Review of the technical cooperation activities of UNCTAD and their financing

Report by the Secretary-General of UNCTAD

Annex I: Review of activities undertaken in 2013*


* This document was not formally edited.


E. Special programme: UNCTAD assistance to the Palestinian people

436. Development context. The persistence of the Israeli occupation and its manifestations in restrictions on mobility, loss of land, the erosion of the productive base, poverty and unemployment, among others, made economic and social development more difficult to attain in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT) in 2013. Additionally the chronic Palestinian fiscal crisis has exacerbated economic and political uncertainty. In 2013, the contraction of the Palestinian fiscal policy space has significantly reduced the Palestinian Authority’s (PA) ability to inject fiscal stimulus into the economy. This will have a negative impact on the sustainability of the observed economic growth. The Palestinian fiscal crisis along with the decline in aid inflows revealed the impact of the occupation on the welfare of the Palestinian people.

437. The necessary, but not sufficient, donor support significantly dwindled in 2013, which might reflect some signs of donor fatigue. However in the case of the OPT, the main cause of donor fatigue could be the occupation and its manifestations as reflected in denying the Palestinian people their right to development and self-determination, and the basic human right to move freely from one place to another. In this light, consistent aid flows are necessary for the relief of the Palestinian fiscal crisis and the reduction poverty in OPT, and should be supported by efforts to persuade Israel to shoulder its obligations under international law.

438. Additionally worrisome is the unfolding situation in Gaza. As a result of the almost complete commercial blockade, economic deceleration was pronounced in all areas, particularly in agriculture and fishing. Growth in OPT, and especially Gaza, is weak in light of the low base of economic activity, unemployed and underemployed human, physical and natural resources, and continuous erosion of the Palestinian productive base. This is directly linked to measures imposed by the occupation authorities, such as land expropriation, expansion of illegal settlements and denying Palestinians access to natural resources.

439. The development context of the OPT remains among the most complicated, not only in the region, but globally. Therefore, efforts to further the endeavours of economic and political development are necessary, but the potential capacity cannot be realized without an end to the occupation. Therefore the situation in OPT requires careful thought out strategies and initiatives that could address the needs of the Palestinian people without discrediting the right to live freely on their land and in a sovereign State as called for by the relevant United Nations resolutions. This is the premise under which the UNCTAD secretariat formulates and implements its technical cooperation projects and extends its advisory services for the fulfilment of economic and political development for the Palestinian people.

440. Objectives/features. In 2013, and in line with United Nations Strategic Framework for 2012–2013, UNCTAD’s work is guided by paragraph 31 (m) of the Doha Mandate, paragraph 44 of the Accra Accord, paragraph 35 of Sao Paulo Consensus. UNCTAD’s programme of assistance to the Palestinian people addresses the Palestinian economy’s constraints and emerging needs through the four clusters: (a) trade policies and strategies; (b) trade facilitation and logistics; (c) finance and development; and (d) enterprise, investment and competition policy. In particular, and for the last three decades, UNCTAD carried out research, technical cooperation projects and provided advisory services, in close cooperation with the PA, the Palestinian private sector, civil society organizations, and with the United Nations and international agencies. The programme aims to strengthen the institutional capacity of the PA and the Palestinian private sector, and to contribute to the development of the institutional capacities required for the efficient functioning of the economy of a future independent Palestinian State.

441. Outputs. In 2013, UNCTAD’s contribution to the Palestinian private sector was visible through institution-building and transitioning of the Palestinian Shippers Council (PSC), as the main trade facilitation Palestinian body that serves the private sector. The objective of UNCTAD activities is to build the knowledge base of the Palestinian shippers (exporters and importers) by consolidating the institutional capacity of the PSC; increasing shippers’ awareness of the best practices on trade facilitation; and strengthening national capacities by providing training and advisory services to Palestinian shippers and policymakers in the area of trade facilitation.

