Resources for Office of Countries in Special Situations Do Not Match Expanded Mandate, High Representative Tells Second Committee
Resources for Office of Countries in Special Situations Do Not Match Expanded Mandate, High Representative Tells Second Committee
|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Sixty-seventh General Assembly
9th & 10th Meetings (AM & PM)
Resources for Office of Countries in Special Situations Do Not Match
Expanded Mandate, High Representative Tells Second Committee
Members Concerned about Dwindling Aid,
Rising Transit Costs, Pitfalls of Graduation amid Multiple Global Crises
Despite working far beyond its mandate, the office charged with responsibility for countries in special situations was not receiving resources commensurate with its expanded role, its new High Representative told the Second Committee (Economic and Financial) today.
Gyan Chandra Acharya, Under-Secretary-General and High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States, said that strengthening the office was “a cause worthy of stronger support from the global community”. That was not only due to its work in organizing conferences, reporting, engaging with an expanded range of partners and supporting the integration and implementation of the Istanbul Programme of Action, but because internal assessment of its performance reflected high programme implementation in its delivery of outputs and results, and had found that the office had raised awareness of the special development needs of the States concerned.
Important strides had been made towards implementation of the Istanbul Programme, he said, but many challenges remained, including the fact that overall economic growth rates remained below the designated 7 per cent target figure, and the heavy reliance of countries in special situations on trade in extractive industries. They were also constrained by rules of origin, the erosion of preferences and non-tariff barriers. Nonetheless, a growing number of countries were graduating from least-developed status, he said, noting that Samoa was due to graduate in 2014.
He went on to cite Equatorial Guinea, Tuvalu, Vanuatu, Kiribati and Angola as having met the graduation criteria this year, adding that other countries were working towards graduating within the decade. However, sustained progress would be essential, he emphasized, adding that an ad hoc, open-ended working group on smooth transition would help with that task. Overall, the priority areas and broader visions laid out in the Istanbul Programme were finding echoes in national development plans, and donors were also referring to it in their strategic documents, he said.
Algeria’s representative, speaking for the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, took up the theme, stating that the success of the Istanbul Programme over the next decade would depend on least developed countries taking ownership and a leadership role in making and effectively implementing the relevant policy choices, according to their own conditions and priorities, and with the strong, enhanced, predictable, definite and targeted support of their development partners. He encouraged the United Nations system, including the Bretton Woods and other multilateral institutions, regional development banks and other stakeholders to enhance their support for least developed countries, while expressing his “grave concern” that, with just a few years to go before 2015, least developed countries were lagging behind in terms of meeting many of the Millennium Development Goals.
Benin’s representative, speaking for the Group of Least Developed Countries, reinforced that sentiment by emphasizing that, like “a blacksmith facing hard work with three irons in the forge”, each member of the Group faced three critical issues: implementation of the Millennium Development Goals; of the Istanbul Programme of Action; and of the Sustainable Development Goals. Least developed countries must pursue development amid a global financial and economic crisis that had brought additional hardships, reversed recent growth and severely weakened their ability to maintain or upgrade income levels, he said. Further, those same countries continued to grapple with enormous economic, human and social development challenges due to structural constraints and their own particular vulnerabilities.
Ethiopia’s representative said his country was one of those mainstreaming the Istanbul Programme, and its principles were clearly apparent in the Five-Year Development Plan which aimed to expedite the national economic transformation and become a middle-income country by 2020. Ethiopia had installed the necessary reporting, monitoring, reviewing and evaluation mechanisms to track implementation. Its gross domestic product (GDP) had grown by 11.4 per cent annually between 2004 and 2011, and its economy had diversified, with agriculture’s share of GDP falling from 40.6 per cent in 2010 to 39.7 per cent in 2011, and industry’s share expanding from 15 per cent to 17.9 per cent over the same period.
However, the representative of the United States said that bucked the trend, pointing out the heavy reliance of most of the least developed countries on natural resources and commodities for economic growth. They must rely less on official development assistance (ODA) to address such challenges and focus instead on mobilizing domestic resources and establishing conditions that would attract foreign direct investment (FDI). Emphasizing the importance of transparency and democratic accountability in the pursuit of those aims, she called for the economic inclusion of women, youth and disadvantaged groups in order to produce broader and more sustainable economic prosperity.
The representative of the Maldives outlined some of the challenges that his country faced in implementing the Programme while also striving to graduate from least developed status. As the most recent graduate, the Maldives was in the second year of a three-year smooth-transition process that was “far from smooth”, he said, adding that it focused primarily on trade development with a secondary objective of maintaining development financing. The withdrawal of ODA by some major traditional donors, the lack of access to concessionary finance and an inability to reassess the situation had led to massive shortfalls and economic uncertainty, instead of a robust business environment conducive to increased private and public-sector investment.
Many representatives referred to the specific challenges faced by countries in a varietyof special situations, with most paying particular attention to the needs of landlocked developing countries. Among several delegations taking up their situation was that of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic. Speaking for the Group of Landlocked Developing Countries, its representative called for more genuine bilateral, regional and global cooperation and partnership, as well as for enhanced support, increased FDI flows and improved technology transfers in support of the Almaty Programme of Action on Landlocked Developing Countries. He also pointed out the emergence of new challenges and opportunities that had not been visible when the Programme of Action was negotiated in 2003, calling for international action to support that category of countries in a holistic manner, especially in the preparatory process for the 10-year review conference, and in crafting the next development agenda in their support.
Afghanistan’s representative outlined some of the challenges faced by landlocked developing countries, noting his own country’s status as a commodities exporter that had spent almost twice the average proportion of its export income on transit transport and insurance services. Much work was needed to continue restoring the national road and rail networks, he said, calling for increased technical assistance to help fulfil that goal. He added that Afghanistan, in addition to being landlocked was also a post-conflict State and that its economy was threatened by terrorism, extremism and organized crime.
Others speaking today were representatives of Haiti (for the Caribbean Community), Indonesia (for the Association of South-East Asian Nations), Russian Federation, Nepal, Mongolia, Bangladesh, Brazil, Malaysia, India, Australia, Bolivia, Saudi Arabia, China, Republic of Korea, Kuwait, Turkey, Morocco, Myanmar, Guinea, Kazakhstan, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Qatar, Botswana, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Uganda, United Republic of Tanzania and the European Union delegation.
Speaking in exercise of the right of reply were representatives of Chile and Bolivia.
The Second Committee will meet again at 10 a.m. tomorrow, Wednesday, 18 October, to take up globalization and interdependence.
Meeting this morning to take up groups of countries in special situations, the Second Committee (Economic and Financial) had before it several reports of the Secretary-General on the subject. Among them was the report of the Secretary-General Implementation of the Programme of Action for the Least Developed Countries for the Decade 2011 to 2020 (document A/67/88-E/2012/75), dated 17 May 2012, which recommends strengthening incentives for graduating countries as well as the graduation process itself. Financial, technical and trade support measures should remain in place longer or be phased out gradually, and graduating countries should be supported in formulating, implementing and monitoring smooth transition strategies.
