Delegates in Second Committee Stress Need to Adopt New, Targeted, Action-Oriented Successor Programme of Action for Least Developed Countries
Delegates in Second Committee Stress Need to Adopt New, Targeted, Action-Oriented Successor Programme of Action for Least Developed Countries
|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Sixty-fifth General Assembly
13th & 14th Meetings (AM & PM)
Delegates in Second Committee Stress Need to Adopt New, Targeted, Action-Oriented
Successor Programme of Action for Least Developed Countries
Upcoming Istanbul Conference Seen as ‘Road Map’
To Prioritize Special Challenges Confronting World’s Poorest Nations
Given the myriad challenges still facing least developed countries, small island developing States, and landlocked developing countries due to multi-dimensional global crises, the international community must work to establish a new, targeted and action-oriented programme of action at the Fourth United Nations Conference on Least Developed Countries next May, several speakers stressed today.
As the Second Committee (Economic and Financial) met to consider groups of countries in special situations, delegates looked ahead towards the Conference, to be held in Istanbul, Turkey, from 30 May to 3 June. Ethiopia’s representative stressed that the Istanbul outcome document — as a follow-up to the Brussels and Almaty Programmes of Action — must beviewed as a road map to prioritize the concerns of least developed countries with the goal of addressing their special economic, social and climate-related challenges.
Of the 49 States included in the least-developed category, 33 were within Africa, he pointed out. “This marginalized continent suffering from a myriad of economic and social deprivations should remain the focus of attention in crafting the next programme of action,” he declared as Uganda’s delegate, expanding on that point, called for renewed efforts from both developed and least developed countries. “We must strive to make the success of the Istanbul Conference be measured by the number of least developed countries that will graduate out of the group within the next decade,” he emphasized.
Senegal’s representative said that since 2010 marked the end of the decade for the implementation of the Brussels Programme of Action, it was to be hoped that fresh momentum for international solidarity could be achieved in Istanbul. The Istanbul Conference must result in a bold, serious and ambitious measure for shared responsibility with regard to least developed countries, he said, adding that “ Istanbul should not become just one more conference, or its outcome yet one more plan”.
Yemen’s representative, speaking on behalf of the Group of 77 developing countries and China, pointed out that progress towards achieving the objectives of the Brussels Programme and realizing the Millennium Development Goals in least developed countries had been “uneven and insufficient”. He called upon the international community totake effective measures, including the cancellation of the multilateral and bilateral debt owed by least developed countries. A number of Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) had fallen, or were at risk of falling into debt distress, he said, calling on the Bretton Woods institutions to renew the extension of the (HIPC) Debt Initiative.
Turning to specific actions relating to the needs of landlocked developing countries, he noted that economic growth alone was not a sufficient indicator of development. The Group of 77 reaffirmed the special needs and challenges faced by landlocked developing countries, caused by a lack of territorial access to the sea and further aggravated by their remoteness from world markets and high vulnerability to external shocks. The international community must provide conscious policy measures to facilitate and enhance the flow of both public and private investments to those countries, he added.
Timor-Leste’s representative noted that least developed countries continued to face impediments to development, such as hunger, climate change, poverty and the effects of multiple global crises. International support was crucial since global and regional problems demanded global and regional solutions, she said. Whileofficial development assistance (ODA) to least developed countries had increased during the past decade, many donors remained below the 0.15 to 0.2 per cent target set out in the Brussels Programme of Action, she said, emphasizing that supporting least developed countries was “not a charitable effort but an investment in countries that play a pivotal role in the ever-evolving global dynamic”.
Haiti’s representative, speaking on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), asserted that a comprehensive global approach was the only way to help least developed countries achieve sustainable development. Increases in ODA, if realized, could help those countries cope with the effects of global crises, and the international community must proceed in establishing a global recovery programme for all least developed countries so as to prevent their long-term decline. More importantly, those States must have the freedom to make their own decisions about fiscal, macroeconomic and trade policies in pursuit of their own development objectives, he said.
The representative of the United States pointed out that his country had increased its bilateral ODA to least developed countries by more than 15 per cent to $8.1 billion, with its official development assistance reaching an historic high at $28.7 billion. However, he called for a greater focus on the outcomes produced by aid rather than on aid as an input in and of itself. “We recognize that the purpose of development is to create the conditions where assistance is no longer needed,” he added.
Cheick Sidi Diarra, Under-Secretary-General, Special Adviser on Africa and High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States, introduced the Secretary-General’s reports on the implementation of the Brussels Programme of Action and the Almaty Programme of Action for the Committee’s consideration.
Other speakers today were representatives of Belgium (on behalf of the European Union), Nepal (on behalf of the Group of Least Developed Countries), Indonesia (on behalf of the Association of South-East Asian Nations, or ASEAN), Paraguay (on behalf of the Group of Landlocked Developing Countries), Malawi (on behalf of the African Group), China, Brazil, Switzerland, Iran, Turkey, Thailand, Togo, India, Bangladesh, Eritrea, Maldives, Kazakhstan, Democratic Republic of Congo, Mongolia, Kuwait, Benin, Burkina Faso and the Solomon Islands.
A representative of the Inter-Parliamentary Union also delivered a statement.
The Second Committee will meet again at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, 20 October, to take up questions of globalization and interdependence.
The Second Committee (Economic and Financial) met this morning to take up its agenda item on groups of countries in special situations. It will consider the Fourth United Nations Conference on the Least Developed Countries as well as specific actions related to the particular needs and problems of landlocked developing countries: outcome of the International Ministerial Conference of Landlocked and Transit Developing Countries and Donor Countries and International Financial and Development Institutions on Transit Transport Cooperation.
Before the Committee was the report of the Secretary-General on implementation of the Programme of Action for the Least Developed Countries for the Decade 2001-2010 (document A/65/80–E/2010/77), which includes the state of substantive, organizational and logistical preparations for the Fourth United Nations Conference on the Least Developed Countries, to be held in Istanbul, Turkey, in May 2011. Annexed to it are annual statistical data from 2000 to 2008 on education, health, communications, water, transport, official development assistance (ODA) debt relief, the economy and trade.
The report cites Cape Verde as the only country to graduate from the least-developed category since 2001, noting that two others are scheduled to follow before the Istanbul Conference. The United Nations system and other international development partners actively work to help graduating countries secure a “smooth transition”, the report says, recalling, for instance, that the European Union decided in 2008 to grant all graduating countries duty- and quota-free access to its markets for at least three years from the date of graduation.
