Negotiations for Fourth UN Conference on world’s poorest nations gets underway
10 January 2011
Inter-governmental negotiations on an action plan to advance the cause of the world’s poorest countries kicked off today in New York, with the opening of the first Preparatory Committee for the upcoming Fourth United Nations Conference on the Least Developed Countries (UN LDC IV).
At the Third UN Conference on LDCs in 2001, the international community committed itself to the Brussels Programme of Action, which embraced economic growth, social development and environmental protection, to achieve sustainable development among the world’s poorest nations. Ten years later, UN LDC IV - which will take place from 9-13 May this year in Istanbul, Turkey - will be an opportunity to review progress and assess implementation of the action plan.
Cheick Sidi Diarra, Under-Secretary-General for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States and Secretary-General of the Conference, has said that earlier consultations with LDCs and other stakeholders indicate support for proposals that LDCs should:
· strengthen infrastructure, technology and productive capacity;
· improve domestic finances by broadening the tax base and deepening the financial sector;
· be supported with higher and more consistent levels of official development assistance, targeted to jobs, growth and poverty reduction;
· attract high quality foreign direct investment;
· make agriculture and food security a priority;
· be granted broadened access to markets;
· be supported on their urgent need to adapt to climate change.
“The conference in Istanbul must reassert political commitment to sustainable development at the highest level and translate those commitments into concrete measures to support the efforts of the LDCs. It must also be cognizant of the dramatic changes in the world since 2001, the most important of which had been rapid globalization,” Diarra said.
He added that UN-LDC IV would be a milestone event that would help shape the international development agenda for the next decade. “Istanbul should act as a platform to fine-tune responses to the structural challenges facing LDCs in a purposeful and contextual manner. It is therefore crucial that all perspectives be taken into account in order to develop the broadest ownership of any follow-up mechanism that will emerge post-Istanbul,” Mr. Diarra said.
Progress among the LDCs since 2001 has been mixed. On the plus side, among the 48 countries, a number have been growing at 6 or 7 per cent a year for most of the decade, and even during the financial crisis of 2008/09 their economies managed to expand by more than 4 per cent. But economic growth has not always translated into tackling endemic poverty and many of the LDCs continue to have some of the worst social and human development indicators in the world. Over the last decade just three countries – Botswana, Cape Verde and Maldives - have ‘graduated’ out of the UN-defined least developed category.
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