Agenda item 4
“Progress in the Implementation of the Programme of Action for the Least Developed Countries for the Decade 2001-2010”


Mr. Chairman,

1.       I thank you for the invitation to address the forty-ninth session of the Trade and Development Board (TDB) of the UNCTAD.  We appreciate the decision of the Trade and Development Board to devote two full days at its current session to the consideration of the progress made in the implementation of the Brussels Programme of Action for the Least Developed Countries. We believe, that such engaged discussion will underscore the importance given by the UNCTAD to the implementation of the Programme and to mainstream the implementation of the Programme in its work programme as well as in its intergovernmental processes, as called for by the General Assembly resolution 56/227.
At the outset, I would like to express my appreciation for the two excellent reports prepared by the UNCTAD secretariat for this agenda item now under consideration. 

2.       This session of the TDB comes one year after the Third Conference on Least Developed Countries held in Brussels. The global scenario that has emerged since calls for a renewed focus on the three most vulnerable groups of countries – Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States.

3.       The United Nations Millennium Declaration of September 2000 called on the global community for both financial and technical support to these vulnerable countries. 
The efforts that LDCs – and I would also add the landlocked developing countries and small island developing States - make toward their development goals should be supported through adequate resources by the international community.  It is also important to advance this effort by promoting synergies with other initiatives,
in particular with NEPAD, as 34 out of 49 LDCs are in Africa. 

4.       Despite the number of steps taken over the last two decades to address the economic and social agenda, development remains elusive for the least developed countries. According to the UNCTAD’s 2002 LDC Report, people living on less than one dollar a day in the least developed countries will reach 420 million by 2015 if the current trends continue.  In the second half of 1990s, almost 9 out of 10 people in African LDCs were living on less than $2 a day. These figures show the enormous challenge ahead for the LDCs as well as for its development partners.  

Mr. Chairman,

5.       As you know, the Brussels Declaration adopted by the Third United Nations Conference on Least Developed Countries in May 2001, reaffirms the collective responsibility of the international community to uphold the principles of human dignity, equality and equity. 

6.       As a significant departure from the first two Programmes of Action for LDCs,
the Brussels Programme of Action (POA) for the Decade 2001-2010 recommended that an “effective and highly visible follow-up mechanism” be created to undertake the implementation, coordination, review and monitoring of the Programme. For this purpose, the United Nations General Assembly in its resolution 56/227 of 24 December 2001 established the Office of the High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States (OHRLLS). 

7.       In carrying out the mandate of the General Assembly and the POA, the Office has adopted a framework of action with four main elements: (i) Focus on country-level implementation, (ii) Work with all the relevant entities of the UN family, in particular the Funds and programmes, Regional Commissions, Specialized Agencies, and the BWIs,
to ensure that these entities mainstream the Brussels POA in their activities and in the intergovernmental processes as well as establishing appropriate focal points for review and follow-up as called for the POA and the GA resolution 56/227, (iii) Work with multilateral organizations, particularly the regional and sub-regional organizations for support to the implementation of the POA, (iv) Work closely with civil society and private sector—both at national and global levels —so that they contribute as full development partners.

Mr. Chairman,

8.       The ECOSOC decided in 2001 to establish, under the regular agenda item entitled “Integrated and coordinated implementation of and follow-up to the major United Nations conferences and summits”, a regular sub-item entitled “Review and coordination of the implementation of the Programme of Action for the Least Developed Countries for the Decade 2001-2010”.  At its 2002 substantive session in July this year, I gave an oral report to the general segment of ECOSOC on the review and coordination of the implementation of the POA. At that session, it adopted a resolution to undertake the annual review, and for this purpose, asked me to submit a comprehensive progress report at its subsequent substantive sessions. My Office will be coordinating the inputs inter alia from the UN system organizations for this annual report. 

9.       The Brussels POA and the United Nations General Assembly have clearly indicated the important role of the UN system organizations in the implementation of the Brussels POA.  In this context, the GA resolution 56/227 of 24 December 2001 invited the UN system organizations to mainstream the implementation of the Brussels Declaration and the POA for the LDCs for the Decade 2001-2010 within their programmes of work as well as in their intergovernmental processes.  Responding to this call, the governing bodies of UNDP, UNICEF, UNFPA, UNCDF, UNESCO, WIPO, WTO and your own Board have adopted decisions to mainstream the Brussels POA within their respective programmes of work.  In the coming months, it is planned that other UN system entities will adopt similar decisions. 

10.       As is well known, international trade is of crucial importance to the economies of the LDCs. They have to rely heavily on their trade sector to generate resources to complement those from ODA and private capital flows for financing growth and development.   However their share in the global trade is insignificant and declining.
The participation of LDCs in international trade is severely limited in particular by demand and supply-side constraints, as well as unfavourable access conditions in markets affecting the products of greatest export interest to them, which explains their marginal share of world trade.  In addition, increased global market competitiveness presents an important and great policy challenge for LDCs.  Therefore, it remains crucial that we continue to assist LDCs with capacity building and technical cooperation in order for them to succeed in regional and global integration. 