According to the report, the Maldives, expected to graduate in January 2011, will benefit from that policy and is negotiating similar concessions with other partners. However, countries nearing the graduation threshold are concerned about post-graduation uncertainty and abrupt disruption of international support measures, including ODA, market access, special and differential treatment and trade-related capacity-building. In addition to advocating for enhanced measures to ensure an effective and smooth transition, the report calls for strengthening commitments to build the global partnership for development embodied in the Brussels Programme of Action. It also urges Governments and donors to develop sustainable statistical systems, and on least developed countries and their development partners to integrate gender concerns into their relationship.
The report says the Fourth Conference must focus on the specific vulnerabilities of least developed countries, helping them to design and implement long-term development strategies as well as concrete measures to deal with country-specific vulnerabilities, among them the high concentration of production and exports, dependency on external resources, low human capital, and high risks from external shocks, including those resulting from climate change. Extra financial resources, among other things, are needed to ensure full participation in the Conference and its preparatory process of constituencies including Parliaments, civil society, non-governmental organizations and the private sector. The United Nations should give the necessary support and contribute actively to the Conference and its preparatory process, especially through pre-Conference and parallel events on topics highly relevant to the least developed countries.
Also before the Committee was the report of the Secretary-General on implementation of the Almaty Programme of Action: Addressing the Special Needs of Landlocked Developing Countries within a New Global Framework for Transit Transport Cooperation for Landlocked and Transit Developing Countries (document A/65/215). Ten years since the adoption of the United Nations Millennium Declaration, it reviews progress by landlocked developing countries in achieving the Millennium Development Goals, and highlights some of the challenges confronting them, such as climate change. It concludes that smooth and reliable transport systems play a key role in the overall socio-economic progress of least developed countries, their peaceful cooperation with transit neighbours, and their achievement of their development goals.
The Secretary-General recommends that the international community address the special development concerns and needs of least developed countries increased, timely and sustainable financial support. To that end, indicators should be further developed to measure the success of global partnerships in addressing the special needs of least developed countries, landlocked developing countries and small island developing States. Moreover, institutional cooperative arrangements for trade and transport facilitation must be strengthened, with the aim of establishing clear and harmonized regulatory frameworks, in order to promote and support initiatives at the corridor or regional levels. Private-sector involvement is crucial for the success of transit transport and trade policy reform projects.
Additionally, the Secretary-General calls on the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), the African Union Commission, the World Bank, the African Development Bank and the Office of the High Representative for Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States to strengthen their support for an intergovernmental agreement on the Trans-African Highway. He also urges the international community to grant greater market access to goods and products from landlocked developing countries in order to mitigate high trade transaction costs associated with their geographical disadvantage.
The Secretary-General also asks donor countries, as well as financial and development institutions, to continue to increase financial resources for transit transport infrastructure and trade facilitation projects in landlocked and transit developing countries. He also invites them to make voluntary contributions to the Trust Fund set up to facilitate implementation of the outcome of, and follow-up to, the International Ministerial Conference of Landlocked and Transit Developing Countries and Donor Countries and International Financial and Development Institutions on Transit Transport Cooperation, held in Almaty, Kazakhstan, in 2003.
CHEICK SIDI DIARRA, Under-Secretary-General, Special Adviser on Africa and High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States, introduced the Secretary-General’s reports (documents A/65/80–E/2010/77 and A/65/215), and outlined the preparations for the upcoming Istanbul Conference, of which he would serve as Secretary-General. He said national consultations with a broad spectrum of stakeholders held in 2009, with the support of United Nations resident coordinators, had produced analytical, forward-looking reports for regional reviews.
Their outcome documents stressed that implementing the Brussels Programme of Action was “unfinished business”, he said, adding that a Group of Eminent Persons appointed by the United Nations Secretary-General to provide advice on international measures to expedite development in the least developed countries had held its first meeting last week. It had focused on the importance of governance and the situation of post-conflict and fragile States.
He said his Office had organized several thematic pre-conference events on such issues as the impact of the global financial and economic crisis on least developed countries’ productive capacities and trade; migration, the impact of migration and remittances on development; mobilizing financial resources for the development of least developed countries; and ensuring their smooth transition towards graduation. The Office of the High Representative was working with civil society, parliamentarians and the private sector to ensure broad participation in the Conference, he said, adding that the Steering Committee of the civil society track would hold its first meeting this week.
The Office of the High Representative had also prepared a guide on mobilizing parliamentary support in collaboration with the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU), he said. In July, it had organized a “brainstorming session” to prepare for the Conference. It had prepared a project document to mobilize financial resources, and held several consultations with donor countries, emerging donors and international organizations. Hailing countries that had contributed to the Least Developed Countries Trust Fund – Turkey, India, Belgium and Finland – he urged others to do the same.
Regarding the socio-economic situation in least developed countries, he said it was encouraging that, on average, their gross domestic product (GDP) growth in 2008 had reached the 7 per cent target set by the Brussels Programme. However, their overall performance was mixed. This year’s report of the Secretary-General found that only 11 least developed countries had exceeded the 7 per cent growth target, of which 10 were in Africa, and that 12 of them had grown by less than 3 per cent. He noted that the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI), endorsed by the General Assembly in 2008, was gaining momentum in least developed countries, 15 of which had completed the sign-up phase and were working towards implementation. Liberia had been deemed compliant on 14 October 2009, he added.
More than half of the populations of least developed countries suffered from poverty and hunger, he said, describing limited progress in reducing those ills as a strong reminder of the unfinished business of implementing the Brussels Programme. The strong links between different social sectors must be taken into account in expediting progress towards realizing the Millennium Goals. He noted that one third of children in developing countries experienced severe malnutrition before beginning primary school with irreparable damage to their cognitive development. In many least developed countries, limited early childhood care and education programmes had hindered education outcomes. Improved access to water and sanitation had significantly improved health and education outcomes, particularly for girls.
Least developed countries had weak productive capacity and lacked structural transformation, he continued, adding that manufacturing remained weak, its share of GDP exceeding 15 per cent in only seven countries. To improve productive capacity, most of those countries needed sector-specific development policies focusing on agriculture, services and industrial transformation, as well as job creation. Official development assistance as a percentage of the GDP of Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries had only been 0.09 per cent in 2008, way below the 0.15 per cent to 0.2 per cent target set by the Brussels Programme of Action. A “green new deal” for least developed countries should front-load large public investments in renewable energy in order to achieve economies of scale.
