MINISTERIAL DECLARATION

 

1. The Ministers for Foreign Affairs of the States members of the Group of 77 and China met at United Nations Headquarters in New York on 23 September 2016 on the occasion of their fortieth annual meeting. The Ministers reviewed the world economic situation, the recent developments in the world and the particular challenges faced by developing countries in the economic, social and environmental areas and adopted the following Declaration:

2. The Ministers highlighted that the year 2016 marked the first year of the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development towards a sustainable future. Thus, it is important to show the international community the Group's continued unwavering commitments to further translate ambitions set out in the Agenda into real actions. In this context, the Ministers noted that 2017 will mark the 50th anniversary of the first Ministerial Meeting of the Group of 77 which adopted in October 1967 the "Charter of Algiers", the first platform of the G-77 calling for joint efforts by developing countries towards economic and social development, peace and prosperity.

3. The Ministers noted that the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development reaffirms all the principles of the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development, held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in 1992, in particular the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities. They further reaffirmed that the implementation of 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development should be guided by the principles in accordance with paragraph 74 of the 2030 Agenda.

4. The Ministers reaffirmed that the overarching objective of eradication of poverty in all its forms and dimensions, remains the greatest global challenge and an indispensable requirement for sustainable development. They reiterated that poverty eradication is a central imperative of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and emphasized the need to address poverty in all its forms and dimensions in order to truly leave no one behind. In this regard, they reaffirmed their commitment to work tirelessly for the full implementation of this agenda by 2030 in a balanced and integrated manner to achieve sustainable development in its three dimensions and building on the achievements of the MDGs and seeking to address their unfinished business. In this regard, the Ministers emphasized that the international community must address the challenges and needs faced by developing countries, especially countries in special situations, in particular, African countries, least developed countries, landlocked developing countries and small island developing States as well as specific challenges that many middle-income countries face, conflict and post-conflict countries and countries and peoples living under foreign occupation.

5. The Ministers reaffirmed the importance of integrating the three dimensions of sustainable development, namely inclusive economic growth, protection of the environment and social inclusion, in a balanced manner, without emphasizing one over the other.

6. The Ministers welcomed the progress made in by Member States in their national implementation, but stressed that implementing the 2030 Agenda at all levels requires a revitalized global partnership and the full implementation of SDG 17. In this context, enhancing support to developing countries is fundamental, including through provision of development financial resources, transfer of technology on favorable terms including on concessional and preferential terms, enhanced international support and targeted capacity-building and promoting a rules-based and non-discriminatory multilateral trading system. They urged the international community and relevant stakeholders to make real progress in these issues, including developing action plans to support the implementation of the 2030 Agenda. They appreciated the G20 2016 Summit taking place in Hangzhou, China in September 4-5 2016, being the first G20 Summit taking place in developing country after the adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development with broad participation of developing countries including the Chair of G77, has endorsed the G20 Action Plan on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development as important contribution to the global implementation of the 2030 Agenda.

7. The Ministers underlined the importance of comprehensive follow-up and review at the global level, as well as the regional level as appropriate, in order to assess progress in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda, ensuring that its overall objectives of poverty eradication and achieving sustainable development are duly attained. In this regard, they took note of General Assembly resolution 70/299 of 29 July 2016 on the Follow-up and Review of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development at the Global Level which underscores the shared vision and aspiration of all Member States and State Members for the crucial path set forth to assess progress in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda. They reiterated and reaffirmed that the implementation and the follow-up and review of the 2030 Agenda must include and address the severe difficulties faced by countries and peoples living under colonial and foreign occupation and strive to remove the obstacles to their full realization of the right of self-determination and right to development, which adversely affect their economic and social development, as well as their environment and their ability to achieve the sustainable development goals and to ensure that they will not be left behind.

8. The Ministers reaffirmed that the High-level Political Forum on sustainable development (HLPF) was mandated to provide political leadership, guidance and recommendations for the implementation of sustainable development commitments and that has a central role in overseeing a network of follow-up and review processes of the 2030 Agenda at the global level, working coherently with the General Assembly, the Economic and Social Council and other relevant organs and forums, in line with existing mandates. They welcomed the successful convening of the first HLPF after the adoption of the 2030 Agenda, convened under the auspices of the Economic and Social Council, and commended the countries that presented voluntary national reviews to highlight the early steps taken to implement the 2030 Agenda at the 2016 HLPF. The Ministers took note with appreciation of the Ministerial Declaration of the 2016 HLPF, on the theme "Ensuring that no one is left behind" highlighting the fundamental dignity of the human person and the need to reach the furthest behind and the most vulnerable first.

9. The Ministers underlined that the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals and the 2030 Agenda will depend on enabling international environment for development, facilitating the necessary means of implementation, particularly in the areas of finance, international trade, technology and capacity-building to developing countries. In this regard, they called for a sincere and effective follow up on global commitments of all actors, particularly developed countries.

10. The Ministers are of the firm view that, for economic growth to positively contribute to poverty reduction, it is essential that macroeconomic and social policies focus on job creation and social inclusion, as this will reduce inequalities and aid in providing social protection. Furthermore, the Ministers highlighted the need to invest much more, as a catalyst to economic growth, in infrastructure, interconnectivity, productivity and basic services as quality health-care services and education while also ensuring that all people, including women, youth, the elderly, persons with disabilities, migrants, indigenous peoples and people in vulnerable situations, have access to resources and opportunities.

11. The Ministers called on the United Nations system, in consultation with the international financial institutions, to develop transparent measurements of progress on sustainable development that go beyond per capita income, building on existing initiatives as appropriate. These should recognize the multidimensional nature of poverty and the social, economic and environmental dimensions of domestic output and structural gaps at all levels. In this regard, the Ministers underscored the importance of achieving concrete progress in this issue.

12. The Ministers welcomed the Addis Ababa Action Agenda, which was adopted at the Third International Conference on Financing for Development, held from 13 to 16 July 2015 in Addis Ababa. The Ministers acknowledge that meaningful gains were attained in Addis Ababa as far as funding for development was concerned and that the reaffirmation of the principles of the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development was foregrounded. There was, however, inter alia, a dire need for the development partners to meet their current official development assistance commitments and to upscale these in support of the aspirations that have been set under the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The Ministers reasserted that developing countries will continue to advocate for additional funding for development to be made available, with North-South cooperation central to these efforts.

13. The Ministers took note of the intergovernmentaly agreed conclusions and recommendations of the inaugural ECOSOC Forum on Financing for Development Follow-up (FfD Forum), held from 18 to 20 April 2016, stressed the need of a constructive engagement by developed and developing countries for fulfilling the mandates of the AAAA, and in this regard, highlighted the importance to assess progress, identify obstacles and challenges to the implementation of the financing for development outcomes, address new and emerging topics of relevance to the implementation of this agenda as the need arises, and provide policy recommendations for action, by the international community, in particular regarding the support of developed countries to developing countries.

14. The Ministers welcomed the successful implementation of important initiatives under AAAA including the Inaugural Global Infrastructure Forum held in Washington D.C. on 16 April 2016, as well as the establishment of Technology Facilitation Mechanism (TFM). They emphasized the significance of these initiatives in enabling developing countries to achieve tangible outcomes of AAAA and 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development taking into account that infrastructure taking into account that infrastructure is a powerful driver of economic growth and contributes to tremendous economic, social and environmental development, while Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) is one of the most transformative means to implement sustainable development.

15. The Ministers welcomed the convening of the G-77 Meeting on Investment for Sustainable Development, held in Pattaya, Thailand on 4 to 5 May 2016, and its conclusions and recommendations. They recalled the continued trend of declining investment flows in developing countries, particularly in productive sectors, and recommended a UN General Assembly resolution on investment for sustainable development in order to mobilize maximal efforts of the UN system and relevant stakeholders to promote investment for the implementation of 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and strengthen developing countries' capacities in this regard.

16. The Ministers welcomed the entry into force of the Proposed Amendment of the Articles of Agreement on Reform of the Executive Board of the IMF and 2010 Quota Increase and stress the need to continue to broaden and strengthen the voice and participation of developing countries in international economic decision-making and norm-setting and global economic governance.

17. The Ministers noted with appreciation the Group's active and constructive engagement with all stakeholders during the FfD Forum, which is the main mechanism to follow-up on the financing for development outcomes, including the AAAA. They highlighted the challenges facing developing countries including unfulfilled ODA commitments. The Ministers expressed their concerns that, despite the increase in ODA in the last decade, it was on average at 0.29% of the aggregate donor GNI in 2014, well below the commitment of 0.7%.

18. While commending the few countries who reach the ODA target, the Ministers stressed the need to urgently address the unmet ODA commitments since North-South Cooperation is still the main channel of financing for development for developing countries. They noted with concern that efforts and genuine will to address these issues are still lagging behind as reflected in the 2016 outcome document of the FfD forum which failed to address these important issues.

19. The Ministers reaffirmed the paramount importance of official development assistance in supporting the sustainable development needs of developing countries, in particular African countries, least developed countries, landlocked developing countries, small islands developing States and the middle-income countries and countries in conflict and post-conflict situations. In this context, developed countries must commit to fully implementing their official development assistance commitments in keeping with their previously made undertakings and to upscale these efforts to play a meaningful role in eradicating poverty in all its forms and dimensions. The Ministers called for the global partnership for development to be revitalized and reinvigorated.

20. The Ministers welcomed the progress made in the implementation of various projects and initiatives under South-South cooperation in recent years and reaffirmed the importance of further strengthening South-South cooperation, especially in the current international economic environment, and reiterated their support for South-South cooperation as a strategy to sustain the development efforts of developing countries and as a means of enhancing their participation, including through sharing knowledge and best practices, in the global economy.

