interests of its citizens and nationals in foreign lands and on the high seas. Domestic policy, laws and institutions likewise addressed those concerns, making the Philippine experience of migration issues quite comprehensive and diverse. The Congress of the Philippines had enacted the Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipinos Act of 1995, following a series of unfortunate experiences of overseas Filipino workers. That had created the position in the Department of Foreign Affairs of an Undersecretary on Migrant Workers Affairs.
MELANIE SANTIZO-SANDOVAL ( Guatemala), associating herself with the Group of 77 and the Rio Group, said the question of globalization was an extensive and important topic for her country. International migration and its contributions to and consequences for development could not continue to be a taboo subject. International migration could not be typified as a fault, much less a crime. It was a personal decision, and a difficult one made by human beings wishing to find a better life. In many cases, those human workers who took the risk of migration desired to contribute to their countries of origin and improve the lives of their loved ones. They did their work with enthusiasm and dedication, and deserved consideration and support.
The General Assembly could not try to simplify or ignore international migration, she said, noting that it raised important challenges in the areas of security, the economy and regulation. Nevertheless, those challenges offered opportunities for cooperation and dialogue. International migration must be addressed at all levels, taking into account its multidimensional character as well as the human rights and dignity of the migrating population. Guatemala was pleased with the reference in the Secretary-General’s report to the contributions of international migration to all human groups.
She reiterated the invitation by the President of Guatemala, during the general debate, to hold panel discussions in 2009 involving the participation of former Heads of State and Government from destination, origin and transit countries. The United Nations should stay up to date on the question of international immigration and its relationship to development because no forum claiming to discuss development could ignore it.
BAYA BENSMAIL ( Algeria) said the High-level Dialogue had shed light on the challenges posed by international migration and the absolute need to address them. It had also highlighted the urgent need for organized, structured international cooperation and genuine partnerships for development. As a transit country for illegal immigration, Algeria proposed a global approach to that problem, focusing on prevention control, cooperation and partnership. A common African position on migration developed at the African Union Summit in Algiers in April 2006 and had created a road map for effective, concerted action. Algeria supported United Nations activities to create a follow-up mechanism to the High-level Dialogue, and welcomed the first Global Forum. Such events could help promote dialogue and the exchange of experiences.
She said the United Nations Convention to protect the rights of migrant workers and their families must be reinforced through universal ratification as a moral standard because it stressed the link between international migration and human rights. However, it was important to combat illegal migration, including transnational mafia networks. That would require an intensified, international effort. In June, Algeria had adopted a law on conditions of entry into its territory. The country punished people who facilitated human trafficking, but to address migration solely from a security standpoint violated human dignity. Emigration should be a choice, not the consequence of difficult economic conditions. Africa had made development a top priority and the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) was a clear expression of that.
MARIA FERNANDA ESPINOSA ( Ecuador), associating herself with the Group of 77 and the Rio Group, said that for many countries, especially her own, the question of migration was one of vital importance. It was essential to consider it in high-level multilateral forums where destination, transit and origin countries could participate. Ecuador considered such discussion necessary because of the importance of the topic and its many implications. Such dialogues should take place biannually, with the human rights of migrants as a cross-cutting issue.
The link between migration and development was undeniable, she said, stressing that migrants must be viewed as key economic actors. They contributed to the maintenance of social security systems of destination countries, and even of their labour systems. They had a positive effect in their countries of origin, on the lives of their families and on the economy in general, though it must be emphasized that their remittances were private financial flows that could not replace official development assistance.
The freedom of human movement was a right that must be protected, and its regulation must be consistent with the principles of international humanitarian law, she said. As the President of Ecuador had said, there were no illegal human beings, only practices that violated human rights. Today more than ever before, the United Nations must unite and call for the effective implementation of the obligations called for under international conventions on human rights and international migration.
KOMI BAYEDZE DAGOH ( Togo) said Member States should discuss the role of the United Nations in promoting development in the context of globalization and interdependence. Trade liberalization, investment management strategies, production, techniques, information and communications technology, training, education, and health were decisive factors of globalization and development. The rise in food and energy prices eroded the living conditions of people around the world on a daily basis. International financial arrangements put in place to promote private over public capital flows had increased the vulnerability of developing countries to external shocks. Macro-posterity policies had so far not produced the desired effects, and the growth that had occurred in some places had not had an integrating effect on poverty eradication.