He cited the concrete recommendations for a future development agenda contained in the Secretary-General’s report, saying that given that the lack of reliable data hampered implementation and monitoring of the Brussels Programme, all least developed countries needed support to create and refine data collection and dissemination services, he stressed. Investment in gender equality must be scaled up and national budgets made gender-responsive. In times of need, all countries needed the policy space to institute counter-cyclical measures in respect of fiscal, trade and macroeconomic policies, he said.
The High Representative then turned to the report on implementation of the Almaty Programme, saying it took stock of the progress made and the constraints encountered in implementing the Programme, particularly in five fundamental areas. Landlocked developing countries were lagging behind in reducing poverty, hunger and maternal mortality and morbidity. Inadequate transport infrastructure and the effects of climate change had put them at a grave disadvantage. In that regard, the Almaty Programme of Action was a “holistic framework” for the establishment of genuine partnerships, he said.
Highlighting the progress made within landlocked developing countries in facilitating transport and trade across borders, he said the results had been “remarkable”, noting that between 2005 and 2009, the average time to complete export formalities had been reduced by 16 per cent, or nine days. Landlocked developing countries in both Africa and Asia had been active in the area of transportation infrastructure, but the recent global crises had pointed up their structural weaknesses, including low productive capacity, high reliance on imported commodities, and a severely low share in world trade.
In that context, he echoed the Secretary-General’s call for landlocked developing countries to diversify their export structures in order to compete successfully in the global market. In addition to providing greater market access to least-developed-country goods and products, the rules of origins must be simplified with regard to trade tariffs, he said, stressing also the importance of successfully concluding the Doha Round as well as technical assistance for implementation of the Almaty Programme of Action. “The timely and effective implementation of the Programme can only be achieved with substantive international support,” he added.
KHALED HUSSEIN ALYEMANY (Yemen), speaking on behalf of the Group of 77 developing countries and China, expressed concern at the “uneven and insufficient progress” in achieving the Brussels Programme of Action targets, particularly since 2010 year marked the end of the Programme’s decade. Moreover, many least developed countries were lagging behind in meeting many of the Millennium Development Goals. In that regard, he called on developed countries to honour the timely and effective implementation of all commitments relating to the Millennium Goals, especially with respect to Goal 8.
On debt relief, he called for the cancellation of multilateral and bilateral debts owed by least developed countries, noting that a number of Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPCs) had fallen, or were at high risk of falling, into debt distress, and emphasizing that the Bretton Woods institutions must renew the extension of the HIPC Debt Initiative. Welcoming United Nations efforts ahead of the Fourth Conference on the Least Developed Countries, he also stressed the need to undertake a comprehensive appraisal of the implementation of the Brussels Programme to date and to adopt a forward-looking and results-oriented programme for the next decade.
Turning to specific actions relating to the needs of landlocked developing countries, he said economic growth alone was not a sufficient indicator of their development, and reaffirmed the special needs and challenges they faced resulting from a lack of territorial access to the sea and further aggravated by their remoteness from world markets and high vulnerability to external shocks. Landlocked developing countries were at a great disadvantage in the areas of trade and attracting private investments, and the international community must therefore undertake conscious policy measures to facilitate and enhance the flow of both public and private investments. Furthermore, it must address the needs of landlocked developing countries through full and effective implementation of the Almaty Programme of Action, he said.
PIERRE CHARLIER (Belgium), speaking on behalf of the European Union, said the overall social indicators remained a cause for great concern in least developed countries, despite unprecedented and encouraging growth levels. While each country bore the primary responsibility for its own economic and social development, the Brussels Programme of Action had established a framework for partnership. Over the past decade, the European Union had made substantial efforts to deliver on its commitments, particularly regarding ODA, aid quality and effectiveness, debt relief and market access for all goods and products from least developed countries.
The European Union had nearly doubled its aid to least developed countries from €7.5 billion in 2000 to €13.5 billion in 2009, he said, underscoring the importance of using effectively all resources available for development. Thus, ODA must be seen in the context of mutual responsibility and effectiveness, he added. Working towards that end, the European Union had adopted an operational framework for aid effectiveness which focused on practical steps to implement the Paris Declaration and the Accra Agenda for Action. Moreover, the bloc had committed to providing full duty and quota-free access to its markets for all goods and products from least developed countries except arms and ammunition. Its Aid for Trade initiatives had reached a record level of €10.4 billion euros in 2008, he added.
On actions relating to the needs of landlocked developing countries, he reaffirmed the European Union’s commitment to implementing the Almaty Programme of Action, noting that infrastructure development, trade facilitation and regional economic integration were crucial for their development. The European Union played a key role in that respect, providing financial and technical assistance for the development of transport, telecommunications, as well as water and energy infrastructure. Ahead of the Fourth Conference on Least Developed Countries, he underscored the importance of such key issues as unemployment, “commodity independence”, climate-based challenges and the marginalization of landlocked developing countries in global economic governance.
GYAN CHANDRA ACHARYA (Nepal), speaking on behalf of the Group of Least Developed Countries, said implementation of the Brussels Programme of Action had produced mixed results, and the progress achieved fell far short of those countries’ genuine needs and expectations. The fact that almost half their populations still lived in extreme poverty and hunger was a sombre reminder that three decades of international efforts to address their special development needs had proved inadequate and of limited success. It was disheartening that the number of least developed countries had increased rather than decreased over the years and that only two countries of them had graduated in a decade. That raised questions as to whether existing international support measures addressed the structural constraints and handicaps facing least developed countries, he said.
He went on to says that the combination of domestic constraints and unfavourable external environments, characterized by unmet ODA commitments, the absence of substantial debt-relief measures, the continuing marginalization of least developed countries in the international trading system, their negligible share of foreign direct investment (FDI) inflows, as well as the lack of technology transfer, had slowed their development. The Istanbul Conference should produce an ambitious, comprehensive, forward-looking and results-oriented action agenda, he said, adding that least developed countries and their development partners must prepare substantively for the Conference. Istanbul should be a “defining moment” to ensure that the status of least developed countries was improved in a substantial and sustainable manner, he said.