21. The Ministers reaffirmed the Nairobi outcome document of the High-level United Nations Conference on South-South Cooperation, recognized the importance, unique history and particularities of South-South cooperation and reaffirmed their view of South-South cooperation as a manifestation of solidarity among peoples and countries of the South that contributes to their national well-being, their national and collective self-reliance and the attainment of internationally agreed development goals, including the unfinished business of the Millennium Development Goals, and the Sustainable Development Goals. South-South cooperation and its agenda have to be set by countries of the South and should continue to be guided by the principles of respect for national sovereignty, national ownership and independence, equality, non-conditionality, non-interference in domestic affairs and mutual benefit.

22. The Ministers reiterated their position that South-South cooperation is a complement to, rather than a substitute for, North-South cooperation and reaffirmed that South-South cooperation is a collective endeavour of developing countries and that, consequently, South-South cooperation deserves its own separate and independent promotion, as reaffirmed in the Nairobi outcome document. In this context, the Ministers stressed that South-South cooperation and its agenda must be driven by the countries of the South. South-South cooperation, which is critical for developing countries, therefore requires long-term vision and a global institutional arrangement, as envisioned at the Second South Summit.

23. The Ministers noted the commemoration of the Buenos Aires Plan of Action (BAPA) + 40 to be held in 2018 which represented an opportunity to enhance the current institutional arrangements to better support South-South cooperation and promote the South-South agenda. In this context, the Ministers strongly recommended the consolidation of existing mechanisms of South-South cooperation and called for the establishment of a United Nations specialized agency for South-South cooperation to be located in a developing country.

24. The Ministers highlighted the critical importance for developing countries of ensuring that the conceptual framework underlying South-South cooperation responds to the new and numerous challenges faced by developing countries through the exploration of new ways of thinking and new modalities, in line with evolving realities, thereby making it an important pillar to further strengthen South - South cooperation.

25. The Ministers welcomed the convening of the High-level Panel of Eminent Personalities of the South in Bangkok, Thailand, on 9-10 March 2016, in accordance with the relevant mandate of the Second South Summit. They welcomed the Panel's Conclusions and Recommendations on the Future Architecture of South-South Cooperation as an important contribution to the further development of the Development Platform for the South.

26. The Ministers stressed that the High-level Committee on South-South Cooperation is the central multilateral policymaking body in the United Nations system to review and assess global and system-wide progress on and support for South-South cooperation, including triangular cooperation, and to assist in providing future guidance and direction on these issues for the benefit of developing countries. They urged all partners interested in supporting South-South cooperation to be guided by the principles and objectives of such cooperation established in such internationally agreed documents as the Buenos Aires Plan of Action for Promoting and Implementing Technical Cooperation among Developing Countries, which was endorsed by the General Assembly in its resolution 33/134 of 19 December 1978, and the Nairobi outcome document of the High-level United Nations Conference on South-South Cooperation, which was endorsed by the General Assembly in its resolution 64/222 of 21 December 2009, as well as other relevant General Assembly resolutions. The Ministers, therefore, reiterated the Group's position that any policy debate outside the United Nations system should be guided by the agreed frameworks above and the Yamoussoukro Consensus on South-South Cooperation.

27. The Ministers reiterated their strong support to the mandate of the United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation and stressed that the Office is the articulator of South-South cooperation in the United Nations system and that the United Nations Development Programme as well as entities of the United Nations development system should not duplicate, overlap with or undertake the system-wide functions and responsibilities of the Office. They reaffirmed the importance of further enhancing the role and impact of the Office and up-scaling it in terms of financial, human and budgetary resources in order to galvanise more coherent and coordinated United Nations system support to South-South and Triangular Cooperation towards the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

28. The Ministers recommended that the United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation be enabled to participate in the United Nations System Chief Executives Board for Coordination in keeping with its status as a separate entity within the United Nations for the global coordination and promotion of South-South cooperation for development on a United Nations system-wide basis, in accordance with General Assembly resolutions. They reaffirmed the importance of strengthening the Office with human and financial capacity and recognized the need to mobilize adequate resources for enhancing South-South cooperation and, in this context, invited Member States to make generous contributions in support of such cooperation through, inter alia, the Pérez-Guerrero Trust Fund for South-South Cooperation and the United Nations Fund for South-South Cooperation.

29. The Ministers invited the Member States of the Group of 77 to come forward with an offer of venue for hosting the thirteenth session of the Intergovernmental Follow-up and Coordination Committee on South-South Cooperation (IFCC-XIII) in 2017. They also invited Member States to host sectoral meetings in various fields of cooperation including South-South forums for parliamentarians, mayors, youth, media and civil society and other thematic meetings as envisaged in the Doha Plan of Action adopted by the Second South Summit held in Doha, Qatar from 12 to 16 June 2005 and looked forward to the continued support of the UN Office for South-South Cooperation in this regard.

30. The Ministers noted that, in view of the mounting and intractable challenges that developing countries face, more frequent high-level meetings of the Group on thematic/sectoral issues, and with action-oriented outcomes, might be required. To this end, the Ministers invited Member States of the Group of 77 to make offers to host regularly high-level meetings of the Group on key issues of interest to the South and looked forward to the continued support of the UN Office for South-South Cooperation in this regard.

31. The Ministers noted the preparations for the Third South Summit and invited the Chair of the Group of 77 to continue his consultations with Member States of the Group of 77 for the hosting of the Summit to be held at a convenient date.

32. The Ministers welcomed the convening of the G-77 Bangkok Roundtable on Sufficiency Economy: An Approach to Implementing the Sustainable Development Goals, held in Bangkok, Thailand on 28-29 February 2016 and the Sufficiency Economy Philosophy in Business: A G-77 Forum on the Implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals, held in Bangkok, Thailand on 1-2 June 2016. They noted that there are different approaches, visions, models and tools available to each country to achieve sustainable development, in accordance with its national circumstances and priorities as well as its own development context, and in this regard welcomed the initiative by the Kingdom of Thailand to share its development experience and promote partnership among G-77 members on implementing the Sustainable Development Goals, in particular through applying the Sufficiency Economy Philosophy (SEP) as an approach for sustainable development that focuses on transforming the economics of exploitation into the economics of moderation, resilience and self-immunity guided by knowledge as well as ethics and moral consideration with a view to harmonizing the economic, social, environmental and cultural aspects of development.

33. The Ministers welcomed the fruitful and productive discussion from the interactive thematic dialogue on SEP for Sustainable Development Goals convened on the occasion of the Fortieth Annual Meeting of the Ministers for Foreign Affairs of the Group of 77 under the leadership of the Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Thailand as chair country of the Group of 77. They noted the various experiences and home-grown approaches to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals and the importance of learning and sharing of best practices including through North-South, South-South and triangular cooperation. They recognized the SEP as a practical approach that can support the implementation and achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals and its universality underscored by its successful application in various development projects in a number of G-77 countries, including "SEP for SDGs Partnership".

34. The Ministers approved the Report of the Thirty-first Meeting of the Committee of Experts of the Perez-Guerrero Trust Fund for South-South Cooperation (PGTF) contained in document G-77/AM(XXVIII)/2016/2 and endorsed its recommendations. The Ministers commended the Chairman of the PGTF for his continued commitment and expressed their satisfaction with the results achieved by the PGTF. In light of the substantial decrease in the interest earnings of the Fund caused by the current world financial situation as reported by the Chairman of the PGTF, the Ministers appealed to every Member State to make a significant contribution to the PGTF on the occasion of the UN Pledging Conference for Development Activities to be held in New York on 7 November 2016.

35. The Ministers approved the Financial Statement of the ECDC Account of the Group of 77 contained in document G-77/AM(XXVIII)/2016/3, as presented by the Chair of the Group of 77 and urged those Member States that have not yet done so to make special efforts to pay their outstanding contributions.

36. The Ministers reiterated that the successful implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, in particular the means of implementation, requires a revitalized and State-led global partnership for development. They therefore reaffirmed their strong commitment to the full implementation of this Agenda, taking into account different national realities, capacities and levels of development and respecting national policies and priorities, through the delivery of the means of implementation as contained in Goal 17, as well as in each specific Sustainable Development Goal.

37. The Ministers reiterated their position that developing countries should be supported by an enabling international environment, which includes a supportive and just international system where the rules are fair and pro-development, as well as a genuine and revitalized global partnership to enable developing countries to meet their sustainable development aspirations.

38. The Ministers stressed that an enabling international environment may be achieved through the provision of additional financing resources, technology transfer and diffusion with concessional and preferential terms, capacity-building, strengthened data collection and analysing capacity, pro-development trade policies, equitable and effective participation of developing countries in global economic governance and adequate means of implementation for developing countries. They asserted that a strengthened and scaled-up global partnership for development is critical for developing countries in delivering the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

39. The Ministers stressed that technology is a key means of implementation and the most important lever of change for achieving sustainable development. However, the developing world is still facing a digital divide in which fixed-broadband services are unaffordable and/or unavailable across much of the population. They urged all relevant stakeholders to provide enhanced and coordinated support to address this digital divide through effective and sustainable technical assistance and capacity-building, which is tailored to the specific needs and constraints of developing countries. They are encouraged that operationalization and effective functioning of the LDC Technology Bank will assist the LDCs to have the structural transformation that is required in the area of STI.