Global economic prospects were far from bright, she said, noting that
major international economic, social and environmental questions, among others, were within the competence of the United Nations, and that the Organization should ensure the coordination of mechanisms and institutions responsible for development in order to guarantee sufficient aid flows on a predictable, stable basis. Globalization would help development and poverty eradication if it led to the removal of obstacles to importing and exporting. It was important to conclude the Doha trade talks within that context. Special attention should be given to eliminating agricultural subsidies. Developing countries wished to be fully involved in international decision-making, which was necessary in order to promote stronger global partnerships for development. The United Nations must ensure the pre-eminence of multilateralism in the context of solidarity.
DANIELE D. BODINI ( San Marino) said the world was experiencing the beginning of a worldwide financial and economic recession that would most likely transform itself into a gigantic depression. No one could grasp the magnitude of the catastrophe or its unknown effects. The commitments made thus far would most likely not prevent the catastrophe or even more serious consequences. Small and medium-sized countries would suffer the most.
Now more than ever, the financial solidarity of the more developed and larger countries would be needed under the present circumstances, he said, adding that it was unfortunate that the Bretton Woods institutions could not satisfy the urgent requests of countries in need. They had not even been able to foresee the gigantic crisis, and that had left all nations unprepared. The General Assembly should be at the centre of a new way to tackle the economic issue, starting by improving and transforming the Bretton Woods institutions.
CHAN WEI SERN (Singapore), noting that the forces of globalization could not be stopped, said more globalized nations tended to pursue policies that achieved faster economic growth, while less globalized ones were prone to market stagnation and diminished competitiveness. Governments could not allow business and labour to be shackled with unnecessary burdens, lest increasingly mobile investments that generated national wealth forsook them. The same process that had unlocked the movement of capital and goods across borders had now also enabled labour mobility on an unprecedented scale. The number of people living outside their countries of birth, estimated at 191 million in 2005, was set to increase at an estimated annual rate of 2.9 per cent. As a small city-State without natural resources, Singapore was thus obliged to ride rather than fight the waves of globalization and open up to attract trade and foreign investment in order to remain globally competitive.
He said his country had, in that regard, developed a framework of policies to supplement its limited local workforce with foreign manpower that was also able to inject new ideas and dynamism into society. Foreign nationals were protected by law and accorded even greater protection than locals since the enhanced Penal Code increased by 1.5 per cent penalties for abuses against foreign workers. Singapore had increased its outreach efforts to inform migrant workers of their rights and the available channels of assistance. The rapid growth and evolving nature of international migration had implications for both origin and destination countries, including social tensions and the risks of exploitation of migrants by criminals and terrorists. As migration was an issue that transcended national borders, collective efforts at the regional and global levels would help reinforce national capacities to understand and manage migration issues.
NADIA ISLER ( Switzerland) urged Member States to maximize the developmental benefits and reduce the negative aspects of international migration. Migrants should be viewed as agents of development for both countries of origin and destination. Their contributions were not just in the transfer of money but also in newly acquired skills, entrepreneurship and social networks. Switzerland encouraged national Governments to create conditions conducive to the growth of those contributions and to the promotion of sustainable development and good governance so that people were not forced into migration by a lack of economic and social prospects, nor deterred from returning to their homelands by poor economic conditions or inadequate security.
The widest possible cooperation between Member States and other relevant stakeholders, and a global perspective, were needed as a way to address migration so that it benefited all, she said, describing as “eminent” the role of the United Nations in that regard. In that light, Switzerland urged the General Assembly to hold more regular high-level dialogues on the subject of international migration and development because of the Organization’s legitimacy as a universal body in setting a globally-shared agenda and its ability to provide Member States with a platform to assess progress made by Governments.
LENE RICHTER STRAND ( Norway) said corruption was a major problem for the international community that could only be resolved through international cooperation. The Convention against Corruption was the first global instrument to address that challenge, and it led developed and developing countries alike to set a sharp focus on combating corruption. Tremendous work had gone into negotiating the Convention, which now had more than 120 States parties. At its final meeting in Oslo for the Norwegian-led Task Force on Illicit Financial Flows, a number of recommendations had been listed to stem illicit flows. The main task was to move forward and ensure progress on asset recovery, and to review implementation and technical assistance.
