U.N. to host conference on least developed countries

UNITED NATIONS, Dec 8-- The General Assembly has decided to convene the Third U.N. Conference on Least Developed Countries (LDCs) in the year 2001.

A resolution adopted by the Assembly calls for "high level" representation at the proposed conference.

The United States, which has strongly opposed new U.N. conferences, did not raise any objections.

Seth Winnick, the U.S. delegate said while his government had consistently opposed new global conferences because of the great financial strain they placed on the U.N. budget, it recognized the broad consensus in support of the LDC conference.
But he pointed out that the resolution did not address the question of modalities and funding for the conference itself.

"Every effort should be made to obtain extrabudgetary funding for such a conference or to hold the conference as part of a scheduled U.N. meeting, such as the UNCTAD Trade and Development Board, and to otherwise minimise the administrative burden on the U.N. system.

The resolution calls for an intergovernmental preparatory committee to prepare for the conference, preceded by three expert-level preparatory meetings, which should be carried out within the budget levels proposed by the Secretary-General for 1998-1999.

Meanwhile, the General Assembly would also requests the Secretary-General to convene in 1999 a meeting of governmental experts from landlocked and transit developing countries and representatives of donor countries and financial development institutions to explore the possibility of formulating action-oriented measures to help these countries.