Mr. Chairman,

It is with pleasure that I speak before the Second committee for the third time at this session ? on this occasion to introduce the report of the Secretary-General on the implementation of the resolution 56/227 on the Third United Nations Conference on the Least Developed Countries. The report before you, contained in document A/57/496, is in response to the General Assembly resolution 56/227 requesting the Secretary-General to submit a report on its implementation.

The report outlines the steps taken to operationalize the Office of the High Representative for the Least Developed Countries (LDCs), Landlocked Developing Countries (LLDCs) and Small Island Developing States (SIDS); the mainstreaming of the Brussels Programme of Action (PoA) by the organizations of the United Nations system and other multilateral organizations and bodies within their programmes of work, as well as in the intergovernmental processes;
the coordination and cooperation between OHRLLS and the organizations of the UN system and other multilateral organizations; and support to and cooperation with OHRLLS by Member-States.

Mr. Chairman,

More than one year has passed since the adoption of the Brussels Declaration and PoA. The global scenario that has emerged since then calls for a renewed focus on and special attention to the least developed countries. Despite the special measures incorporated in the Programmes of Action for 1980s and 1990s, development in LDCs in the real sense still remains elusive.

The number of people living on less than one dollar a day in the LDCs will reach 420 million by 2015 if the current trend continues. In the second half of 1990s, almost 9 out of 10 people in African LDCs were living on less than 2 dollars a day. Also 17 out of 20 countries that showed weak performance in achieving many of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) were the LDCs.

According to the LDC Report 2002 of UNCTAD, the real GDP per capita in the LDCs grew at 2.1 per cent per annum during 1997-2000, but the performance of the LDCs was very mixed. The same report also indicated that with the external trade trends, there are major variations amongst the LDCs. The trend in the individual countries also indicates that the aggregate net resource flows were lower in 1999-2000 than in 1994-1998 in 33 out of 46 countries for which data is available.

The ODA flows to LDCs are a cause of much concern as it has direct bearing on their development efforts. Despite the agreed goal of 0.15 to 0.20 per cent of GNP as ODA to LDCs, the net ODA to these countries fell from 0.09 to 0.05 per cent between 1991 and 2001. Since ODA is vital for these countries to achieving the goal of eradication of extreme poverty by 2015 and in triggering sustainable development and sustained economic growth, substantially larger amounts of ODA to LDCs will be urgently needed.

Mr. Chairman,

During the short time since my formal assumption of responsibilities in April this year and despite very limited staffing situation, the Office of the High Representative has been able to undertake a good number of steps for its operationalization. These range from preparation and approval of the Medium-Term Plan (2002-2005) for the OHRLLS; to the establishment of working relations with offices and departments within the UN headquarters, with Funds and Programmes and regional commissions as well as with other entities within the UN system and outside; to reporting to ECOSOC for its action on the annual reviews of the Brussels PoA beginning in 2003; to establishing and undertaking consultations and regular contacts with the member-States, in particular with the chairs/coordinators of the LDCs, LLDCs and SIDS; and to preparation of all required reports to the present session of the General Assembly. In addition,
the OHRLLS undertook preparations for the Cotonou Ministerial Conference of the LDCs, launched the inter-agency preparatory process for the International Ministerial Conference on Transit Transport Cooperation and participated at the Fourth Summit of the Alliance of the Small Island States (AOSIS). The report under consideration elaborates some of these steps undertaken for operationalization of the Office of the High Representative.

As outlined in the report, the OHRLLS is expected to build a global advocacy role to ensure that the issues of the least developed countries, landlocked developing countries and small island developing States remain high on the international agenda. It will mobilize international support for issues such as eradication of poverty, capacity-building, acceleration of economic growth and sustainable development and the promotion of progressive and beneficial global integration of these three most vulnerable groups of countries through efficient, effective and highly visible follow-up, coordination and monitoring of the implementation of the relevant programmes of action. It will also contribute to the implementation of the relevant and related development goals set out in the United Nations Millennium Declaration.

