Journal of the Group of 77 - Volume 18/2 - 2005 (Special Edition)


Geneva, 19 June (Martin Khor) -- The Doha Plan of Action, adopted by the political leaders of the Group of 77 and China at the Second South Summit in Qatar on 15-16 June, compiles the thinking and action proposals of the South on four main areas - globalisation, knowledge and technology, South-South cooperation and North-South relations.

In addition, there is a section on Implementation and Follow Up and an Annex listing proposals for South-South cooperation projects.

The Plan of Action (POA) is thus a useful document as it provides in one place a summary of positions of the South’s political leaders on key contemporary issues, and their guidance on follow up actions.

Several of the ideas and plans recall the Havana Programme of Action, adopted at the first South Summit in Cuba in 2000. Indeed, some of the leaders at the Doha Summit lamented the fact that only a small minority of the actions proposed then had been implemented.

“We recognize from experience that we cannot just hope (for cooperation to take place) but we have to take appropriate action to implement the programmes if they are to become reality,” said P. J. Patterson, the Jamaican Prime Minister and Chairman of the G77, after the adoption of the Doha POA.

It remains to be seen whether this time a serious implementation mechanism will be put in place by the G77 to follow up on the Doha POA.

In the POA, the heads of state and government of the G77 and China said they had reviewed the implementation of the Havana Declaration and Plan of Action and the achievements of the G77 as well as the challenges facing it in promoting development. They had also assessed the increasingly complex and fast changing world economy, the evolving unjust and inequitable international economic order and the resulting new and multifaceted challenges.

They emphasized the need to continue strengthening the unity and solidarity among countries of the South, “as an indispensable element in the defense of our right to development and for the creation of a more just and equitable international order and for preserving and nurturing the policy space necessary for developing countries to pursue their development objectives.” The leaders then adopted commitments to act on the various issues covered by the POA.

In the section on Globalisation, the leaders pledged to work towards a common strategy for securing national policy space for developing countries which allow them to adopt the most appropriate measures and actions suitable to their national interests and priorities, and to realize their right to development.

They recognized that reliance on market mechanisms alone is insufficient to meet the challenge of development or to achieve the MDGs.

They agreed to work with the international community towards good governance of globalization by addressing the deficit of democracy and enhancing full and effective participation of developing countries in international economic decision making and norm setting, as well as enhancing transparency in the international financial, monetary and trading systems. They called for greater coordination among international institutions and agencies particularly those dealing with development, finance, monetary and trade issues to promote greater coherence in their policies with a view to making them more development-oriented.

In a lengthy reference to the WTO, the leaders pledged to promote within the WTO a fair, equitable and rules-based trading system that is inclusive and gives priority to the development dimension. As a first step, in the context of the WTO’s Ministerial in December 2005 in Hong Kong, they called for action:

(I) to achieve the fullest realization of the development mandate of the Doha Ministerial Declaration and the WTO General Council decision of August 1, 2004 in all areas of the Doha Work Programme particularly in agriculture, non-agricultural market access, services, TRIPS, rules as well as operational and meaningful special and differential treatment (SDT) for developing countries and to adopt practical and concrete solutions to the outstanding implementation related issues and concerns raised by developing countries;

(ii) to address the trade-related issues identified for fuller integration of small, vulnerable economies into the multilateral trading system.

(iii) to secure targeted financial and technical assistance, and capacity-building programmes for developing countries.

(iv) to emphasize the importance of universality of the WTO membership and call for accelerating the accession process with full observance of the principles of special and differential treatment for developing countries applying to the WTO;

(v) to provide duty-free and quota-free access to all products originating from all LDCs to the markets of developed countries as well as to the markets of developing countries in a position to do so and support their efforts to overcome their supply-side constraints;

(vi) to liberalize services trade in sectors and modes of supply of interest to developing countries, particularly in Modes IV and I of the GATS, assist developing countries in strengthening their domestic services supply capacity and the regulatory frameworks, recognizing their need for policy flexibility consistent with GATS Article IV; and increase investment flows in sectors identified by developing countries, based on their national policy objectives;

(vii) to enhance the development dimension of the international IPR system, taking into account the different levels of development of developing countries with a view to ensuring affordable access to necessary basic products, including medicines and educational tools and software, the transfer of knowledge, the promotion of research and stimulation of innovation and creativity, and in this regard we call:

* For action to accelerate the work on the development related mandate concerning the TRIPS Agreement and the implementation related issues in the Doha Ministerial Declaration, especially on the issues of making intellectual property rules of TRIPS supportive of the objectives of the Convention on Biological Diversity;

* On WIPO, as a UN Agency, to include in all its future plans and activities including legal advice a development dimension that includes promoting development and access to knowledge for all, pro-development norm-setting, establishing development friendly principles and guidelines for the provisions of technical assistance and the transfer and dissemination of technology.

