Bangkok, 1 September 2003
First of all, I would like to thank you for the gracious invitation extended to Mr. Anwarul K. Chowdhury, Under-Secretary-General and High Representative to participate at the Special Body on Least Developed Countries and Landlocked Developing Countries of the 59th Session of the ESCAP Commission.
The High Representative would have very much liked to be present here today and address you in person, but he has been designated by the UN Secretary-General to present his message at the International Freshwater Forum, that is currently taking place in Dushanbe, Tajikistan. Nevertheless, it is an honour for the Office of the High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States to participate in this important session.
Permit me, Mr. Chairman, now to present the High Representative's message to this session:
It gives me great pleasure to send my greetings to all participants of the Special Body on Least Developed and Landlocked Developing Countries of the 59th session of the ESCAP Commission. It is the first time my Office is participating in the ESCAP Commission meeting since its establishment in April 2002. I thank Mr. Kim Hak-Su, Executive Secretary and Under-Secretary-General of ESCAP for extending this invitation.
At the outset, I would like to commend ESCAP in taking specific decisions to mainstream implementation of the Brussels Programme within its Programme of work and intergovernmental processes in accordance with the UN General Assembly resolution 56/227. It demonstrates ESCAP's active and concrete support in favour of the Least Developed Countries.
The population in the Least Developed Countries has risen to an estimated 700 million, about 11 per cent of the world's population. However, their share of the world's GDP is only about 0.6 percent. After two decades of efforts to address their social and economic agenda, development remains still elusive for the 49 LDCs, of whom 13 are in Asia-Pacific region.
Two years have passed since the adoption of the Brussels Programme of Action for the Least Developed Countries. Despite certain progress made by the Least Developed Countries towards adopting policies and pursuing strategies to achieve the goals set out in the Brussels Programme, its implementation remains a challenge for most LDCs. The three major challenges facing LDCs are development of sufficient national capacities to implement the Programme, the cost associated with the implementation process, and the assuming its full ownership. Successful implementation of the Programme will ultimately depend on the spirit of shared responsibility and global partnership that was forged at Brussels.
Our challenge now is to move from commitments to concrete actions. As stated in the Programme of Action, setting up the national arrangements, which include the establishment of a national forum, is considered of primary importance to the Least Developed Countries for conducting regular follow-up and monitoring of the implementation of the commitments at the national level. In the Asia-Pacific region, Bhutan, Cambodia, Samoa and Nepal have set up national arrangements. I, therefore, encourage the remaining LDCs that have not done so to initiate the process, to set up the national arrangements as early as possible. With regard to the national focal points, Bhutan, Cambodia, Myanmar, and Samoa have designated them. My Office stands ready to provide needed support to LDCs in this regard.
In this regard, I am pleased to inform that my office is organizing a Workshop for the National Focal Points of the Least Developed Countries at the United Nations Headquarters in New York tentatively scheduled for next January. This workshop will focus on strengthening national capacity of least developed countries in the implementation of the BPOA by providing training and networking opportunities to participants so as to enable an effective follow-up, and review the measures, as provided for in paragraph 92 of the Brussels Programme.
The Fifth Ministerial Meeting of the WTO is scheduled to be held in Cancun in the coming week. The LDCs have clearly outlined their expectations at their Second Ministerial Meeting held in Dhaka recently. Market access for the goods of the LDCs is the foremost issue before the WTO. While the elimination of tariff and non-tariff barriers have to be pursued more vigorously at the WTO, the question of doing away with the heavy agricultural subsidies in the developed countries that deprive LDCs of any comparative advantages for the few primary commodities they are able to export, must be given added consideration.
I am pleased to inform you that in accordance with relevant General Assembly and Economic and Social Council resolutions, my Office presented last July the first comprehensive progress report of the Secretary-General on the implementation of the Programme of the LDCs at the General Segment of the ECOSOC substantive segment. A major outcome of the ECOSOC was the decision taken to have the Least Developed Countries theme for the 2004 High-Level Segment. This decision is significant in the context of the implementation of the Brussels Programme. I would encourage the governments of the Asia-Pacific LDCs to actively prepare and participate in this opportunity that is before us.
The Brussels Programme of Action affirmed that South-South cooperation by way of opening of markets, transit transport cooperation, technical assistance, building human and productive capacity and exchange of best practices has the potential of playing a significant role in promoting sustained growth and sustainable development for the least developed countries. As such, the international community should build South-South and triangular cooperation as an integral part of their support to least developed countries based on their developmental needs.
In concluding, I would like to reiterate that it is crucial for the LDCs and their development partners in fulfilling the seven commitments agreed upon at Brussels. On its part, UN system organizations including ESCAP have already taken bold steps to enhance the implementation of the Brussels Programme. I would like to assure that the United Nations will continue to walk besides the LDCs in their journey.
I wish you every success in your deliberations."
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Thank you, Mr. Chairman, for allowing me to deliver the High Representative's message.
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