|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Economic and Social Council
2014 Substantive Session
41st & 42nd Meetings (AM & PM)
Scaling Up Efforts to Address Root Causes of Extreme Poverty, Hunger
Economic and Social Council’s Focus as it Concludes Segment
Council Also Takes Up Secretary-General’s Report
On Implementing Programme of Action for Least Developed Countries
The Economic and Social Council today urged the United Nations development system to address poverty eradication as an overarching priority, as it concluded its operational activities segment.
By the terms of a wide-ranging consensus draft resolution, the Council requested the United Nations funds and programmes to report on scaling up efforts to address the root causes of extreme poverty and hunger, including sharing of good practices and lessons learned.
Further, the Council decided to include an interactive segment on lessons learned on South-South cooperation in its operational activities segment for 2015 and the Secretary-General was requested to present recommendations on enhancing United Nations support to such cooperation.
Reiterating that core resources were the bedrock of the Organization’s development assistance, the Council recognized the need to address the imbalance between core and non-core resources. It noted that the majority of the funding increase between 1997 and 2012 was in the form of non-core resources and that the percentage of core resources in the overall funding for operational activities for development had declined to 28 per cent in 2012.
As for the simplification and harmonization of business practices, the Council requested that funds and programmes present comprehensive joint action plans to their respective executive boards.
The Council also decided to convene a transparent and inclusive dialogue on the longer-term positioning of the United Nations development system that would take into account the post-2015 development agenda and cover such areas as alignment functions, funding practices, governance structures, capacity and impact of the United Nations development system, partnership approaches and organizational arrangements.
In other business, the Council resumed its coordination and management segment, taking up the report of the Secretary-General on the implementation of the Programme of Action for the Least Developed Countries for 2011–2020.
In the ensuing discussion, delegates stressed the importance of integrating least developed countries into global trade, expressed concern about a decline in external development aid and supported the proposed establishment of a technology bank.
Italy’s representative, speaking on behalf of the European Union, said that least developed countries enjoyed trade preferences with the Union, including duty-free, quota-free market access for products except arms and ammunition. European aid focused on broader policies for development that aimed to support graduation of half the least developed countries to middle-income status by 2020.
Benin’s delegate, speaking on behalf of the Group of Least Developed Countries, said that less official development assistance was reaching least developed countries. Given the effects of climate change and other difficulties, there was great concern about prospects for success.
Bangladesh’s counterpart called for the formation of a high-level expert group on the proposed technology bank by the seventieth session of the General Assembly.
Also speaking in the general discussion on the implementation of the Programme of Action were representatives of the Russian Federation, Turkey, Haiti and Mexico.
The Council also adopted the May 2014 report of the Committee on Non-Governmental Organizations.
The Council will meet again at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, 15 July, to continue its coordination and management segment.
The Economic and Social Council met today to resume its coordination and management segment. The body was expected to take action on draft proposals contained in the report of the Secretary-General on “Implementation of and follow-up to major United Nations conferences and summits: Review and coordination of the implementation of the Programme of Action for the Least Developed Countries for the Decade 2011–2020” (document E/2014/81), as well as on recommendations contained in the report of the Committee on Non-Governmental Organizations at its May session (document E/2014/32(Part II)).
The Council was also expected to conclude its operational activities segment by taking action on a draft resolution on Progress in the implementation of General Assembly resolution 67/226 on the quadrennial comprehensive policy review of operational activities for development of the United Nations system (document E/2014/L.19).
Programme of Action for the Least Developed Countries
KHALIL RAHMAN, Principal Officer at the United Nations Office of the High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States, presented the report of the Secretary-General on “Implementation of and follow-up to major United Nations conferences and summits: Review and coordination of the implementation of the Programme of Action for the Least Developed Countries for the Decade 2011–2020” (document E/2014/81).
He said the report comprised four parts: analysis on the recent performance and near-term prospects of the development of least developed countries; assessment of progress on the implementation of key priorities of the Programme of Action; an overview of engagement by Member States and their partners; and a number of policy recommendations to accelerate the implementation.
In the ensuing discussion, the representative of Italy, speaking on behalf of the European Union, said least developed countries enjoyed trade preferences with the Union, and pointed to duty-free, quota-free market access that they enjoyed for all products except arms and ammunition, as well as aid for trade and assistance for structural reform, aid focused on broader policies for development that aimed to support graduation of half the least developed countries to middle-income status by 2020. The Union would continue providing graduating countries with duty-free, quota-free access for a clear and known period of time after their graduation and encouraged others to do likewise.