According to the report, least developed countries should take the lead on mainstreaming the Istanbul Programme of Action into their national development and cooperation strategies and their priorities should dictate the support of development partners. Further support from the United Nations system is needed to accelerate mainstreaming and implementation, which would be stimulated if international financial institutions formally recognized least developed countries. Progress during the first decade of the Istanbul Programme of Action was insufficient to reach its goals, and bold actions are needed to reverse this trend, the report says. Increasing agricultural production capacity should be at the centre of development strategies, infrastructure development, institutional reforms, human resources development as well as stronger social protection measures are also essential.
The report urges donor countries to step up financial support, including by setting progressive quantitative aid targets aimed at reversing the recent decline in net flows of bilateral official development assistance (ODA). Specific decisions on trade, including recent World Trade Organization decisions and commitments on duty- and quota-free market access, should also be implemented. The international community can help by strengthening the voice of least developed countries in international decision-making processes, pushing the Istanbul Programme’s priorities to the forefront of relevant international meetings, strengthening existing platforms and making available data for tracking the Programme’s goals.
Also before the Committee was the report of the Secretary-General Ensuring the effective implementation of the functions of the Office of the High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States and strengthening its capabilities and its effectiveness, as well as the effectiveness of the United Nations system support provided to least developed countries (document A/67/262). Dated 7 August 2012, it reviews the changing mandates of the Office and the manner in which it has translated them into actions. It also recommends intensified cooperation between the United Nations and the Bretton Woods institutions, focusing on greater harmonization and consistency of strategic frameworks, instruments, modalities and partnership arrangements.
The report says that the United Nations and other international organizations should take specific steps to accord least developed countries special priority, and take specific legislative steps to integrate the Istanbul Programme fully into operational mandates. In calling for the strengthening of international support measures, the report recommends that the United Nations system scale up its substantive technical assistance to least developed countries and establish focal points to ensure consistent coordination and monitoring of implementation programmes at agency level.
Calling for the creation of inter-agency consultative group mechanisms to coordinate and monitor their implementation across the system, the report notes that the increased requirement for the Office to provide substantive and technical support significantly increases the responsibilities of the Organization and other actors in terms of resourcing. Traditionally, these activities were funded through extrabudgetary contributions, but the expanded role of the Office is likely to make these insufficient to fulfil its broader mandate.
Also before the Committee was the Report of the ad hoc working group to further study and strengthen the smooth transition process for the countries graduating from the least developed country category (document A/67/92), dated 6 June 2012, which summarizes that body’s deliberations and provides an overview of the key issues and proposals put forward by Members States and experts. The report emphasizes the need to strengthen the smooth transition process, saying this can be achieved with better information and understanding of existing support measures, and if strong national transition strategies are put in place. It also recommends discussion of transition measures to help build coherence, which is crucial.
Additionally, the report calls for increased United Nations support, including clarification of the General Assembly’s role in the transition process. It specifies the characteristics of strong support measures for graduating countries, including predictability, specificity and certainty about what will happen to support measures after graduation. It also underlines the need for continued ODA and technical assistance, as well as the need to adapt trade-related measures to changing development situations.
The Committee also had before it the report of the Secretary-General 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/67/210), dated 30 July 2012. It provides an update on the progress that landlocked countries and their development partners have made in implementing the Almaty Programme, and on the preparatory process for the comprehensive 10-year review conference. It also recommends increased international support for landlocked and transit developing countries,particularly financial, technological and capacity-building assistance to address challenges caused by climate change, land degradation and desertification.
Going on to recommend reducing the high transport and trade transaction costs that landlocked developing countries face, the report says donor countries can help to establish efficient transit transport systems, and should encourage increased foreign direct investment (FDI), flows, provide greater market access for goods originating in landlocked developing countries, and provide other technical assistance, technology transfer and capacity-building support. This will help landlocked developing countries to strategically develop their economies and build productive capacities, it says, encouraging international organizations to provide further support for the conclusion of an intergovernmental agreement on the Trans-African Highway.
The report stresses the importance of World Trade Organization negotiations in improving trans-border trade for landlocked developing countries, urging those countries, as well as transit developing countries to strengthen cooperation by harmonizing policies, especially on resource allocation and rehabilitating transport infrastructure. It invites them to ratify and implement international conventions and agreements on transport and trade facilitation, as well as the Multilateral Agreement on the Establishment of an International Think Tank for Landlocked Developing Countries.
Also before the Committee was a letter (document A/67/386) dated 21 September 2012 from the Permanent Representative of Kazakhstan addressed to the Secretary-General transmitting the text of the Almaty Ministerial Declaration adopted by Trade Ministers from the States members of the Group of Landlocked Developing Countries at their fourth meeting, held on 12 September 2012 in Almaty, Kazakhstan.
GYAN CHANDRA ACHARYA, Under-Secretary-General and High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States, introduced the Secretary-General’s reports on groups of countries in special situations, saying that economic growth had improved in the least developed countries, though it remained below the 7 per cent target and was still vulnerable. Natural resources continued to dominate the least developed economies, with commodities continuing to drive trade growth.
However, trade was still constrained by rules of origin, preference erosion and non-tariff barriers, he said. Despite the expansion in mobile communications infrastructure, there had been slower progress in electricity generation, he said, noting also that poverty and hunger remained the greatest challenge, with 30 per cent of the population in least developed countries still undernourished. The situation was particularly bad in the Sahel, where 19 million people needed assistance, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).
Important strides had been made in human and social development, particularly on education, gender issues and empowerment, he said, noting, however, that conflict-affected least developed countries were unable to meet many of the Millennium Development Goals. With debt distress a persistent problem, ODA was essential, he said, commending the European Union and Canada for having reached the 0.15 per cent target figure set forth in the Istanbul Programme of Action in 2010 and 2011. Finland and the United Kingdom had reached 0.2 per cent in 2010, he said, adding, however, that he was concerned about the overall decline in bilateral aid to least developed countries in 2011.
The sum of the positive developments in least developed countries was a growing number of graduating countries, he said, noting that Samoa would graduate in 2014, while Equatorial Guinea, Tuvalu, Vanuatu, Kiribati and Angola had met the criteria this year. Others were working towards graduating within the decade, but sustained progress was essential, he emphasized, adding that an ad hoc, open-ended working group on smooth transition would help with that. Overall, the priority areas and broader visions laid out in the Istanbul Programme of Action were being echoed in national development plans, and donors were also referring to it in their strategic documents, he said.
He went on to point out that his Office was working far beyond its mandate, organizing conferences, reporting, engaging with an expanded range of partners and supporting the integration and implementation of the Istanbul Programme, as well as meeting increasing demands for substantive support from least developed countries, especially in the face of new and emerging challenges. The growing responsibilities had not been met with commensurate resources, but the Office had managed to illuminate issues relating to countries in special situations, and to mobilize United Nations entities in support.
The internal United Nations assessment of its performance reflected high programme implementation in the delivery of outputs and results, he continued, noting that it found the Office to have raised awareness of the special development needs of the countries concerned, he said, while acknowledging the need for better programme coordination. The Office needed strengthening if it was to meet the Secretary-General’s recommendations, but it was “a cause worthy of stronger support from the global community”, he said.
Turning to implementation of the Almaty Programme, he pointed to increased economic growth among landlocked developing countries, spurred by rising commodity prices and demand for exports. For the first time, they had gained a share of world trade larger than 1 per cent of the total, he noted. As for harmonizing transport and transit policies, laws, procedures and practices with transit countries, he said the Asian region had already developed and adopted intergovernmental agreements to underpin the Asian Highway Network and the Trans-Asian Railway Network. Meanwhile, the African Highway Road Network was also making progress, and there was continuing progress on the Initiative for the Integration of Regional Infrastructure in South America.
