5:23 AM Jun 29, 1994


New York 28 Jun (TWN) -- The debate in the UN Economic and Social Council on An Agenda for Development should not get bogged down in a process to redefine development, but enable a revised version to be presented to the UN General Assembly and lead to concrete measures and actions by the United Nations on international cooperation and Development.

In a statement to the high-level segment of the ECOSOC on Tuesday, the Chairman of the Group of 77, Algerian Ambassador Ramtane Lamamra, said that the debate should not get bogged down in a mere process of attempting to redefine development, but should address pragmatically the essential challenges like eradication of poverty, satisfying the basic needs of the people, securing employment for all, education and training, and promotion of women.

In their initiative before the UN General Assembly to draft an Agenda for Development, the G-77 and China had been guided by the concern to place questions of development and international economic cooperation at the very centre of the United Nations priorities.

This goal remains more relevant than ever and drew its legitimacy from the provisions of the Charter and the imperatives of the world economic and social situation and in particular the major challenges facing the developing countries.

The ECOSOC debate should make it possible to come up with precise guidelines to encourage the Secretary-General to present to the 49th session of the General Assembly a revised version of his report on an Agenda for Development and provide not only a good basis for a substantive debate but also to agree on concrete measures commensurate with the considerable potential of the UN and the legitimate aspirations of the Member States.

There could be no peace without development.

And the UN, as a forum for expression and action of a universal character and which has nurtured multilateralism, should not deal solely with crisis management to the detriment of economic and social issues and concerns. "Preventive development holds more promise than preventive diplomacy; it deserves greater mobilisation and broader commitment,", the G77 chair said.

Development presupposed sustained economic growth which alone could generate the financial, institutional and technological resources which are the pillars of development.

Therefore, it was indispensable that an Agenda for Development address the negative effects of structural adjustment programmes which often sacrificed social priorities such as education and health.

Clearly, the international economic environment is a decisive factor for the success or failure of the efforts of the developing countries themselves. By far external factors have weighed negatively on developing countries -- whether in the area of external debt, the decrease in financial flows including ODA, the inequities of the international trading system or the continuing deterioration in commodity prices.

The promises of the Rio Summit which was to mark a new point of departure for international cooperation on the basis of the principle of shared but differentiated responsibilities among the developing and the developed countries, have not been kept.

And while the conclusion of the Uruguay Round was an important event, it was necessary to build on this major achievement for the entire international community in order to improve access to markets of the developed countries for exports of developing countries. It was necessary "to avoid introducing new conditionalities or new forms of protectionism under the guise of social or environmental clauses."

It was also important that measures be taken to compensate the developing countries who are negatively affected by the new international trade regime.

An Agenda for Development also must put special emphasis on strengthening the scientific and technological capacities of the developing countries and it should provide the mechanisms and the means for promoting effective transfer of technology from the developed countries to the developing countries.

The support of the international community for South-South cooperation activities is another dimension requiring mobilization and action, which is necessary also in support of the initiatives for regional and sub-regional integration which have been undertaken by the developing countries.

The G77 and China were also convinced that an Agenda for Development could also stimulate more concrete and more substantial responses to the specific problems facing Africa, the least developed and most vulnerable continent.

Lamamra said that two horizontal topics which would ultimately determine the viability of the initiative of an Agenda for Development and its effective implementation would depend on the role of the United Nations and the resumption of North-South dialogue.

An Agenda for Development should be a catalyst for greater coordination within the UN system as a whole, including the Bretton Woods institutions, and define more precisely the respective roles of the different institutions and programmes and involve them in a dynamic cooperation process in order to draw maximum benefit from their respective comparative advantages.

The Agenda for Development exercise, the G77 chair added, raised the whole set of problems of international economic relations as well as the need to democratize the international relations in this field.

"Provided it reflects a daring vision.. is based on the realities of interdependence.. focuses on a priority basis on the tasks requiring mobilization of the international community as a whole, an Agenda for Development could provide North-South dialogue with a true and equitable partnership between the developed and developing countries and ... make it possible to give substantial content and renewed credibility to the role of the United Nations," Lamamre added.

The Group of 77 and China, he stressed, had invested great hopes in this process and were prepared to spare no efforts for the success of this mobilizing endeavour which could considerably enhance the scope and significance of the fiftieth anniversary of the United Nations.