Mr. Anwarul K. Chowdhury,
Under Secretary-General and High Representative of OHRLLS
message to the NGO Community
Least Developed Countries (LDCs) and
development partners met in Brussels in May 2001 for the Third United
Nations Least Developed Countries Conference (UN LDC-III) and adopted
the Brussels Declaration and the Programme of Action (POA) for the
Least Developed Countries for the Decade 2001-2010. The Brussels
Declaration reaffirms the collective responsibility of the international
community to uphold the principles of human dignity, equality and
equity, and to ensure that globalization becomes a positive force,
as set out in the Millennium Declaration.
When we look back at the First and Second United Nations
Least Developed Countries Conference (1981 and 1991), it is disappointing
that these two conferences produced little impact in the LDCs.
According to UN estimates, the number of people living on less than
US$1 a day in the LDCs will reach at least 420 million by 2015 if
current trends continue. In the second half of the 1990s, almost
nine out of ten people in African LDCs were living on less than
US$2 a day. These countries, with over 600 million people, face
formidable obstacles, which include high population growth, lack
of infrastructure and environmental constraints – including water
shortages – declining terms of trade, barriers to market access
for their products, declining external resource flows, and external
UN LDC-III was considered a turning point in many ways.
The Brussels POA differs from the earlier programmes in terms of
its objectives, orientation, scope and follow-up arrangements.
It provides a framework for a strong global partnership to accelerate
sustained economic growth and sustainable development in these countries,
as well as a framework for putting an end to marginalization. Poverty
eradication, gender equality, employment, governance, capacity building,
and the challenges faced by LDCs affected by conflict, are singled
out in the POA as cross-cutting issues. The ultimate goal of the
POA is to achieve substantial progress towards meeting the Millennium
Declaration goal of reducing extreme poverty by half by 2015, and
promote sustainable development.
The POA is focused on seven specific areas of commitment:
(i) fostering a people-centred policy framework; (ii) good governance
at the national and international levels; (iii) building human and
institutional capacities; (iv) building productive capacities to
make globalization work for the LDCs; (v) enhancing the role of
trade and development; (vi) reducing vulnerability and protecting
the environment; and (vii) mobilizing financial resources.
To undertake the follow-up and coordination of the implementation
of the POA, the Office of the High Representative for the Least
Developed Countries (LDCs), Land-locked Developing Countries (LLDCs)
and Small Island Developing States (SIDS) was established on the
recommendation of UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, pursuant to General
Assembly resolution 56/227 of 24 December 2001. The Office of the
High Representative (OHRLLS), located at UN headquarters in New
York, aims to enhance the mobilization and galvanization of international
support for - and ensuring the effective coordination of – the implementation
of the Brussels POA.
My Office will begin with a three-pronged approached; (i)
placing the issue of LDCs, LLDCs and SIDS high on the intergovernmental
agenda through appropriate legislative mandates, as needed; (ii)
centering its focus on Africa; and (iii) establishing country-level
mechanisms for implementation. It will promote linkages with civil
society including NGOs involved in development efforts of LDCs as
well as the private sector, academia and foundations, in an attempt
to forge closer cooperation to respond more capably to LDC concerns.
With its mandate of coordination and advocacy for the effective
implementation of the Brussels POA, the OHRLLS is eager to promote
dialogue with the NGOs and civil society. NGOs, with their experience
in collaborative and participatory approaches, can help build bridges
and establish channels of communication and cooperation between
people and communities on one side, and governments, development
institutions, and funding agencies on the other. NGOs have the
ability and commitment to work with the poor and other excluded
segments of society, but they also need support to enhance their
capacity and means to fulfil their job.
On many occasions in the past few years, we have seen how
NGOs from the LDCs and developed and developing countries came together
using new technology such as e-mail and the Internet, and have built
coalitions, such as the campaign to ban landmines, and the coalition
for the International Criminal Court (ICC). And, perhaps the most
impressive of all was the Jubilee 2000 debt cancellation campaign.
With such coalitions, NGOs can continue to bring more LDC
concerns to the international development agenda. Much development
work in LDCs is attributable to NGOs-campaigns promoting literacy;
the fight against HIV/AIDS and care of AIDS orphans; environmental
education; as well as debt cancellation.
I would like to call on the NGO communities of the LDCs and
other developed and developing countries to be active contributors
in the LDCs through assisting them in the effective implementation
of the Brussels POA. In the coming months, the OHRLLS will make
every effort to work more closely with the NGOs and civil society.
The combined efforts of all development partners would also contribute
to cover substantial ground towards realizing the Millennium Development
Goal of halving the numbers living in poverty by 2015.
Nations Non-Governmental Liaison Service (NGLS), Go Between
no. 92 (June-July 2002): p. 36.