He emphasized that a successful conclusion of the Doha Development Round was of the utmost importance, particularly on the issue of trade facilitation. Preparations for the 10-year review of the Almaty Programme were well under way, with the preparatory process progressing along intergovernmental, United Nations, inter-agency and private sector tracks. The first thematic pre-conference on international trade, trade facilitation and aid-for-trade involving landlocked developing countries, their transit neighbours and development partners had been held in September and had adopted a forward-looking final outcome document with recommendations in all areas, he said in conclusion.
LARBI DJACTA (Algeria), speaking for the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, said least developed countries continued to face structural handicaps and constraints in their development efforts while remaining highly vulnerable to external shocks. It was obvious, therefore, that they continued to suffer the negative consequences of the ongoing global financial and economic crisis. Expressing grave concern that least developed countries were lagging behind in meeting many of the Millennium Development Goals with just a few years to go before 2015, he called for the full, timely and effective implementation of the Istanbul Programme of Action, with the aim of enabling at least half of them to meet the graduation criteria by 2020.
The success of the Istanbul Programme over the next decade would depend on least developed countries taking an ownership and leadership role in the effective implementation of the relevant policy choices, according to their own conditions and priorities, and with strong enhanced, predictable, definite and targeted support from development partners. Encouraging the United Nations system, including the Bretton Woods and other multilateral institutions, regional development banks and other stakeholders to enhance their support, he emphasized the need for timely implementation of duty- and quota-free market access, on a lasting basis, for all goods and products from least developed countries, as called for in the Istanbul Programme.
He went on to note the special needs of, and problems faced by, landlocked developing countries, caused by their lack of territorial access to the sea and aggravated by their remoteness from world markets. Concerned that their economic growth and social well-being remained highly vulnerable to external shocks, he reiterated the urgent need to address their special development challenges, as well as the needs of transit developing countries, through the full, timely and effective implementation of the Almaty Programme of Action. The Group of 77 and China was also concerned that landlocked developing countries remained at a competitive disadvantage in terms of attracting private investment through reforms and policy improvements aimed at reducing bureaucracy, ensuring lower costs and improving business procedures and public services.
FRITZNER GASPARD (Haiti), speaking for the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and associating himself with the Group of 77 and China and the Group of Least Developed Countries, said poverty in 24 of the latter should have decreased by 2020, when they would have achieved the Millennium Development Goals. Hopefully, that progress would continue until the number of least developed countries had dropped to zero, he said, adding that annual economic growth should reach 7 per cent and be equitable and inclusive. Least developed countries were known for their limited productive capacity and the Programme of Action was based on strengthening it, which was important for development, he said, noting, however, that least developed countries were unfortunately restricted to exporting unprocessed commodities which made them more vulnerable to external shocks.
Diversifying the market would be immensely helpful to least developed countries, he said, adding that that was possible in the agricultural and tourism sectors. The former must be strengthened and diversified, which could only be done by increasing the income of rural workers. Economic subsidies must be eliminated, he said, stressing also the need to reduce tariff and other trade-distorting barriers. Urging developed countries to provide technical and professional training and assistance to least developed countries, he said development partners had helped to reduce the costs of transactions and remittances for least developed countries. Their development goals could only be met with the help of the United Nations system, including the Bretton Woods institutions, and through South-South and triangular cooperation.
He recalled that since the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, the only least developed country in the Americas, a strategic development plan had been put into place. The Government plan dealt with rebuilding the economy, as well as land and social matters, including the country’s reconstruction, which in some cases meant rebuilding “from scratch”. The plan also aimed to rebuild and improve schools and to encourage FDI. “These goals are ambitious but they are realistic and achievable,” he said. In pursuing development goals, landlocked developing countries with fragile economies resulting from different factors, including high transport costs, depended on timely support from other countries, he noted, calling for increased assistance to help transit and landlocked developing countries work closely with other developing countries to achieve connections and create corridors.
DESRA PERCAYA (Indonesia), speaking for the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) and associating himself with the Group of 77 and China, said countries in special situations were most vulnerable to external shocks and faced the harshest challenges. He noted the progress made in implementing the Istanbul Programme in the development plans of developing countries and by donor countries, while calling for further accelerated efforts, especially in the eight priority areas, in order to enable more least developed countries to graduate by 2020.
Pointing to the specific challenges faced by landlocked developing countries and their enormous need to build capacity, especially in trade and transport facilitation, he said that despite progress in implementing the Almaty Programme of Action, much more work lay ahead in terms of reviewing regulatory frameworks on transit transportation and trade facilitation across borders, so as to increase investment and harmonize norms and standards. ASEAN encouraged the international community to increase FDI in such countries to enhance development assistance and improve technology transfer, he said.
Comprising three least developed countries and one landlocked developing country, he said, ASEAN was committed to building a community of continuing economic growth, narrowed development gaps and improved connectivity among and between its member States and with the rest of the world by 2015. He pointed to the Initiative for ASEAN Integration and the Master Plan on ASEAN Connectivity as examples, hailing efforts by the United Nations to help build the capacity and capability of the least developed ASEAN member States. The ASEAN Infrastructure Fund was also working to that end, aiming to leverage more than $13 billion in infrastructure financing by 2020, he said, stressing that an efficient transport system was the key to regional integration.
KHAM-INH KNITCHADETH (Lao People’s Democratic Republic), speaking for the Group of Landlocked Developing Countries and associating himself with the Group of 77 and China, said it was critically important that the international community recognize and understand the specific developmental challenges and special needs of landlocked developing countries due to geographical disadvantages, especially their lack of maritime access. They needed appropriate actions and necessary support measures to address those challenges and needs in a holistic manner. It was even more critical that those actions and measures, once developed and agreed, be fully and effectively implemented in a timely and faithful manner by all relevant stakeholders.
That would only be possible if firm political will and commitment were pursued and sufficient support measures, including financial support, were provided, he emphasized. In addition to North-South cooperation, the role and contributions of subregional and regional cooperation frameworks were of great importance, as were South-South and triangular cooperation. They were important for building productive capacity, developing and maintaining infrastructure in order to enhance regional connectivity and economic integration. Landlocked developing countries needed continued support and cooperation from neighbouring transit countries and development partners, he said, pointing out that they continued to pay high transport costs to export containers.
Concerning the Almaty Programme of Action, he called for more genuine bilateral, regional and global cooperation and partnership, as well as for enhanced support, increased FDI flows and improved technology transfers to landlocked developing countries. Finally, he pointed out that over the past decade, challenges and opportunities had arisen for those countries that had not yet been visible at the time of the Almaty Programme’s adoption in 2003. He therefore called on the international community to take those new challenges and opportunities into account during the course of the preparatory process for the 10-year review conference, and in crafting the next development agenda in support of landlocked developing countries by enhancing the current Almaty agenda.