40. The Ministers recalled that the 2030 Agenda and the Addis Ababa Action Agenda established the Technology Facilitation Mechanism (TFM) which is one of the most important tools in order to support the sustainable development goals. In this regard, even though they noted there has been some progress made in the UN inter-agency task team on science, technology and innovation for the sustainable development goals, and the launch of first annual multi-stakeholder forum on Science, Technology and Innovation for the sustainable development goals (STI Forum) they made an urgent call for the online platform to become operational as soon as possible as a gateway for information on existing STI initiatives, mechanisms and programmes

41. The Ministers emphasized the importance of providing opportunities for developing countries to bridge the technological and digital divide including gender divide and access to technology between developed and developing countries. These gaps have prevented developing countries and the poor from the full benefit of technology. There is an urgent need to channel effective and sustainable technical assistance and capacity-building which is tailored to the specific needs and constraints of developing countries, into addressing the technology infrastructure as well as capacity constraints of developing countries, particularly in LDCs, LLDCs and SIDS. It is also indispensable to strengthen educational institutions and research and development organizations in developing countries. Last but not least, the Ministers wholeheartedly encouraged the development, dissemination and diffusion and transfer of environmentally sound technologies to developing countries on favourable terms, including on concessional and preferential terms, for their implementation of the SDGs.

42. The Ministers affirmed that States have, in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations and the principles of international law, the sovereign right to exploit their own resources pursuant to their own environmental and developmental policies, and the responsibility to ensure that activities within their jurisdiction or control do not cause damage to the environment of other States or of areas beyond the limits of national jurisdiction.

43. The Ministers also reaffirmed that the right of peoples and nations to permanent sovereignty over natural wealth and resources must be exercised in the interest of their national development and of the well-being of the people of the State concerned.

44. While emphasizing the sovereignty of their countries and peoples over their natural wealth, the Ministers are also aware of the duty to conserve and sustainably manage and use these resources and ensure the conditions for nature and ecosystems to have the capacity to regenerate, for the benefit of present and future generations. The Ministers also recognized that the sustainable use of natural resources is an effective way to achieve economic growth while reducing poverty and environmental degradation.

45. The Ministers emphasized that transnational corporations have a responsibility to respect all human rights and should refrain from causing environmental degradation and environmental disasters and affecting the well-being of peoples.

46. The Ministers took note of the holding of the first session of the Open-ended Intergovernmental Working Group on Transnational Corporations and other Business Enterprises with respect to Human Rights, held in Geneva from 6 to 10 July 2015, and encouraged all member States to participate actively and constructively in the fulfilment of the Working Group's mandate in the upcoming sessions.

47. The Ministers reiterated that each country has the sovereign right to decide its own development priorities and strategies and that there is no "one size fits all" approach. In this regard, they stressed the need for policy space and policy flexibility for developing countries.

48. In this context, the Ministers reaffirmed that the imposition of coercive economic measures, including unilateral sanctions, against developing countries, do not contribute to economic development, including dialogue and understanding among countries.

49. The Ministers recalled that sovereign debt matters should concern both developed and developing countries. This should be considered as a matter that has the potential to adversely impact the global economy and the achievement of the SDGs if left unchecked. In this regard, the Ministers welcomed progress on debt and debt sustainability. The Ministers urged all United Nations Member States to further discuss sovereign debt restructuring and management processes, with active, inclusive participation and engagement by all relevant stakeholders, in order to nurture and strengthen these processes. The Ministers also reaffirmed the roles of the United Nations and the international financial institutions in accordance with their respective mandates.

50. The Ministers recognized the need to assist developing countries in attaining long-term debt sustainability through coordinated policies aimed at fostering debt financing, debt relief, debt restructuring and sound debt management, as appropriate. Many countries remain vulnerable to debt crises and some are in the midst of crises, including a number of least developed countries, small-island developing States and some developed countries. They reiterated that debtors and creditors must work together to prevent and resolve unsustainable debt situations. Maintaining sustainable debt levels is the responsibility of the borrowing countries; however they acknowledged that lenders also have a responsibility to lend in a way that does not undermine a country's debt sustainability. We will support the maintenance of debt sustainability of those countries that have received debt relief and achieved sustainable debt levels.

51. The Ministers reiterated their concern about the activities of so-called "vulture funds" and their actions of a highly speculative nature, which pose a risk to all future debt-restructuring processes, for both developing and developed countries. They therefore stressed the importance of preventing vulture funds from paralysing debt restructuring efforts.

52. The Ministers welcomed the adoption of United Nations General Assembly resolution 69/319 titled "Basic Principles on Sovereign Debt Restructuring Processes" on 10 September 2015 as an important step and noted its invitation to all Member and observer states, competent international organizations, entities and other relevant stakeholders to promote the Basic Principles.

53. The Ministers encouraged UNCTAD to continue its analytical and policy work and technical assistance on debt issues and to promote policies for responsible sovereign borrowing and lending, complementing the work done by the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund and other stakeholders as appropriate.

54. The Ministers reiterated that international trade as an engine for inclusive economic growth, poverty eradication and the promotion of sustainable development and reaffirmed the need to address the imbalances, discrimination and inequities of the global trading system, including the need for urgent correction and prevention of trade restrictions and distortions in world agricultural markets, and to find balanced outcomes that will allow developing countries to effectively engage in global trade. They expressed concerns that in 2015, the share of exports of goods and commercial services from LDCs fell to 0.9%. Although the Istanbul Programme of Action called for steps to ensure that LDCs' global trade share doubles from 1 per cent by 2020, no initiatives are visible in this regard. The Ministers underlined the need to undertake necessary measures at all levels to realize the Istanbul target for LDCs. The Ministers stressed the need to enhance the share of exports from developing countries.

55. The Ministers stressed the importance of promoting a universal, rules-based, open, transparent, predictable, non-discriminatory and equitable multilateral trading system. They recommitted to continuing to make positive efforts designed to ensure that developing country Members, and especially the least developed country Members among them, secure a share in the growth of world trade commensurate with the needs of their economic development, and that provisions truly effective for special and differential treatment shall remain as an integral part of the multilateral negotiations. In this regard, they call for strengthened complementarity between the work of UNCTAD, the World Trade Organization (WTO)and other relevant agencies with a view to realizing the full developmental potential of trade.

56. The Ministers expressed serious concern at the lack of meaningful progress in the Doha Round of World Trade Organization (WTO) negotiations, particularly domestic support and market access issues of interest to developing countries and the efforts by some members to undermine the commitments contained in the DDA; while welcoming the commitment of the 10th WTO Ministerial Conference to maintaining development at the centre of future negotiations and its reaffirmation of the principles of Special and Differential Treatment, the flexibilities for developing countries, and collective commitment to advancing on the Doha issues. In this context, they urged all WTO members to uphold and reiterate their commitment to promote an apolitical universal, fair and balanced, open, inclusive, non-discriminatory, transparent, equitable, rules-based, non-discriminatory and predictable multilateral trading system, that has development at its centre; which would enable developing countries, and especially the Least Developed Countries, to secure a share in the growth in international trade commensurate with the needs of their economic development and to fully integrate into the multilateral trading system.

57. The Ministers emphasized the importance of facilitating accession to WTO, especially for developing countries, recognizing the contribution that this would make to the rapid and full integration of these countries into the multilateral trading system. In this regard, they urged that the accession process be accelerated without political impediments and in an expeditious and transparent manner for developing countries that have applied for WTO membership, and reaffirm the importance of the WTO decision of 25 July 2012 on accession by the least developed countries.

58. The Ministers recognized the significant potential of regional economic integration and interconnectivity to promote inclusive growth and sustainable development, and committed to strengthening regional cooperation and regional trade agreements.

59. The Ministers recalled paragraph 29 of AAAA of the Third International Conference on Financing for Development, including its decision to increase the frequency of meetings of the Committee of Experts on International Cooperation in Tax Matters to two sessions per year, with a duration of four working days each, and to increase the engagement of the Committee with the Economic and Social Council through the Special Meeting on International Cooperation on Tax Matters, with a view to enhancing intergovernmental consideration of tax issues. In this regard, they urged for a faithful and timely implementation of the above decision.

60. The Ministers committed to scaling up international tax cooperation. They encouraged countries, in accordance with their national capacities and circumstances, to work together to strengthen transparency and adopt appropriate policies, including multinational enterprises reporting country-by-country to tax authorities where they operate; access to beneficial ownership information for competent authorities; and progressively advancing towards automatic exchange of tax information among tax authorities as appropriate, with assistance to developing countries, especially the least developed, as needed. Tax incentives can be an appropriate policy tool. However, to end harmful tax practices, countries can engage in voluntary discussions on tax incentives in regional and international forums.

61. The Ministers stressed that developing countries attach importance to scaling up international tax cooperation and combating illicit financial flows in order to mobilize domestic resources for the SDGs. The Ministers stressed the importance of eliminating safe havens that create incentives for transfer abroad of stolen assets and illicit financial flows. They reiterated their commitment to working to strengthen regulatory frameworks at all levels to further increase transparency and accountability of financial institutions and the corporate sector, as well as public administrations. The Ministers reaffirmed that they would strengthen international cooperation and national institutions to combat money-laundering and financing of terrorism.

62. The Ministers expressed their concern over illicit financial flows and related thereto tax avoidance and evasion, corruption and money laundering, by using certain practices, with negative impacts for the world economy and, in particular, for developing countries. They maintained that, while there is increasing recognition of the central role of tax systems in development and the importance of international cooperation on tax matters, there is still no single global inclusive forum for international tax cooperation at the intergovernmental level. There is also not enough focus on the development dimension of these issues. In this context, the Ministers reiterated the need to fully upgrade the United Nations Committee of Experts on International Cooperation in Tax Matters into an intergovernmental body and to provide adequate resources to the Committee to fulfill its mandate as well as increase the participation of experts of developing countries at its meetings. This will be critical in transforming the current Committee from experts acting in their own capacity to an intergovernmental subsidiary body of the Economic and Social Council, with experts representing their respective Governments.

