Update on Sustainable Development Conference 2012 (Apr12/06)
25 April 2012
Third World Network
begin, after strong plea by Supachai
Published in SUNS #7356 dated 24 April 2012
Doha, 23 Apr (TWN) -- The real work of UNCTAD XIII, which is negotiations
to conclude the outcome document, started at an inaugural meeting of
a Committee of the Whole (COW) on 22 April afternoon.
It was agreed that the negotiations will take place on two tracks, with
a high-level group (comprising Ambassadors and senior officials from
capitals) tackling difficult paragraphs in the draft text where differences
are deeper, and the COW itself addressing the remaining paragraphs where
differences are categorised as mild.
The two groups held their first meeting on 23 April morning.
The mood among delegates was mixed, with some being optimistic that
an outcome was probable, while others felt the differences were difficult
At the inaugural plenary meeting of the COW, UNCTAD Secretary-General
Dr Supachai Panitchpakdi made a plea that there must be a UNCTAD XIII
outcome document. He also called for retaining language to reaffirm
the Accra Accord. "If we fail here, it will be perceived as the
beginning of the end of the game, of this organisation," he said.
At the meeting, the Group of 77 and China and the regional groupings
of developing countries presented a unified front. The G77 and China
coordinator in the COW, the Thai ambassador in Geneva, reiterated the
group's position that the Accra Accord must be reaffirmed and built
upon. The April 13 statement of the G77 and China made in Geneva remains
valid, and the concerns of the group remain. The issues of importance
to the group include the financial crisis, global economic governance,
technology transfer, IPRs, climate change, policy space, the role of
the state, migration, the fight against unilateral measures, and the
programme for Palestine.
The G77 and China said that most of these issues are already part of
the mandate of UNCTAD from the conferences in Bangkok, Sao Paulo and
Accra. Exclusion of these will re-define the UNCTAD mandate to a narrow
confine. This means that the Accra Accord must be re-affirmed and we
must build upon it. The G77 will engage in good faith and work towards
the outcome document.
The G77 statement was supported by regional groupings (GRULAC, Africa
Group, Asian Group) and the Least Developed Country group (which each
also elaborated the concerns of the countries in the grouping) as well
as by China, Cuba, South Africa, India, Morocco, Paraguay and others.
The European Union affirmed it was constructive and wanted a Doha accord
based on partnership and that would be a solid basis for UNCTAD's work,
and it was confident there would be an outcome in Doha.
However, the JUSCANZ grouping (that includes the US, Japan, Canada,
Australia, New Zealand, Switzerland, Norway) with Switzerland speaking,
did not appear as accommodative as the EU. It said South-South trade
was growing faster than North-South trade and UNCTAD should look at
the impact of emerging economies on other developing countries.
It reiterated its position that UNCTAD XIII should build on the Accra
Accord, and that the heart of UNCTAD's work should be promoting an enabling
environment at national level.
UNCTAD Secretary-General Dr Supachai Panitchpakdi made an impassioned
plea for the members to reach an agreed outcome, saying we are here
not to discuss whether to reach an agreed outcome but how to do so.
Speaking of UNCTAD's role as the UN focal point for an integrated approach
to development, he said that UNCTAD was here to bring countries and
agencies to discuss the issues. If we fail here, after 50 years of existence,
it is the beginning of the end of the game, of this organisation, said
If the member states cannot give UNCTAD the sanction to do this, it
is not possible for us to operate, he stressed.
Supachai said he had heard about the issue of having UNCTAD's role in
the Accra Accord being reaffirmed, and he stressed that there is no
question that this (reaffirmation) has to be retained. There should
be no fear that UNCTAD would trespass on to issues that is not its role
to do so, as this is not the record of UNCTAD's work. Due to the processes
of setting the regular and supplementary budgets of UNCTAD, it was not
possible to deviate in its work from what was agreed.
Supachai said UNCTAD was mandated to be the focal point in the UN for
integrated treatment of trade and development and inter-related issues,
and it remained true to its mandate, for example, by setting up the
trade and productive capacity cluster (of agencies) in the UN.
He however stressed the need to analyse dynamic change, and UNCTAD had
been ahead in doing this.
For example, UNCTAD cautioned about over-dependence on the export-oriented
policy and today many are saying there must be balance between domestic
demand and exports. UNCTAD had warned about speculative funds and the
unregulated flow of capital. Ten years ago, it proposed the need to
manage capital flows, and today the IMF was also addressing managing
Supachai added that by all means countries could look at results-based
delivery by multilateral institutions. However, UNCTAD's role is to
bring countries and agencies to discuss the integrated development issues.
If we fail here to agree on an outcome, it would be perceived to be
the beginning of the end of the game, and of this organisation.
Supachai said he needed to plead with the countries, that we are not
here to discuss whether to reach an agreed outcome, but instead to discuss
how to reach the outcome. UNCTAD had walked this road with the member
states for 48 years, and like a marriage there is a share of disappointments,
but we have remained friends.
What he cared about was UNCTAD and the UN and their reputation. Although
he understood that the issues may be complicated, "it is important
that UNCTAD XIII has an outcome that strengthens our mandate so that
we can serve you better."
The chair of the Committee of the Whole, Ambassador Maruping of Lesotho,
said there is a commitment to have an outcome document here.
Recognising that it has been a very difficult process till now, he said
"we can find solutions in the draft text and a solution to the
outcome document is doable. We all want a strong UNCTAD and it is us
who have to produce that document. Let's do it in the next few days."
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