JEAN-FRANCIS ZINSOU (Benin), speaking for the Group of Least Developed Countries and associating himself with the African Group and the Group of 77, said that, as “a blacksmith facing hard work with three irons in the forge”, each member of the Group faced three critical issues: implementation of the Millennium Development Goals, of the Istanbul Programme of Action and of the Sustainable Development Goals. Least developed countries must pursue development amid a global financial and economic crisis that had brought additional hardships, reversed recent growth and severely weakened their ability to maintain or upgrade income levels. Further, those same countries continued to grapple with enormous economic, human and social development challenges due to structural constraints and their particular vulnerabilities.
Poverty and hunger continued seriously to impede their economic and social progress, and most of them not on track to meet the Millennium Development Goals by 2015, he said, pointing out that, at the same time, they had faced reduced ODA flows in 2011 after years of annual increases. However, in spite of difficulties and challenges, they were determined to move forward with implementation of the Programme of Action and had started mainstreaming it into their national development strategies. The Programme’s full and efficient implementation required the support of the United Nations system, including the Bretton Woods and other multilateral institutions, regional development banks and other stakeholders.
In addition to financial and technical support, least developed countries needed development partners to fulfil their existing commitments, he continued. As for the Secretary-General’s report on implementation of the Programme of Action for the decade 2011 to 2020, it presented an accurate analysis of development trends in least developed countries, he said, adding that, in general, the Group associated itself with the report’s recommendations and called for their thorough implementation. Countries graduating from least-developed status must be eased onto a sustainable development path without any disruption to their development plans, programmes and projects, he emphasized, calling in that regard for the adoption by the General Assembly of a “strengthened smooth strategy” during its current session.
PHILIPPE LATRICHE, European Union delegation, said the bloc’s member States had stepped up their efforts and through both bilateral and regional programmes, had met its commitment to channel 0.15 per cent of gross national income to ODA for least developed countries. However, structural reforms in both least developed and landlocked developing countries would be the key to enhancing their productive capacity and unlocking their domestic potential for sustainable and inclusive growth and development. He underlined the importance for the two categories of countries of continuing to integrate trade into their development strategies. Indeed, openness to trade, complemented by good governance and sound domestic policies, was a condition of successful development, he said.
The main focus of future European Union efforts should be based on the predictability and orderly phasing out of post-graduation benefits, he said. He strongly encouraged trading partners, including emerging economies and developing countries in a position to do so, to provide duty- and quota-free access to least developed countries and to maintain market-access benefits for a clear and known period of time after their graduation, as the European Union did. It was important to put national transition strategies in place early on as a framework within which partners could work, he said, adding that they would determine key challenges and the best mix of supporting actions. There could be no “one-size-fits-all” solution, he emphasized, adding that transition strategies must be tailor-made to each country so as to reflect its specific context, opportunities and vulnerabilities.
Improved coordination and coherence of existing programmes in support of least developed countries would also be very important, he continued. Concerning landlocked developing countries, he said it was important to pursue collective efforts to deal with persistent challenges, including high transport and commercial transaction costs. Lack of access to the sea and difficult transit facilities added to their challenges in building productive capacities, while geographical difficulties prevented them from taking full advantage of the potential of trade as an engine for sustained economic growth. Within the framework of bilateral and regional programmes, the European Union and its member States were determined to accompany landlocked developing countries in overcoming those challenges, he pledged.
IRINA MEDVEDEVA (Russian Federation) welcomed the efforts of the ad hoc working group on smooth transition, and expressed hope that its recommendations would correspond to the principles of the Istanbul Programme, General Assembly resolutions, and the Monterrey and Doha conferences on financing for development. The Russian Federation was ready for constructive cooperation with all partners in order to help meet the special needs of least developed countries, particularly through ODA, which had increased by 9 per cent in 2011. She pointed out that her country had implemented preferential import regimes for those countries, and was working to help them to export national and traditional products.
She said her country had responded to the Conference on Food Security at L’ Aquila, Italy, by providing multi-million dollar funding and was keen to develop innovative technologies to help improve food security. The Russian Federation had invested $15 million on its own initiative in that regard. Stressing the importance of capacity and infrastructure improvement, she called for national measures to support investment. The Russian Federation also attached great importance to the participation of landlocked developing countries in global trade and economic processes, and was committed to the Almaty Programme of Action, she said, expressing her country’s support. It was working on linking Mongolia and the north-eastern provinces of China with the Republic of Korea and Japan as part of the Greater Tumen Initiative.
DEEPAK DHITAL (Nepal), associating himself with the Group of 77 and China, the Group of Least Developed Countries and the Group of Landlocked Developing Countries, said the latter were the most off-track in terms of meeting internationally agreed development targets, including the Millennium Development Goals. The ongoing global crises, compounded by the disproportionate impact of climate change, had significantly eroded the progress made thus far, and the Istanbul Programme of Action provided the basic framework for addressing their development challenges. He called for its full, effective and speedy implementation in all eight priority areas. In addition to the challenges posed by geographical handicaps, development in landlocked developing countries had been hampered by factors such as decreasing ODA, falling FDI, high rates of inflation and unemployment, the prevalence of a few commodities for export, sluggish growth in the service sector, high dependence on energy imports and higher levels of poverty and hunger.
Nepal, a mountainous and landlocked least developed country, also faced numerous problems and challenges relating to trade and transit transport, he said. The transportation of goods and the provision of essential services had become highly expensive and cumbersome. “Our nearest port is positioned far beyond our border, more than 1,000 kilometres away,” he said. The situation called for unfettered access to the sea through improved transit transport, including the development and consolidation of a multi-model transport network. Strengthening bilateral, subregional and regional cooperation in the construction and improvement of transport networks, while putting concrete trade-facilitation measures in place would be the most viable way to address that difficult situation, he said, noting that Nepal was revamping a trade and transport facilitation body with a view to facilitating national transport in the changed modern context.
SHAM BATHIJA (Afghanistan), associating himself with the Group of 77 and China, the Group of Least Developed Countries and the Group of Landlocked Developing Countries, pointed to an 8.9 per cent decline in ODA that had fallen disproportionately on least developed countries. Aid was a “vital boost to development efforts”, especially given the bleak outlook for fulfilment of the Millennium Development Goals by 2015 amid the global financial and economic crisis, he said, calling for urgent implementation of the Istanbul Programme and a rapid and successful resolution of the Doha Round of World Trade Organization negotiations.
He said that, with climate change remaining the greatest threat to least developed countries, especially in terms of eradicating poverty and hunger as well as environmental sustainability, it was to be hoped that developed countries would fulfil their technology transfer and funding pledges to aid adaptation efforts. As a landlocked developing country, Afghanistan was a commodity exporter, but it spent almost twice the average proportion of export income on transit transport and insurance services, he noted. Much work was needed to continue the restoration of road and rail networks, and increased technical assistance was needed to help fulfil that goal. Afghanistan was also a post-conflict State with an economy threatened by terrorism, extremism and organized crime, he said, pointing out that security and development went hand-in-hand in post-conflict countries more than any others.
TULGA NARKHUU (Mongolia), associating himself with the Group of Landlocked Developing Countries, noted the progress made in the priority areas of the Almaty Programme, in collaboration with transit neighbours and with support from development partners. Landlocked developing countries had strengthened their policy-reform efforts, including the liberalization of transit and transport services, and the harmonization of common rules and standards. Furthermore, there had been certain improvements in national transport infrastructure and in the communications sector. But despite that progress, landlocked developing countries continued to face considerable challenges inherently linked to their geographical handicaps and remoteness from international markets, he said. Among the hardest hit by multiple crises, they remained highly dependent on a few sectors such as agriculture and mining, he said, which left them vulnerable to commodity price volatility, climate change and other external shocks.