“Our priorities are clear,” he affirmed, calling for human and economic development, productive capacity, development of agricultural and other infrastructure, as well as stronger, scaled up ODA, trade, FDI, debt relief and transfer of information and communications technology to complement national ownership and leadership. The lack of an effective monitoring mechanism to oversee implementation of the Brussels Programme of Action was a “glaring shortcoming”, he noted, calling for continuing follow-up and an institutionally supported monitoring mechanism. “We must aim high and create an accountability mechanism to bridge the commitment-delivery gap.” The international financial institutions must make special provisions for least developed countries during the Istanbul Conference, and ensure provide a stronger voice for them in all forums addressing global financial and development issues.
DEWI SAVITRI WAHAB (Indonesia), speaking on behalf of the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN), noted the positive developments that had occurred since the adoption of the Brussels Programme of Action, such as socio-economic growth in some least developed countries, the graduation of one country from the category, and the expected graduation of two more before the Istanbul Conference. Still, much remained to be done, she cautioned, pointing to the severe effects of the multiple crises that had eroded gains in the least developed countries. They faced slow economic growth, a lack of productive capacity, limited diversification, diminished resources and limited trade opportunities, she said, pointing out that most were unlikely to meet the Millennium Development Goals.
To expedite the progress of least developed countries towards realizing the Millennium Goals, she said, there was a need to strengthen their productive capacity to withstand external shocks, promote agricultural development, strengthen resource mobilization, improve market access, develop infrastructure, manage climate change, ensure a “green deal” for least developed countries and enhance universal access to essential services.
Despite their best efforts, however, landlocked developing countries remained marginalized from global trade and faced challenges to the establishment of transit transport systems, she said. That undermined economic growth and had negative social and environmental consequences. Such challenges prevented least developed countries from harnessing their trade potential as engines for economic growth and development, and prevented them from realizing the Millennium Development Goals. The international community should address their special development concerns through increased financial support, she said, adding that AEAN looked forward to a successful Third Initiative for the ASEAN Integration Development Cooperation Forum, which aimed to mobilize resources for implementing the region’s ASEAN integration projects and activities.
JEAN CLAUDY PIERRE (Haiti), speaking on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and associating himself with the Group of 77 and the Group of Least Developed Countries, said a conclusion to the Doha Round was critical for strengthening trade support for least developed countries, since it would enable them to benefit from preferential access. Moreover, developed countries should proceed with the elimination of all import subsidies by 2013, including those on agricultural products, in accordance with commitments made in 2005. “Only a comprehensive global approach will help least developed countries to adequately move towards sustainable development,” he stressed.
He said the ecological and socio-economic difficulties facing least developed countries were interrelated and therefore must be addressed simultaneously through the adoption of a new ecological pact, as suggested in the Secretary-General’s report. As the only least developed country in the Americas, Haiti was now in a unique situation following the January earthquake, the losses from which were estimated at 50 per cent of GDP. Losses from four hurricanes that had struck the country in one year represented 15 per cent of GDP, he added.
Welcoming grants and pledges amounting to nearly $9.9 billion announced during the Donors’ Conference held at Headquarters in March, he emphasized that the promised aid was urgently needed to reconstruct Haiti. ODA to least developed countries in general was of the utmost importance, and increases in aid, if realized, would help them cope with global crises. In that regard, the international community must proceed in establishing a global recovery programme for all least developed countries so as to prevent long-term decline. Furthermore, there was a need to ensure that least developed countries had the freedom to make decisions about their fiscal, macroeconomic and trade policies in pursuing their own development objectives, he added.
FEDERICO BARTOLOZZI ( Paraguay), speaking on behalf of the Group of Landlocked Developing Countries, said the economic crisis had significantly impacted the most vulnerable economies. The more than 13 per cent drop in trade volume during the first quarter of 2009, coupled with declining prices for basic products, had resulted in unequal economic growth results in landlocked developing countries. Those countries understood that trade must be the engine for growth, but their geographic disadvantages denied them sufficient access to maritime trade, and they were also hampered by their great distances from the world’s main international markets as well as by their own inadequate transport infrastructure. Their increasing resource gaps and inability to access financing exacerbated those problems, he said.
For that reason, trade must play a key role in the development of landlocked developing countries, he said. Calling on developed countries to show the flexibility and political will to conclude the Doha Round, he said the reduction and eventual elimination of agricultural subsidies in developed countries, in addition to improved market access for landlocked developing countries was essential. In that regard, reaching agreement on the Doha Round, in the framework of the World Trade Organization, would be particularly important in facilitating trade for landlocked developing countries. ODA was also essential for landlocked developing countries with limited domestic resources, and must be boosted.
Climate change was a severe threat to the efforts of landlocked developing countries to achieve the Millennium Development Goals, he continued, noting that it had exacerbated desertification and deforestation. To combat it, landlocked developing countries must adopt mitigation and adaptation measures. They must therefore be able to count on the support of the international community in the form of financing for development, technology transfer and capacity-building. The global economic and financial crisis had shown the urgent need to transform the economies of landlocked developing countries and to expand their productive bases in order to enable them to compete in world markets and withstand external shocks, he said.
MIKE MWANYULA ( Malawi), speaking on behalf of the African Group, stressed that “trade is the engine of economic growth and development”, and for that reason, the Group was concerned about the lack of progress on the Doha Round. Trade was a conduit for development, particularly for African countries facing geographical disadvantages. Transport infrastructure needed to be reformed, he said, calling on developed countries to demonstrate the flexibility and political will needed to ensure the Round’s successful conclusion. ODA was also essential for developing countries, particularly those in Africa, he continued, adding in that context that the quantity and quality of aid must be improved. The European Union’s Aid for Trade and other financing initiatives were all different in various ways, he noted, stressing that the financing and implementation of such efforts should not undermine each other.
Pointing out that the African Group was highly vulnerable to the effects of climate change, which had hampered progress towards the Millennium Goals, he said the international community must therefore provide support through financial resources, technology transfer and capacity-building to help developing countries mitigate and adapt to its effects. The global crises had shown the urgent need for African countries strategically to transform their economies and build up their resilience to external shocks. Full implementation of the Almaty Programme of Action would therefore contribute directly to helping African countries advance towards realization of the Millennium Development Goals, he said.
WANG HONGBO ( China) said least developed and landlocked developing countries were in urgent need of a better external environment while they struggled to address formidable internal challenges. The international community must give full play to the spirit of partnership demonstrated at the recent Millennium Development Goals Summit by implementing in earnest the outcome documents of that meeting, the Monterrey and other commitments on development financing; and by supporting the efforts of least developed and landlocked developing countries to realize the Millennium Development Goals by 2015. The upcoming Istanbul Conference would develop an action plan for the next decade that would have a direct bearing on those efforts. The international community must seize the opportunity provided by the Conference to reaffirm its political commitments and by increasing ODA.