She said considerable work remained in developing an implementation mechanism that would effectively identify needs and provide support. It was crucial to ensure that the Convention’s provisions on asset recovery and international cooperation functioned as intended, since that was an essential element of the treaty and of key importance to many developing countries. All parties were urged to contribute to the intergovernmental working groups in order to advise and assist the Conference with its mandates. Norway strongly supported the Stolen Asset Recovery Initiative, launched last year as a collaborative arrangement between UNODC and the World Bank, and hoped that the new Multi-Donor Trust Fund would promote commitments to develop the knowledge, procedures and tools to facilitate asset recovery, promote networks of practitioners, and support the efforts of partner countries.
NARINE KERELIAN ( Armenia) said her country was a transition economy which registered large numbers of emigrants, reflecting its economic transformation owing to military confrontation and land blockade. Though outbound labour migration had comprised mostly of unskilled or low-skilled workers in the early stages, latter years had seen a brain drain and a slowing of outward migration because of the improved economy. Remittances were important in assisting families in developing countries. In Armenia, there had been an annual 20 per cent increase in remittances since 2001, reaching $2 billion in 2008. That inflow had raised the national currency’s exchange rate, which may cause an adverse impact on the competitiveness of Armenia’s economy and exports.
Labour migration could benefit destination and origin countries, as well as migrants within the pattern of circular migration who may return to their home countries to share their knowledge and expertise for the betterment and development of the nation, or invest their funds through the establishment of new enterprises. Armenia was working to attract the return of highly skilled workers and professionals who could contribute to a more sustainable form of development. To better understand that process, Armenia had participated actively in discussions of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and the International Organization for Migration. Challenges faced by migrants include xenophobia and discrimination in host countries. The international community, and especially Governments, were urged to protect the human rights of the undocumented, who were particularly vulnerable to such abuses.
MOHSEN CHITSAZ ( Iran) said the unprecedented challenges facing the world today, such as the energy and food crises, as well as the gloomy global economic outlook, were a clear testament to the complexity of globalization’s effects on the political, social and economic situation of people worldwide. Globalization had significantly reduced the degree of national autonomy in policymaking and the greatest impact was on countries of the South. Globalization had also resulted in a vast expansion of the power and the scale of operation of non-State actors like private enterprises, particularly transnational corporations.
Describing the relationship between globalization and development as very important, he said development must be at the centre of the globalization management process, rather than a by-product. There was a need for greater consistency among different national policies, given the nature of globalization and its cumulative impact on growth and development. It had broadened the range of issues that could only be dealt with multilaterally. The financial crisis, food security, communicable diseases and climate change called for cooperation among all countries. They could only be tackled through international cooperation in the universal forums of the United Nations system.
However, previous decades had shown the Organization’s inability to fulfil its mandate satisfactorily and in accordance with the United Nations Charter, he said. Decades proclaimed for development, the eradication of poverty and the Millennium Development Goals had not brought about the expected outcomes, due partly to the fact that economic functions provided for under the Charter had largely been transferred to the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and the World Trade Organization. They must be restored to the United Nations.
KAUTHER SAFAA AHMED ( Iraq) said the Johannesburg Declaration and the Monterrey Consensus confirmed corruption as one of the grave dangers to development in all its forms, adding that the adoption of the Convention against Corruption in 2003 had shown the increased interest in fighting it. Out of its belief in the importance of combating corruption, Iraq had established a national organization to diagnose and fight it through referrals to special courts. That was part of the country’s openness to the international community. Iraq had also adopted the International Covenant on Corruption, which was a part of the strategy between Iraq and its international partners.
She said combating corruption was one of the priority programmes of Iraq’s Government, which had launched an initiative to combat the administrative and financial corruption inherited from the previous regime. The country had also joined the transparency initiative so that the Iraqi people could enjoy their wealth. Transparency and accountability were interconnected; each strengthened the other and one could not be discussed without the other. The two could lead to an efficient administration. Iraq promised to continue its steps to build a country characterized by good governance.
ALEKSANDR STRIGELSKY (Belarus), noting that globalization had both positive and negative effects on the Millennium Development Goals, said the financial crisis was the most visible proof of the world’s level of vulnerability, as it impacted both developed and developing countries. The preferential trade and economic regimes benefiting developing countries must be maintained, and middle-income countries must also be able to achieve the Millennium Goals.
