United Nations, 11 November 2003
The report of the Secretary-General (A/58/216) on the implementation of commitments and agreements made at the International Conference on Financing for Development provides a comprehensive account of developments during the first year of implementation and faithfully reviews all areas of progress, or lack thereof, in implementing the Monterrey Consensus.
Our discussion here today follows on the heels of the High level Dialogue on Financing for Development that took place less than two weeks ago. Unfortunately, this in-depth dialogue concluded that the currently projected rate of implementation, even after taking into account recent marginal improvements in development assistance after a long decline, does not auger well for achieving the Monterrey commitments. The most critical ingredient of the long-awaited and much-needed political will is yet to be clearly visible.
The Monterrey Consensus has underscored that “particular attention is required to address the special needs of Africa, the least developed countries, small island developing States and landlocked developing countries.” It reaffirmed the commitment of the heads of State and Government to the Brussels Programme of Action and the Barbados Programme of Action. In this context, it is natural and obvious that the Almaty Programme of Action adopted last August to address the special needs of landlocked developing countries would receive the similar commitment. The Monterrey Consensus further affirmed that international support for those Programmes of Action, in particular through United Nations operational activities for development, was “indispensable.” The leaders also encouraged South-South cooperation, including through triangular cooperation, for these vulnerable countries. In various areas of action relating to foreign direct investment, international trade, official development assistance and technical cooperation, the Monterrey document highlights the need for special consideration for the least developed, landlocked and small island developing countries. It is, therefore, absolutely essential that in the implementation and follow-up of Monterrey particular attention should be given to these three vulnerable groups of countries. The future reporting arrangements should incorporate special focus on these countries by aggregating data in respect of the three groups recognized by the United Nations.
With an ever-expanding globalization process, the least developing countries have remained vulnerable to external events and have been bearing the main brunt of global economic downturn, despite the wide-ranging efforts they have made in reforming their domestic policies. The question is how to realize the Monterrey goal of making globalization fully inclusive and equitable.
The overarching goal of the Brussels Programme of action is to “make substantial progress toward halving the proportion of people living in extreme poverty and suffering from hunger by 2015 and promote the sustainable development of the LDCs”. It is widely acknowledged that the full achievement of the Millennium Development Goals will not be possible without special attention to the needs of the Least Developed Countries where the indicators are quite unsatisfactory. The Monterrey Consensus urges developed countries to make concrete effort towards reaching the target of 0.15 to 0.20 per cent of GNP of developed countries to LDCs, as reconfirmed at the Third UN Conference on LDCs. It also supported untying aid to the least developed countries as recommended by the OECD/DAC. For effective reporting in future on the implementation and follow up, it would be necessary to provide information and the data relating to these aspects for the LDCs. In the area of international trade, the Monterrey Consensus called on developed countries to provide duty-free quota-free access for all least developed countries’ exports as envisaged in the Brussels Programme. It further added that “consideration of proposals for developing countries to contribute to improve market access for LDCs would also be helpful.” The present report devotes a section to “policy support for the least developed countries” (paras 91 to 94) and asserts that “schemes for preferential market access for LDCs need to be consolidated and made more predictable” and goes on to say that “multilateral technical assistance programmes should further support and assist LDCs” that are in the process of WTO accession.
Notwithstanding the commitments made at Monterrey, the deliberations of the High level Dialogue on Financing for Development brought to the fore the following points in respect of the LDCs:
International trade: Stringent rules of origin, complex documentary procedures and other practices reduce the extent to which LDCs can actually use preferential schemes
Official Development Assistance: Current ODA levels, even after showing some improvements are still well below those needed to achieve the MDGs and larger flows of assistance for the LDCs. Let me add here that in the years 2000 and 2001 only 0.05 per cent of the DAC countries GNI has gone to LDCs down from 0.09 per cent in 1990-91.
Foreign direct investment: the majority of developing economies, particularly LDCs, do not share in the benefits of FDI flows.
Debt relief: The delay in providing adequate debt relief for the heavily indebted poor countries is further handicapping the LDCs.
It is well understood that even the best efforts of the LDCs to improve the investment climate in their countries and attract more substantial flows of foreign direct investments are insufficient without the support of their development partners. As a matter of fact though, their effort of making progress in improving good governance, developing PRSPs, etc. coincide with the lowest per capita income experienced by the LDCs – there is a limit to continually reforming without the needed and promised support. In the present international economic climate when it is doubly difficult for these countries to attract FDI, their reliance on ODA gains greater importance in their development efforts and towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals.
I believe that the financial and technical assistance required for implementing the commitments made in the Brussels, Almaty and Barbados Programmes of Action in respect of the three vulnerable groups of countries, which cover the concerns and aspirations of more than 90 Member States of the United Nations, would go hand in hand with the overarching international agenda contained in the Monterrey Consensus and the Millennium Declaration. At the core of these efforts is the need for true partnership amongst all stakeholders.
At this juncture a strong resolve in respect of LDCs is necessary. It is hoped that the singular focus on the LDCs at next year’s High-Level Segment of ECOSOC, with its theme of “Resource Mobilization and Enabling Environment for Poverty Eradication in the context of the Implementation of the Programme of Action for the LDCs for the Decade 2001-2010”, will generate much-needed momentum for the international support to these countries. The annual spring meetings of the ECOSOC with the Bretton Woods institutions should also build in the LDC issues for enhacing coherence, coordination and cooperation as they discuss financing for development.
Let me conclude by emphasizing the relevance of the concluding sentence of the report of the Secretary-General in which he asserts that “efforts for the implementation of the Monterrey Consensus and for the attainment of the (Millennium Development) Goals, in particular Goal 8, are and should be increasingly complementary and mutually reinforcing in many ways.” And we all know that Goal 8 focuses on addressing the special needs of the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small. That is the point I have attempted to make in this presentation. Island Developing States
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