She applauded the progress made since the adoption of the Almaty Programme of Action on increasing aid, reducing foreign debt and improving education in landlocked developing countries. However, their overall development was not sufficient to help them achieve the Millennium Development Goals on time, and the international community should bolster efforts to improve their infrastructure and cooperation on regional transit and transport. China was committed to doing its part to improve livelihoods and infrastructure, and enhancing sustainable development capacity. In recent years, Chinese leaders had announced in multiple forums, including United Nations high-level meetings and the China-Africa Cooperation Forum, packages of support measures for least developed and landlocked developing countries, she said.
FABIO FARIAS (Brazil), associating himself with the Group of 77 and China, said global crises had undermined much of the hard-won progress achieved by the least developed countries, particularly with regard to the Millennium Goals. National experience had shown that the social and economic consequences of the global downturn could be mitigated as long as social protection policies were expanded to respond to challenges, he noted. To that end, the international community must support, both technically and financially, national policies geared towards creating income and employment.
Real trade liberalization in agriculture, including the elimination of trade-distorting agricultural subsidies, was a critical long-term measure to ensure development within least developed countries, he continued. Official development assistance trends were significantly below agreed commitments, he pointed out, calling on donor countries to fulfil their ODA commitments and to work, as a priority, towards improving local ownership, transparency and accountability on the part of developing countries. Looking ahead towards the Istanbul Conference, he urged the international community to work together to devise a new, balanced and coherent plan of action that would provide clear targets for both national Governments in least developed countries and development partners. He also stressed the need to devise and implement measures to ensure a smooth transition for graduating least developed countries.
NADIA ISLER (Switzerland), citing World Bank standards, said 19 of the least developed countries were fragile States suffering from weak institutional capacity, poor governance and political instability. Many were affected by conflict. In that context, classic development cooperation did not work, she said, calling for measures specifically tailored to such situations to provide basic services, combat the causes of conflict and violence, and ensure lasting peace, the rule of law and efficient national institutions. The consequences of the recent multiple global crises suggested that the preceding high-growth period might not have led to structural progress in many least developed economies, but rather to greater vulnerability, due to the large share for which their commodity exports accounted in terms of GDP. She called for support for their economic diversification efforts, particularly through the development of value chains.
She said her country was committed to strengthening the trade capacity of least developed countries and enhancing sustainable trade by supporting producers’ efforts to implement voluntary standards for sustainability, such as Fair Trade. Switzerland gave duty- and quota-free market access for goods and products from least developed countries. However, trade liberalization was not enough in itself, she said, adding that it must be handled in a sustainable manner and integrated in the overall national development strategy. Switzerland supported important initiatives suchas the Enhanced Integrated Framework and the United Nations Cluster on Trade and Productive Capacity, she said, emphasizing that least developed countries must implement effective pro-poor policies, such as social protection systems, as well as local economic development, so as to avoid exclusion and combat extreme poverty.
GRUM ABAY (Ethiopia) associating himself with the Group of 77, the Group of Least Developed Countries, the Group of Landlocked Developing Countries and the African Group, emphasized that the Istanbul outcome document should be viewed as a road map to prioritize the concerns of least developed countries, with the goal of addressing their challenges. Out of the 49 States categorized as least developed, 33 were in Africa, he pointed out. “This marginalized continent suffering from a myriad of economic and social deprivations should remain the focus of attention in crafting the next programme of action.”
Underlining the risk associated with the recent shift of development assistance from financing portfolios to social sectors, he said development partners must realize that maintaining balanced resource allocations was necessary for least developed countries to pursue sustained growth. Moreover, alternative sources of development-financing were no substitute for traditional forms, which must be predictable and adequate. The global economic crisis had shown that landlocked developing countries were extremely vulnerable, he said, stressing that unless timely and extensive measures were taken to support investment in infrastructure and access to international markets, the cost of integrating least developed countries would be “unbearable”.
AHMAD RAJABI ( Iran) said transit transport development was essential for economic growth and poverty alleviation in landlocked developing countries. The Almaty Programme of Action was a fundamental framework for genuine partnerships between landlocked and transit developing countries and their development partners. Iran’s mountainous landscape had always been a natural obstacle to communications, but since ancient times important trade routes had found their way through the region, among them the famous Silk Road. In the past three decades, Iran had invested hugely in road and railroad construction projects and in connecting remote areas to major cities, he said.
He said that using lessons learned from existing regional infrastructural initiatives to encourage integrated cross-border infrastructure investment, Iran and the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) had held two workshops on facilitating rail and road transit transport. The country was also poised to join the Transport Corridor Europe-Caucasus-Asia.
Iran was one the most important transit developing countries, he said. Due to the country’s geography, it was challenging to develop and maintain important multimodal transport routes. If such concerns were not addressed, they would hamper cooperation among transit developing countries and landlocked developing countries. The development and maintenance of infrastructure required more investment and financial aid from donors, international financial institutions and development assistance agencies.
FAZLI ÇORMAN ( Turkey), associating himself with the European Union, highlighted several priority areas ahead of the Istanbul Conference that his country would be hosting next year. The international community must build upon the Brussels Programme of Action and agree on a new development approach that would take the new global context into account. The Istanbul outcome document must contain specifically-designed policies to strengthen the resilience of least developed countries by improving their productive and institutional capacities, he stressed.
In light of the limited research and innovation capacity of least developed countries, there was a vital need to facilitate the acquisition, transfer and development of technology, he said, adding that cooperation in the field of science and technology was also necessary. Events, such as the upcoming one on science, technology and innovation, also to be held in Istanbul, constituted important building blocks in preparations for the Conference, he said. The role of the private sector and civil society in supporting governmental efforts towards for a new development decade for least developed countries could not be overemphasized. Civil society’s active involvement in preparations was vital in “raising the voice of ordinary people” on planning and implementing development policies, he said
PHAWINEE CHANSAMRAN (Thailand), stressing her country’s commitment to the global partnership for development, said it had pursued technical cooperation programmes with neighbouring countries to promote sustainable growth, and had reached out to share best practices with other developing countries worldwide. Thailand had provided ODA since 1992, disbursing grants and concessionary loans to help least developed countries, particularly in the fields of infrastructure and public utilities, energy, agriculture, public health and education, she said. The country was also active in building bridges between the developed and developing worlds through triangular and South-South cooperation.
