HIGH REPRESENTATIVE FOR THE
SMALL ISLAND DEVELOPING STATES
AND TWENTY-THIRD SESSION OF THE
AND AGRICULTURE ORGANIZATION (FAO) COUNCIL
28 OCTOBER 2002
Mr. Chairman and
I thank you for the invitation to address the Hundred and
Twenty-Third Session of the United Nations Food and Agriculture
than a year has passed since the United Nations Third Conference
on Least Developed Countries was held in Brussels. A
forward-looking Declaration and the Programme of Action (POA),
adopted at the Conference to support the development efforts
of the LDCs, reaffirms the collective responsibility of the
international community to uphold the principles of human
dignity, equality and equity. The global scenario that
has emerged since calls for a renewed focus not only on this
most vulnerable group of countries.
United Nations Millennium Declaration of September 2000 also
called on the global community for both financial and technical
support to these vulnerable countries. It emphasized
that the efforts that the least developed countries as well
as the landlocked developing countries and the small island
developing States make toward their development goals should
be supported through adequate resources by the international
community. The Brussels Programme has recognized the
special problems of landlocked and small island LDCs as a
The Brussels POA focuses on seven specific commitments made
by the LDCs and their development partners: (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
that the lack of follow-up machinery in the past two Programmes
of Action for LDCs was a major impediment for their implementation,
the Brussels Programme recommended that an effective
and highly visible follow-up mechanism be created to
undertake the implementation, coordination, review and monitoring
of the Programme. For this purpose, upon recommendation
of the Secretary-General of the United Nations, the General
Assembly by its resolution 56/227 of 24 December 2001 established
the Office of the High Representative for the Least Developed
Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island
Developing States (OHRLLS). I assumed my responsibilities
as the High Representative formally in April this year.
carrying out the mandate of the General Assembly and the Brussels
the Office has adopted a framework of action with four main
elements: (i) Focus on country-level implementation, (ii)
Work with all the relevant entities of the UN family, in particular
the Funds and programmes, Regional Commissions, Specialized
Agencies, and the Bretton Woods institutions, to ensure that
these entities mainstream the Brussels POA in their activities
and in the intergovernmental processes as well as establish
appropriate focal points for review and
follow-up, as called for the POA and the GA resolution 56/227,
(iii) Work with multilateral organizations, particularly the
regional and sub-regional organizations, for support to the
implementation of the POA, (iv) Work closely with civil-society
and private sectorboth at national and global levels
so that they contribute as full development partners.
The Economic and Social Council in July this year adopted
a resolution to undertake the annual review of the implementation
of the Programme of Action for the Least Developed Countries.
For this purpose, I have been asked to submit comprehensive
progress reports at its substantive sessions every July.
My Office will be coordinating the inputs inter alia from
the United Nations system organizations for these reports.
In this context, the input from FAO will be highly valuable
to the preparation of the annual reports and also to the Economic
and Social Councils annual reviews for the implementation
of the Brussels Programme.
is a pivotal sector for development in the LDCs, as it underpins
food security, export earnings, industrial and rural development,
and employment generation. Yet, LDC agricultural production
for domestic and export markets in the LDCs has fallen behind.
Slow production growth combined with sharp fluctuations in
output have been a serious problem for the LDCs, contributing
to their persistent poverty and rising food insecurity.
According to a FAO report, the proportion of undernourished
in the total LDC population increased from 38 percent to 40
percent between 1970 and 1997, while the absolute number of
such people rose from 116 million to 235 million. LDCs
have also been marginalized from world agricultural markets,
accounting for only 5 percent of global agricultural exports
in the early 1970s but barely 1 percent in the late 1990s.
In addition to the market access constraints, the situation
has been made worse due to the harsh impact of the agricultural
subsidies, particularly for these countries. Increasing
the productive capacity of agriculture and fisheries and the
income of people working in these sectors in LDCs is therefore
a key priority. Further support is needed to enhance
productivity and competitiveness, and to diversify exports
and moving up the value chain in the processing and export
of their agricultural products.
The Brussels Programme incorporates such concern in the Commitment
4 of the Programme which focuses on building productive
capacities to make globalization work for LDCs.