The leaders also called for trade integration and adjustment support to developing countries to build capacity to negotiate and implement trade agreements, and to undertake the necessary adjustment to compete and trade, including through: support to strengthen supply capabilities of SMEs; an “aid for trade” fund to help developing countries adjust to a more open global trade regime; and encouragement of investment in trade-related physical infrastructures, including in the context of commitments by developed countries to support trade facilitation infrastructure development.

They urged the G-24 to work with the G-77 to secure reforms of the international financial architecture for effective voice and participation of developing countries in international decision making process, for full implementation of the Monterrey Consensus, to create stability, to reduce the risk of economic and financial crises, and to enhance the capacity of developing countries to respond to such crises.

They pledged to address in the relevant international fora the urgency of global measures to monitor short-term capital flows, particularly the sources and movement of speculative capital, and to protect the autonomy of developing countries in managing capital flows and choosing their capital account regime.

They will also seek developing country representation at the Bank for International Settlements through the creation of an “Emerging Markets Committee” so that the South’s interests are taken into account in the setting of international banking and financial standards.

They agreed to increase efforts within the international financial institutions for the introduction of international financing mechanisms to meet developing countries’ needs and to mitigate the impact of external trade and financial shocks. They will also pursue efforts to identify innovative sources of financing for development.

They urged greater coordination “among our Ministries of Foreign Ministers, Finance, Planning and Trade in order to promote greater coherence in our initiatives with the rest of the world.”

In a detailed section on commodities, the leaders called for an international approach to enhancing the contribution of commodities to development through actions to address supply side constraints of developing countries, explore an export enhancement fund for commodity dependent countries, remove market entry conditions, systematically link debt repayment and debt servicing by commodity-dependent developing countries to adverse movements in prices of commodity exports and imports; support the UNCTAD XI International Task Force on Commodities, and strengthen the Common Fund for Commodities, and continue efforts to make effective international commodities agreements concluded under UN guidance to promote and improve production and trade of primary products of vital interest to developing countries.

The leaders will consider expanding market size and maximizing investment opportunities by creating sub-regional, regional and inter-regional markets through bilateral, sub-regional and regional economic arrangements.

They will also address the concern regarding the multiplication of proceedings with regard to existing Investor-State dispute settlement system and the negative impact they could have on development. They asked for exchange of experiences between and among developing countries and various institutions dealing with the issue of Investor-State dispute settlement system.

They agreed to ensure that the Fifth UN Conference on the UN Set of Principles and Rules for the Control of Restrictive Business Practices in Turkey on 14-18 November adopts recommendations identifying concrete policies and measures which would make global markets more efficient, fairer and more equitable by preventing and dismantling anti-competitive structures and practices of global enterprises and by promoting developmental responsibility and accountability of corporate actors.

In a section on North-South Relations, the POA called for developed countries to conduct their macroeconomic and trade policies including subsidies elimination in a way that enhances the opportunities for developing countries to reduce the existing income gap and to meet the internationally agreed development goals. It called for an effective monitoring mechanism to ensure that the ODA targets are met.

It urged the international financial institutions and developed country creditors to relate debt sustainability criteria directly to the financing requirements for achieving the internationally agreed development goals.

It fully supported efforts by the international community to raise bilateral grants to the LDCs and other low-income countries, in addition to those grants provided through debt cancellation. It will also continue deliberations on the creation of a framework to deal effectively with all sovereign debt of developing countries.

The POA also urged multilateral and bilateral donors to fulfill their commitment in support for those developing countries facing unsustainable debt burdens, including LDCs, low- and middle-income countries and to develop and implement initiatives to reduce outstanding indebtedness and encourage further international measures, including debt cancellation and other arrangements as well as for those countries belonging to the HIPC Initiative.

The G77 leaders said they would strengthen dialogue with developed countries and their organizations on international economic cooperation for development and invited the Chairman of the G77 “to bring concerns and interests to our development partners, including to the meetings of G8.”

They will engage all partners on the issue of global systemic imbalances in trade, finance, money and technology. They urged the international community to promote reform of the global financial architecture, including through enhancing the voice and participation of developing countries in the decision-making process of the IFIs, and to review international monetary and financial polices and arrangements and their impact on developing countries.