Thailand had joined with ESCAP to work out suitable policy guidance for least developed countries, she said, expressing hope that issues raised in the outcome document of the High-level Asia-Pacific Policy Dialogue on the Brussels Programme of Action for the Least Developed Countries, held in January, would be addressed during the Istanbul Conference.
Thailand gave high priority to linking transport networks in support of intraregional and interregional integration, she said. It actively cooperated with other ASEAN members, as well as development partners, to enhance regional ASEAN connectivity. It strongly supported more transportation choices in the region so as to bring economic benefits and facilitate regional cooperation in such areas as tourism, trade, investment, cultural and information exchange and energy. As a major food exporter, Thailand was working with neighbours through the Ayeyawady-Chao Phraya-Mekong Economic Cooperation Strategy to strengthen agricultural and industrial cooperation, she said in conclusion.
SOFIA BORGES (Timor-Leste), associating herself with the Group of 77 and the Group of Least Developed Countries, underscored the crucial importance of international support since global and regional problems demanded global and regional solutions. However, countries must be responsible for their own national strategies, as there was no “one size fits all” solution. While ODA to least developed countries had increased during the decade, many donors remained below the 0.15 to 0.2 per cent target set out in the Brussels Plan of Action.
In that regard, supporting least developed countries was “not a charitable effort but an investment in countries that play a pivotal role in the ever-evolving global dynamic”, she said. As for climate change, there was a need to amplify communication and dialogue with donor countries so as to increase the targeting and efficiency of resources, she said. Follow-up measures and mechanisms must be agreed upon, not only to assist in mobilizing efforts but also to guide the process. Lastly, she said much work remained to be done, and stressed that the Istanbul Conference should be approached with that in mind.
KOUMEALO BALLI ( Togo) said implementation of the Brussels Programme had yielded mixed results. There had been some progress in certain areas, but the economic performance of some least developed countries was well below expectations. They were having a hard time achieving several of their objectives by 2015 due to structural constraints as well as major gaps in financing resources, all of which had hindered development efforts. The multiple global crises, as well as climate change, had further exacerbated the already fragile situations of least developed countries, she said.
Because of their economic weakness, least developed countries could not face development challenges without predictable financial assistance, she continued, noting that, despite its many difficulties, her own country had been able to make some headway in improving education and health care, particularly in terms of the fight against HIV/AIDS. The 2010-2015 national plan to improve the living conditions of the Togolese population was based on a diverse strategy for short-term tangible results and long-term economic growth. That notwithstanding, Togo would not be able to achieve concrete results without substantial improvements in access to external and internal resources, she said. That was necessary for the country to reduce poverty and achieve sustained strong economic growth.
D. RAJA ( India), aligning himself with the Group of 77 and China, said development and progress must be shared among countries in order to achieve equitable, balanced and sustainable global growth. In light of the special needs and challenges of least developed countries, he called for their enhanced participation in the global trading network through full implementation of duty- and quota-free market access. India also called upon international financial institutions such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), as well as developed countries, to provide immediate debt relief and make concessionary finance available to spur economic growth and investment.
“Our engagement strategy with least developed countries needs a rethinking,” he stressed, noting that the mobilization of adequate resources and an expansion of international support measures to fulfil the large financing for development gap must be a main priority ahead of the Istanbul Conference next year. India had held steadfast in its support of least developed countries, sharing its development experience through South-South cooperation, he said. Moreover, Indian companies had invested more than $15 billion to help develop infrastructure in African least developed countries.
A. K. ABDUL MOMEN (Bangladesh), associating himself with the Group of 77 and the Group of Least Developed Countries, said that in the current climate of hardship, least developed countries were not in a position to encounter further shocks that the current crises might potentially cause in the long term. The food crisis alone had driven 100 million people into poverty and hunger, and an additional 30 million people would be jobless by the end of 2010. The impasse in the Doha Round was no doubt a major setback for the multilateral trading system, he said. Least developed countries, marginalized in North-South trade, were also increasingly marginalized in South-South trade, he said. In light of that, Bangladesh welcomed the offer of duty- and quota-free market access by some developed countries and invited others to follow suit.
He also welcomed debt relief under the HIPC Debt Initiative and the Multilateral Debt Relief Initiative (MDRI), noting, however, that not all least developed countries were eligible. Those programmes should be extended to those excluded, he said, adding that all outstanding bilateral and multilateral debt should be written off without delay. Because the special circumstances of least developed countries were not always taken into account, he said, the Secretary-General should dedicate a section containing data and information on least developed countries in all his reports relating to economic and social issues.
Recalling with dismay that the Monterrey Conference had been the only major United Nations Summit in the economic and social field that had not resulted in a permanent intergovernmental body to oversee and promote implementation of its outcome, he said the result was “obvious” since, with the exception of five countries, most Member States had yet to fulfil the commitments they had pledged nearly a decade ago. He urged all development partners to fulfil those pledges, and demanded the scaling up of ODA and bilateral assistance. Developing countries must be allowed to play in the field of trade and development, and the long-stalled Doha Round must be concluded, he said, calling also for the withdrawal of all subsidies in agricultural sectors.
TESFA ALEM SEYOUM ( Eritrea) said that in a world struck by financial crisis and starving for resources, the 49 least developed countries represented more than 800 million people and should be given the attention they deserved. With just five years to go before 2015, least developed countries were lagging behind on many of the Millennium Development Goals. In short, there would be no “MDGs without LDCs”, he said. Given the persistent financial and economic crisis, ODA would either stagnate or decline in the short term, he warned. Only nine donor countries had reached the target of allocating 0.15 per cent of gross domestic income to foreign aid.
He said his country advocated Aid for Trade, an initiative that must be followed through, including through the Enhanced Integrated Framework. Although there had been many success stories in the areas of health and education in some least developed countries since 2001, much remained to be done. For its part, Eritrea was on track to achieve Goals 4, 5 and 6. He said the critical gap created by unfulfilled ODA commitments and the failure to deliver promises in other areas had become the preoccupation of the international community. The Brussels Programme remained “unfinished business”. They Istanbul Conference should be the “light at the end of the tunnel”, he said.