The representative of the Russian Federation said progress fulfilling the Istanbul Programme of Action was uneven and not always sustainable. She supported the report’s conclusions and recommendations. For countries aiming to graduate to middle-income status, she supported development and implementation of national development strategies, saying trade preferences would remain in place as external support gradually reduced. She supported United Nations agencies’ technical assistance efforts. Continued cooperation with the Economic and Social Council to strengthen work in the financial and trade areas was needed. The Russian Federation would continue to focus on helping least developed countries to build productive capacities, exploit energy reserves, ease external debt and develop trade potential.
The representative of Benin, speaking on behalf of the Group of Least Developed Countries, pointed out the difficulties faced by least developed countries looking to graduate by 2020. Less official development assistance (ODA) was reaching least developed countries, and given the effects of climate change and other difficulties, there was great concern about prospects for success. He looked ahead to the midterm review, which offered an opportunity to evaluate what was achievable and to see if the 2020 goals could be met. He welcomed the improved means and personnel of the United Nations Office of the High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and the Small Island Developing States, given the size of its task.
The representative of Turkey expressed concern over a decline in foreign aid to developing countries. Despite progress in such areas as primary education, access to drinking water, and child mortality, there was still much to do. Turkey had doubled its ODA in 2012. Least developed countries were most vulnerable to global shocks, and thus required financial and technological support. He favoured a proposal to establish a global technology bank dedicated to least developed countries. Given the importance of capacity-building, Turkey had contributed $200,000 to the United Nations Office of the High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States. Turkey was ready to host the midterm review conference on the implementation of the Programme of Action.
The representative of Bangladesh reminded Member States that they had adopted the Programme of Action and thus should not pass their responsibility to someone else. No significant progress had been made in the eight priority areas. A high-level expert group on the proposed technology bank must be established by the seventieth session of the General Assembly. Predictability of ODA was crucial for least developed countries. Aid must be needs-based, and national ownership must be ensured. South-South cooperation was complementary to the traditional North-South cooperation, but should not replace it.
The representative of Haiti said his Government had adopted a development strategy based on the eight principles of the Programme of Action. Its economy had entered a new phase thanks to its macroeconomic policy. There was a priority need to further increase the productivity of the nation’s agricultural industry. The international community must take into account the vulnerability of least developed countries to natural disasters. ODA was indispensable and those countries must be integrated into global trade.
The representative of Mexico pointed to her country’s important assistance efforts, particularly in Haiti. As net recipients of assistance, least developed countries had to work hand in hand with traditional donors and their partners from the South. She underlined the need for mutual accountability to help maximize the results of cooperation activities and described the recent Global Partnership for Effective Assistance meeting. She noted the relevance of middle-income countries’ experiences to least developed countries, particularly those looking to graduate in the near future.
Report of Committee on Non-Governmental Organizations
Acting without a vote, the Council adopted six draft decisions contained in the report of the Committee on Non-Governmental Organizations on its May session (document E/2014/32(Part II)). Those decisions related to consultative status of those entities.
The representative of Chile stressed the importance of respecting diversity and plurality of non-governmental organizations, cautioning once again the Committee’s tendency in recent years to restrict certain entities. Given the non-discriminatory nature of the Committee’s work, he welcomed the granting of consultative status to new organizations that promoted lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights. It must also ensure participation of civil society organizations from all regions. The Committee’s reporting obligation was often excessive for organizations from developing countries, such as those defending human rights.
Operational Activities for Development
As the Economic and Social Council took up Operational Activities for development, it had before it draft resolution E/2014/L.19.
The Council Secretary noted additional resource requirements from the Secretariat of $13 million for the biennium 2016-2017 and no financial implications for the 2014-2015 programme budget.
The Council then adopted the resolution without a vote.
Following adoption, Vice-Chair Maria Emma Mejía Vélez ( Colombia) said the resolution provided further guidance to bolster follow-up to the Quadrennial Comprehensive Policy Review. She highlighted some of the key requests it made of the United Nations system and noted that it required additional financial, as well as human resources. The Council was urged to support the Secretariat in delivering its mandate effectively by contributing extra-budgetary resources.
The Council then took note of several documents: “Report of the High-level Committee on South-South Cooperation on its eighteenth session” (A/69/39); “Annual report of the World Food Programme (WFP)for 2013” (E/2014/14); ”Reports of the Executive Board of the United Nations Children’s Fund on its first and second regular sessions and annual session of 2013” (E/2013/34/Rev.1); “Report of the Executive Board of the World Food Programme (WFP) on its 2013 sessions” (E/2014/36); “Note by the Secretary-General transmitting the reports of the Executive Board of UN-Women on its first regular session of 2013, its annual session of 2013 and its second regular session of 2013” (E/2014/49); and “Note by the Secretary-General transmitting the reports of the Executive Board of UNDP/UNFPA/UNOPS on its first regular session of 2013, its annual session of 2013 and its second regular session of 2013” (E/2014/51).
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