Samdech HUN SEN
Prime Minister of the Royal Government of Cambodia
Geneva, 26 June 2000
1. I am very pleased to represent and speak on behalf of Cambodia and its people at this very august meeting.
2. We are meeting here on a very appropriate occasion to discuss an over-arching subject of immediate importance to L.11 of us. This is the first major United Nations Assembly at the start of the new millennium, and I am particularly delighted that this meeting devotes its attention entirely to Social Development and poverty alleviation with particular focus on the Least Developed Countries and their needs and handicaps arising from globalization and its impact.
3. Five years have passed since the United Nations World Summit for Social Development in Copenhagen in 1995, which marked the first time in history that Heads of State and Government had gathered to recognized the significance of social development and human well-being for all and to give these goals the highest priority into the twenty first century. The Copenhagen Declaration on Social Development and Program of Action established a new consensus to place people at the center of our concern for sustainable development and pledged to eradicate poverty, promote full and productive employment, and foster social integration to achieve stable, safe and just societies for all. However, it is also clear that the national and international policy responses for this purpose have been uneven. Despite some advances, there has been little progress in some key areas, and regress is evident in others. Globalization and unprecedented rapid technological advances continue to present both opportunities and challenges for social and economic development.
4. Never before in the world history that mankind has built up the potentials and capacities in science and technology to create such enormous wealth and provide the welfare. However, the world has also never seen before such disparity and inequality. Technological and scientific revolutions, which shortened the distance and made this world smaller through the development of the state-of-the-art transportation and telecommunications, co-exist with the increasing gap between wealth and poverty, as well as between development and underdevelopment. Almost 900 million people in Asia are living below the poverty line. Around 30 percent of Asians do not have access to clean water. About 50 percent of Asian adults are illiterate. One can point out to the long list of this kind of statistics, which is called by the mainstream economists the challenges of globalization.
5. In this particular context, we are all standing at an important juncture to invent a new inclusive "developmental paradigm" which will benefit the many and uplift them to acceptable levels of human condition.
6. In developing the new paradigm, we have to pay more and full attention to the importance of building social institutions - families, communities alike -- which play a crucial part in any development process. Age old beliefs, values, traditions and patterns of relationships and behavior to each other so unique to each group of people, and ever adjusting to demands of technology induced modern life, form the sheet anchor for societies and social development. It is very essential that these are preserved, enhanced and not allowed to wither away in spite the onslaughts of influences and life-styles brought to each door by the globalized media. Once there is a breakdown in basic values of each society there is no new and easy way to build what is lost in order to ensure future survival and progress. Social Capital has come to be recognized at last as an important and inevitable ingredient of progress.
6. A starting step for the future should be to reinstate the sense of "sharing" which has governed human existence from the dawn of history but has somehow got diluted in the race for economic growth in the recent few centuries. Sharing is therefore a necessity not a charity. Sharing has to be between neighbors at the individual level, between communities, between nations and regions.
8. By practicing the sharing concept, I believe, we will be able to effectively address the first and foremost concern for all of us at present that is the need to rapidly reduce an increasing poverty and the ever enlarging gaps or the economic-divide in the globalized world. In this regard, sharing means to provide opportunity and create adequate conditions for poor countries to adequately benefit from globalization. This requires a transfer of more financial, technical and technological resources and the opening of opportunities to poor countries to participate fully and on equal footing in free trade by providing favorable access to developed markets without hidden conditionalities and domestic subsidies.
9. Also in this direction, a good step has been taken to write-off the heavy burden of outstanding loans to some of the poor countries. I would like to appeal to further develop this initiative by adding extra funds to help the Highly Indebted Countries and this has to extend to many other countries through a global strategy for external debt, consisting of flexible formula for debt reduction and rescheduling. In addition, more "grant" rather than "loan" funds have to flow to them for development till they reach a minimum threshold. However, as one of the poorest countries in the world, we are very concerned by the overall decreasing trends of Official Development Assistance (ODA) in the world, and fully support the strive to fulfill the yet to be attained internationally agreed target of 0.7% of GNP of developed countries for overall ODA as soon as possible.
10. As shown by our recent experience, the impact of the financial turmoil in the region two years earlier has resulted in large-scaled tragedies that cannot be gauged. The experiences drawn from this crisis show that the poor are the most vulnerable and the most affected by the crisis. Therefore, there is a dire need for the establishment of social safety nets to prevent future crisis and for the enactment of regulations and the adoption of some policy measures to ensure smooth operation of the market mechanism. The world has spent a lot of time to discuss the need to establish social safety nets and a new financial architecture, to control capital flows and speculative operations in the financial markets. However, it is regretful that so far there is no concrete, tangible outcome. It is time to end this rhetoric and grapple with concrete actions to resolve the cross-cutting issues, currently faced by the world economy and financial system in order to maintain decent social safety nets for millions of poor people, who are scattered around and vulnerable to all kinds of crisis. 10. It goes without saying that the developing countries have their part to play as well in the fight to eradicate poverty, promote full and productive employment, foster democracy and social integration, and create enabling environment for social development. For this purpose, they have to adopt and apply policies to preserve peace and security within and among nations; strengthen rule of law; ensure effective state institutions, transparency and accountability in the management of public affairs; encourage the participation of all citizens in the decisions that affect their lives; protect all human rights and fundamental freedoms, including the right to development and gender equality. Further more, developing counties need to implement measures for the sustainable use of natural resources and environmental protection so that they continue to provide sustenance and support to all future generations as well.
11. Last but not least, capacity building is an important means of creating a national political, socio-economic and legal environment conducive to development and social progress. Therefore, priority should be given to the enhancement of the capacities of LDCs such as Cambodia, for them to achieve the ultimate goals of social development, including adopting long-term strategy for sustainable growth and taking actions to implement, monitor and evaluate its policy and strategy.
Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen
12. I have only outlined with the broadest strokes of the brush the global needs to be debated and analyzed so that common consensus could be reached on measures acceptable to and implementable by all. I am convinced that given the vision and commitment for the future of mankind, which we all agreed upon in the Copenhagen Declaration and Program of Action adopted five years ago, these are entirely achievable. We do not need additional volumes of position papers. We need only to trust our collective knowledge and lessons of the past which are immense, and surely put more efforts and energy to honor our own commitment.
I wish you all every success in your deliberations here.
Thank you for your attention.