63. The Ministers will work towards full and equal access to formal financial services for all. The Ministers will also work for the international system to ensure that the policy and regulatory environment supports financial market stability and promotes financial inclusion in a balanced manner and with appropriate consumer protection. The Ministers encouraged, as appropriate and in accordance with national laws and regulations, the use of innovative tools, including mobile banking, payment platforms and digitized payments. The Ministers looked forward to strengthening capacity development for developing countries, including through the United Nations development system. The Ministers will work to ensure that adequate and affordable financial services are available to migrants and their families in both home and host countries, including by reducing the average transaction cost of migrant remittances by 2030 to less than 3% of the amount transferred and to work to ensure that no remittance corridor requires charges higher than 5% by 2030. In this regard, the Ministers looked forward to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

64. The Ministers expressed profound concern regarding the progressive decline in correspondent banking relationships with developing countries in light of recent de-risking actions by certain major international banking partners. They underscored that such indiscriminate acts posed an existential threat to the financial stability of the affected countries and would undermine their efforts towards sustainable socio-economic growth and development. The Ministers called upon all relevant institutions including the Financial Stability Board, the Financial Action Task Force and the International Monetary Fund to urgently resolve the problems being faced by those Member States suffering from the loss of correspondent banking relations so as to avert a threat to their national economies and their financial and international-trade security.

65. The Ministers noted the outcome of the fourteenth session of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD XIV), held from 17 to 22 July 2016 in Nairobi, Kenya on the theme "From decisions to actions", which reaffirmed the core mandate of UNCTAD defined in the Accra Accord, and confirmed the role of the organization as the focal point for an integrated treatment of trade and development and interrelated issues of finance, technology, investment and sustainable development, while enhancing synergies and complementarities with other UN and international organizations, as well as the role in implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

66. The Ministers called upon UNCTAD to enhance its work towards addressing the trade and development challenges of all developing countries and, in so doing, to strengthen its work on the special problems of the least developed countries; African countries; landlocked developing countries; small island developing States; structurally weak, vulnerable and small economies and the related problems and challenges faced by middle-income countries, as well as to assist transit developing countries with their specific needs and challenges, particularly in relation to infrastructure development and transport. The Ministers underscored and commended the pivotal role of UNCTAD particularly through its technical assistance and capacity building to developing countries before, during and after the process of accession to WTO.

67. The Ministers fully supported the UN Conference on housing and sustainable urban development (Habitat III) which will be held from 17 to 20 October 2016 in Quito, Ecuador, and expressed appreciation to the Government of Indonesia for hosting the third session of the Preparatory Committee from 25-27 July 2016 in Surabaya. They recognized the objectives of the Conference which aims to secure renewed political commitment for sustainable urban development, assess accomplishments to date, address poverty, and identify and address new and emerging challenges. The Ministers expressed the hope that the deliberations and decisions of Habitat III would lead to greater attention and awareness to issues regarding cities and human settlements as well as increase international cooperation in this field. The Ministers remained firmly supportive of strengthening UN-Habitat, both its normative and operational work, in order to fulfill fully its coordinating role of the implementation of the New Urban Agenda.

68. The Ministers stressed the importance of human settlements and its direct impact on achieving sustainable development, especially in developing countries. They reiterated that urbanization and human settlements should enhance the Right to Development according to the Declaration on the Right to Development, in particular for developing countries. In this context, the role of international cooperation is crucial in providing additional, adequate, sustainable and predictable means of implementation including finance, technology transfer or capacity enhancement as means to support national efforts and capacities to implement the New Urban Agenda. They emphasized the important role of the United Nations and developed countries in assisting developing countries in this regards.

69. The Ministers further stressed that the 2030 Agenda, including its Goal 11 on making cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable, shall contribute to the international community's efforts towards the effective management of the challenges, and provide an opportunity to promote a positive mutually reinforcing relationship between cities and their surroundings across the human settlements continuum.

70. The Ministers reaffirmed the central role of UNIDO as a provider of specialized services for the promotion of Inclusive and Sustainable Industrial Development (ISID). They believed that UNIDO has an important role to play in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and as the central agency in the United Nations for all matters related to industrialization. In this context, the Ministers were greatly concerned by the continuing withdrawal of developed countries from the Organization, mostly European countries. They agreed that to discourage further withdrawals, it is important to enhance the visibility of UNIDO and its mandate.

71. The Ministers called on the countries that have left UNIDO, namely the United States of America, France, Canada, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Belgium, Australia, New Zealand, Portugal and Lithuania to rejoin the organization. They also appealed to the countries that have expressed their intention to withdraw, namely Denmark, the Netherlands and Greece, to reconsider and maintain their membership in UNIDO.

72. The Ministers underlined that gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls is fundamentally linked to sustainable development. Eradicating poverty, addressing persisting inequalities in income and wealth while ensuring access to opportunities and economic outcomes aiming at equitable and inclusive growth for a healthy, environmentally sustainable, peaceful and prosperous planet as set out in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is a tall order. But more importantly, it is simply not possible when half of the world's population continues to endure discrimination and persisting inequalities, lack access to basic services, opportunities and economic and other resources.

73. The Ministers recognized that violence and discrimination against women and girls continues to be a major obstacle to the achievement of gender equality, the empowerment of all women and girls, and development and reaffirmed to take action to eliminate and prevent all forms of violence against women and girls through strengthening of institutional mechanism, legal frameworks and financing.

74. In this context, the Ministers reiterated the important role of women in economic growth and development. They expressed their concerns on the fact that the potential of women to engage in, contribute to and benefit from sustainable development as leaders, participants and agents of change has not been fully realized. They therefore encouraged prioritizing measures to promote gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls in all spheres of societies. In addition, they underlined the contributions of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises to unlocking economic potential, especially of women and girls as drivers of sustainable development, since Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises is the key sector fostering sustained and inclusive economic growth in most developing countries.

75. The Ministers expressed their support for efforts to improve geographic distribution in the Secretariat and for more transparency in the recruitment process and stressed the need to increase the representation of developing countries in the United Nations, in particular at the senior levels, and in this regard they encourage candidatures coming from the Global South for such positions, including for the post of Secretary General of the United Nations.

76. The Ministers reaffirmed their continued support to the principles, goals and objectives set out in the Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD), which is a major outcome document representing a comprehensive framework on population and development matters. They stressed that the implementation of the ICPD Programme of Action remains crucial for the eradication of poverty and hunger in all its forms in an irreversible manner. Additionally, it remains critical for the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals, in particular with regard to ensuring universal access to sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights in accordance with the ICPD Programme of Action.

77. The Ministers recognized in the vast potential of young people to contribute towards sustainable development and social cohesion and noted that unavailability of quality employment in most developing countries not only blocks the successful transition of young people from school to decent jobs, but also impedes economic growth and development as a whole. Therefore, it is important that efforts at every level are taken to improve the quality of and access to education, and to enhance the acquisition of skills for youth. The Ministers encouraged the international community, including the UN and development agencies, to continue and enhance their support, both technically and financially, in education, training and skills development for young people.

78. The Ministers reaffirmed the need to create a conducive environment to strengthen and support all families, recognizing that equality between women and men and respect for all the human rights and fundamental freedoms of all family members are essential to family well-being and to society at large, they noted the importance of reconciliation of work and family life and recognized the principle of shared parental responsibility for the upbringing and development of the child. They also affirmed the need to continue their efforts to develop appropriate policies and programmes that address family poverty, social exclusion, domestic violence, work-family balance and intergenerational issues and to share good practices in those areas.

79. The Ministers recognized the need for a broader and a more people-centred preventive approach to disaster risk and that disaster risk reduction practices need to be multi-hazard and multi-sectoral, inclusive and accessible in order to be efficient and effective. In the regard, the Ministers recalled the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030, reaffirming that disaster-prone developing countries, in particular the least developed countries, small island developing States, landlocked developing countries and African countries, as well as middle-income countries facing specific challenges, warrant particular attention in view of their higher vulnerability and risk levels, which often greatly exceed their capacity to respond to and recover from disasters, and recognizing also that similar attention and appropriate assistance should also be extended to other disaster-prone countries with specific characteristics, such as archipelagic countries, as well as countries with extensive coastlines.

80. The Ministers reaffirmed that humanitarian emergencies arising out of natural and man-made disasters and other causes and outbreak of epidemics or other global health threats, deserve to be given the same level of attention as those arising out of armed conflicts. The devastating effects of climate change are real and sudden. Extreme natural disasters can affect the environment, the economy and society and reverse hard-earned developmental gains overnight. The massive humanitarian consequences that follow are even more catastrophic. Millions of lives are lost while many are forcibly displaced and separated from their families. In a similar vein, the devastating humanitarian crisis resulting from other forced displacement equally deserves the attention of the international community which should spare no effort investing in durable solutions.

81. The Ministers stressed that General Assembly Resolution 46/182 and the guiding principles in its annex remain the global framework for humanitarian assistance and coordination. At the same time, they are mindful of the need to further strengthen the coordination of relief efforts in order to support affected states in their humanitarian response to deliver effectively to communities in need.

82. In this context, the Ministers also recognized the importance of actions of humanitarian assistance as part of a comprehensive process of disaster risk management and the promotion of sustainable development.

83. The Ministers recognized the positive contribution of migrants to inclusive growth and sustainable development in countries of origin, transit and destination.

84. The Ministers stressed that migration is an enabler of development. The roles and responsibilities of the countries of origin, transit and destination should be appropriately balanced. It is crucial to cooperate internationally to ensure safe, orderly and regular migration involving full respect for human rights and the humane treatment of migrants, regardless of their migration status, refugees and displaced persons. Such cooperation should also strengthen the resilience of communities hosting refugees, particularly in developing countries.

