ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT CENTREPIECE OF UN AGENDA
UNITED NATIONS, (G77/IPS) — Speaking on behalf of the Joint Coordinating Committee (JCC) of the Group of 77 and the Non-Aligned Movement, Ambassador Munir Akram of Pakistan reaffirmed that economic and social development should remain the centerpiece of deliberations at the UN, and that the achievement of the Internationally Agreed Development Goals, including the MDGs, should continue to be the over-arching framework of the UN activities.
“We further emphasize the need for a strengthened global partnership for development, based on recognition of national leadership and ownership of national strategies,” he said, referring to the Secretary-General’s Report on the recommendations of the High-level Panel on U.N. System-wide Coherence in the areas of development, humanitarian assistance and the environment.
He said the JCC would like to reiterate its position that development cooperation should be demand-driven and be pursued on the basis of the national strategies and plans of developing countries.
The nature of development cooperation should be responsive to the specific needs, priorities and conditions of each country. The JCC would not support the introduction of new conditionalities through the reform process.
The JCC recalled General Assembly resolution 59/250 which remains the intergovernmentally agreed guiding policy framework for addressing the UN operational activities for development.
“It is relevant that this resolution stresses that reform efforts should enhance organizational efficiency and achieve concrete development results and that the value of UN operational activities for development should be assessed on the basis of their impact on the recipient countries,” he said.
The JCC believes that reforms of UN operational activities for development should be aimed at ensuring both the efficiency and effectiveness in the delivery of assistance. It should not be merely a cost-cutting exercise.
He said it cannot be denied that the most important component for operational activities for development is an expanding and adequate source of funding based on development assistance from the UN system and other sources that is responsive to the national development plans and programmes of countries.
The JCC expects that all these issues would also be included as important elements of the overall discussion.
“We wish to emphasize that the High-Level Panel Report should be considered with care and due deliberation. There should be no rush to take decisions against artificial deadlines”.
The process to consider these recommendations should be open, transparent and inclusive. “We look forward to further consultations on identifying the best way to consider and decide on the recommendations of the reports”.
DEVELOPMENT COOPERATION FORUM LAUNCHED AT ECOSOC MEETING
UNITED NATIONS, (G77/IPS)— Addressing the 2007 substantive session of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) in Geneva in July, Ambassador Munir Akram of Pakistan said there is increasing evidence of a greater willingness on the part of developing countries, donors, international organizations, civil society and the private sector to act together, coherently to promote the goals of development.
Speaking at the official launch of the Development Cooperation Forum (DCF) during the High Level segment of the ECOSOC meeting, he said it was a source of great pleasure and satisfaction to see the initiative for a revitalized and strengthened ECOSOC during Pakistan’s Presidency of the Economic and Social Council in 2005, translated into reality in 2007.
As part of a proposal to strengthen ECOSOC during the summit meeting of world leaders in 2005, the General Assembly (in resolution 61/16) outlined the role of the Development Cooperation Forum.
First, DCF is to review trends and progress and give policy guidance and recommendations; second, it will help identify gaps and obstacles to make recommendations on practical measures and policy options to enhance development coherence and effectiveness and realize the internationally agreed development goals (IADGs) including the millennium development goals (MDGs); third, it will provide a platform for member states to exchange lessons learned and experiences; and fourth, it will provide participation by all stakeholders.
“We must utilize this outstanding opportunity to enhance global partnership for development as set out in the Millennium Declaration, the Monterrey Consensus and the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation,” he told delegates in Geneva.
The Development Cooperation Forum will, together with the Annual Ministerial Review (AMR), enable the ECOSOC to help achieve the following:
— conduct a comprehensive review of the status and developments in international development cooperation with a view to developing integrated policy responses and identifying and addressing key gaps and challenges;
— strengthen linkages between the analytical, normative and operational work of the entire UN system and other relevant organizations;
— promote closer linkage between system-wide operational activities and the implementation of the MDGs and other IADGs;
— promote exchange of information on best practices and develop innovative approaches to development problems and challenges.
