6:02 AM May 4, 1995
NAM FOR STRENGTHENED UN, UNCTAD ROLESGeneva 3 May (Chakravarthi Raghavan) -- The recent meeting at Bandung (Indonesia) of the Foreign Ministers of Non-Aligned countries have reaffirmed the strong commitment of NAM to strengthening the UN Conference on Trade and Developing and reinforcing its role as a policy-oriented trade forum with a strong development perspective. The Communique of the Ministerial meeting of the NAM Coordinating Bureau (25-27 April), copies of which have become available here, have stressed the important role of the State to ensure broad-based economic growth and development, and the need for a greater UN role in the development process, enabling the UNIDO and UNCTAD to play their full role as focal points in the UN system for trade and development and industrial development of developing countries. The NAM communique puts the movement squarely against the views and recommendations of some official and non-official groups who have been pushing neo-liberal economics and IMF/World Bank/WTO leadership in the area of economics, and for the winding up of UNCTAD and UNIDO. Among those calling for the last has been the Governance Commission (Co-chaired by Swedesh Prime Minister Ingvar Carlsson and former Commonwealth Secretary-General Shridath Ramphal). The Bandung meeting was chaired by the Indonesian Foreign Minister, Ali Alatas. Alatas was a member of the Governance Commission and wrote a letter to the Co-Chairmen differing from these, and seeking changes in the recommendations, but was advised that these were received too late. In the final communique, the NAM Ministers said there was a need for strengthening cooperation and coordination between the Bretton Woods Institutions and the UN system and for the BWIs to adapt and adjust their policies and programs to critical needs of developing countries in close cooperation and coordination, particularly with UNCTAD. The Ministers also stressed the importance of ensuring that the UN system play a greater role in the field of development by enabling both UNCTAD and the specialized agencies, including UNIDO, to play their full role as focal points in that system for inter-alia trade and development and industrial development of developing countries. The Communique said: "They expressed their firm determination to oppose any attempt to weaken or undermine the contributions of these organizations to the development process. In emphasizing that these bodies were designed to serve the development objectives of the developing countries, the Ministers called for renewed efforts to strengthen and reinvigorate their respective roles and functions. "The Ministers further stressed their believe in the important role and relevance of UNCTAD in advancing development. Recent developments and institutional changes in the world, including the creation of the World Trade Organization (WTO), have reinforced the need for UNCTAD as a policy-oriented trade forum with a strong development perspective. Therefore, they reaffirmed the strong commitment of the Non-Aligned Movement to strengthening UNCTAD, including the need to provide it with adequate resources, and they looked forward to UNCTAD IX as a forum for providing important inputs and directions for global development". Earlier in their communique, the Ministers said "...the international situation continues to be very fluid, the climate of uncertainty persists, the tendency to focus primarily on the interests and concerns of a limited number of developed countries remains unchanged and recent commitments in several major areas of international cooperation remain unfulfilled. The economic and developmental interests of developing countries continue to be increasingly marginalized." This state of affairs requires to be rectified on a priority basis and NAM countries must continue to strive to play an increasingly central role in international affairs. The fundamental requirement of development has to be reflected in the new priorities of international cooperation. The NAM Ministers expressed particular concern at the persistence of problems relating to poverty, unemployment, under-development, illiteracy, environmental degradation, terrorism, violation of human rights and drug trafficking which generate political and social tensions. While recognizing that the violation of human rights could not be condoned, NAM Ministers expressed concern over the continuation of the tendency to intervene in the internal affairs of other States under the pretext of protecting human rights or preventing conflicts, thus in effect eroding the concept of national sovereignty. The NAM Communique emphasized the dangers in such interventions and reaffirmed NAM determination to uphold full respect for national sovereignty of Non-Aligned countries and non-interference in their internal affairs, and called for full respect for global cultural diversity and "the need to refrain from the imposition of certain cultural values on others." While reiterating the need for reform and restructuring of the UN and making the UN General Assembly the highest deliberative and decision-making body in the UN system, and taking note of recent reports and proposals of non-governmental and other institutions on UN restructuring, the NAM Communique endorsed the NAM-G77 decision to undertake an in-depth study of these reports so as to formulate a common position and for a comprehensive approach of NAM to be elaborated by its High Level Working Group on the Reform and Restructuring of the United Nations. Referring to the various regional arrangements and agencies, both those within the terms of Chapter VII of the UN Charter (on peace and security) and other economic arrangements coming up, the NAM said that regional arrangements and agencies could contribute to the growth and development of the world economy by encouraging trade, investment and transfer of technology and thus be conducive to international