Mr. Chairman,

As mentioned in the report, the first move of my Office was to establish contacts and working arrangements with all stakeholders for the implementation of the Brussels PoA. Special attention obviously was given to entities of the UN system and the report has elaborated that. I would like to inform you now only those activities which were undertaken since the time the report was written.

At the invitation of the Secretary-General of UNCTAD, whose organization was the first outside New York to be visited by me, I addressed the forty-ninth session of the Trade and Development Board in early October. Documentation presented by UNCTAD Secretariat for the Board’s consideration was very useful. It devoted two days of that session to the consideration of the UNCTAD-wide activities in the implementation of the Brussels PoA.

I addressed the 123rd session of the FAO Council in Rome last week.
Also last week, I had substantive discussions with the Director-General of UNESCO and the President of IFAD and their senior management on the importance of the activities of their organizations in the implementation of the PoA. Here I would like to make a special mention of the UNESCO publication on mainstreaming the needs of LDCs and the FAO publication on the role of agriculture in the development of LDCs.

I made a special presentation on 19 October in the Plenary of the 35th session of the Conference of African Ministers of Finance and Planning and Economic Development organized by the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) in Johannesburg. The Ministerial Statement adopted by the Conference stresses the need for promoting synergies between NEPAD and the Brussels Programme.

I met with the senior management and key functional officials of the World Bank in Washington, D.C. in September and briefed them on the activities of the Office of the High Representative and discussed involvement of the World Bank for the implementation of PoA. In my meeting with the DAC Chairman, we discussed the areas for involvement of OECD in enhancing international cooperation for the implementation of Brussels PoA.

Civil society/NGOs and the private sector are important partners in the implementation of the Brussels PoA. My Office has already established contacts with civil society/NGOs at Geneva and New York levels and is working with
Non-Governmental Liaison Service (NGLS) to institutionalise these contacts and our future collaboration.

Cooperation with the private sector has also begun. The High-Level Round Table on Growing Sustainable Business in the LDCs, which was convened during the WSSD in Johannesburg and chaired by the Secretary-General, resulted in practical discussions among the CEOs of about fifty major companies and LDCs and donors. Last week, I attended the Africa Regional Meeting of the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) co-hosted by the African Business Round Table with the support of NEPAD Secretariat and the NEPAD Business Group, in Yaounde, Cameroon, to deliver the message of the Secretary-General, stressing the urgent need for private sector investment in African countries as well as to participate at a high-level Round Table highlighting the need for special attention to 34 LDCs in Africa.

Mr. Chairman,

Working closely with the member-States and secretariats of entities of the UN system and other multilateral organizations for the mainstreaming of the implementation of the Brussels Programme of Action by these organizations has been a major focus of OHRLLS. I am pleased to announce that in addition to the action by the governing bodies of the entities mentioned in the report in paras. 16 to 21, last month the FAO Council and ECA Ministerial Conference adopted decisions to give special attention to the implementation of the Brussels PoA within their respective programmes of work. Also, a number of UN system organizations have already established focal points for LDCs – a list of which is included in the folder made available to you this afternoon.

Mr. Chairman,

The Least Developed Countries have begun to mobilize themselves for the implementation of the Brussels PoA. The Ministerial Conference of the Least Developed Countries in Cotonou in August, organized by the Government of Benin, with support from the Government of Denmark for LDCs participation, is a remarkable and praise-worthy reiteration of the political commitment of LDCs themselves for the effective implementation of the Brussels PoA.

On their part, the international development partners continued to address the LDCs concerns which received special attention in the outcome documents of the Doha WTO Ministerial Meeting in November 2001 and the Monterrey Financing for Development Conference in March 2002. The G-8 Summit in Kananaskis last June took into account the concerns of LDCs, in particular it agreed on a goal for duty-free and quota-free market access for all products originating from the LDCs; to add $1 billion to fully fund HIPC Trust Fund, most of the beneficiaries being LDCs; and to increase the use of grants rather than loans for the poorest
debt-vulnerable countries. Also, the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) took into account the LDC concerns, particularly in the context of the Commitment 6 of the PoA.

