7:43 AM Oct 10, 1994


New York 7 Oct (TWN) -- The Group of 77 and China called Friday for the Agenda for Development focusing on essential problems of development, rather than engage in sterile debates about development, and ensure better coordination of development strategies and international policies and actions within the United Nations as well as between the UN and the Bretton Woods Institutions.

The G77 and China said time has also come to mobilize systematically and consistently the UN system and the international community to support of cooperation between developing countries. Towards this end the G77 and China propose the convening of a UN Conference on South-South Cooperation to provide the framework and focus and to identify the means for such an undertaking.

The views of the G77 and China were laid out by the Chair of the 132-member G77, Algerian Ambassador Ramtane Lamamra, while speaking in the general debate in the UN's Second (Economic) Committee.

Lamamra noted that the discussions in the committee were taking place in a less unfavourable world economic context than on previous occasions -- with signs that the recession in the world economy might be ending and that sustained recovery in many of the industrialized countries would continue.

However, with the exception of a very small number of developing countries, the majority were left out of this overall trend towards improvement and many of them were even seeing a deterioration in their overall situation. It would not be realistic to hope for a trickle-down effect on developing economies from a return to growth in the industrialized countries since the structural factors, both domestic and especially international, were undoing the efforts and sacrifices made by the developing countries.

The rules and structure of economic and international financial relations have not changed nor have they been made more transparent and fair among the various members of the international community independently of their level of development and geographical position. The structural reforms and adjustments carried out by developing countries, in difficult conditions and with serious negative consequences for living conditions of their populations, seem to be doomed so long as there is no improvement in the international economic environment which was fundamentally unfavourable to a recovery and takeoff of the economies of Third World countries.

It was in the interest of developed countries to support the reforms in the Third World so as to help liberate the enormous potential of these countries and to make them effective partners in an overall economic recovery that should engender wealth and productive employment. Thus, financial, commercial and technological constraints, which make difficult and problematic the implementation of these reforms, must be eliminated so that the circumstances indispensable for development might be made available.

From this point of view, the crisis of the external debt of developing countries remained a question of the highest importance and its satisfactory solution was urgent for the international community.

The successive processes of rescheduling and structural adjustment programmes had become real vicious circles, accentuating the economic problems and jeopardizing the fragile socio-political internal balance of many developing countries. The various initiatives, bilateral or multilateral, for reduction or conversion of Third World debt had proved inadequate. There was hence need for a global and coordinated approach involving both creditor countries and debtor countries, commercial banks and multilateral financial institutions. It must be an approach based on renewed growth of indebted countries and not just strengthening their capacity to repay.

The favourable developments on financial transfers had not benefitted more than a very small number of developing countries and capital flows have been unfortunately very speculative in nature and uncertain in their effects. In this crucial stage, developing countries need stable financial sources as well as guarantees on preferential terms, and the financial and monetary system must be changed so as to release adequate financial resources to meet these needs.

The G77 and China supported the Secretary-General call for the convening of an international conference on development financing and said such a conference should provide an opportunity to carry out an exhaustive inventory of financial resources available on the international financial market and to agree on the fairest possible way of allocating them depending, as a priority, on the investment needs of developing countries.

Referring to the conclusion of the Uruguay Round and the signing of the Final Act in Marrakesh, Lamamra said the developing countries who had made a very significant contribution to the success of the negotiations, expected in return complete and faithful implementation of its provisions, and in particular compensatory mechanisms in favour of countries most affected -- mainly the LDCs particularly those in Africa, the net importers of food and those who will bear the negative effects of the loss of preferential margins.

The developing countries, similarly expected the developed countries to give up their proposals for introducing environmental and social clauses in the WTO which would have the effect of depriving developing countries of the relative advantages with respect to their competitors in the North.

They also hoped that the future WTO would become an impartial arbiter through transparent functioning and a democratic composition, and support a multilateral trade system without any discriminatory practices.