11.       Commitment 5 of the Brussels POA focuses on enhancing the role of trade in development, underscoring the importance of capacity-building in trade policy, improving preferential market access, participation of LDCs in multilateral trading system, accession of LDCs to the WTO, and diversification of export base. 
Integration into the world economy is an insufficient but necessary precondition for
long-term sustainability of poverty eradication. 

12.       Commitment 5 also includes recommendations on services, such as tourism, transport and business services.  As the Canary Islands Declaration on Tourism in the Least Developed Countries, adopted by Ministers and Heads of delegations gathered in Gran Canaria, Spain in March 2001 indicates, tourism is an increasingly important service sector to LDCs, both as a direct source of foreign exchange earnings and for the expansion of the production base and diversification of exports.  Tradable services are important to all LDCs, in particular to small island LDCs, which have a limited capacity for merchandise production.

13.       In addition to the utilization of trade as vehicle for development, the issue of graduation from LDC status is also an important issue that needs to be considered.  Since the United Nations started using the category of LDCs, the number of LDCs has continued to increase, bringing only one graduation case of Botswana.  As the report before us indicated clearly, consideration of measures to ensure smooth transition for graduating countries to avoid disruption to their development plans, as well as linkages of special international support measures and the objective of structural socio-economic progress are necessary to address this issue.  I would also like to highlight the special circumstance that small island developing States face on this matter, as they are the most economically handicapped and vulnerable countries, and they are the least prepared to face the impact of the graduation, despite their relatively higher GDP per capita income.

14.       While the LDCs face the challenge of poverty eradication, the Landlocked Developing Countries (LLDCs) continue to face additionally the geographical disadvantage for lack of access to the sea. Many sub-regional and regional policies were introduced to promote effective interstate transportation system, expand national and international transport infrastructure, create new communication methods, and facilitate the increase of transnational capital flow. Implementation of these policies is not effective in the real sense due to the lack of monitoring and enforcing institutions. It is hoped that the upcoming International Ministerial Meeting on Transit Transport Cooperation in 2003 in Kazakhstan would help to resolve some of these pressing issues for LLDCs.

15.       Although the Small Island Developing States (SIDS) have been making serious efforts in moving towards sustainable development, these countries are increasingly constrained by the interplay of adverse factors such as its remoteness, small-sized market and sea level rise caused by global warming. These are underlined in Agenda 21 and the Barbados Programme of Action, and now in the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation. It is important to build genuine partnership among Small Island Developing States and their development partners at global and regional levels for the implementation of the Barbados POA ensuring sustainable development for these particularly disadvantaged countries.

Mr. Chairman,

16.       I wish to take this opportunity to say a few words regarding the cooperation between my Office and the UNCTAD Secretariat. First of all, I am very pleased to say that
Mr. Rubens Ricupero, Secretary-General of UNCTAD and I have already established very good working relations and we have regular consultations on matters related to our efforts in support of the three most vulnerable groups of countries.  At the request of the Secretary-General of UNCTAD, I have launched with Prof. Jeffery Sachs the UNCTAD 2002 LDC Report last June in New York.  We also clearly understand our respective responsibilities and mandates in relation to the vulnerable group of countries. In this context, the Secretary-General Kofi Annan in his report on follow-up mechanism for coordinating, monitoring and reviewing the implementation of the Brussels Programme of Action, contained in document A/56/645, defined the mandate and functions of my Office. The report was subsequently endorsed by the General Assembly. The UNCTAD’s intergovernmental bodies, in particular, 38th session of the Working Party of the Trade and Development Board and 28th Executive Session of the Trade and Development Board made relevant reviews of the work programme of UNCTAD in view of the establishment of the new follow-up, review and monitoring mechanism for the implementation of the Brussels Programme of Action, as well as other existing programmes related to LLDCs and SIDS.

17.       Keeping this in view, the mandate and functions of the Office of the High Representative has been further defined in the Medium-Term Plan of the United Nations: - Programme 26 – on Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States, which was adopted by the Committee for Programme and Coordination (CPC) at its 42nd session (A/57/7 and A/57/16). At that session,
the Committee has also adopted the revised Medium-Term Plan of UNCTAD.
Within this framework decided, my Office will work closely with the UNCTAD secretariat to assist the least developed countries, landlocked developing countries and small island developing States. 

Mr. Chairman,

18.       The well-articulated, focused and action-oriented POA provides a real opportunity for the LDCs to promote economic growth and sustainable development and their beneficial integration into the world economy.  It is more than one year that the Brussels POA was adopted. It is time now for the LDCs and its development partners including the United Nations system organizations to gear up for full and effective implementation.

19.       I conclude my statement by quoting Secretary-General Kofi Annan from his address to the 57th session of the General Assembly—“Only by multilateral action can we give people in the least developed countries the chance to escape the ugly misery of poverty, ignorance and disease.”

¯¯¯ ° ¯¯¯