ORAL REPORT  BY

ANWARUL K. CHOWDHURY
UNDER-SECRETARY-GENERAL AND HIGH REPRESENTATIVE
FOR THE LEAST DEVELOPED COUNTRIES,
LANDLOCKED DEVELOPING COUNTRIES
AND SMALL ISLAND DEVELOPING STATES, OHRLLS

AT THE
GENERAL SEGMENT OF THE ECOSOC, UNDER AGENDA ITEM 6(B): 
REVIEW AND COORDINATION OF THE IMPLEMENTATION OF THE
PROGRAMME OF ACTION FOR THE LEAST DEVELOPED COUNTRIES
FOR THE DECADE 2001-2010

18 JULY 2002

UNITED NATIONS, NEW YORK

Introduction

1.                  The Third UN Conference for the Least Developed Countries (LDCs) held in Brussels in May 2001 is considered a turning point in many ways in the development efforts of LDCs and the international community’s support to them. The Brussels Programme of Action for LDCs for the Decade 2001-2010 (POA) adopted there differs from the earlier programmes of 1981 and 1990 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, sustainable development, special problems of landlocked and small island countries and the challenges faced by LDCs affected by conflict are singled out in the POA as cross-cutting priority issues. The objective of the POA is to achieve substantial progress towards meeting the Millennium Declaration goal of reducing extreme poverty by half by 2015 and promoting sustainable development.

2.                  The POA is focussed 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 (vii) mobilizing financial resources.

Office of the High Representative

3.                  To undertake the responsibilities related to the follow-up, coordination, monitoring and review of the implementation of the POA, as envisaged in its chapter III, the Office of the High Representative for LDCs, Landlocked Developing Countries (LLDCs) and Small Island Developing States (SIDS) was established on the recommendation of the Secretary-General of the United Nations by the General Assembly in its resolution 56/227 of 24 December 2001. The Office of the High Representative (OHRLLS), located at UN headquarters in New York, aims at enhancing the mobilization and galvanization of international support for – and ensuring the effective coordination, monitoring and review of – the implementation of the Brussels POA.

Framework for action

4.                  Following the formal assumption of office by the High Representative in April 2002, OHRLLS is currently engaged in setting its direction and getting organized for the assigned tasks. In carrying out the mandate of the General Assembly, the Office will be working within the following framework:

        It will focus on country level implementation – both by the LDCs and donor countries – to see to it that they are implementing their commitments made in the POA. The Office will work closely with the UNDG partners, including in particular UNDP, to ensure full support of the Resident Coordinator system to the LDCs. The UNDAF and PRSP processes in LDCs, as applicable, need to incorporate implementation of the POA.


        It will work with all relevant entities of the UN family, in particular the Funds and Programmes, Regional Commissions, Specialized Agencies, and the BWIs, to ensure that these entities mainstream the Brussels POA in their activities and in their intergovernmental processes as well as establish appropriate focal points for review and follow-up as called for in the POA and the General Assembly resolution 56/227.

        It will be working with other multilateral organizations, particularly the regional organizations like the African Union (AU), the SAARC, the South Pacific Forum and regional development banks, as well as the sub-regional organizations like the SADC, ECOWAS, ASEAN, CARICOM and others, as these organizations have LDCs as their constituents. It is important that they focus on the development efforts of these countries and, in particular, on the implementation of the Brussels POA. Recent adoption of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) by the African Union provides an immense opportunity for reinforcing and complementing the development efforts in 34 African LDCs.

        It will work closely with civil society and private sector – both national and global - so that they are brought in as full development partners of the LDCs. It will promote linkages with civil society including NGOs involved in development efforts of LDCs as well as with the private sector, academia and foundations, in an attempt to forge closer cooperation to respond more capably to LDC concerns.

Medium-Term Plan

5.                  The first Medium-Term Plan of the OHRLLS was presented on 21 June 2002 to the General Assembly’s Committee for Programme and Coordination (CPC). According to the Plan covering 2002 to 2005 as approved by the CPC, the substantive responsibility for the follow-up and coordination for the implementation of the Brussels POA is vested in the Office of the High Representative.

6.                  Initial activities of the OHRLLS commenced with a three-pronged approach: (i) placing the issue of LDCs high on the intergovernmental agenda through appropriate legislative mandates, as needed (ii) centering its focus on Africa, particularly in the context of NEPAD, and (iii) supporting establishment of country-level implementation arrangements including establishment of national forums as envisaged in paragraph 100 of the Brussels POA.