He said such challenges not only affected economic growth, they also had major implications for the social and environmental aspects of development, which in turn affected implementation of both the Almaty Programme and the relevant Millennium Development Goals. In that regard, he drew attention to a 2011 General Assembly resolution that encouraged the international community and research institutions to develop a set of vulnerability indicators that could be used for early-warning purposes and for building resilience. Because high transaction costs represented the main cause for the marginalization of landlocked developing countries, the international trading system should pay particular attention to the current negotiations on their goods and products, he said. Mongolia had established a committee on trade and transport facilitation, and was implementing the comprehensive sector-development programme “Transit Mongolia”, incorporating the Almaty Programme’s priorities.
MUSTAFIZUR RAHMAN (Bangladesh), associating himself with the Group of 77 and China and the Group of Least Developed Countries, said the development gains of many least developed countries had been slowed, halted or reversed, making them unlikely to achieve graduation. He called for changes that would facilitate graduation and ensure that ambition became reality. While the Istanbul Programme was focused on overcoming structural constraints, least developed countries were lagging far behind in terms of meeting the Millennium Development Goals, and resource constraints were the major problem, he said, noting that declining ODA was among the key factors preventing the closing of resource gaps.
Climate change was also a very important challenge that undermined the development efforts of least developed countries, he said. It was high time for an ambitious agreement on climate change, he stressed, adding that if none was forthcoming, developed countries should make unilateral commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and fund efforts by least developed countries to adapt. Describing the stalled Doha Development Round a “major setback”, he said it must be restarted as soon as possible, with developed countries providing duty- and quota-free access for goods from least developed countries under World Trade Organization “early harvest” measures. Least developed countries were also marginalized in some areas of South-South cooperation, he added.
LEONARDO DE ALMEIDA CARNEIRO ENGE (Brazil), associating himself with the Group of 77 Developing Countries and China, said he was deeply concerned about the uneven and insufficient progress in implementing the Istanbul Programme, especially with respect to alleviating poverty, combating hunger, achieving gender equality and reducing maternal mortality. The effects of the global financial and economic crisis had greatly affected least developed countries, not only through reduced demand and growth in developed countries, but also through declining ODA. Agriculture remained the backbone of the least developed economies, rendering them highly susceptible to land degradation, drought, desertification, deforestation, water, air pollution and climate change.
Looking to address such issues, Brazil had developed many cooperation projects on technology and expertise, he said, citing a programme whereby Brazilian professionals would develop, with representatives of agricultural schools in Timor-Leste, new curricula for their institutions. It was also a matter of concern that least developed countries still endured the world’s highest HIV/AIDS infection rates. As a pioneer in the treatment of HIV/AIDS, Brazil had enjoyed many successes in that regard, having cooperated in the establishment of an antiretroviral medicine factory in Mozambique. It also believed in South-South cooperation programmes that could can and should take the multilateral agenda into account. In addition, Brazil had been an active participant in the efforts of the ad hoc working group on smooth transitions, and reaffirmed the need for a more institutionalized package of support measures for graduating countries.
HUSSEIN HANIFF (Malaysia) said that, given the potential impacts of natural hazards and the effects of global climate change on least developed countries, the international community must diligently implement the Istanbul Programme of Action. Partnerships with developed countries, and the ownership and leadership of least developed countries, in formulating policies based on the national context of each were crucial to the Programme’s implementation. Reiterating his country’s commitment to uplifting the socioeconomic development of least developed countries, he said the Malaysian Technical Cooperation Programme had benefited more than 25,000 participants from 140 countries since its inception in 1980. In that context, Malaysia welcomed an increased focus on triangular cooperation involving both developed partners and recipient countries.
TEKEDA ALEMU (Ethiopia), associating himself with the Group of 77, the Group of Least Developed Countries and the Group of Landlocked Developing Countries, said FDI was vital to building and strengthening productive capacity and creating jobs, he stressed, urging development partners to promote investment in least developed countries in a concrete manner. Noting that his country had mainstreamed the Istanbul Programme into its national five-year development plan, which aimed to expedite economic transformation and enable Ethiopia to become a middle-income country by 2020, he said the necessary reporting, monitoring, reviewing and evaluation mechanisms for tracking implementation had been installed.
He went on to note that his country’s gross domestic product (GDP) had grown by an average of 11.4 per cent annually from 2004 to 2011. Thanks to economic diversification efforts, agriculture’s share of GDP had fallen from 40.6 per cent in 2010 to 39.7 per cent in 2011, and industry’s share had expanded from 15 per cent to 17.9 per cent over the same period. Productive capacity had also expanded in the road, railway, energy and telecommunications sectors, and a green energy strategy to reduce the adverse impact of greenhouse gas emissions and unsustainable energy use was under way. Least developed countries must invest massively in infrastructure and human development, he emphasized, calling upon development partners to fulfil their ODA commitments.
JENNIFER MCGOWAN (United States) said economic growth in least developed countries had been driven substantially by natural resources and commodities, with only a limited number of them having successfully diversified. ODA could not be the only source of finance to address that and other challenges, she emphasized, calling on least developed countries to mobilize domestic financial resources and work to attract FDI. Transparency and democratic accountability were important in promoting investment and helping to unlock domestic financing, she said, calling for the economic inclusion of women, youth and disadvantaged groups in order to produce broader and more sustainable economic prosperity.
Emphasizing the need for a smooth transition from least-developed status, she said her country had provided $10 billion in assistance in 2011 to help both graduation and smooth transition. Referring specifically to landlocked developing countries, she stressed their reliance on infrastructure to realize the positive benefits of trade, underlining nonetheless that investments in infrastructure would only be “as viable as the legal and regulatory systems that underpin them”. The United States had allocated $4.8 billion in assistance to landlocked developing countries, she said, commending efforts by the World Bank, regional banks and institutions, the private sectors and other partners, while stressing that the most important partners for landlocked developing countries were their transit developing country neighbours.
ANANTH KUMAR (India), associating himself with the Group of 77 and China, said most of the people in least developed countries suffered extreme poverty, hunger and disease, but no credible action to remove the blight of poverty would be complete without addressing systemic vulnerabilities. Poverty eradication, the overriding priority of those countries, must be given primacy in the proposed Sustainable Development Goals and the post-2015 development agenda. Calling upon donor countries urgently to fulfil their long-standing ODA commitment to allocate between 0.15 per cent and 0.20 per cent of gross national income to least developed countries, he said the transfer of technology, capacity-building and enhanced economic support measures were equally crucial to strengthening their resource bases.
He said that, as part of his country’s South-South cooperation efforts, the partnership between India and least developed countries had gone beyond technical assistance to include trade, investment and humanitarian assistance. As for landlocked developing countries, any effective solution must address the constraints and challenges faced by neighbouring transit developing countries, he stressed. As the international community prepared for the 10-year review of the Almaty Programme in 2014, he said, India called for a focus on addressing the structural weaknesses of the economies of landlocked developing through export diversification and the development of transport infrastructure and connectivity.