85. The Ministers recognized that international migration is a multidimensional reality of major relevance to the development of origin, transit and destination countries that must be addressed in a coherent, comprehensive and balanced manner. They endeavoured to increase cooperation on access to and portability of earned benefits, enhance the recognition of foreign qualifications, education and skills, lower the costs of recruitment for migrants and combat unscrupulous recruiters, in accordance with national circumstances and legislation. They further endeavoured to implement effective social communication strategies on the contribution of migrants to sustainable development in all its dimensions, in particular in countries of destination, in order to combat racism, racial discrimination and xenophobia, facilitate social integration and protect migrants' human rights through national frameworks. They reaffirm the need to promote and protect effectively the human rights and fundamental freedoms of all migrants, especially those of women and children, regardless of their migration status.

86. The Ministers expressed their commitment to protecting the human rights of migrant children, given their vulnerability, particularly of unaccompanied migrant children, and to providing for their health, education and psychosocial development, ensuring that the best interests of the child are a primary consideration in policies of integration, return and family reunification.

87. The Ministers reaffirmed that remittance flows constitute sources of private capital, complement domestic savings and are instrumental in improving the well-being of recipients. The Ministers stressed that remittances cannot be considered a substitute for foreign direct investment, official development assistance, debt relief or other public sources of financing for development.

88. The Ministers also stressed the need to further address and promote conditions for cheaper, faster and safer transfers of remittances in both source and recipient countries and, as appropriate, encouraged opportunities for development-oriented investment in recipient countries by beneficiaries that are willing and able to take such action.

89. The Ministers noted the decision arrived at in the outcome document of the High-level plenary meeting of the General Assembly on addressing large movements of refugees and migrants to launch this year a process of intergovernmental negotiations leading to the adoption of a global compact for safe, orderly and regular migration in 2018 at an intergovernmental conference.

90. The Ministers took note of the Bali Declaration on people smuggling, trafficking in persons and related transnational crime, from the Sixth Ministerial Conference of the Bali Process on people smuggling trafficking in persons and related transnational crime that was held in Bali, Indonesia on 23 March 2016.

91. The Ministers reaffirmed that antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is a universal challenge for all humankind and requires international cooperation to achieve action at the local, national and regional levels. It has the potential to challenge the international community's ability to deal with common infections at the global level and therefore seriously impact global public health, as well as overall development gains achieved thus far. Furthermore, failure to address AMR can also hamper efforts to achieve the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, in particular, in developing countries.

92. In this context, the Ministers reiterated the importance of enhancing international cooperation in the realm of AMR, including through the fulfillment of international obligations and commitments in development cooperation. They stressed that, in implementation, addressing AMR must not in any way further hinder affordable and equitable access to existing and new antimicrobial medicines, vaccines and diagnostic tools, taking into account the needs of all countries, in line with the WHO Global Action Plan on AMR.

93. The Ministers expressed their commitment to the accelerated implementation of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action adopted by the World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance. In this regard, they reiterated their opposition to all forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance in all parts of the world and expressed deep concern on the resurgence of contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance in all parts of the world. They reaffirmed that all forms of racism and xenophobia as well as foreign occupation constitute serious violations of human rights, which should be rejected through all political and legal means. They condemned all forms of racism and discrimination spread through the new communications technology, including the Internet.

94. The Ministers noted the Programme of Activities for the Implementation of the International Decade for People of African Descent, including the establishment of a forum to serve as a consultation mechanism, the elaboration of a draft UN declaration on the rights of people of African descent and the adoption and implementation of policies and programmes to combat racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance faced by people of African descent.

95. The Ministers took note with appreciation of the high-level signature ceremony for the Paris Agreement adopted under the UNFCCC, on 22 April 2016 and the high-level event for ratification or acceptance on 21 September 2016. They stressed the importance of both the entry into force of the Agreement and on delivering major tasks to enhance pre-2020 implementation. This includes action on adaptation which is an urgent priority for developing countries. Financing for adaptation is critical and securing the continued role of the Adaptation Fund in the pre-2020 and post-2020 is welcomed and should be enhanced.

96. The Ministers stressed that the Paris Agreement was a result of the collective and tireless efforts of all Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change working constructively in a spirit of compromise for our efforts to address climate change, through enhancing the implementation of the Convention, including its provisions and principles, in particular equity and common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities. As the Paris Agreement moves towards its implementation phase, they reiterated the importance of preserving the delicate balance of all of the issues which were resolved in Paris as well as the principles and provisions of the Convention. They also recognized the importance of developed countries continuing to take the lead in addressing climate change, particularly in the implementation of the Paris Agreement in accordance with historical responsibilities and their respective capabilities.

97. The Ministers emphasized that developed countries shall continue to take the key leading role on mitigation by undertaking and increasing economy-wide absolute emission reduction targets for their pledges and nationally determined contributions (NDCs). For developing countries, capacity-building support for climate action is critical and should be based on and responsive to national needs and foster country ownership. The process of capacity-building must be participatory, country-driven, and cross-cutting. Enhanced financial and technological support from developed countries will allow for effective implementation and enhanced ambition of developing countries.

98. The Ministers stressed the need to address adverse impacts of and reduce vulnerability to climate change; they look forward to the mobilization of new and predictable additional resources, with developed countries continuing to take the lead through provision of finance, technology transfer and capacity building to developing countries.

99. The Ministers looked forward to the 22nd Conference of the States Parties to the UNFCCC to be held in Marrakech, Kingdom of Morocco, from 7 to 18 November 2016, and to an outcome that prioritizes the needs and challenges of developing countries.

100. The Ministers recalled the importance of oceans for sustainable development as embodied in Agenda 21, the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation, various decisions taken by the former Commission on Sustainable Development as well as the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, including Goal 14 Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources. Oceans, seas, islands and coastal areas form an integrated and essential component of the Earth's ecosystem and are critical for global food security and for sustaining economic prosperity and the well-being of many national economies, particularly in developing countries. The Ministers further recalled that, in this context, targets related to means of implementation including target 14.a, related to increasing scientific knowledge, developing research capacities and transferring marine technology in order to improve ocean health and to enhance the contribution of marine biodiversity to the development of developing countries, in particular small island developing States and least developed countries are crucial for the achievement of sustainable development.

101. In the context of the increasing awareness of oceans as an important factor for development, the Ministers recognized the importance of maintaining political momentum to achieve SDG 14. In this regard, the Ministers welcomed the holding of high-level UN Conference to support the implementation of sustainable development Goal 14: Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development as mandated by the General Assembly resolutions 70/226 and 70/303.

102. The Ministers recalled the adoption by consensus on 19 June 2015 of General Assembly resolution 69/292 on the development of an international legally binding instrument under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea on the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction. In this regard, the Ministers emphasized that the basic principle enshrined in the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and in General Assembly resolution 2749 (XXV) applicable to those resources is that of the common heritage of mankind, and that a specific legal regime for the biodiversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction needs to be developed in the form of an instrument under the Convention based on that principle. Such an instrument has to be negotiated by consensus as a package and negotiations must encompass the conservation and sustainable use of marine biodiversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction, including marine genetic resources, and the question of the sharing of benefits, measures such as area-based management tools, including marine protected areas, environmental impact assessments and capacity-building and the transfer of marine technology, recognizing that neither participation in the negotiations nor their outcome may affect the legal status of non-parties to the Convention or any other related agreements with regard to those instruments, or the legal status of parties to the Convention or any other related agreements with regard to those instruments.

103. The Ministers welcomed the progress of the discussion of the preparatory committee established by the General Assembly resolution 69/292 with a view to making substantive recommendations to the General Assembly on the elements of a draft text of an international legally binding instrument under the Convention and recalled that the objective of the new instrument would be both to conserve and to sustainably use the marine biological diversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction. The Ministers also reiterated the importance for the new instrument to be based on this important principle of common heritage of mankind as enshrined in the UNCLOS and in the General Assembly resolution 2479.

104. The Ministers expressed their deep concern about the vulnerability of mountain ecosystems to the increasing adverse impacts of climate change, extreme weather events, deforestation and forest degradation, land use change and land degradation, sand and dust storms and their slow recovery from natural disasters, noting that mountain glaciers around the world are retreating and getting thinner, with increasing impacts on the environment and on the sustainable livelihoods and human well-being of mountain peoples and of large portions of the world population, including rising food insecurity and water scarcity in developing countries, and in this regard highlighted the need to prioritize the special and urgent attention to sustainable mountain development, including by focusing on specific challenges and opportunities, in order to make a reality the pledges to leave no one behind and to reach the furthest behind first included in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

105. The Ministers recognized that the United Nations Forum on Forests, with its universal membership and comprehensive mandate, plays a vital role in addressing challenges and issues relating to forests in a holistic and integrated manner and in promoting policy coordination and cooperation to achieve the sustainable management of all types of forests and of trees outside forests. The Ministers also encouraged UNFF parties to present their contributions to the "Strategic Plan for Forests 2017 - 2030" as well as the quadrennial programme of work", in conformity with ECOSOC Resolution 2015/33. They encouraged other forest-related forums, initiatives and processes to cooperate with the Forum to achieve sustainable forest management.

106. The Ministers recognized the sand and dust storms as a serious challenge to the sustainable development in the affected countries and regions. They called on the role of the United Nations system to play its role in advancing international cooperation and support to combat sand and dust storms, and invite all relevant bodies, agencies, funds and programmes of the United Nations, and all other related organizations to integrate in their respective cooperation frameworks, operational programs, measures and actions aimed at combating sand and dust storms including: enhancing capacity building at national level, development and implementation of regional and sub-regional programs and projects, sharing of information, best practices and experiences and the boosting of technical cooperation, to undertake measures to control and prevent the main factors of sand and dust storms as well as the development of early warning systems as tools. They also stressed the importance of addressing the socioeconomic and environmental challenges of the affected countries and ways to address combating sand and dust storms in the context of the SDGs.