ABDUL GHAFOOR MOHAMED ( Maldives) described his country as a vivid example of the “island paradox”, whereby islands enjoyed relative prosperity owing to domestically-generated income, but remained vulnerable to external shocks and high structural costs due to their geography. Small island developing States were among the least prepared to graduate from least-developed status, he said, noting that many were extremely vulnerable to the effects of climate change, yet often eligible for graduation despite being economically vulnerable. High per-capita income in such countries masked their high economic vulnerability and structural handicaps, he noted, emphasizing that the international community must consider the current limitations of differential treatment of developing countries.
All those countries graduating from least-developed status thus far had been small island developing States, yet there were no measures in place to help them cope with their severe development disadvantages, he continued. The “philosophy” of the United Nations system in addressing those issues had been “largely ineffective”, he said, calling for a review of the shortcomings in institutional support, as well as other constraints in order fully to implement the Mauritius Strategy for the Further Implementation of the Programme of Action for the Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States and the Bali Plan of Action. Lastly, he called on the international community to continue its support for graduating countries, especially small island developing States.
BENEDICT LUKWIYA (Uganda), associating himself with the Group of 77, the African Group, the Group of Least Developed Countries and the Landlocked Developing Countries, noted that the international community had placed less and less focus on the issues of least developed countries over the years. Renewed efforts were needed from both development partners and least developed countries themselves, and the upcoming Istanbul Conference would be an opportunity to galvanize such a renewal. “We must strive to make the success of the Istanbul Conference be measured by the number of least developed countries that will graduate out of the group within the next decade,” he emphasized.
To that end, the Istanbul outcome must enable least developed countries to pursue economic expansion and diversification, he continued. Moreover, it must spell out concrete measures to address the specific vulnerabilities of least developed countries, including to climate change. As for landlocked developing countries, he said many of their economies were underdeveloped, and major factors upon which the quality and reliability of transportation depended often lay outside their immediate sphere of influence. He noted with disappointment that the specific characteristics of and constraints affecting landlocked developing countries had not been recognized in the World Trade Organization, and called for further negotiations under the Doha work programme.
ALMAT IGENBAYEV ( Kazakhstan) said the major priorities of his country’s transportation branch included integration of the system into the Eurasian transit network, the harmonization of transportation-related national legislation with international laws and the creation of a favourable investment climate. Taking into account its advantageous geographical location, with the historic “Silk Road” that could be revitalized, Kazakhstan was making efforts to set up a transcontinental transportation hub between Europe and Asia.
The realization of that mega-project to reconstruct and revitalize the Silk Road linking Western Europe and China would ensure shipments on the China-Europe route and reduce sea-cargo shipment times three-fold, he said. Transportation infrastructure development was one of the major priorities for landlocked countries, he said, stressing the necessity for the United Nations to pay greater attention to Central Asia, given that the region’s countries, especially Kazakhstan, possessed considerable energy, transport and transit potential.
PASCALINE YAKIVE GERENGBO (Democratic Republic of the Congo), associating herself with the Group of 77, the African Group and the Group of Least Developed Countries, stressed that the Almaty Programme of Action was not flawed, but rather had shortcomings that could be improved. Ahead of the Istanbul Conference, the international community must work to ensure that any new programme was marked with a new vision and integrated into national strategies. There was also a need for efficient assistance measures that would give least developed countries the benefits they deserved. She said that while her country had enormous potential, it was in a post-conflict situation and therefore vulnerable and fragile. In that regard, she called for the Democratic Republic of the Congo to be pulled out of “the poverty trap” and given access to the special treatment reserved for least developed countries.
National measures were needed, and the overall business climate should be improved to ensure sustainable and true peace on the ground, she said, going on to emphasize the need for external aid and to thank those donor countries that had not used the current global crises as an excuse to reduce ODA. Developed countries must conclude the Doha Round negotiations and reinforce least developed countries’ production capacity, particularly in agriculture and tourism. The structural handicaps of those countries could be overcome through the provision of financial resources, access to markets, and technology transfer. Finally, she said the international community must go to Istanbul with a more comprehensive approach in mind, adding that the mobilization of sufficient resources to least developed countries “should not just be a formality”.
ENKHTSETSEG OCHIR (Mongolia), associating herself with the Group of 77 and China and the Group of Landlocked Developing Countries, said that despite progress made in all five priority areas of the Almaty Programme of Action, landlocked developing countries continued to face considerable challenges inherently linked to their geographical handicaps. In that regard, she underlined the need for research on the vulnerability of landlocked developing countries to external shocks, and for a set of vulnerability indicators that could be used for early-warning purposes. Furthermore, current negotiations on market access for agricultural and non-agricultural goods must pay particular attention to products from landlocked developing countries.
She reiterated Mongolia’s call to capital-exporting countries to support the efforts of landlocked developing countries to attract FDI and to adopt and implement economic, financial and legislative incentives to encourage investment flows. Regional and subregional cooperation played an important role in advancing the Almaty Programme’s objectives, she said, encouraging in that respect, development partners and United Nations entities to support an initiative by ESCAP to organize a high-level Asia-Pacific meeting of landlocked developing countries next April.
SALEM HAMAD ALJEERAN ( Kuwait) said his delegation recognized the role that trade and investment played in accelerating the pace of sustainable development in developing countries. Kuwait had approved a gross investment of $115 billion to develop infrastructure, build ports, railways and new cities, while continuing to improve the level of basic services provided to its citizens. The country also continued to provide development assistance to countries all over the world, as well as providing significant support and humanitarian aid to countries and peoples affected by natural disasters.
As a country of the South, Kuwait’s economy and development relied mainly on the production and export of oil, he said. That guaranteed the opportunity to make progress in various other sectors as well, and could pave the way for more sustainable development. Thus, it was important to promote safer, cleaner, more efficient and technologically advanced means for the consumption and provision of oil supplies. Such technology must be made available to producing as well as consuming countries, within a framework of capacity-building and the transfer of knowledge and technology for development. Additionally, Kuwait would stay the course in providing all possible support to least developed countries, as part of its firm belief in the principle of solidarity among countries of the South, and the expanding horizon of mutual cooperation.
JOHN F. SAMMIS ( United States) commended the work of the United Nations – particularly the Office of the High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States – in ensuring the full participation of least developed countries in preparations for the Istanbul Conference. Their development was “not only a moral imperative, but a strategic and economic one that we, as a world community, all share”, he said. In 2009, the United States had increased its bilateral ODA to least developed countries by more than 15 per cent to $8.1 billion, with ODA reaching an historic high at $28.7 billion. He noted, however, that the focus should be on the outputs produced by aid.