Calling for coherence between various United Nations bodies, he said the decision by the General Assembly President to set up a high-level team of experts to review the structure of the international financial system was a good idea. The Economic and Social Council was the principle United Nations organ responsible for coordinating economic activities and it must be involved in seeking ways to resolve the global financial crisis.
During the upcoming conference on energy, to be held in Turkmenistan, it would be important to focus on the needs of importing and exporting countries, and to put forth recommendations to meet those requirements, he said. The development of renewable sources of energy was of vital importance, and that issue should be discussed in a thematic debate during the General Assembly’s sixty-third session.
AMBER BARTH, Programme Officer, New York Office of the International Labour Organization, said that while globalization had brought unprecedented advantages to many parts of the world, it had also revealed that the global economy was unbalanced and that its financial architecture was not structured in a way that distributed benefits fairly. According to the recent ILO report World of Work Report 2008: Income inequalities in the age of financial globalization, income inequality had grown dramatically in most regions over the past decade.
She said the gap between richer and poorer households had widened since the 1990s, reflecting the impact of financial globalization and the reduced ability of domestic policies to enhance the income position of middle class and low-income groups, and their inability to distribute the benefits of globalization equally. Moreover, as the North American financial turmoil transformed into a global economic crisis, inequality was expected to increase, with its cost borne by those who had yet to enjoy the benefits of economic growth.
That reaffirmed the fact that, even before the financial crisis, there had been a major socio-economic crisis entailing massive poverty, underemployment, growing inequality and difficult social conditions for most of the world’s population, she said. International labour migration was a core feature of globalization, and the economic crisis posed grave consequences for enterprises, workers and families around the world. As a result, ILO had found that world unemployment could increase by an estimated 20 million persons. Labour migration must be addressed by recalling that labour was not a commodity. There was a need to encourage coherent policies that would create productive, freely chosen employment and decent work by allowing workers the right to development.
GRAHAM CLOUGH, Deputy Representative, United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), said that while the current global crises had rightly resulted in an increased international focus on the challenges of globalization, it was important not to lose sight of the opportunities. The key was to find a way to ensure that all countries and peoples benefited from the positive potential of globalization, while safeguarding them from the risks. Development must be put at the centre of globalization.
He said that working to ensure that globalization created opportunities for sustainable industrial development in developing countries and transition economies, thereby helping to create wealth and reduce poverty, should be a high priority for the international community. To move away from their reliance on a smaller number of primary exports, and thereby reduce their economic vulnerability, economies in transition must diversify into production activities with higher added value.
UNIDO had a growing programme in transition economies and looked forward to working with Member States to see how it could further help them pursue their development objectives. Improved market access was of crucial importance and was linked to the ability of those countries to move towards the production of higher value goods. The difficulties that transition economies faced in breaking into world markets resulted from their need to comply with international standards prevailing in those markets. UNIDO helped countries overcome such difficulties by addressing conformity assessment, standardization, traceability, quality control measures, the removal of technical barriers to trade, and sanitary and phytosanitary measures, among others.
TAHER BENSHABAN ( Libya), associating himself with the Group of 77 and China, said some looked at globalization as a way to acquire competence, among other things, whereas others saw it as evil or a source of injustice. Many agreed that globalization gave developing countries true opportunities in various areas, yet it had not been able to deal with the development dimension as something crucial. Globalization did not take into consideration the economic problems faced by those countries, their dependency risks or their problems of economic instability, among other things. What the world had learned from the current crises was proof that the benefits of globalization enjoyed by some countries had not been enjoyed by others.
For those reasons, States must increase international cooperation at every level, in order to devise fair and equitable rules and principles that would allow everyone to benefit from globalization in a fair and just manner, he said. It was up to the international community to deal seriously and in a determined way with the issues, and to discuss measures to make developing countries effective stakeholders. It was also necessary to ensure a fair financial and trading basis, in order to guarantee international stability, which was even more urgent today due to the realization of the dangers posed by the current financial crisis.
He stressed the importance of ensuring that developing countries could restructure their economies on a sound footing, so they could create solid economic institutions. Their efforts deserved international support, and it was also necessary to encourage those countries to diversify their economic output. As for corruption, it threatened societal stability and democratic principles, as well as ethics, and hampered sustainable development.
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