107. The Ministers recalled that the international community has a commitment to support the implementation of relevant strategies and programmes of action, including the Istanbul Programme of Action for the Least Developed Countries for the Decade 2011-2020 and the recently adopted outcome document of its Comprehensive High-level Midterm Review, the Vienna Programme of Action for Landlocked Developing Countries and the S.A.M.O.A Pathway and the importance of supporting the African Union's Agenda 2063 and the programme of the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD), all of which are integral to the new Agenda. In that connection, international cooperation to provide assistance in term of capacity building in areas of need, such as improvement of access to education and health, productive and trade capacity, development of environmentally sound technology, climate change mitigation and adaptation, among others, would be a crucial step forward. These specific programmes of action for LDCs, LLDCs, SIDS and African countries however, must remain the most important entry points for the international community to focus its attention and resources to assist these groups of countries. They also recognized the importance of addressing the diverse needs and challenges faced by Middle Income Countries.

108. The Ministers recalled the special needs of Africa and recognized that, while economic growth had improved, there was a need to sustain the recovery, which was fragile and uneven, to face the ongoing adverse impacts of multiple crises on development and the serious challenges that these impacts posed to the fight against poverty and hunger, which could further undermine the achievement of the internationally agreed development goals in Africa.

109. The Ministers expressed profound concern about the fact that the commitment to doubling aid to Africa by 2010, as articulated at the summit of the Group of Eight held in Gleneagles, United Kingdom, had not been entirely reached and in this regard stressed the need to make rapid progress in order to fulfill that and other donors' commitments to increasing aid through a variety of means, including the provision of new additional resources and the transfer of technology to and the building of capacity in African countries, and to supporting their sustainable development. They called for continued support for Africa's development initiatives, including Agenda 2063 and its 10-year plan of action, the New Partnership for Africa's Development and the Programme for Infrastructure Development in Africa. On the other hand, they welcomed the support that some developing countries had extended to Africa through South-South and triangular cooperation programmes.

110. The Ministers welcomed the political declaration of the Comprehensive High-level Midterm Review of the Istanbul Programme of Action (IPoA) for the Least Developed Countries (LDCs) for the Decade 2011-2020, which was held in Ankara, Turkey on 27 - 29 May 2016, and endorsed on 25 July 2016 by the resolution 70/294 of UN General Assembly.

111. The Ministers underlined the importance of the principles of universality and inclusiveness which must not be forgotten in order to enhance the capacities of LDCs towards their efforts to achieve the priority areas set forth in the IPoA and to implement the 2030 Agenda. With strong support, coordinated actions and acceleration of support from the international community, the LDCs will be able to overcome their structural weaknesses and this support will lead to having at least half of them to fulfill the graduation criteria by 2020.

112. In addition, the Ministers were encouraged by the recent rebound in ODA to LDCs and called on all development partners to provide 0.20 per cent of their GNI to LDCs, as committed. They were also encouraged by those who are allocating at least 50 per cent of their ODA to LDCs.

113. The Ministers also reaffirmed that fulfilling the commitments of the WTO Ministerial Decisions for duty-free, quota-free market access for all products from all LDCs and LDC friendly rules of origin regime is urgently needed to reverse the decline of LDCs' global trade share. In addition, fulfilling those commitments will also contribute towards the achievement of IPoA target of doubling the share of LDCs in global export. In this regard, it is important that at least 50 per cent of the Aid for Trade by development partners is allotted to LDCs.

114. The Ministers expressed their concern that the global financial and economic ongoing crisis is clearly undermining development in all developing countries and recalled that the modest development gains, in particular those in the least developed countries, made over the years are being reversed, pushing a larger number of their people to extreme poverty. Many least developed countries continue to be lagging behind in meeting most of the internationally agreed development goals, including the Millennium Development Goals.

115. The Ministers stressed the need for the international community to remain vigilant in monitoring the debt situation of the least developed countries and to continue to take effective measures, preferably within existing frameworks, when applicable, to address the debt problem of those countries, including through coordinated policies aimed at fostering debt financing, debt relief, debt restructuring and sound debt management, as appropriate, for the multilateral and bilateral debt owed by the least developed countries to creditors, both public and private. They reiterated our commitment to work through existing initiatives, such as the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries Initiative. They reaffirmed the importance of transparency in debt management.

116. The Ministers underlined the urgent need to fully operationalize the technology bank for the least developed countries, by 2017, in view of its potential to foster productive capacity, structural transformation, poverty eradication and sustainable development. They also called upon all relevant stakeholders to ensure continued support for the technology bank.

117. The Ministers reaffirmed that sustainable development cannot be realized without peace and security, and that peace and security will be at risk without sustainable development. In this regard, they further recognized that the least developed countries in conflict and post-conflict situations and those experiencing political instability, or unable to deliver basic State services, have specific structural challenges and require context-specific approaches, including targeted national policies and international support measures to address these challenges and to support peacebuilding, State-building activities and sustainable development. The Ministers took note of the principles set out in the New Deal for Engagement in Fragile States by the Group of Seven Plus, countries that are, or have been, affected by conflict.

118. The Ministers recognized the special development needs and challenges of landlocked developing countries arising from their landlockedness, remoteness from world markets and geographical constraints that impose serious impediments for export earnings, private capital inflow and domestic resource mobilization of landlocked developing countries and therefore adversely affect their overall sustainable development and expressed concern that their efforts towards sustainable development are affected by the frequent falling of commodity prices and that the LLDCs are highly exposed to climate change and disproportionately affected by its adverse impacts. The Ministers called upon the development partners, transit countries and international organizations to mainstream the Vienna Programme of Action and establish special facilities, for the LLDCs as appropriate, to assist them with execution and scaling-up of trade facilitation initiatives and effective implementation of the Trade Facilitation Agreement, and invited multilateral financial and development institutions and regional development banks to establish dedicated infrastructure funding for the LLDCs. The Ministers noted the declaration adopted at the Fifth Meeting of Trade Ministers of LLDCs held in June 2016 in Geneva that calls for the establishment of a specific Work Programme for LLDCs at the WTO by the 11th WTO Ministerial Conference, the Communique adopted at the Ministerial Meeting of the Group of LLDCs at the margins of the 10th Ministerial Conference of the WTO held in Nairobi in December 2015 and the Ministerial Communiqué of the Landlocked Developing Countries adopted prior to the fourteenth session of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD XIV) in July 2016.

119. The Ministers reaffirmed their strong commitment to the implementation of the Vienna Declaration and the Vienna Programme of Action for Landlocked Developing Countries for the Decade 2014-2024, and encouraged the landlocked developing countries, transit countries, their development partners, the United Nation system and all other actors to implement the actions that have been agreed upon in the Vienna Programe of Action, in its six priority areas, namely: fundamental transit policy issues; infrastructure development and maintenance; international trade and trade facilitation; regional integration and cooperation; structural economic transformation; and means of implementation; in a coordinated, coherent and expeditious manner. Furthermore, the Ministers reaffirmed that the Vienna Programme of Action is integral to the 2030 Agenda. They emphasized the importance of fostering strong synergy and coherence in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the Addis Ababa Action Agenda and the Vienna Programme of Action and encouraged coordination and coherence in the follow-up of their implementation. The Ministers stressed that the availability of and use of accessible, timely, reliable and high-quality disaggregated data to measure poverty in all its forms and dimensions as well as progress on sustainable development underpin the efforts to leave no one behind and called upon the development partners and international organizations to assist LLDCs in building and strengthening their official national capacities for data collection, disaggregation, dissemination and analysis. They called upon a revitalized Global Partnership based on renewed and strengthened partnerships between landlocked developing countries and the transit countries, their development partners and other stakeholders for the full, successful and timely implementation of the Vienna Programme of Action.

120. The Ministers reaffirmed that small island developing States remain a "special case" for sustainable development owing to their unique and particular vulnerabilities, including their small size, remoteness, narrow resource and export base, and exposure to global environmental challenges, including to a large range of impacts from climate change and potentially more frequent and intense natural disasters. Climate change and sea level rise continue to pose a significant risk to small island developing States and their efforts to achieve sustainable development and, for some, represent the gravest threat to their survival and viability, including, for some, through the loss of territory.

121. The Ministers reaffirmed the SIDS Accelerated Modalities of Action (SAMOA Pathway), adopted at the third International Conference on Small Island Developing States, held in Apia from 1 to 4 September 2014, which represents the international community's renewed political commitment to the sustainable development of small island developing States. The Ministers further recalled that the SAMOA Pathway also set out new modalities for strengthened action on a range of challenges and priorities concerning small island developing States and demonstrated how partnerships with different stakeholders could be nurtured and utilized as one of the important means to implement the outcome document and build resilience to the particular challenges faced by small island developing States. In this regard, the Ministers welcomed the progress made in implementing the SAMOA Pathway, through the establishment of the Partnership Framework for Small Island Developing States, which will monitor and ensure the full implementation of pledges and commitments though partnerships for Small Island Developing States, as well as to encourage new partnerships.

