Volume 16, No.10 - October 2012

Trends and analysis

With a focus on trade statistics

A Regional Workshop on International Trade Statistics: Implementation of IMTS 2010 and a new vision for trade statistics will be held on 1-5 October in San Jose, Costa Rica

This workshop is organized by DESA’s Statistics Division in cooperation with the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) and the Instituto Nacional de Estadísticas y Censos (INEC) of Costa Rica which is hosting this event.

The focus of the workshop will be on the updated and new recommendations for International Merchandise Trade Statistics (IMTS) as contained in International Merchandise Trade Statistics: Concepts and Definitions 2010 (IMTS 2010) and their implementation within the countries of Latin America. Particular attention will be given to the elements of the recommendations that provide additional information and that aim at the further development of the merchandise trade statistics in countries (or areas).

For more information:
Calendar of Events of DESA’s Statistics Division

Cooperation on international tax matters

Eighth Session of the Committee of Experts on International Cooperation in Tax Matters will be held on 15-19 October at the Palais des Nations in Geneva

The main focus of the session will be the Practical Manual on Transfer Pricing for Developing Countries, which will be presented for adoption by the Committee. The session will also address other important areas, such as tax treatment of services, revision of the Manual for the Negotiation of Bilateral Tax Treaties between Developed and Developing Countries and capacity building in national tax systems.

For more information:
Eighth Session of the Committee of Experts on International Cooperation in Tax Matters

Supporting statistics for improved policy-making

Seminar on developing a programme for the implementation of the 2008 System of National Accounts (SNA) and supporting statistics in Southern Africa will take place in Pretoria, South Africa on 17-19 October

DESA’s Statistics Division in collaboration with the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UN-ECA) and the Southern African Development Community (SADC), is organizing a seminar on “Developing a programme for the implementation of the 2008 SNA and supporting statistics in Southern Africa”.

The objective of the seminar is to assist Southern African countries with initiating the formulation of a national strategy and implementation programme for the 2008 SNA and supporting system-wide socio-economic statistics with the objective of strengthening the national statistical system in support of improved policy-making. It is expected that this initiative would lead to a multi-year statistical programme to move the countries over to the 2008 SNA and to establish a minimum common data set of annual and high frequency statistics.

For more information: Calendar of Events of DESA’s Statistics Division

Global monitoring of Millennium Development Goals

The 22nd Inter-agency and Expert Group Meeting on MDG Indicators will be held in Geneva, Switzerland, on 31 October

The meeting is part of the yearly consultation with national experts and international agencies to review and discuss issues related to the global MDG monitoring. This IAEG meeting will focus on: lessons learned from MDG monitoring in the last decade, options to exchange data/metadata to update the MDG global database, and MDG-related statistical capacity needs at the country level.

For more information: Events Calendar of DESA’s Statistics Division

World e-Parliament Conference 2012

The World e-Parliament Conference 2012, co-organized by the United Nations and the Inter-Parliamentary Union through the Global Centre for ICT in Parliament, took place in Rome at the Chamber of Deputies of Italy in Rome on 13 – 15 September

The meeting was the fifth of a series of conferences that were previously held in Geneva (2007), Brussels (2008), Washington D.C. (2009) and Johannesburg (2010).  More than 110 parliamentary delegations from 90 countries attended the event where good practices were analysed and latest trends and institutional developments discussed by Speakers, members of parliament, parliamentary staff and experts.

During the Conference the high-level Board of the Global Centre for ICT in Parliament convened its sixth meeting. The Board acknowledged the significant role that the Global Centre for ICT in Parliament has played since its creation in 2006.

“We want to see the Global Centre extend its efforts to gather and share the latest knowledge on the use of ICT in parliaments. We would like the Global Centre to reinforce its role as a hub for parliaments, working in partnership with other organizations, to build ICT capacity. To achieve this, however, the Global Centre will require financial and other resources. We therefore call on countries and partners to provide continued support and cooperation to the Global Centre. For its part, the Board will strengthen its representativeness, visibility and leadership in advancing the objectives of the Global Centre.” (ref: excerpt from the Board Proceedings).