Mr. Chairman,

Pursuant to the General Assembly resolution 56/227, the report before you devotes one of its sections to “enhancing the operational capacity of organizations of the UN system” and another to “review of the title and functions of UNCTAD’s Office of the Special Coordinator” outlining the measures taken with regard to those areas.

In conclusion, the report underscores that while the primary responsibility will continue to be that of the LDCs, LLDCs and SIDS, the goals and objectives cannot be met without the collaboration and support of their development partners. It goes on to convey the reiteration of the Secretary-General’s commitment to ensure that the UN system as a whole will support the development efforts of these three most vulnerable groups in a well coordinated manner.

Mr. Chairman,

I am pleased to announce that the OHRLLS website has officially been launched this morning by me and Under-Secretary-General for Public Information Shashi Tharoor, in presence of the Chairpersons of the LDCs, LLDCs and SIDS groups . It consists of one main OHRLLS home site and three sub-sites for LDCs, LLDCs and SIDS. Available information relating to the progress in the implementation of the programmes of LDCs, LLDCs and SIDS is already posted there and will be continually updated for benefit of all stakeholders.

Today, OHRLLS has also made available to you a folder containing useful reference documents relating to LDCs in view of today’s agenda, including an user-friendly pocket-size printed full text of the Brussels PoA. Among its future activities, the OHRLLS is planning to launch a forum at the United Nations headquarters, which will be called “Open Forum for Partnership”. The purpose of the Forum is to brief periodically the Member-States and other stakeholders on the status of the implementation of the Brussels PoA by the entities of the United Nations, starting with those which are located outside New York.

Mr. Chairman,

It is important to draw lessons from the implementation experiences of the first two LDCs Programmes, when implementing the present PoA. Some of the lessons are: (i) there must be a strong commitment and concerted efforts on the part of the LDCs themselves and the international community should be forthcoming to support those efforts; (ii) there is need for a clearly defined operational plan showing the actions and the roles of stakeholders in implementing the various commitments contained in the PoA with properly sequenced priorities and coordinated actions at all levels; and (iii) success in attaining the objectives of the PoA will require effective arrangements for the continuous follow-up and coordination as well as monitoring and review of the progress in implementation. The annual reviews by ECOSOC will be the most appropriate opportunity to examine how the implementation process is making progress.

Before I conclude, I would like also to touch on one issue which needs special attention of the international community. This relates to the unbearable debt burden of the LDCs. This burden has been made more untenable as the HIV/AIDS situation is becoming critical in a number of LDCs and has begun to create serious adverse impact on their development efforts. An analysis of the statistics available from UNAIDS indicates a striking co-relation between HIPC countries and those with high HIV/AIDS prevalence. HIPC countries- 32 of the 42 are LDCs – have a higher number of people living with HIV/AIDS. Recently published UNAIDS report, “The Report on the Global HIV/AIDS Epidemic: The Barcelona Report” has also indicated that reducing the debt burden will boost the AIDS response where it is most needed, because annual debt-servicing obligations often undermine countries’ social spending, particularly that required for their HIV/AIDS programme. There is no possible way that these LDCs would be able to pay back or service the debts on schedule and at the same time, having nothing left, to have an effective HIV/AIDS programme. It is unconscionable not to take urgent steps to cancel all HIPC/LDCs debts. This is one strong appeal I would make to all.

Mr. Chairman,

In a short period of time since the establishment of the OHRLLS, a number of steps have been taken for international political mobilization for implementation of the Brussels PoA. I would like to assure that my Office is determined to forge the much-needed global partnership for the implementation of the PoA. The next few months is critical, especially for the LDCs, in establishing the national forum and high level focal points at the country level. The development partners must also take further steps forward to translate into action their commitments made in Brussels. I would take this opportunity to request all of you to take action as requested by the Secretary-General in his letter of 13 September addressed to all Member-States, referred to in para. 8 of the report.

I conclude my statement by quoting Secretary-General Kofi Annan from his opening address to the present 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.”

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