122. The Ministers took note with great appreciation of the ECOSOC special event on delivering the 2030 Agenda; the role of the UN system in Middle Income Countries, held on 26 May 2016 as part of the ECOSOC dialogue on the longer term positioning of the UN development system. They recalled that despite notable reductions in poverty, middle-income countries are still home to most of the world's people living in poverty and inequalities and gaps still remain. They continue to face significant challenges to achieve sustainable development. The Ministers reiterated the urgent need to identify ways and means to ensure that the diverse and specific development needs of middle-income countries are appropriately considered and addressed, in a tailored fashion, in their relevant strategies and policies, with a view to promoting a coherent and comprehensive approach towards individual countries. In this context, the UN development system must improve its support to different country contexts, including how to provide efficient, effective, more coordinated and better and focused support to middle-income countries.

123. The Ministers recognized the importance of addressing the specific challenges facing middle-income countries. In order to ensure that achievements made to date are sustained, efforts to address ongoing challenges should be strengthened through the exchange of experiences, improved coordination and better and focused support from the United Nations development system, the international financial institutions, regional organizations and other stakeholders. The Ministers also acknowledged that official development assistance and other concessional finance are still important for a number of these countries and have a role to play for targeted results, taking into account the specific needs of these countries. In this regard, the Ministers highlighted the need to make all institutional arrangements necessary to support middle-income countries within the United Nations system and its respective mandates, in particular through a comprehensive UN system-wide and long term strategy aimed at facilitating sustainable development cooperation and coordinated support towards MICs.

124. The Ministers reaffirmed that the operational activities for development of the UN system should provide a key contribution of the implementation of the ambitious and transformational 2030 agenda for sustainable development through the strengthening of national capacity. They also reaffirmed that strengthening the role and capacity of the United Nations development system to assist countries in achieving their development goals requires continued improvement in its effectiveness, efficiency, coherence, inter-agency efforts and impact, along with a significant increase in resources. In this regard, the fundamental characteristics of United Nations operational activities for development must remain, among others, their universal, voluntary and grant nature, their neutrality and their multilateralism, as well as their ability to respond to the development needs of programme countries in a flexible manner. Moreover, operational activities should be carried out for the benefit of recipient countries, at the request of those countries and in accordance with their own national policies and priorities for development.

125. The Ministers reaffirmed that the Fifth Committee of the General Assembly is the sole Main Committee of the Organization entrusted with responsibilities for administrative, financial and budgetary matters. In this regard, the Ministers requested that any budgetary, financial and administrative matters, including those related to the establishment of a peacekeeping operation or a special political mission, be discussed solely in the framework of the Fifth Committee, in conformity with the Charter of the United Nations.

126. The Ministers reaffirmed that any Secretariat and management reform efforts, including on its budget process, must not be intended to change the intergovernmental, multilateral and international nature of the Organization, but must strengthen the ability of Member States to perform their oversight and monitoring role and that prior consideration by and approval of Member States is essential in all cases where the measures to be implemented fall under the prerogatives of the Assembly. In this regard, they recall resolution 66/257. They also reaffirmed the right of the entire membership of the United Nations to pronounce itself on the administration of the Organization, including on budgetary matters, and the need for continuous interaction and dialogue between the Secretariat and the General Assembly aimed at fostering a positive environment for the negotiations, the decision-making process and the implementation of the reform measures.

127. The Ministers strongly supported the oversight role performed by the General Assembly, as well as its relevant intergovernmental and expert bodies, in planning, programming, budgeting, monitoring and evaluation. In this context, they renewed their commitment to strengthen the role of the Committee for Programme and Coordination. The Ministers also urged the rest of the membership of the United Nations to actively participate in the sessions of the Committee.

128. The Ministers reaffirmed the importance of the strategic framework as the principal policy directive of the Organization and that its content should fully reflect the mandates approved by Member States, including the United Nations financial rules and regulations.

129. The Ministers reaffirmed the importance of preserving the budget methodology, the established budgetary procedures and practices and the rules and regulations governing the budget process, and stressed that the level of resources to be approved by the General Assembly must be commensurate with all mandated programmes and activities in order to ensure their full and effective implementation. In this sense, they underlined that the existing recosting methodology is a fundamental and integral element of the budgetary methodology agreed in the General Assembly and affirmed that the existing recosting methodology ensures that mandated activities are not negatively impacted by currency fluctuations and inflation.

130. The Ministers underlined that the current methodology for the preparation of the scale of assessments reflects changes in the relative economic situations of the United Nations Member States. The Ministers further reaffirmed the principle of "capacity to pay" as the fundamental criterion in the apportionment of the expenses of the United Nations and rejected any change to the elements of the current methodology for the preparation of the scale of assessments aimed at increasing the contributions of developing countries. In this regard, they emphasized that the core elements of the current methodology of the scale of assessment, such as base period, Gross National Income, conversion rates, low per capita income adjustment, gradient, floor, ceiling for Least Developed Countries and debt stock adjustment must be kept intact and are not negotiable.

131. The Ministers stressed that the current maximum assessment rate, or ceiling, had been fixed as a political compromise and is contrary to the principle of the capacity to pay and is a fundamental source of distortion in the scale of assessments. In this context, they urged the General Assembly to undertake a review of this arrangement, in accordance with paragraph 2 of General Assembly resolution 55/5 C.

132. The Ministers emphasized that organizations which have an enhanced observer status at the United Nations giving them the rights and privileges usually only applied to observer states, such as the right to speak in the general debate of the General Assembly and the right of reply, should also have the same financial obligations to the United Nations as observer states. In this context, they urged the General Assembly to consider a decision on an assessment for such organizations.

133. The Ministers affirmed that the current principles and guidelines for the apportionment of the expenses of peacekeeping operations approved by the General Assembly in its relevant resolutions should constitute a basis for any discussion on the peacekeeping scale. In this regard, the Ministers stressed that the peacekeeping scale must clearly reflect the special responsibilities of the permanent members of the Security Council for the maintenance of peace and security. The Ministers also recalled that the economically less developed countries have limited capacity to contribute towards the budgets of peacekeeping operations. In this context, the Ministers emphasized that any discussion on the system of discounts applied to the peacekeeping scale should take into account the conditions of developing countries whose current positions must not be negatively affected. The Ministers stressed, in this regard, that no member of the Group of 77 and China that is not a permanent member of the Security Council, should therefore be categorized above level C.

134. The Ministers express their concern for the growing restrictive nature of "earmarked" contributions within different United Nations entities, such as UNDP, UNFPA, UNOPS and UNICEF among others. They also emphasized that regular resources are the bedrock of those entities and are essential to maintain and fulfill their universal mandate and work. Hence, the declining trend of regular resources and a high concentration of earmarked funds put the organization at risk of not having the capacity to deliver on its programmes. The Ministers appealed to assure stable and predictable contributions and noted the important need to emphasize the quality, flexibility, predictability and alignment of such contributions.

135. The Ministers reiterated their support to the United Nations Programme of Assistance in the Teaching, Study, Dissemination and Wider Appreciation of International Law established by General Assembly resolution 2099 (XX) of 20 December 1965 for the purpose of contributing to greater knowledge of international law as a means of strengthening international peace and security and promoting friendly relations and cooperation among States. They recalled that the Programme and its components are one of the cornerstones of the efforts of the United Nations to promote international law and that jurists, academics, diplomats and other public officials from developing countries greatly benefit from the regional courses of international law, fellowships, publications and the Audiovisual Library of International Law. In this regard, the Ministers welcomed the inclusion of additional resources under the programme budget for the biennium 2016-2017 for the organization of the Regional Courses in International Law for Africa, for Asia-Pacific and for Latin America and the Caribbean each year and for the continuation and further development of the United Nations Audiovisual Library of International Law. They also expressed their commitment to include the International Law Fellowship Programme, the seminars and regional training on international treaty laws and practice and the legal publications and training materials, as well as the necessary funding for the Hamilton Shirley Amerasinghe Memorial Fellowship, in the regular budget of the United Nations for the biennium 2018-2019.

136. The Ministers reaffirmed the importance of respect for the universal realization of the right of peoples to self-determination, in particular of peoples living under colonial or foreign occupation and other forms of alien domination, which adversely affects their social and economic development, respect for the independence of States, national sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity and non-interference in the internal affairs of States, including through the use of information and communications technologies, in particular social networks, contrary to the principles of international law, for the effective guarantee and observance of human rights, enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations and embodied in the international covenants on human rights, and stress that full respect for the principles and purposes enshrined in the Charter and international law inspire full commitment to multilateralism.

137. The Ministers reaffirmed that the right of self-determination is a primordial right that anchors the United Nations. For developing countries, it has been and continues to be a beacon of hope for all those who struggle under the weight of occupation. In this context, in the implementation and the follow-up and review of 2030 Agenda, the international community must not forget the severe difficulties faced by peoples living under colonial and foreign occupation and strive to remove the obstacles to their full realization of the right of self-determination, which adversely affect their economic and social development and their ability to achieve and implement the sustainable development goals and to ensure that they will not be left behind.

138. The Ministers reaffirmed, in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations, the need to respect the territorial integrity and political independence of States.