PETER LLOYD VERSEGI (Australia) emphasized the centrality of poverty reduction in pursuing sustainable development, saying least developed countries must be prioritized over the next three years and going forward into the post-2015 development agenda. The Istanbul Programme of Action was a solid basis for action and Australia was solidly committed to it, he said, citing his country’s commitment of $10 billion in ODA and the inclusion of duty- and quota-free access for all least developed countries in its trade policies. Australia looked forward to strengthening the smooth transition process for graduating least developed countries, and welcomed suggestions by the ad hoc working group on that matter, he said, adding that his country was working with graduating countries and wished to ensure that aid did not fall away once they had met the graduation criteria. Samoa’s impending graduation marked an important milestone on that journey, he added.
SACHA SERGIO LLORENTTYSOLÍZ(Bolivia), associating himself with the Group of 77 and China, called for the unrestricted and unconditional right of transit to be recognized in international law in order to ensure trade justice and equity for landlocked developing countries. He reiterated his country’s position on the Convention on Transit Trade of Land-Locked States and the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, which stated that Bolivia was not a landlocked State, but had been temporarily deprived of access to the sea and its own coastline. Chile had appropriated Bolivia’s natural resources, he said, adding that its invasion of his country had generated unfair treatment, denying Bolivia the ability to exercise many of its rights and leaving an “open wound” in the heart of South America. Chile had not met its obligations to Bolivia, he said, reaffirming his country’s right of access to the Pacific Ocean. Bolivia would remain steadfast on that matter, which was inherent to its national sovereignty.
Mr. AL MUBARAK (Saudi Arabia), associating himself with the Group of 77 and China, said many conferences had pushed least developed countries to the fore but despite commendable international efforts, the results were poor and the number of least developed countries had doubled since the 1970s. Only four had graduated in that time, he noted. The international community was duty-bound to offer assistance to least developed countries through aid and debt reconfiguration, and by allaying their fears concerning justice in international trade. Fair rules and measures would ensure that markets were open to exports from those countries, he said, adding that least developed countries needed to build regulatory frameworks in order to create the most conducive environment for international trade and growth.
He said his country had contributed $100 billion in the last three years to 95 countries around the world, covering a range of areas. On education, it had worked on projects to benefit member States of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation and least developed countries. Saudi Arabia had provided loans amounting to $500 million to help the efforts of the World Food Programme (WFP), and had devoted a similar figure to improving energy access in developing countries, he said, adding that besides having cancelled significant amounts of international debt, his country was a full participant in the Debt Mitigation Fund of the International Monetary Fund (IMF). In addition, Saudi Arabia had always refused to adopt protectionist or restrictive trade policies, he said.
WANG HONGBO (China), associating herself with the Group of 77, noted that, given the lingering uncertainty over the world economic recovery, least developed and landlocked developing countries, being the most vulnerable, faced mounting challenges. She called on the international community to move forward with the implementation of various commitments and turn its pledges into action. Furthermore, ODA represented the most direct and effective assistance to landlocked developing and least developed countries, and major donors must fulfil their commitments to provide ODA resources. The international community should strengthen support to least developed countries, including in terms of productive capacity, trade, infrastructure and trade, she said, adding that such support should be targeted. The United Nations system should place support to those countries at the top of the agenda, she said, adding that her country had always been a staunch supporter and energetic provider, having provided assistance through various channels including South-South cooperation. China continued to pledge its assistance to least developed and landlocked developing countries, she added.
TONG-Q LEE (Republic of Korea) said it was imperative to maintain focus on least developed and landlocked developing countries as well as small island developing States in efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goals, implement the Rio+20 outcome and promote discussions on the post-2015 development agenda. It was also necessary to pay extra attention to the development priorities of those groups of countries, including their productive capacity and trade facilitation efforts. Concerning least developing countries, he said that in order to achieve the ambitious goal of graduating half the least developed countries, it was necessary to improve the graduation process and to strengthen related incentives. It was also important to make concerted efforts to take into account the particular vulnerabilities and difficulties of small island least developed countries. Regarding landlocked developing countries, he said that improving their trade-related capacity and promoting investment in them were two of the most important areas for cooperation. The Republic of Korea fully recognized the importance of sustainable ocean management and use, as agreed at the Rio+20 Conference. In addition, he welcomed the decision to convene the third International Conference on the Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States, to be held in Samoa in 2014, saying it was a timely opportunity to address their economic and environmental vulnerability.
FAHAD ABBAS SULTAN ALMEZAAL (Kuwait), associating himself with the Group of 77 and China, noted that least developed countries had formulated national development plans in accordance with the Istanbul Programme of Action, with the result that their GDP had increased at an annual rate of 6.6 per cent for the period of 2001-2010. However, that figure fell below the 7 per cent increase stipulated in the Brussels Programme of Action, demonstrating, while least developed countries must lead their own development, an improved global partnership was required. Development partners must fulfil their development assistance commitments in the interest of sustainable peace, prosperity and development for all, he emphasized.
The Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development provided more than 100 countries around the world with soft loans amounting to $15 billion, he said. In addition, Kuwait provided development assistance exceeding 1.3 per cent of its GDP, surpassing the internationally agreed percentage. The State of Kuwait had also allotted 10 per cent of its voluntary contributions to support the work of United Nations programmes and funds. Emphasizing the importance of sustainable development, he nevertheless noted that his country’s development depended on the production and exportation of oil, referring also to the importance of respecting each country’s right to develop its own resources and economy in pursuit of the three pillars of sustainable development.
ALTAY ALTINORS (Turkey) said the Fourth United Nations Conference on the Least Developed Countries, held in Istanbul in 2011, had adopted a comprehensive Programme of Action representing a shared vision on commitments and partnerships. However, growth in development cooperation was slowing down, and gaps in the delivery of ODA commitments remained high. While trade and investments had been adversely affected by the global economic and financial situation, development partners should be held accountable for their commitments, and should make their best efforts to increase their assistance to least developed countries. A meaningful synthesis of the Istanbul Programme and the Rio+20 outcomes was of crucial importance for effective implementation, he said. Regarding the post-2015 development agenda, he said it must be comprehensive and human-centred, calling for progress on poverty eradication, food security, education and health. Moreover, areas such as social inclusion, youth employment, women’s empowerment, access to energy, water and sanitation should also be addressed in an appropriate and timely manner.
FAIÇAL SOUISSI(Morocco), associating himself with the Group of 77 and China, said the adoption of the Rio+20 outcome was vital in conceptualizing the Sustainable Development Goals for the post-2015 era. Least developed and least landlocked developing countries were in no way excluded as half of them could graduate from the category by 2020. Despite the depressing economic environment and the world food-price crisis, Istanbul had provided a comprehensive plan for promoting investment in agriculture, he said. While it was vital to recognize that ODA to least developed countries had grown significantly in the last 10 years, FDI continued to fall, he noted. As for international trade, some preferential treatment remained although access to developed markets had improved.
Economic growth in landlocked developing countries had dropped while the number of people living in them had grown, he said. The transfer of goods to those countries was hugely important due to their geographical remoteness, but their share of merchandise was still less than 1 per cent while their exports had dropped, he said. Their lack of access to the sea, inadequate transport facilities and high transport costs continued to compromise their growth, he said. The 10-year review of the Almaty Programme would be a good opportunity to craft a new strategy crucial to the needs of landlocked developing countries. The establishment of a follow-up mechanism at the national, regional and international levels remained the key to its effective implementation and to ensuring and maintaining its success, he said, adding that enhancing and expanding partnerships was just as crucial.
