Mr. Chairman and
Distinguished delegates,

            I thank you for the invitation to address the 2002 Second Regular Session of the Executive Board at its United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) segment. 

            As you know, the Third United Nations Least Developed Countries Conference held in May 2001 adopted the Brussels Declaration and the Programme of Action (POA) for the Least Developed Countries (LDCs) for the Decade 2001-2010.  The Brussels Declaration reaffirms the collective responsibility of the international community to uphold the principles of human dignity, equality and equity. 

            The Brussels POA focuses on seven specific commitments made by the LDCs and their development partners: (i) fostering a people-centred policy framework (ii) good governance at the national and international levels (iii) building human and institutional capacities (iv) building productive capacities to make globalization work for the LDCs (v) enhancing the role of trade and development (vi) reducing vulnerability and protecting the environment (vii) mobilizing financial resources.

            As a significant departure from the first two Programmes of Action for LDCs,
the Brussels POA 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 General Assembly by 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). 

            In carrying out the mandate of the GA 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,

            One of the most critical impediments to the development efforts of the LDCs is high rate of population growth. Since the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) held in Cairo in September 1994, access to reproductive health care, safe motherhood,
and prevention of sexually transmitted diseases including HIV/AIDS, has remained elusive for many of these vulnerable countries. High levels of maternal and infant mortality remain a major challenge for these countries.  According to the UNAIDS estimates as of 2001, there are
28 million people living with HIV/AIDS in the Sub-Saharan African region, where most of the LDCs are located. The figure accounts for two and half times more than the estimated number of people living with HIV/AIDS outside the Sub-Saharan African region.

            Commitment 3 of the Brussels POA focuses on building human and institutional capacities, which also include population policies, education and training related to HIV/AIDS and other communicable diseases, and health, nutrition and sanitation.  LDCs’ greatest assets are their women and children, whose potentials as both agents and beneficiaries of development must be fully realized.  Efforts at development of human capacities in LDCs have been affected by low school enrolment and low health, nutrition and sanitation status and by the prevalence of the HIV/AIDS pandemic, particularly in Africa.

            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.

Mr. Chairman,

            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, I gave an oral report to the general segment of ECOSOC on the proposed review and coordination of the implementation of the POA.  The ECOSOC, on 26 July this year, adopted a resolution to undertake the annual review and, for this purpose, asked me to submit a comprehensive progress report at its substantive sessions.  My Office will be coordinating the inputs, inter alia, from the UN system organizations for this report.

            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 Programme of Action for LDCs.  In this context, I would like to draw your attention to the GA resolution 56/227 of
24 December 2001 inviting 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 respective programmes of work as well as in their intergovernmental processes.  Responding to this call, the governing bodies of UNDP, UNICEF, WIPO, UNESCO and WTO have adopted in recent months decisions to mainstream the Brussels POA within their respective programmes of work. 

            I would like to request the distinguish delegates participating at the UNFPA segment of the Board to take a similar action to mainstream the Brussels POA within UNFPA’s programme of work as well as in its intergovernmental process.  Your support and cooperation would contribute further to the effective implementation of the Brussels POA.   

            I conclude my statement by quoting Secretary-General Kofi Annan from his recent message to the Cotonou Ministerial Conference of the Least Developed Countries — “The United Nations family remains committed to helping the least developed countries overcome the formidable obstacles they face.”  He further stated, “their development partners, as well as civil society, the private sector and all other stakeholders, will forge partnerships that will make the difference between success and stagnation.” 

¯¯¯ ° ¯¯¯