139. The Ministers deplored the lasting and massive negative impact of the brutal military aggression committed by Israel, the occupying Power, in July and August 2014 against the Palestinian civilian population in the occupied Gaza Strip, which resulted in the killing of more than 2,150 Palestinians, including hundreds of children and women, and injury to more than 11,000 Palestinians as a result of the lethal, indiscriminate and excessive use of force by Israeli occupying forces, as well as the wanton destruction of thousands of Palestinian homes, vital civilian infrastructure, business properties, mosques, schools, hospitals, public institutions, farms and several United Nations facilities in Gaza. They expressed grave concern about the continuing obstruction of recovery due to the Israeli blockade and the resulting deterioration of infrastructure and services and stressed the urgency of reconstruction. The Ministers deplored the systematic, grave breaches of international law, including international humanitarian and human rights law, committed by Israel in this regard. They called for accountability for these crimes and violations and called upon the Security Council, in line with its Charter duty for the maintenance of international peace and security, to undertake serious follow-up efforts to bring an end to Israel's impunity and realize justice for the victims and to contribute to a peaceful and just solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

140. The Ministers reiterated their demand for the immediate and full lifting of the Israeli blockade imposed on the Gaza Strip, which constitutes the massive collective punishment of its inhabitants in grave contravention of international humanitarian and human rights law. The Ministers requested all members of the international community, the United Nations and other international organizations and non-governmental organizations to help to provide the victims of the Israeli aggression in the Gaza Strip with the required humanitarian assistance on an urgent basis. They also reiterated their call upon the international community to continue providing much-needed developmental and humanitarian assistance to the Palestinian people, among them Palestine refugees, during this critical period, particularly for reconstruction and economic recovery in the Gaza Strip, including through the United Nations agencies present on the ground and providing vital assistance, including the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East.

141. The Ministers expressed concern in this regard about the critical financial situation and recurrent under-funding of UNRWA and the effect on Agency programmes to address the humanitarian and developmental needs of the Palestine refugees, and urged States to contribute to UNRWA and to support efforts to ensure more sustained and predictable funding to the Agency, including by the United Nations.

142. The Ministers expressed deep concern about the further decline of the social and economic conditions of the Palestinian people as a result of illegal Israeli practices, which include but are not limited to the continuing colonization of Palestinian land by Israel, the occupying Power, in grave breach of international humanitarian law and the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, as well as in flagrant violation of relevant United Nations resolutions and disrespect of the advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice. In this connection, the Ministers demanded a halt to Israel's confiscation of Palestinian property, construction and expansion of Israeli settlements and the wall, demolition of Palestinian homes and forced displacement of Palestinian civilians. They also expressed grave concern over the frequent acts of violence, terror and incitement against Palestinian civilians and the destruction of Palestinian properties by Israeli settlers in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and called for action to hold the perpetrators accountable for these crimes.

143. The Ministers reaffirmed their unwavering support for the just cause of Palestine and solidarity with the Palestinian people. They reaffirmed their principled and long-standing support for the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination and the achievement of their legitimate national aspirations, including for freedom, independence, justice, peace and dignity in their independent State of Palestine, with East Jerusalem as its capital, and called for the exertion by the international community of the necessary efforts in support of these objectives.

144. The Ministers reiterated their call for the immediate and full withdrawal of Israel, the occupying Power, from the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and the occupied Syrian Golan to the line of 4 June 1967 and from the remaining Lebanese occupied land. They reaffirmed their support for a Middle East peace process aimed at achieving a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the region, in accordance with the relevant United Nations resolutions, including Security Council resolutions 242 (1967), 338 (1973), 425 (1978) and 1850 (2008) and the principle of land for peace. In this context, they also reaffirmed their support for the Arab Peace Initiative, endorsed by the Arab Summit Conference in March 2002.

145. The Ministers reaffirmed the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people and of the population of the occupied Syrian Golan over their natural resources, including land, water and energy resources, and demanded that Israel, the occupying Power, cease the exploitation, damage, cause of loss or depletion and endangerment of the natural resources in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and in the occupied Syrian Golan, which constitute violations of international law and severely undermine their ability to pursue sustainable development.

146. Recalling that 16th December 2015 marked the 50th anniversary of the adoption of UN General Assembly resolution 2065 (XX), the first resolution which specifically refers to the Question of the Malvinas Islands, the Ministers reaffirmed the need for the Governments of the Argentine Republic and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland to resume negotiations in accordance with the principles and the objectives of the United Nations Charter and the relevant resolutions of the General Assembly, in order to find, as soon as possible, a peaceful solution to the sovereignty dispute relating to "The Question of the Malvinas Islands", which seriously damages the economic capacities of the Argentine Republic and the need for both parties to refrain from taking decisions that would imply introducing unilateral modifications in the situation while the islands are going through the process recommended by the General Assembly.

147. Highlighting the right of the Member States of the Group of 77 to permanent sovereignty over their energy resources, the Ministers expressed that the operations not authorized by the Argentine Government in the Malvinas Islands area relating to the exploration of natural resources, especially hydrocarbon resources, are seriously detrimental to the sovereignty rights of the Argentine Republic over its continental shelf.

148. In this regard, the Ministers recognized the right of the Argentine Republic to take legal actions with full respect for International Law and relevant resolutions against non-authorized hydrocarbon exploration and exploitation activities in the referred area.

149. The Ministers welcomed the conclusion of negotiations and the announcement of a Final Agreement between the Government of Colombia and the FARC-EP as an important step towards a stable and enduring peace in Colombia. The Ministers stressed that an equally determined and exemplary effort will be required to implement the agreements, and in this regard they called upon the international community to lend its full support to Colombia at this critical stage of the process. The Ministers look forward to the official signing ceremony of the Final Agreement, to be held on September 26, 2016.

150. Ministers reaffirmed the need to find a peaceful solution to the sovereignty issues facing developing countries, including the dispute over the Chagos Archipelago, including Diego Garcia, which was unlawfully excised by the United Kingdom from the territory of Mauritius, prior to independence, in violation of international law and General Assembly resolutions 1514 (XV) of 14 December 1960 and 2066 (XX) of 16 December 1965. Failure to resolve these decolonization and sovereignty issues would seriously damage and undermine the development and economic capacities and prospects of developing countries. Ministers noted with great concern that despite the strong opposition of Mauritius, the United Kingdom purported to establish a "marine protected area" around the Chagos Archipelago, which contravenes international law and further impedes the exercise by Mauritius of its sovereign rights over the archipelago and the right of return of Mauritius citizens who were forcibly removed from the archipelago by the United Kingdom. In this regard, they noted the ruling of the Arbitral Tribunal in the case brought by the Republic of Mauritius against the United Kingdom under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea that the "MPA" was unlawfully established under international law. Ministers resolved to support Mauritius in its endeavor to affirm its territorial integrity and sovereignty over the Chagos Archipelago.

151. The Ministers also took note of the concern expressed by the Republic of Maldives regarding the legal and technical issues arising from the United Kingdom's illegal decision in 2010 to declare a "MPA" in the Chagos Archipelago which overlaps the exclusive economic zone of the Republic of Maldives as declared in its Constitution without prejudice to future resolution of maritime delimitations.

152. The Ministers reaffirmed their firm rejection of the imposition of laws and regulations with extraterritorial impact and all other forms of coercive economic measures, including unilateral sanctions, against developing countries and reiterate the urgent need to eliminate them immediately. They emphasized that such actions not only undermine the principles enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations and international law but also severely threaten the freedom of trade and investment. The Ministers therefore called upon the international community to adopt urgent and effective measures to eliminate the use of unilateral coercive economic measures against developing countries.

153. The Ministers expressed their strongest rejection of the implementation of unilateral coercive measures and reiterated their solidarity with Cuba. As they welcomed the reestablishment of diplomatic relations between the Republic of Cuba and the United States of America, and within that context, the visit of President Barack Obama to Cuba, they reaffirmed their call upon the Government of the United States to put an end to the economic, commercial and financial blockade imposed on that sisterly nation for more than five decades. The Ministers, by recognizing that the actions taken by the executive branch of the United States Government to modify some aspects of the implementation of the blockade are positive, and that these still have a limited scope, encouraged the President of the United States of America to continue taking all actions within his executive powers to substantially modify the application of the blockade against Cuba and the United States Congress to initiate, as soon as possible, a discussion on removing it.

154. The Ministers reaffirmed their rejection to the unilateral economic sanctions imposed on the Sudan, which have a negative impact on the development and prosperity of the people of the Sudan, and in this regard called for an immediate lifting of those sanctions.

155. The Ministers reaffirmed their rejection to the unilateral economic sanctions imposed on the Islamic Republic of Iran, which have a negative impact on the development and prosperity of the people of the Islamic Republic of Iran, and in this regard called for an immediate lifting of those sanctions.

156. The Ministers reaffirmed their rejection to the unilateral economic sanctions imposed on the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, which have a negative impact on the development and prosperity of this country, and in this regard emphasized the importance of dialogue and called for an immediate lifting of those sanctions.

157. The Ministers reaffirmed their rejection to the unilateral economic sanctions imposed on the Syrian Arab Republic, which have a negative impact on the development and prosperity of the people of Syria, and in this regard called for an immediate lifting of those sanctions.

158. The Ministers reaffirmed their rejection to the unilateral economic sanctions imposed on the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, which have a negative impact on the development and prosperity of the people of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, and in this regard called for an immediate lifting of those sanctions.

159. The Ministers took note with appreciation of the convening of the 17th Summit of the NAM Summit that took place in Margarita Island, Venezuela from 13 to 18 September 2016 and recognized that the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela assumed the presidency of the NAM and stressed their willingness to continue the work towards the achievement of their common interests especially through the Joint Coordinating Committee of G-77 and NAM.

160. The Ministers expressed their deep appreciation to the Kingdom of Thailand for its able leadership and for the excellent work achieved during 2016. The commitment and leadership shown by the Kingdom of Thailand as Chair country in pursuing the goals and objectives of the Group of 77 was a source of profound appreciation and gratitude. The Ministers also commended the efficient work and continued valuable support provided by the Executive Secretariat of the Group of 77 in New York to the Chair country and to the Member States and congratulated the Executive Secretary of the Group of 77, Mr. Mourad Ahmia, for the appreciation award presented to him by the Chair of the Ministerial Meeting, in recognition of his outstanding leadership and continued dedicated service to the Group of 77.

161. The Ministers warmly welcomed the election by acclamation of Ecuador to the Chairmanship of the Group of 77 for 2017.

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