peace and security. NAM Ministers also stressed the need for a strong commitment by regional arrangements, in the pursuit of regional economic integration and cooperation, within the framework of an open, equitable, non-discriminatory and rule-based multilateral trading system. Reviewing developments in the world economic situation and international economic relations since the Eleventh NAM Ministerial Conference (at Cairo last year), the Ministers welcomed the "positive trends in world economic growth", but expressed their deep concern with the lack of economic progress in many developing countries, particularly in Africa -- where slow growth, uncertainties and imbalances continue to plague their economies and, despite the bright promise and expectations for revitalizing development in the post-Cold War era, the results so far have proved to be disappointing." The Ministers also expressed their disappointment with the continuing adverse external economic environment characterized by increased protectionism including unilateral and arbitrary restriction in the field of trade and market access, worsening terms of trade, stagnation and decline in official development assistance, volatile financial flows and exchange rate fluctuations, as well as constraints in access to technology. As a result, the gap between the rich and the poor nations continues to widen unabatedly. The Ministers felt the need to further strengthen cooperation and coordination between the Bretton Woods institutions and the United Nations System. They also considered the importance of these institutions to further adapt and adjust their policies and programs to the critical needs of developing countries in close cooperation and coordination particularly with UNCTAD. They welcomed the establishment in the WTO of a Working Group based on the proposal of King Hassan II of Morocco to examine the question of coherence of monetary, financial and commercial policies. The Ministers asserted that promotion of development cooperation and management of global interdependence required a more balanced and equitable approach, with full participation of all countries. Noting in this connection that proposals for the reform of the multilateral financial institutions were likely to be discussed, including at the forthcoming G-7 Halifax Summit, the NAM Ministers asked the Coordinating Bureau and the G77 to assess the implications of various proposals and decisions of the Halifax Summit in order to develop a common South position on them. The NAM also referred to the UN General Assembly resolution for the renewal of the North-South dialogue and emphasized the need to follow up on this consensus resolution and continue through various innovative measures efforts to further enhance the dialogue and engage developed countries in constructive negotiations to create a conductive atmosphere for advancing development goals and aspirations of the Non-Aligned and other developing countries. The Communique also reiterated the positions of NAM on the New Agenda for Development of Africa, on the LDCs, on the problem of indebtedness of the developing parties, and particularly the poor countries, and for NAM members to work closely with the G-77 in the deliberations of an UN Agenda for Development being discussed in the Ad Hoc Working Group set up by the UN General Assembly. The NAM Ministers also expressed their concern over the "unsafe maritime transportation and dumping of nuclear wastes, as well the risks and dangers this transportation and dumping presents especially to sea coastal areas and fishing and any other areas, particularly those under state sovereignty and jurisdiction". The Ministers called for strengthening the current international regulations on this matter, through enhancing transparency and controls as well as participation by affected States, in the framework of the Basel Convention and competent international fora, such as the IAEA and the International Maritime Organization. The Ministers also recognized the "need for strengthening existing laws and regulations" regarding management of toxic and hazardous wastes and "called for further development of relevant international rules and regulations". They also further reiterated their support for the decision of the Second Conference of the Basel Convention which decided inter alia the prohibition by end of 1997 of all transboundary movement of hazardous wastes destined for recovery and/or recycling from OECD to non-OECD countries and urged for its strict implementation. Noting the fundamental role played by science and technology in advancing economic growth and sustainable development, the NAM Ministers stressed the importance of access to technology, including environmentally sound technology and that its transfer to developing countries should be on a preferential and concessional basis. "They also firmly believed that such transfer should not be solely left in the hands of the private sector or based on market prices and that the national capacities of the developing countries should be substantially supported by the international community" The Ministers welcomed the UN General Assembly resolution for the convening of a UN conference on South-South cooperation and reiterated their strong support for holding the Conference no later than 1997. On technical cooperation among developing countries, the Bandung meeting took note of the Indonesian proposal for establishing a NAM Center for South-South Technical Cooperation and called for the elaboration of the proposal for further study and consideration. The Ministers also recognized the important of the role and activities of the South Center and reiterated their commitment to fully support the Center. They also called upon Member States to lend their full support for the strengthening of the Center and for the carrying out of its objectives and functions set out in the Agreement to Establish the Center.