I would like to underscore two sections that are highly relevant
to the work of FAO.
section E of this Commitment deals with agriculture and agro-industries.
It urges both the LDCs and their development partners to take
actions to increase new investments in agricultural and fishery
research and rural infrastructure, extension of better farming
and fishing practices and sustainable technologies, as well
as marketing advice, effective finance and greater tenure
Secondly, section G of the Commitment 4 specifically calls
for actions regarding rural development and food security.
Lack of food security is the most typical face of poverty
for both urban and rural people in LDCs. It calls for
food and nutritional security to be part of a larger framework
of sustainable rural development and of poverty eradication.
Some 70 per cent of the poor and food-insecure are rural dwellers,
and many of them are small farmers who produce on the brink
of survival, or landless people trying to sell their labour.
It also refers to the importance of womens rights for
entitlements over land, as women are often responsible for
the bulk of food production. However, they need the
right to own land and to inherit land in order to increase
the productivity of the land and to be able to better feed
themselves and their families. The target of the World
Food Summit, reiterated at its five-year review, to reduce
by half the number of undernourished people by 2015 is specifically
stated as the goal in the Commitment 4.
With 34, out of 49, LDCs in Africa and again, out of
53 African countries, 34 are LDCs special attention
and measures are needed for these countries to accelerate
their development, and end their marginalization in an increasingly
globalizing world economy. Focussed global, regional
and, national efforts are critical to eradicate poverty and
to build a better life for the large segment of humanity living
in the continent of Africa. Here I would like to underscore
that the commonalities between the Brussels Programme and
the NEPAD, which are remarkable and need to be emphasized
and taken advantage of. The overarching objective of
both NEPAD and Brussels Programme is poverty eradication.
Human, institutional, and productive capacity-building, good
governance, mobilizing financial resources and market access
are all covered by both the NEPAD and the Brussels Programme
of Action. There is a need for promoting synergy between
the NEPAD and the Brussels Programme in order to accelerate
sustained growth and development in the LDCs.
Brussels Programme is also closely linked to the values, principles
and objectives of the Millennium Declaration. The global
campaign that has recently been launched by
Secretary-General Kofi Annan to achieve the Millennium Development
Goals has incorporated addressing the needs of LDCs, LLDCs
and SIDS as key targets. The Millennium Declarations
goals for development and poverty eradication will not make
much headway toward their achievement if the LDCs are not
supported to perform better. The Secretary-Generals
first annual report released recently on the implementation
of the Millennium Declaration also indicates that these vulnerable
groups of countries suffered from lack of such support, particularly
due to a decline in ODA.
Brussels Programme and subsequently the United Nations General
Assembly have clearly indicated the important role of the
UN system organizations in the implementation of the Programme.
The General Assembly resolution, which I mentioned earlier,
invites the United Nations system organizations to mainstream
the implementation of the Brussels Declaration and the Programme
of Action within their programmes of work as well as in their
intergovernmental processes. Responding to this call,
the governing bodies of the United Nations Conference on Trade
and Development (UNCTAD), United Nations Development Programme
(UNDP), UNICEF, World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO);
United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization
(UNESCO); United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), United Nations
Capital Development Fund (UNCDF), the World Trade Organization
(WTO), and Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) have already
adopted decisions to mainstream the Brussels POA within their
respective programmes of work. In this connection, I
would like to request the distinguished delegates participating
at this Council session to take a similar action to mainstream
the Brussels Programme within FAOs programme of work
as well as in its intergovernmental process.
of the United Nations system organizations is particularly
needed to help these most vulnerable countries overcome the
enormous challenge that they face. The Office of the
High Representative is determined to make a concerted effort
in coordinating actions and mobilizing support for a global
movement to end the marginalization of the LDCs.
conclude my statement by quoting Secretary-General Kofi Annan
from his recent message to the Cotonou Ministerial Conference
of the Least Developed Countries: The United Nations
family remains committed to helping the least developed countries
overcome the formidable obstacles they face. He
expressed the hope that All LDCs and their development
partners, as well as civil society, the private sector and
all other stakeholders, will forge partnerships that will
make the difference between success and stagnation.