Statement by Thailand on behalf of the Group of 77 and China, at the Working Party on the Medium-term Plan and the Programme Budget (Fortieth session, first part)

Geneva, 13-17 January 2003

1. Congratulations for the Chairman and the Vice-Chairman cum Rapporteur.

2. The Group of 77 and China would like to express our appreciation for the Deputy Secretary-General of UNCTAD's concise but comprehensive statement in presenting the proposed draft programme of work for the biennium 2004-2005. We appreciated in particular the information provided with respect to the content of various sections of the work programme, as well as the new procedure introduced in New York with respect to the Executive Committee on Economic and Social Affairs (EC-ESA). We would like equally to express our appreciation of the secretariat's initiative to invite Mrs. Bertrand, Inspector, Joint Inspection Unit, to present to us her experience with indicators.

3. The Group of 77 and China will have, of course, the possibility to come back to every section of the work programme during the informal sessions. We would like, however, to make a couple of general comments which cover not only the content of the Programme Budget, but the related "environment" under which this new draft programme of work has been designed and will be implemented. In this respect we would like to make the following points:

a. The discussions should take fully into account the process going on elsewhere in the UN. The Group of 77 and China have in mind in particular the work of the open-ended group on the follow-up to major conferences, the decisions taken by the General Assembly on the strengthening of the work of the Organization, the next phase of the reform which will cover the technical cooperation activities of the UN, and the future role of the General Assembly Second and Third Committees, which are under consideration in New York. The Group of 77 and China presume that all these processes may have implications for UNCTAD and will be grateful if the secretariat will be able when discussing the individual sections of the draft work programme, to provide us with additional information. We would like to know, for instance, how UNCTAD as an institution, and not as a secretariat, will contribute to the follow-up process of Monterrey and Johannesburg, to the debate on macro-economic issues in the General Assembly, as well as in the spring session of ECOSOC devoted to the dialogue with the Bretton Woods Institutions and WTO as well as in the high-level segment dialogue of the General Assembly devoted to financing for development.

b. The involvement of UNCTAD in the implementation of the Monterrey Consensus and Johannesburg is important. UNCTAD, as the focal point of the UN for the integrated treatment of trade and development issues, in particular, trade, investment, commodities and technology, is eminently placed to bring its contribution not only in selected areas of work such as trade or investment, but equally on broader issues related to coherence and systemic issues. Similarly, UNCTAD has a key role to play in the area of trade, investment and sustainable development, as well as commodities, in line with the provisions of the Johannesburg's outcome. This is a point that is of critical interest to the Group of 77 as this has wider implications for UNCTAD as an institution. Even if we may not be able to introduce concepts relating to these two conferences during the discussion of the current work programme, this will prepare the ground for a future discussion in the context of the preparatory process for UNCTAD XI.

c. The Group of 77 and China would like to place on record that we find the over-all content of the budget has reflecting fully the mandate entrusted by member States to UNCTAD. We would like however, to strongly reiterate the importance the Group of 77 attaches to the work that UNCTAD will need to do in coming years of interest to development countries, such as trade and trade negotiations, interdependence and globalization, debt, commodities (in particular in the light of the recently adopted resolution of the General Assembly), investment, Africa, and Least Developed Countries. We will come, as indicated, earlier with specific comments on the various sections, but we would like to reiterate the importance that the work programme should fully reflect the legislative authority given by member States and the expectations of the member States that those mandates be fully delivered. Any departure from this legislative authority should be brought to the attention of the Working Party and of the Trade and Development Board.

d. The Group of 77 and China are looking forward to the clarification that the secretariat will provide to us with respect to the role of the EC-ESA. We feel, of course, that every step taken in the direction of increasing synergies and avoiding duplication amongst various entities of the United Nations is a welcome step. However, we would like to state that the role of the Working Party in defining the work programme of UNCTAD should have priority, and that the decisions taken by the Working Party should be fully taken into account in the finalization of the programme budget in New York. This is not a new issue and we strongly hope that the efforts and the hard work that the Working Party is putting into this exercise will really serve the purpose for which it has been designed, i.e. a serious review by a sectoral intergovernmental body of a section of the budget of the United Nations in which it has the greatest expertise.