The relationship between the DCF and the AMR should be clear, Ambassador Akram pointed out.
The AMR is designed to review the progress in the implementation of the entire range of the IADGs, including the MDGs, and to provide policy guidance for Member States, international organizations and other actors.
The DCF is designed to focus on international development cooperation in all its aspects and improve its governance, effectiveness and impact to enhance the agreed development goals.
He also said that the only UN organ with the explicit Charter mandate to promote coordination within the UN System is the ECOSOC. However, ECOSOC oversight of its subsidiary machinery including the Funds and Programmes is at best perfunctory.
“It is almost non-existent with regard to the specialized agencies,” he added. Efforts have been made for coordination with the Bretton Woods institutions (BWIs) for development policy issues after Monterrey Consensus but there is virtually no coordination on programmes and projects.
The DCF, on the other hand, is designed to redress this unfortunate situation. In fact, the need for effective governance of development cooperation is now specially acute, given the growing globalization, the interdependence of economic, social and environmental goals, the acknowledged needs of developing countries, specially the poorest and the most vulnerable among them, the growing number of development actors and stakeholders, the experience of past successes and failures and above all, the grave consequences to failure to address and redress poverty and hunger and the glaring inequalities in this increasingly integrated world.
The overall purpose of the DCF should be to ensure that:
— One, that development cooperation is responsive to the needs of the developing countries, as set out in their national development plans and strategies and to the IADGs and MDGs;
— Two, to ensure that the quantity and quality of development financing is adequate and appropriate to the needs of the recipient countries;
—Three, to ensure that development cooperation achieves the desired objectives and results;
—Four, that such cooperation is pursued in a coordinated and coherent manner at the national, regional and global level.
Ambassador Akram said the effectiveness and relevance of the DCF will depend to a large extent on the ability to monitor implementation.
“As in the case of the AMR, we would advocate the development of agreed criteria and benchmarks to measure the implementation, effectiveness and results of development cooperation.”
In this context, he said, the Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness is a useful beginning. The indicators and benchmarks, it has set out should be further elaborated and refined to ensure mutual accountability and equal responsibilities for both the recipient and donor countries. This can and should be done within the DCF, not in forums restricted to donors only.
DEVELOPMENT: GLASS IS LESS FULL THAN EMPTY
UNITED NATIONS, (G77/IPS)— Addressing the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) during its annual ministerial review, the chairman of the G77 Ambassador Munir Akram of Pakistan said that although the level of extreme poverty is projected to fall from 29% in 1990 to 12% in 2015, progress in achieving the Millennium Development Goals has been limited in many part of the world, especially among the Least Developed Countries and in Sub-Saharan Africa.
“Not a single country in Sub-Saharan Africa is on track to achieve the internationally agreed targets of halving extreme poverty by 2015 and approximately 40% of all developing countries are considered to be off-track,” he told delegates.
Similarly, on the implementation of the other MDGs, the level of performance and of expectation is decidedly mixed.
The global partnership for development as set out in Millennium Declaration, the Consensus and the Johannesburg Conference is essential for the realization of the MDGs as well as the Internationally Agreed Development Goals.
“The present is a good opportunity when the international economy is growing to press for the fulfillment of the promises of the partnership for development”.
Unfortunately, “the level of implementation of the commitments undertaken by our partners in all fields indicates that the glass is less full than it is empty.”
This was very visible, he said, “in the restricted participation by our partners in the open discussions which took place.”
“I hope that next year there will be presentations voluntarily made by both developing and developed countries since this is consistent with the sprit and substance of the General Assembly Resolution 61/16 which provides for participation by both partners.”
The Group of 77 and China have consistently called for effective monitoring of the implementation of the MDGs and the IADGs.
