Deputy Secretary-General: Statements
New York, 8 October 2007 - Deputy Secretary-Geenral's statement to the Second CommitteeMme. Chairperson,
Nobel Laureate Professor Phelps,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am pleased to be with you here today at the opening Session of the Second Committee of the 62nd Session of the General Assembly.
At the outset, Mme. Chairperson, I wish to warmly congratulate you on your election as Chair of this important Committee. I have no doubt the Committee will benefit from your leadership and diplomatic skills to successfully address the tasks before it. I also extend my congratulations to the other members of the Bureau whose outstanding expertise will be an asset in dealing with the Committee's work.
Mme. Chairperson, I have come – and Under-Secretary-General Sha will join soon --to lend you the strong and unequivocal support of the Secretary-General; and attest to his firm and abiding commitment to strengthen the role of the United Nations in the promotion of its development agenda. This we can only achieve if we work hand in hand, Member States and the Secretariat along with all other stakeholders. The Secretary-General and I value your work in attaining this objective.
Internally, I have launched an informal consultative process with the heads of departments, funds and programmes dealing with economic, social and development issues. This process will continuously feed into the leadership role of the Secretary-General and provide him with sound policy advice on the development agenda.
Ladies and Gentlemen:
While, despite turbulences in the financial markets, the overall outlook of the world economy shows positive signs, the situation in many developing countries remains highly fragile. Global poverty is one of the most pressing issues of our time. It traps millions of children, women and men, of all races, regions and creed. But nowhere is its grip as tight and structurally rooted as in Africa. Millions of lives quite literally hang in the balance.
Sharp social and economic disparities in the global economy continue to persist. These disparities negatively impact on our fight against extreme poverty, making our collective endeavour to achieve the Millennium Development Goals by 2015 an even harder task.
The Secretary-General and I are deeply committed to further advancing the Organization's leadership in promoting the development agenda, one of the three pillars of the United Nations, along with peace and security, and human rights. We believe that a stronger United Nations needs a stronger development pillar.
There is no better option than a multilateral approach to effectively address the plethora of complex challenges facing our increasingly globalizing world. This Committee is a prime example of multilateral development in action; it has played a central role in advancing the development debate from competing paradigms to collective commitments within a common vision.
The global Summits and Conferences have produced an ambitious development agenda with a set of internationally agreed development goals, including the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), and a shared framework to achieve them. This Committee made defining contributions to these momentous achievements.
Success of your work in the coming weeks is critical. Of particular concern is the risk that the imbalances of global economy pose to the recent economic recovery of a large number of developing countries, including African and least developed countries, as well as to the prospects of countries moving from conflict to reconstruction and development.
More effective and inclusive multilateral policy coordination, accompanied by measures to keep markets open, can be a major contribution not just to development and advancing MDGs, but also to an orderly evolution of the world economy.
Such efforts should provide special focus on protecting countries in special needs such as Africa, least developed, landlocked and small island countries, as well as vulnerable segments of the population everywhere, especially women and children.
As you are aware, many African countries have fallen off track in reaching the MDGs, which is a reflection of the underlying gap between commitments and implementation.
Last month, the Secretary-General convened the MDG Africa Steering Group, which brought together leaders of major multilateral and inter-governmental organizations.
In my capacity as Deputy Secretary-General, I am following up on this important initiative, at the operational level, by chairing the MDG Africa Working Group. Our aim is to accelerate efforts to follow through on existing promises by keeping our focus clearly on implementation. We will work together with other stakeholders towards improving predictability and effectiveness of aid.
We will strengthen our joint actions at the country level by using multilateral development cooperation more efficiently and coherently to help implement commitments in key areas like health, education, agriculture and food security, and infrastructure.
Let me add that the ECOSOC Ministerial review of progress towards development goals in July made important strides in advancing their implementation. The success of our efforts will bear fruit only if all stakeholders keep their promises. In this common endeavor, we must recommit to the guiding principles we all agreed upon in Monterrey.
Against this backdrop, developing countries have the responsibility of continuing to create a favourable environment for long-term and equitable economic growth and take full ownership of their development process.
There has been encouraging progress in this area. ASEAN, for example, has become a dynamic geopolitical entity which drives its member countries' social progress and economic growth. Africa, for its part, has come up with NEPAD, its own development blueprint. Strong international support, in the framework of South-South cooperation and North-South partnerships, is essential to the success of this major initiative.
Donors must do more to keep their promises on increasing development assistance flows and debt relief. Despite the strong commitments made in 2005, there has been a decline in ODA flows in 2006, which might continue into this year as well. This worrisome trend must be reversed.
Equally important are the issues of quality, modality and effectiveness of aid. Further efforts should be made in this regard, building on the Paris Declaration on Aid effectiveness. The potential of the Development Cooperation Forum should be fully seized in addressing some of these important issues.
Foreign aid, important as it is, is clearly not enough. Open, fair, equitable and non-discriminatory trading and financial systems are equally critical to the prospects of developing countries.
The Doha Round must conclude early with a meaningful development package. Aid-for-trade must effectively support countries to create competitive trade capacities and job opportunities. The power of investment and new and innovative technologies must be better channelled to improve human conditions everywhere.
These issues will be central to the UNCTAD-XII Conference and the Financing for Development Review Conference next year which, I believe, will provide major opportunities to further advance our trade, finance and development agenda.
We must not forget regional dimensions of development. The dramatic rise in South-South trade testifies to the growing importance of regional and inter-regional economic linkages. In the UN, we must improve our focus on these issues.
We also need to keenly bear in mind the development dimensions of climate change. We must redouble our efforts to effectively tackle climate change and to keep it from undermining socio-economic progress.
We have a common cause in strengthening the capacity of the UN to better deliver programmes at the country-level. This year, you will deal with this issue under the Triennial Comprehensive Policy Review of Operational Activities.
Your guidance will greatly contribute to improved and more coherent delivery by the UN development system. I trust your deliberations will help inform the consultations on system-wide coherence that the President of the General Assembly intends to pursue in order to strengthen the operational activities of the United Nations.
On a broader level, coherence will demand not only that UN agencies work in greater concert, but also that all stakeholders – Member States, UN system, the civil society and the private sector – work ever more closely together to advance the development agenda that we painstakingly jointly crafted.
Today, more than ever before, we urgently need to summon up the best efforts of humanity. We need a great coalition of conscience, backed by rededicated and resolute action, to achieve all internationally agreed development objectives, with particular emphasis on the MDGs.
I know that these are ambitious goals, but there are no nobler goals than freeing humanity from poverty, hunger, diseases and illiteracy. The good news is that we have all the resources in our command today to achieve this ambition in our own generation. We just cannot afford to fail.
I am confident that your work in the coming weeks will make further contribution to this critical imperative. I wish you all a very successful session.