Ladies and gentlemen,
At the outset, I would like to sincerely thank you for your invitation to address this meeting. I see this as a very valuable opportunity to discuss issues of common interests which will enable us to adopt a common vision for the future of LDCs in the years to come, for it is the responsibility of the leaders to plan strategically, foresee risks, allow contingencies and adapt to emerging challenges. All success stories show that visionary leadership, strong ownership, strategic partnerships and international support could bring dramatic changes and enormous benefits to poor people.
With many of you I met before, but in my previous capacity of the Permanent Representative to the United Nations. In July 2007 the Secretary-General appointed me as the High Representative for the Least Developed Country, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States with additional responsibilities for the economic and social issues in Africa and UNCTAD It is certainly an honor to serve my country but it is even a greater privilege to serve a large number of the poorest nations which remain excluded from the world mainstream socio-economic development and cannot benefit from the fruits of globalization.
The history of the least developed countries is often associated with conflicts, poverty, hunger and diseases. But history is not destiny and history, after all, is written by people. At the dawn of the Millennium, the leaders of the world gathered at the United Nations and adopted the Declaration which encapsulates their common vision for the peaceful, prosperous and just world. As part of their commitment to eradicate extreme poverty, they undertook “to address the special needs of LDCs”.
A year later, at the Third United Nation Conference of the Least Developed Countries held in May 2001 in Brussels they also adopted two landmark documents: the Brussels Declaration and the Programme of Action of the Least Developed Countries for the Decade 2001-2010. Those were the documents commensurate with the new millennium: bold, ambitious and forward looking. They aimed at integrating the LDCs in the world economy for “no society can surely be flourishing and happy, of which the far greater part of the members are poor and miserable” as Adams Smith once famously said.
The Programme of Action of the Least Developed Countries is the first ever results-oriented comprehensive poverty reduction strategy, tailored to the special needs of the LDCs and aimed at achieving the MDGs. The overarching goal of the Programme of Action is “to make substantial progress toward halving the proportion of people living in extreme poverty and hunger by 2015 and promote the sustainable development of the LDCs” through accelerated, sustained and inclusive economic growth which could be achieved by fostering a people-centered policy framework, good governance at national and international levels, building human and institutional capacities, building productive capacities, enhancing the role of trade in development, reducing vulnerability and protecting the environment and mobilizing financial resources.
Later the same year, in July 2001, in Lusaka, the African leaders adopted the New Partnership for Africa’s Development aimed at achieving the MDGs and sustainable development in Africa through conflict resolution, good governance, infrastructure and private sector development and regional integration.
The key feature of the MDGs, the Brussels Programme and the NEPAD is partnership between and among all relevant stakeholders, including with civil society and the private sector, at the national, regional/sub-regional and global levels. In fact, all of them were designed as framework of partnership, based on shared but differentiated responsibilities of various stakeholders.
Recognizing the importance of partnership, I intend to focus in my future work on strengthening the partnership between my Office and other UN system entities and international organizations, between LDCs and the development partners (developed and developing, bilateral and multilateral) and among LDCs. I also intend to work towards strengthening the linkages between MDGs, Brussels Programme and NEPAD, with due respect to their specific objectives.
Effective implementation of the Brussels Programme also requires an integrated and coordinated approach at the national, regional and global level. To this end, I plan to strengthen the UN system wide coordination through the existing coordination mechanisms, including the UNDG, EC-ESA and CEB. The UN Resident Coordinators system at the country level, the UN economic commissions at the regional level and UN system and international organizations at the global level must be fully mobilized for the implementation of the Programme of Action of LDCs.
I am planning to work much closer with the donors. The LDCs have been making remarkable strides in the implementation of the Programme of Action. Macroeconomic reforms and liberalization policies adopted by LDCs and international support to social sector since 90s are bearing fruit but the donors need to stay engaged, in order to achieve further progress.
Development is not a highway. It is a thorny and curved road, with ups and downs, bumps and holes. It may take longer than we want, it may be harder than we think to reach our objectives. It is therefore important to remember that “It does not matter the number of times we fall but the number of times we rise when we fall” as it was wisely said by Confucius. There will be many falls and rises before winning the battle against poverty but I am certain that we will prevail if we are all together.