The conference also provided the opportunity to officially present the World e-Parliament Report 2012, which draws attention to the newest technology trends and the persistent digital divide between parliaments in countries according to income and infrastructure level, and calls upon parliaments that have developed advanced use of technology to continue to share their know-how and tools with other parliaments.

It was highly symbolic that the closing day of the World e-Parliament Conference coincided with the International Day of Democracy as over the last six years the Global Centre for ICT in Parliament demonstrated the natural link between democracy, parliaments and new technologies.

The observance was celebrated by the formal launch of a ‘Declaration on Parliamentary Openness’ and by a concluding session on “tolerance and peace” to which participated the President of the IPU, the Speakers of the National Assembly of Niger, the Council of States of Sudan, the National Assembly of Suriname, the House of Representatives of Malaysia and the Senate of Trinidad and Tobago, together with the Vice Presidents of the Senate of Italy, the Chamber of Deputies of Italy, the House of Representatives of Nigeria, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Italy and the ASG of DESA.

For more information:

DESA’s Division for Public Administration and Development Management (DPADM)

Experts answer online questions on empowerment

On the second day of the expert group meeting on empowerment taking place in New York on 10-12 September, it was time for the experts to answer questions from DESA’s online community

“The questions were sound, they were provocative, they reflected concerns,” said John Mathiason of Cornell University, commending the engagement and participation on Facebook and Twitter. “This is actually quite precedent setting. The UN has not done this before. One interesting thing about empowerment is that you got to engage participation. When people both looked at Facebook and made their presentations on Facebook, Twitter and the survey, they were actually demonstrating that you can have empowerment of people who are far away,” Mr. Mathiason added.

More than 20 experts from all over the world gathered in New York this week to focus on how to empower people to eradicate poverty and to promote social integration and decent work for all. They represented various organizations including the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Finland, the Institute of Development Studies from the UK, Human Sciences Research Council in South Africa, Youth Development and Civil Society in Jordan, NGO Committee for Social Development, the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, FAO and ILO.

“Empowerment is critical to poverty eradication and to development. Indeed, I would even say that any long-term solution to poverty must start with empowerment,” said DESA’s Under-Secretary-General Mr. Wu Hongbo at the opening of the expert group meeting on 10 September.

Leading up to the meeting, DESA and its Division for Social Policy and Development (DSPD) opened an online forum on Facebook to collect input and questions on empowerment from across the globe. And the engagement level was high.

“How are people aware that they are empowered?” read one of the questions. Mr. Clem McCartney of Club de Madrid, answered, “It is important that we have a sense that we can pursue our aspirations, not necessarily that we can achieve them, but that we can pursue them, with that sense I think we have the beginning of being empowered”, he said, also underscoring the importance of people feeling that they are being listened to.

Ms. Deepa Narayan, Advisor on poverty, gender and development, highlighted the importance of the right to choose and having access to information. “If a woman doesn’t have information about the availability of contraceptives, there is no way she can choose to spread out the birth of her children, or to stop having children”, she said. Ms. Narayan also discussed the right to negotiate. “It is not just a passive receiving of information, but actively using this information to negotiate changes that impact poverty.”

Concerns were raised via the online forum bringing to light the challenge to empower people if social services, budget allocation, in developing countries are cut. Ms. Sylvia Beales from HelpAge International in the UK, responded saying, “people can feel their power by organizing to get information, by organizing to know what exactly is available, and to seek change and to self-help.” She also mentioned that there are many examples around the world of citizens monitoring, which involves people organizing and negotiating for change.

These were only a few examples of the questions answered during the meeting, arranged as part of the preparations for the 51st session of the Commission for Social Development, scheduled to take place in February 2013. For the full question and answer session with the experts, check out the video posted with this story and the social media Q&A.

It is clear judging from the online engagement level that the question of empowerment is close to peoples’ hearts. Mr. Wu Hongbo also underscored its significance as he addressed the meeting, “going forward, let us be very clear: Empowerment is a key means to achieving sustainable development and other vital goals. But it also has a value in and of itself. We must not lose sight of the need to empower all individuals and groups on our shared planet.”

For more information:

Expert Group Meeting on Promoting People’s Empowerment

Social Media Q&A

United Nations Social Development Network

DESA on Youtube