“We recognize that the purpose of development is to create the conditions where assistance is no longer needed,” he continued, adding that his country’s assistance strategy was founded on a results-based approach focused on national ownership, innovation and partnership. The United States had also launched several initiatives to benefit the neediest people in least developed countries. They included the Global Health Initiative, a $63 billion six-year commitment to improve health outcomes in partner countries through strengthened health systems. To facilitate the integration of all least developed countries into the global economy, the United States had provided developing countries with $12 billion in trade capacity assistance since 1999. Lastly, he said the African Growth and Opportunity Act contributed to enhanced trade with sub-Saharan Africa, a region accounting for 33 of the 49 least developed countries. In the first half of 2010, trade under the Act had totalled $33.1 billion, a 57 per cent increase over the same period in 2009, he noted.
THOMAS ADOUMASSE (Benin), associating himself with the Group of 77, the Group of Least Developed Countries and the Africa Group, said the “disturbing” situation in least developed countries was exacerbated by climate change and globalization. Women living in least developed countries had a 1 in 17 chance of dying during childbirth. Economic vulnerability made those countries dependent on external sources of financing, and particularly vulnerable to external shocks. As for environmental vulnerability, they contributed least to environmental degradation, yet were the most severely affected by climate change.
He said the economic vulnerability of least developed countries explained the persistence of poverty in Africa, adding that poor economic results were dependent on a small number of commodities with a low added value, which made them vulnerable to international markets. Because least developed countries were connected to the global economy by a complex web of trade and financial-dependency links, globalization accentuated the vicious cycle of poverty around the world. That in turn led to political instability and conflict. Another reason for the economic vulnerability of least developed countries concerned the distribution of ODA, he said. The best way to improve least developed economies was to build infrastructure for national development, noting that their vulnerable economic climate was also linked to the adverse consequences of trade liberalization.
ABDOURAHMANE TRAORÉ (Senegal), associating himself with the Group of 77, the African Group and the Group of Least Developed Countries, said the fact that only two countries had been able to graduate from the least-developed category was extremely worrying because 49 remained in the Group. Poverty in those countries had spiralled out of control, and the situation had been further exacerbated by multiple global crises, debt, as well as trade and tariff barriers. There was an urgent need for a new plan of action to face all those challenges, he stressed.
He recalled that during September’s special High-Level Event on Least Developed Countries, the President of Senegal had suggested the creation of a group of experts for countries on the path to graduation, which would focus on innovative methods to boost their economies. Senegal also supported initiatives seeking innovative forms of assistance to fill the gaps left by falling financing development-financing. In the approach to the end of the Brussels Programme decade, it was to be hoped that new momentum for international solidarity could be achieved in Istanbul. The Conference must result in bold, serious and ambitious measures for shared responsibility with regard to least developed countries, he said. “ Istanbul should not become just one more conference, or its outcome yet one more plan.”
PAUL ROBERT TIENDRÉBÉOGO (Burkina Faso), associating himself with the African Group, the Group of Least Developed Countries, and the Group of 77, said the multiple global crises had worsened the precarious situation in least developed countries, which were already particularly fragile. The implementation of the Brussels Programme was therefore crucial, he said, noting that its results were mixed amid preparations to organize the Fourth United Nations Conference on Least Developed Countries. Some countries had made progress, but gaps persisted between the goals set and those achieved.
While the world waited to learn its lessons from the implementation of the Brussels Programme decade, the international community should continue its efforts to provide farmers with access to international markers, and support emerging industries in least developed countries. It was also important to stress capacity-building, he added. For their part, least developed countries must adapt to a global economy that was constantly changing, and to a globalization that was full of many challenges, he said.
The recurring flooding and other adverse effects of climate change, including the disruption of crops and housing, were serious obstacles to development in those countries, he said. Discussions on how to identify and implement new solutions should continue, especially in the areas of financing, and it was to be hoped that the Istanbul Conference would make it possible to find a new impetus with concrete objectives and supported by true political will. Concerning the Almaty Programme, he called on the international community to reduce the high transport costs faced by landlocked developing nations, and to remedy problems of access to international markets, which lay at the heart of their isolation from full participation in international trade. As a landlocked developing country, Burkina Faso saw the world as a global village, and its own fate dependent on every individual, he said.
HELEN BECK (Solomon Islands), associating herself with the Group of 77 and the Group of Least Developed Countries, urged the international community to redouble its efforts to put least developed countries back on track. The United Nations system should urgently prioritize consideration of those countries, most of which were in post-conflict situations. There should be a special list which took their national priorities into account, she said, calling for enhanced international engagement to that end.
Since climate change had caused pockets of poverty in several countries, there was a crucial need for new and additional resources, as well as for technology transfer, she said. There was an urgent need to conclude a legally-binding agreement at the upcoming climate change conference in Cancun, Mexico, as a focused legal framework to help least developed countries and small island developing States.
Turning to the Millennium Development Goals, she said progress was mixed and uneven with regard to the Millennium Goals, as with the aims of the Brussels Programme. There was a need to rethink efforts to align them with national priorities, she said, noting that global challenges required global solutions with national deliverables. The Istanbul Conference must therefore result in a new, targeted and action-oriented programme to lift least developed countries out of poverty. The international community development partners must honour their commitments, she said, calling for the political will to translate those commitments into concrete actions.
ALESSANDRO MOTTER, Senior Liaison Officer, Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU), said that at the current graduation rate, it would take another 40 or more years for the least developed countries category to be abolished. The Brussels Programme was a good plan, but a stronger one was now needed that would capture the new challenges that lay ahead for least developed countries in the changing global economy. It would, first and foremost, correct an obvious omission of the Brussels Programme, which was silent on the role of Parliaments in both developed and developing countries in supporting the renewal of least developed countries on all fronts – social, economic and political.
The importance of including Parliaments in national and international affairs could not be overemphasized, he continued. They recognized the need to become involved in all development activities, and felt that the Brussels Programme did not take the situation of “fragile States” into great enough consideration. While it was not possible to have a “one-size-fits-all” programme of action, it must acknowledge and cater to the unique difference between least developed countries, he emphasized. If Parliaments were to ensure the implementation of a new programme, their mandate must be referred to within the programme itself.
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