Notably there are some indicators to measure progress achieved with regard to the first seven MDGs but specific benchmarks and targets are not so far available to measure the implementation of MDG 8 that is on global partnerships or on the other internationally agreed development goals.
“We have been calling on the United Nations specifically the Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA), the UN Development Programme (UNDP), as well as on the International Monetary Fund (IMF), World Bank and the World Trade Organization (WTO) to contribute to the elaboration of such specific benchmarks to facilitate of the monitoring of the implementation of MDG 8 and the IADGs.”
“As the first step, we believe that the United Nations and other concerned organizations should help in preparing a comprehensive matrix of the commitments that have been undertaken under MDG 8 and the other internationally agreed development goals”.
Thereafter, specific benchmarks could be indicated and developed, for example, through the committee on development policy as well as the Statistical Commission.
Ambassador Akram said the current ECOSOC session was historic because it not only held the first Annual Ministerial Review but also launched the Development Cooperation Forum.
“The first few days do confirm our hope that ECOSOC will become revitalized and an active player in international economic relations,” he added.
On offical development assistance (ODA), there is a decided decline of 5% and indications to further decline. The calculation of ODA flows incorporates debt cancellation to two large countries while financial flows to the rest of the developing countries have remained stagnant.
Innovative financing has made a small contribution but foreign direct investment (FDI) flows are restricted to a few emerging markets.
There is in fact a growing net outflow of resources from developing to the developed countries which amounted to $700 billion last year. At the same time, the global financial situation remains imbalanced and fragile and could have a serious negative turn, if not managed appropriately, he noted.
JCC WARNS AGAINST HUMAN RIGHTS AS NEW CONDITIONALITY FOR AID
UNITED NATIONS, (G77/IPS) -- The Joint Coordinating Committee (JCC)-- which comprises the Non-Aligned Movement, the Group of 77 and China-- has warned that issues such as human rights should not be introduced as new conditionalities for international development assistance.
In a statement during informal consultations of the General Assembly on the report of the high level panel on system-wide coherence, the JCC underscored the importance of a positive approach and constructive engagement in the promotion and protection of all human rights and fundamental freedoms.
While there are a number of useful recommendations in the report, the JCC said, the high-level panel may have also touched upon some issues, such as human rights, as a cross-cutting issues in the context of UN operational activities for development.
"While those issues are not confined only to developing countries, the Group has concern that those issues might be misused to introduce new conditionalities on international development assistance which is not acceptable to developing countries."
The statement said it is important not to forget that the true role of UN Funds and Programmes is to foster long-term development. "The operationalization of human rights should not replace the development cooperation projects and should be additional and complementary to development cooperation activities".
The JCC further reaffirmed that the fundamental characteristics of the operational activities for development of the United Nations system should be, inter alia, their universal, voluntary and grant nature, their neutrality and their multilateralism, as well as their ability to respond to the development needs of recipient countries in a flexible manner.
All perational activities should also be carried out for the benefit of recipient countries, at the request of those countries and in accordance with their own policies and priorities for development.
There should be no restrictions on the ability and sovereignty of the national governments to determine their own development priorities or select their development partners, as well as the type of relation with the UN development entities they wish to establish at the country level, the statement noted.
Moreover, the development system should continue to support development efforts of developing countries principally by assisting in the implementation of nationally determined development plans, strategies and priorities.
The statement also said that the Group believes that certain recommendations in the Panel Report, even though relevant, need further details and specificity for Member States to fully understand and consider them.
"This reaffirms the need for continued discussion and engagement to seek clarification on all such issues before taking any decisions."
The JCC said it will engage constructively in this endeavor.
The JCC also reaffirmed the value of the principles and purposes contained in the Charter of the United Nations, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action and other human rights instruments.
It also emphasized that all human rights are universal, indivisible, interrelated, interdependent and mutually reinforcing, and stressed the necessity to provide equal treatment to both civil and political rights and economic, social and cultural rights, as well as the right to development.