MARLAR THAN HTAIK (Myanmar), associating himself with the Group of 77, ASEAN and the Group of Least Developed Countries, said that, like other least developed countries, his country had adopted both long- and short-term development plans for sustainable development in the belief that it could only enjoy quality growth if the gap between the poor and the rich was narrowed and everyone had access to the “fruits of development”. Noting that enhancing productive capacity was a priority outlined in the Istanbul Programme of Action, he said 70 per cent of Myanmar’s people made their livelihoods in agriculture. While paying attention to raising agricultural productivity, the Government was making concerted efforts to develop other sectors as well, including industry and electricity.
He said although his country was in the process of undertaking a series of reforms, the Government emphasized cooperation and coordination with regional and international organizations. He commended South-South cooperation, including subregional and regional cooperation, saying they played an important role in the implementation of the Istanbul Programme of Action. While understanding fully that it was political will that determined development, he emphasized that it had not been easy for Myanmar, which had been deprived of any substantial development assistance for more than two decades. It was therefore high time Myanmar received a substantial increase in development assistance from both bilateral donors and the United Nations system, he said.
MOHAMED CHERIF DIALLO (Guinea), associating himself with the Group of 77 and the Group of Least Developed Countries, said that evaluating implementation of the Istanbul Programme painted a disappointing picture, given the wide variations between countries and sectors. There was some encouraging news on economic growth, democratic governance, education and female empowerment, as well as some changes on conflict resolution. However, those good results would prove illusory unless the primary goal of eliminating poverty and its principle manifestation, hunger, was fulfilled. Achievement of that goal was broadly falling short of expectations, as “the scourge of poverty” persisted in most of the least developed countries. Their greatest concern was the need to redouble efforts to safeguard the gains made so far, and to take bold measures to extricate themselves from their current state of underdevelopment.
Welcoming the opportunity to “cast a sober eye” over implementation of the Istanbul Programme in Guinea, he said that despite efforts by successive Governments, overall conditions continued to worsen due to the economic crisis, poor administration and endemic corruption in various spheres of national governance. Poverty indicators had risen, as had maternal mortality, and insufficient economic growth had led to greater poverty, while inflation remained high, eroding buying power, as debt, reduced ODA and falling imports eroded public resources. With the new democratic era launched in 2011, the Government had launched a vast economic reform programme entailing implementation of the Istanbul Programme, he said. Having realized the completion point of the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) debt initiative, Guinea looked forward to some relief that would allow it to devote resources to essential areas like social funds.
ASKAR TAZHIYEV (Kazakhstan) said his country intended to accede to the Intergovernmental Agreement on Dry Ports and was moving towards accession to the Multilateral Agreement on Establishing an International Think Tank for Landlocked Developing Countries as part of its emphasis on expanding transport-transit capacity. In dealing with new and emerging energy, water and food-security challenges, there were benefits to be gained from South-South cooperation, he emphasized, noting that 80 per cent of the 1.5 billion people living in landlocked developing and least developed countries were without electricity. That had prompted policies focused on developing energy systems, energy efficiency and renewable energy sources, he said. As part of Kazakhstan’s transition towards a “green economy” – for which a national strategy would be put in place in 2013 – the Government was examining the possibility of establishing a fund to co-finance renewable energy projects in countries in special situations, he said, expressing hope that Kazakhstan would be granted the right to host the International Exhibition EXPO in 2017, under the theme “Future Energy”.
Mr. GASPARD (Haiti), speaking in his national capacity, associated himself with the Group of 77 and China, CARICOM and the Group of Least Developed Countries, saying his country’s economy had shown signs of recovery as well as improvements in social development. Following the 2010 earthquake, a universal school enrolment programme had led to one million new students. A microcredit project had been established to benefit poor women, and a plan to introduce universal health care had been implemented, as had a plan to eradicate hunger and malnutrition by 2015. The infant mortality rate was falling and Haiti looked forward to implementing a United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) programme to help further.
Welcoming the road map of the Office of the High Representative and other United Nations entities for the application of the Istanbul Programme of Action, he emphasized the unprecedented role of South-South cooperation in his country’s recovery, especially in the fields of health, agriculture, energy and housing. It had been implemented in record time, he said. However, Haiti’s vulnerability to natural hazards was among the highest in the world, he said, noting that disasters destroyed infrastructure and weakened governance when they occurred. Haiti supported the recommendation to make the Copenhagen Climate Fund available as soon as possible in order to mobilize resources for adaptation to climate change, he said.
AHMED SAREER (Maldives) said that, as the most recently-graduated country, the Maldives was in the second year of a three-year smooth-transition process. Unfortunately, due to the daunting challenges arising from the country’s inherent vulnerabilities, the infancy of the programme and the lack of a coordinated commitment from bilateral partners, the process had up to now been “far from smooth”, he said. In addition, the national transition strategy put in place to carry the Maldives through its graduation had proved hugely deficient, requiring unexpected and uncalculated drastic changes to the national development policy and the economic framework, thereby negatively affecting every sector of society. As the Government had argued before graduation, and as had become abundantly clear from the experience, graduation policy must be revamped, he said, emphasizing the need top create a greater role for the United Nations in monitoring donors.
The smooth-transition strategy developed for the Maldives focused primarily on trade development, with a secondary objective of maintaining development financing, he continued. The Maldives had engaged extensively with the World Trade Organization, paving the way for measures that provided preferential treatment to graduating least developed countries. When the Maldives had first started contemplating graduation, its primary export item, tuna, had contributed more than 15 per cent of GDP. Today, due to the industry’s decline, due in large part to the depletion of tuna stocks in Maldivian waters, it contributed an estimated 1.5 per cent of GDP. The withdrawal of ODA by some major traditional donors, a lack of access to concessionary financing and the inability to reassess the country’s situation had led to massive shortfalls and the formation of risky economic policies, some of which had proven harmful to national economic stability, he said.
PAUL LOSOKO EFAMBE EMPOLE (Democratic Republic of the Congo), associating himself with the Group of 77 and China and the Group of Least Developed Countries, said the adoption of the Istanbul Programme of Action had started a “new chapter” intended to culminate in the graduation of half of the least developed countries by 2020. However, there were obstacles, including the economic and financial crisis and insecure food markets. “We must bear in mind that there are key sectors requiring urgent action,” he stressed. “We should improve electric energy supply as well as enhance the energy sector.” Everyone needed access to energy, and improving the agriculture sector required a look at climate change, land degradation and desertification, he said.
Emphasizing that least developed countries were responsible for their own development, he suggested, however, that the volume of ODA to least developed countries should take into account the volume of need in particular countries. The private sector should receive support and encourage entrepreneurs to invest in least developed countries, including in the technology sector. The Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo was stepping up efforts to improve oversight of the public administration in order better to manage its personnel. Furthermore, assistance must be varied and not limited, as had been the case in the last decade, when aid had been was limited to emergency relief.