Advocacy and Coordination/Monitoring

7.                  In undertaking effectively the responsibilities outlined in its mandate, the OHRLLS needs to perform its coordination, monitoring and reporting roles as functions in support of a broader mandate to speak for the specific needs of LDCs to highlight their concerns as well as their potentials in a rapidly globalizing world. It would, therefore, be purposeful to adopt advocacy as its key strategy, using monitoring and coordination as its tools to mobilize international support for the Brussels POA. Value could be added to the monitoring and reporting tasks of the OHRLLS by focusing on “ lessons learned” and bringing to the ECOSOC - and also to the General Assembly - specific proposals in support of LDCs. A ‘meta-analysis’ could be done of detailed monitoring reports received from other entities to bring out the political and pragmatic issues that need to be addressed by the international community in support of the POA.

Role of ECOSOC

8.                  The Brussels POA has accorded a specific role to the ECOSOC for the intergovernmental oversight of its implementation. In its paragraph 111, the POA suggested a) creation of an annual agenda item on the review and coordination; b) undertaking at regular intervals such reviews at the high-level segment; and c) effective preparations for the annual review,
inter alia, drawing on the contribution of governmental and individual experts.

Annual Reviews

9.                  The Brussels POA, in paragraph 112, also identifies the elements of the annual reviews. First, the review should include follow-up, monitoring and assessment of progress in the implementation of the POA at national, sub-regional, regional and global levels through report by governments as well as by all other entities concerned. Second, the review should be fostering international cooperation in support of the POA, including coordination among donors and among relevant entities. Third, the review should elaborate new policies and measures in light of changing domestic and external circumstances facing LDCs. The POA has also invited governing bodies of UNCTAD and WTO specifically (paragraph 113) to inform the ECOSOC about the progress made by their respective organizations in implementing the POA. This decision should, of course, be treated as being subsumed in the first recommendation of paragraph 112.

Recommendations

10.              The ECOSOC in its resolution 2001/320 has decided to incorporate an identifiable agenda-item at its current substantive session at its General Segment on the coordination and review of the implementation of the Brussels POA. On the basis of this and taking into account the decisions incorporated in the POA, it is recommended that:

a)      ECOSOC undertakes the annual review of the implementation of the Brussels Programme of Action in the General Segment of its substantive sessions.

b)      ECOSOC sets aside one-day specifically for the review under a separate agenda item.

c)      The one-day review exercise should be undertaken through creative and participatory arrangements. The format and structure of these reviews should be decided every year at the ECOSOC organizational session. Undertaking the review on thematic basis may be considered, keeping in mind the seven commitments of the Brussels POA.

d)      The Secretary-General is requested to submit a report incorporating the information on the progress made and challenges faced by the Member States, the United Nations and by all other actors, including civil society, in the implementation process of the Brussels POA at the country, regional and global levels by all partners, the report should include his specific recommendations and concrete measures for enhancing the effectiveness of the implementation in future. The report should be made available latest by last week of May each year, bearing in mind paragraph 112 of the POA.

e)      All entities of the United Nations family are invited to provide timely inputs in their respective areas of mandate into the preparation of the report of the Secretary-General. Other multilateral organizations are also invited to provide timely inputs for the report. This should be acted upon bearing in mind paragraph 112 of the POA.

f)        All efforts must be made to adopt an implementation-focussed outcome following the review advising all relevant UN entities what is needed to be done on the basis of the experience gained in the preceding year and through identification of “best practices” in the LDCs.

g)      In the context of the annual review, ECOSOC will keep in view the special problems of landlocked and small island countries, which, inter alia, have been identified as a cross-cutting priority issue.

h)      ECOSOC may reiterate the invitation of the General Assembly to organizations of the United Nations system and other multilateral organizations to mainstream the implementation of the Brussels Declaration and Programme of Action within their programmes of work, as well as in their intergovernmental processes. It should reiterate also the importance of optimal coordination between the OHRLLS and various organizations of the United Nations system and other multilateral organizations.

i)        ECOSOC may decide to devote, in accordance with its resolution 2001/320, the high-level segment of its 2004 substantive session for the review and coordination of the implementation of the Brussels POA.

j)        Paragraph 111 of the POA mentions about the need for effective preparation for the annual review drawing on the contribution of the governmental and individual experts. ECOSOC may ask the Office of the High Representative to give practical shape to this recommendation as part of the effective preparation for the review in 2003 and thereafter.

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