They agreed on enhanced collaboration through the G-77 Chapter in Geneva to increase negotiating capacity in trade and trade related issues.

They called on the international community to promote the transfer of technologies on preferential terms and to support developing countries to increase access to education, ICT knowledge and infrastructure.

They urged the international community to take more measures to mitigate the disastrous effects of HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria and other diseases including by encouraging local production of drugs and ensuring access to drugs at affordable costs.

They pledged to engage in a pro-active dialogue on matters related to corporate developmental responsibility and good corporate governance of Transnational Corporations, which entails maximizing their contribution to the economic and social development of host developing countries.

Finally, the leaders underscored the importance of a more dynamic and cooperative relationship with the developed countries and called on the G77 to make proposals for the launching of the dialogue.

On Knowledge and Technology, the G77 leaders pledged to strengthen South-South Cooperation in science and technology, to enhance access and use of ICT, to encourage the use of e-government, and to convene the South-South Cultural Forum.

They agreed to strengthen cooperative efforts to build and to utilize networks, institutional capacity and expertise in areas, such as science and technology, research and standards development and to develop a network of “centres of excellence” from existing scientific and technological institutions in developing countries to allow scientists and engineers to interact with each other including through frequent exchange programmes.

On South-South Cooperation, the POA called for a study on new and dynamic sectors for developing countries in world trade, asked all the parties involved to conclude the Third Round of GSTP by 2006, and called on Member States to elaborate South-South frameworks for sectoral cooperation.

It urged UNESCO to develop a programme for South-South cooperation in science and technology and a similar programme for education.

They undertook to strengthen cooperation in the fight against HIV/AIDS, malaria, tuberculosis and other communicable diseases and strengthen strategic South-South programmes of R&D on development of vaccines, drugs and diagnostics for the prevention and cure of these diseases in the South.

They recommended continued consideration of a Trade and Development Bank for the South, asked for mechanisms at the regional and sub-regional levels to exchange of information on anti-competitive practices. They called for regional and sub-regional integration through groupings and other arrangements based on mutual benefit, complementarities and solidarity among developing countries; and for stronger inter-regional cooperation among developing countries in all areas.

They requested the submission of an annual report on South-South cooperation by the Special Unit for South-South Cooperation in collaboration with the South Centre and in consultation with the Chairman of G-77.

On Implementation and follow-up, the leaders decided to continue the strengthening of the capabilities of the Group of 77 through enhancing coordination among the various chapters and strengthening cooperation with relevant South institutions so that the collective wisdom and experience of the Group could be brought to bear in addressing the international agenda, including multilateral negotiations.

The POA also requested the G77 Chairman to establish an open-ended working group to study possible ways and means to strengthen the G-77 and its Secretariat, including identifying common modalities to facilitate inter-chapter cooperation and innovative approaches to address resource and personnel requirements of the G77 Secretariat and submit a report to the Annual Ministerial Meeting.

They also agreed to request the UN Secretary-General to take concrete measures to further strengthen the Special Unit for South-South Cooperation as a separate entity and a focal point for South-South cooperation within the UN system as reaffirmed by General Assembly resolution 58/220, in particular through mobilization of resources for the advancement of South-South cooperation.

They will further request the Secretary-General to rename the UN Voluntary Trust Fund for the Promotion of South-South Cooperation as the UN Fund for South-South Cooperation, and to designate it as the main multilateral funding mechanism for promoting and supporting South-South and triangular cooperation initiatives, including those decided by the South Summit.

The leaders agreed to support strengthening the role of UNCTAD as the focal point within the UN for the integrated treatment of trade and development issues, especially in the delivery of policy analysis and policy advice, as well as in forging consensus on development matters.

They invited the G77 Chairman to prepare a platform for the South to provide a framework of development options to support the participation and integration of developing countries into the global economy and the globalization process and requested him to present the proposals on the elaboration of the platform in September 2005 for the consideration of Ministers.

The G77 Chairman was also asked to convene sectoral meetings to pursue South-South Cooperation and to take action to increase networking among stakeholders (including the G-77 Chapters and the regional organizations) to share experiences and facilitate the development of common positions for the Group in multilateral negotiations.

The G77 Chairman is also to undertake consultations with a view to conducting a mid-term review of the implementation of the outcome of the Second South Summit.

He is also requested to “convey the conclusions of this Summit to our developed partners, including through G-8 meetings, and to bring them to the preparatory process of the High-level Plenary Meeting of the UN General Assembly and other high-level meetings, with a view to strengthening North-South dialogue and mobilize support for the interests of developing countries.”