The 2005 World Summit emphasized the responsibilities of all States, in conformity with the Charter, to respect human rights and fundamental freedoms for all, without distinction of any kind as to race, colour, sex, language or religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.
The JCC said it recognizes the importance of ensuring universality, objectivity and non-selectivity in the consideration of human rights issues and the elimination of double standards and politicization as contained in the Resolution 60/251.
With the adoption of the Human Rights Council Resolution 5/1 entitled Institution-building of the Human Rights Council, Member States reiterate once again that this body and its mechanisms must be conducted in an objective, transparent, non-selective, constructive, non- confrontational and non-politicized manner.
The centrality of genuine dialogue and cooperation must be the tools that will augur well for the future work of the Council and its credibility, statement added.
NATURAL DISASTERS A MAJOR CONCERN TO DEVELOPING NATIONS
UNITED NATIONS, Geneva (G77/IPS) -- Speaking on behalf of the Group of 77 and China, Tehmina Janjua, Deputy Permanent Representative of Pakistan, told the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) that there was an urgent need for increased international assistance to developing nations affected by natural disasters.
"The alarming frequency and ferocity of natural disasters is a major concern of today's world. The number and scale of natural disasters, in developing countries in particular, over the past decade, are on an increase," she told delegates.
She pointed out that vulnerabilities are accentuated in most developing countries as the poverty-disaster interface has the potential for immense suffering and loss.
"Implications of disasters in developing countries are immense, due mainly to the long-lasting consequences on affected populations and the adverse impact on the environment and livelihoods of millions of people."
It is, therefore, imperative to examine the measures that need to be taken to improve the response capacity of affected nations and the assistance and cooperation that can be provided by the international community in this regard, she added.
She stressed that more attention should be given to strengthening financial mechanisms for humanitarian assistance and to establish predictable and sustainable funding for all humanitarian emergencies, in particular the under-funded emergencies and under-resourced sectors.
This is crucial to address funding gaps, especially for post-disaster recovery.
The possibility to expand the use of the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) to address a range of financial gaps arising in initial phases of an emergency and prior to the launch of an appeal needs further consideration.
"We believe that the primary objective of the CERF should remain to provide vital assistance to save lives in the initial phase of an emergency. For broader funding predictability, we would like to stress the importance of increasing other sources of humanitarian funding as well."
She expressed the hope that the deliberations in the general debate in ECOSOC, as well as during the two panel discussions, would lead to concrete conclusions that will help the UN System coordinate humanitarian assistance in an effective manner and help minimize the impact of disasters.
She also pointed out that this year's theme of the segment-- entitled "Strengthening of the coordination of United Nations humanitarian assistance through enhancing the effectiveness of needs-based humanitarian assistance"-- is very pertinent in the context of innumerable human and economic losses caused by natural disasters in the last few years.
The challenge to respond in a timely and predictable manner to humanitarian emergencies and disasters, especially for the UN system, is becoming more and more complex. The increase in the severity, frequency and magnitude of such disasters has wreaked havoc in communities across the globe, she added.
The need for a strengthened and more coordinated response by the international community to meet these challenges cannot, therefore, be overemphasized. The devastating impact of disasters on lives, livelihoods and economies has to be minimized.
"Respect for sovereignty, territorial integrity and national unity of States must remain the overarching parameters in all efforts for coordination of humanitarian assistance."
In this regard, she added, "we also wish to emphasize the primary role of the concerned State in the identification, coordination and delivery of such humanitarian assistance where assistance is requested from the international community."
It is important that relevant organizations of the UN system engage with the relevant authorities at the national and regional levels to build strong capacities at all levels, with a view to improving the overall adequacy and deployment of resources.
Such cooperation, she noted, is particularly relevant in strengthening capacities for disaster preparedness to enable the countries in responding challenges of natural disasters.
The Group of 77 and China believe that provision of the emergency assistance to an affected country should not be seen as an isolated mechanism in the overall effort for humanitarian response.