Ms. AL MADADI (Qatar), associating herself with Group of 77 and China, said today’s discussion was very important, occurring in light of the international financial crisis that had slowed exports from least developed countries. Challenges must be understood in their long-term social and economic effects, she said. With the goal of mobilizing international local resources for development, it was important to address the infrastructure needs of least developed countries, she said, noting that developing countries in general faced marginalization in the international community. She condemned the suspension of the Doha Round of negotiations and expressed concern about their possible conclusion. Implementation of the Istanbul Programme’s goals required mobilization of development partners, she said, while emphasizing that least developed countries bore primary responsibility for their development plans as well as follow-up processes. In light of the multiple global crises, including climate change, least developed countries needed technological assistance, she said, noting that Qatar devoted 0.7 per cent of gross national income to ODA, in addition to bilateral aid and other forms of assistance given as part of emergency efforts.
PHOLOGO GAUMAKWE (Botswana) said his country had not yet recovered fully from the staggering revenue losses resulting from the global financial and economic crisis. In that regard, Botswana supported the establishment of vulnerability indicators specifically tailored to serve as early-warning mechanisms for landlocked developing countries and help to minimize potential negative effects. It would also be timely to establish a special financing mechanism as a response to the unique situation of those countries. Noting that landlocked countries must contend with permanent isolation, he said that, due to geography alone, the cost of setting up businesses in such countries denied them critical investments, contributing to the further emaciation of their already narrow economic bases.
Botswana therefore called upon the international community to increase development support to help such countries develop their infrastructure for improved movement of goods and services, he said. Increased assistance to develop road, rail and telecommunications networks, as well as water pipelines and energy infrastructure, would go a long way towards mitigating the transaction costs associated with imports and exports. As both a landlocked developing and transit country, Botswana was saddled with a huge burden in terms of the development and maintenance of infrastructure, he said. To facilitate the movement of goods and services across its borders, the Government had entered into several cooperation agreements with its neighbours in the subregion, through which, it had secured a dry port facility in Namibia, for example. He also mentioned the implementation of two major railway projects that would require assistance from the international community.
SULAY KPUKUMU (Sierra Leone), associating himself with the Group of 77 and China and the Group of Least Developed Countries, said the intent and timing of the Istanbul Programme of Action was in line with his country’s goal of becoming a middle-income country. The Istanbul Programme represented cooperation and coordination among and between least developed and developed countries, and there was a strong need to encourage synergies between the two groups. Without international support, least developed countries would not stand a chance of attaining the Millennium Development Goals or the Sustainable Development Goals, he said. As Sierra Leone prepared to hold its third election since the end of the civil war, the country had made significant strides towards democracy, he added.
The economy had recorded between 5.0 per cent and 5.3 per cent growth from 2010 to 2011, he continued. That had been achieved through measures to promote the private sector, a substantial transformation of the agriculture sector, and the building of infrastructure, he said, adding that agriculture continued to attract significant investments. In addition, concrete and targeted actions had been undertaken in various areas of the health sector, including maternal health. There had been a significant decline in HIV/AIDS cases. He said there had also been an increase of investment in the education sector, and the Government had intervened to pay the tuition of women studying science. The public service had also been revamped so the public sector could serve the people’s needs. Still, many challenges persisted, he said, citing high unemployment, among others.
THEMBELA NGCULU (South Africa) said his Government fully supported efforts to implement the Istanbul Programme of Action, which aimed to overcome the structural challenges faced by least developed countries. Noting that 33 of the 48 Member States classified as least developed countries were in Africa, he reiterated the need to liberate millions from the bondage of poverty, pledging that his country would continue to advocate for countries of the global North to be more responsive to the developmental needs of developing countries. With its limited resources, South Africa had managed to increase funding to support post-conflict reconstruction and development efforts, he added, noting that the African Union, the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) and the African Development Bank had been critical participants in rejuvenating infrastructure in least developed countries.
JOHN LEONARD MUGERWA (Uganda), associating himself with the Group of 77 and China, the Group of Landlocked Developing Countries and the Group of Least Developed Countries, reaffirmed his country’s commitment to full implementation of the Istanbul Programme of Action. Calling upon the international community and development partners to support least developed countries by honouring their commitments to mobilize the resources needed for its timely implementation, he said it was especially important to address the challenges of inadequate infrastructure and policy harmonization, both of which were prerequisites for establishing efficient transit transport systems in both landlocked and transit developing countries. Calling on development partners to increase aid-for-trade disbursements so as to improve the production capacities of landlocked developing countries, he said the Government of Uganda had allocated significant resources out of its national budget to develop infrastructure, especially energy and roads. Furthermore, given the importance of railways in transit corridors linking ocean ports with landlocked developing countries, East African Community partner States were mobilizing the resources needed for the East African Railway Master Plan, which envisaged the construction of new railway connections and the upgrading of existing ones.
CLIFFORD K. TANDARI (United Republic of Tanzania), associating himself with the Group of 77 and China, the Group of Least Developed Countries and the African Group, expressed full support for the implementation of the Istanbul Programme of Action. “Putting people first” was critical for the country as far as the post-2015 development agenda was concerned. The United Republic of Tanzania was currently implementing the Istanbul Programme in agricultural, health, water and sanitation, road construction and energy, among other sectors, and trade had also been mainstreamed into the national plan. Emphasizing the important role of developed countries in implementing the Programme of Action, he said his country had a vision of being free of poverty and becoming a middle-income country by 2025. That would only be possible if ODA flows were at the level of 0.2 per cent, he said. While the United Republic of Tanzania had increased the mobilization of domestic resources and direct investment in various sectors, more must be done with the continued assistance of the international community.
Right of Reply
The representative of Chile, speaking in exercise of the right of reply, expressed regret that his counterpart from Bolivia had brought to the Committee items outside its competence, thus diverting it from its purpose. A friendship treaty signed in 1904 guaranteeing Bolivia free transit had been fully implemented and updated to account for modernization, in accordance with United Nations rules on landlocked and transit countries. Chile had granted Bolivia duty-free access to the port of Iquique, and would always be available to discuss the matter bilaterally, in accordance with the principles of the treaty of 1904, he said.
The representative of Bolivia, also speaking in exercise of the right of reply, said the statement by his counterpart from Chile was “far from the truth”, adding that the treaty, imposed through violence, was unfair and remained unfulfilled. Regarding transit and railways, he said obligations remained unfulfilled and the situation in the port of Arica was neither in line with Chile’s statement nor United Nations treaties. Bolivia would use all means available under international law to recover its independent and sovereign access to the Pacific Ocean, he said.
The representative of Chile responded by stating that there were no pending or outstanding territorial matters. The treaty had been signed 20 years after the conflict between the two countries and ratified by consensus between both their parliaments. Bolivia had acted freely in that respect and history would not be revised, she said. Chile’s obligations had been fulfilled through its granting of free transit for Bolivians through a high-quality path, fully granted and implemented in line with international agreements, and going way beyond the United Nations conventions on landlocked countries. Total trade passing through Chilean ports to Bolivia amounted to 70 per cent, he said. Chile had invested millions in reforming its railways and was always available to discuss the matter, he said, adding that the issue was strictly bilateral.
The representative of Bolivia categorically rejected Chile’s statement about the circumstances under which the 1904 treaty had been negotiated, saying it had been enforced after 20 years of occupation and included a threat of reversion to a state of war. It limited free transit and the matter was not strictly bilateral, he stressed, adding that 11 Organization of American States resolutions were in force, including resolution 426 of 1979, which called for an equitable solution to ensure Bolivia’s sovereign and open access to the Pacific.
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