442. Through UNCTAD’s implementation of the “Developing Palestinian trade facilitation capacity” project, with funding from Canada, three functional units were established in the PSC: Legal, Technical and Research, and Training. Under the auspices of UNCTAD, the PSC conducted 12 training workshops in various geographic locations in OPT, covering, among other areas, dry ports and bonded warehouses; managing the import and export of goods; import supply chain; contracts in in international sales; export procedures; import regulations for food and agriculture sector; alternative dispute resolutions; and methods of payment and insurance on goods. Additionally in 2013, UNCTAD recruited for the PSC training, legal and technical consultants. UNCTAD also recruited a number of international experts to develop the material for an eight-module trade facilitation training programme. In contributing to the area of research and policy analysis, UNCTAD finalized a paper on Palestinian control over trade under this project.

443. As the PSC became more visible in the provision of legal and technical services, 23 members reactivated their membership and 10 new members joined the PSC. New partnerships were forged with the PSC signing three Memorandums of Understanding with the Palestinian Chambers of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture, the Institute of Law at Birzeit University and the Palestinian Business Women Forum.

444. Similar to previous years, and in collaboration with the United Nations Division for Palestinian Rights, UNCTAD hosted and trained two Palestinian staff from the Ministry of National Economy. The training introduced the trainees to the United Nations system in Geneva, covering in particular UNCTAD’s scope of work, including the annual meeting of the Trade and Development Board.

445. With UNCTAD’s reputation in the implementation of projects, research and provision of advisory services in the context of OPT, the United Nations Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People approached APPU to draft a concept note on the various economic dimensions of occupation. Additionally UNCTAD was approached to participate in, and make a contribution to, an international conference on the role of trade in promoting economic development of Palestine for which APPU delivered a presentation on the integration of Palestine in international markets.

446. UNCTAD was also approached by the regional United Nations Development Group of Arab States to contribute to the Arab Development Forum particularly in the Working Group on poverty reduction, inclusive growth and employment generation.

447. Finally, UNCTAD provided advisory services to the United Nations country team in OPT for the preparation of the United Nations Development Assistance Framework (UNDAF) under two clusters: (a) economic empowerment, livelihoods, food security and decent work; and (b) governance, rule of law, justice and human rights.

448. Results. (a) UNCTAD’s project on developing Palestinian trade facilitation capacity and its advisory services to the PSC established a full curriculum for a professional training programme inclusive of technical, theoretical and practical knowledge of import export management. The first of its kind in OPT, and in the region, eight modules are being piloted based on the knowledge of national and international subject matter experts, with adaptation of international material to the Palestinian context. Under the project, UNCTAD established three units: the legal, technical and training, each with a clear mandate. (b) UNCTAD contributed to enhancing and building Palestinian human capital of PA institutions as two PA staff members are now well versed and equipped to deal with the United Nations system, its Secretariat and agencies. (c) UNCTAD had a lead role in the provision of advisory services on the economic dimensions of the occupation to the United Nations Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, with a final concept note on the dimensions of occupation, with clear definition of the actions and methodology that should be followed. (d) UNCTAD contributed to the approaches and methods envisioned to reduce poverty, attain inclusive growth and generate employment opportunities in the Arab world, with UNCTAD’s policy approaches reflected in the final document of the Arab Development Forum of the Working Group on poverty reduction, inclusive growth and employment generation. (e) Through its advisory services, UNCTAD had a lead role in showing how trade could promote economic development in the Palestinian context, with specific recommendations for the PA and regional parties to consider. The recommendations made by UNCTAD were included in the final report of the conference on the role of trade in promoting economic development of Palestine. (f) Under interagency cooperation, UNCTAD had a major role in the United Nations country team in OPT on two clusters of the UNDAF: (a) economic empowerment, livelihoods, food security and decent work and (b) governance, rule of law, justice and human rights, with concrete recommendations reflected in the final UNDAF.