"There is a need to recognize the clear linkage between emergency assistance, rehabilitation and long term development as different stages of a coordinated effort."
It is therefore important that emergency assistance should be provided in ways that facilitate the early recovery and long term development of the country concerned, he declared.
She also called for the implementation of the principle of equitable geographical distribution in the entire UN system including in the Office of the Coordination of the Humanitarian Affairs.
"We would like to request the Secretary General to include information in his next report on the break up of personnel working in OCHA both at Headquarters and in the field with details on their level, function and nationality."
This information would be additional and complementary to the request made in this year's resolution regarding the update on the Inter Agency Standing Committees policy statement of 1999 on the integration of gender perspective into humanitarian assistance.
"We also support the importance of preparedness. The UN system has clearly a strong role to play. We agree with Under Secretary General John Holmes that the greatest risk we face is complacency or inaction of any kind. We need to address all issues squarely to mitigate the effects of disasters".
DEADLINE NEARS FOR IMPLEMENTING LDCS BRUSSELS PROGRAMME OF ACTION
UNITED NATIONS, Geneva (G77/IPS) -- Addressing the substantive sessions of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), Farhat Ayesha of Pakistan said that as the 2010 deadline draws nearer, there was a need to take stock of the successes and failures in implementing the Brussels Programme of Action aimed at alleviating the problems of the world's 50 least developed countries (LDCs).
"The need for achieving the objectives, goals and target of the Brussels Programme of Action in a timely manner is becoming ever more urgent. This would not be possible without the continued and vigorous commitment of the LDCs and our development partners," she said.
For the full implementation of the Brussels Programme of Action during the remaining period, there is a need for concerted efforts by the LDCs, their development partners, the UN system organizations, international financial and trade institutions, including the Bretton Woods Institutions and the World Trade Organization, Global Environment Fund, civil society, non-governmental organizations and the private sector at all levels.
While thanking the Secretary-General for the new report on LDCs, she said the report, unfortunately, does not sufficiently address the implementation of the Brussels Programme of Action in all areas from the perspective of our development partners, including the results achieved by them in the fulfillment of their commitments.
The Brussels Programme of Action is a partnership framework between the LDCs and their development partners, containing time-bound, measurable objectives, goals and targets besides setting out seven specific commitments.
The General Assembly undertook the mid term comprehensive review of the implementation of the Brussels Programme of Action on 18-19 September 2006.
During the Review process, the Group had noted with concern that the progress in the implementation of the Programme of Action had been insufficient and uneven.
Hence, very few LDCs will be able to meet the objectives, goals and targets of the Programme of Action if current trends persist.
"We had maintained that full and timely implementation of the seven commitments must be adhered to if the LDCs were to achieve the internationally agreed development goals, including the Millennium Development Goals."
She said the LDCs have made tremendous efforts to build an enabling national environment for the implementation of the Programme of Action.
The voluntary presentations made by a number of developing countries including four LDCs at the first ECOSOC Annual Ministerial Review on their national development strategies to pursue sustained economic growth and sustainable development further speak of their commitment to fulfill the agreed commitments.
The responsive support from their development partners in terms of fulfilling their commitments made in the BPOA is insufficient and at times completely lacking.
The Group of 77 hopes that the international community will draw upon the results of the mid term review and address the challenges that have been identified by the LDCs themselves as contained in the Cotonou Strategy for the further implementation of the BPOA.
She said this will require the development partners to fully and in a timely manner implement their commitments to LDCs including significant efforts, from donors that have not yet done so, to achieve the ODA target of 0.15 to 0.20 per cent of their gross national product for the LDCs by 2010.
"We also call for the enhancement of the productive capacity of LDCs particularly in agriculture, physical infrastructure and technological development through allocation of increased Aid flows."
"A coordinated action from the UN and its agencies, funds and programmes, we believe, should be able to make an important contribution to this effort aimed at enhancing the support for the least developed countries".