But the positive outcome of the Uruguay Round negotiations could not obscure a number of outstanding questions relating to food and agricultural production questions.

It was both morally and politically unacceptable that famine destroy some 18 million human beings every year and that 800 million suffer from malnutrition even as an overabundance of world food production was available to meet the needs of all mankind. Africa in this respect was the continent where the situation is the worst, with the number of undernourished doubling between 1970 and 1990 and with the largest number of deaths annually recorded because of famine. It was hence necessary to seek in a resolute way food security on an universal scale, involving necessarily elimination of the distortions governing international exchange of food and agricultural products and especially domestic support granted by developed countries to their agriculture.

The persistence and aggravation of the phenomenon of poverty and hunger facing developing countries was a threat not only to their already precarious internal stability but also a danger to the security and peace of the world. There was need for an effective strategy to combat these phenomena and this required mobilization of considerable resources.

Over and above an analysis of the structural causes of these phenomena, the World Summit for Social Development for 1995 in Copenhagen, must propose bold and concrete solutions in a programme of action to be adopted at the end of its work.

The G77 chair complained that the major hopes aroused by the UNCED Earth Summit had been belied and the progress achieved since then were far from giving rise to optimism.

The two sessions of the Commission on Sustainable Development, the multilateral negotiations at the Global Conference on the Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States, the International Conference on Population and Development and the negotiations for an international convention to combat desertification have yielded only very modest results in terms of financial commitments. The same was also true of the restructuring and reconstitution of the Global Environment Facility which has produced only $2 billion, much less than the tripling of financial resources envisaged at Rio.

Even more, these negotiations had revealed "very deplorable inclinations to call into question elements which form the basis of the Rio consensus, namely the provision of new and additional financial resources and access for developing countries on favourable terms to ecologically rational technologies."

Attempts to establish a new type of protectionism under the guise of environmental considerations and the tendency to consider financial questions on national capacities and innovative modalities on mobilization of resources are such as to throw out of focus the necessary collective momentum towards solidarity and compromise the efforts made at Rio to establish international cooperation based on principles of partnership and interdependence.

Since the beginning of the 1990s, the UN has undertaken a vast process of restructuring and revitalization in the economic and social sector to rationalize its action and to better promote progress towards the objectives set out in Article 55 of the Charter. However, for this to be fruitful several problems had to be eliminated.

These involved the mobilization of resources to finance operational activities -- financing which has been in a downward direction, in contradiction to the concern expressed by donor countries to strengthen UN machinery in the field of development in exchange for better rationalization of methods of work.

This was also true about the necessary transparency which should preside over the functioning and the operation of the new executive bodies of the Funds and Programmes.

And finally, there was also a certain manipulation through new concepts such as "sustainable human development" and "human security" to the detriment of respect for the sovereignty of states in terms of economic and social choice and to the attempt to impose new conditionalities, political in nature, on the developing world.

The elimination of the spectre of nuclear confrontation and the end to the cold war had not eliminated the deep-rooted causes of the division of the world into rich and poor and the UN, more than ever, was called upon to create conditions in which aspirations of the international community for peace and security would go hand in hand with the desire for justice, equity and dignity for the multitudes of human beings.

Referring in this context to the 'complex and laborious' exercise in which the Secretary-General was now engaged in, Lamamra said that in the view of the G77, the Agenda for Development must be focused towards action and must advocate operational machinery to put an end to the imbalances in the international economic relations. It must avoid any quarrels about the different concepts of development or be bogged down in the search for programmatic strategies which would mean the turn towards unproductive and fruitless tasks.

Instead of sterile discussion, the Agenda should focus on the essential problems of development, in particular recovery of economic growth in the countries of the South and the establishment of favourable international economic relations. It should propose ways and means of insuring implementation of the programmes and strategies for development adopted over the past few years by the General Assembly. Similarly, without necessarily advocating the establishment of new institutional machinery, the Agenda for Development would stand to gain by releasing or by developing conditions for better effectiveness of coordination than those which now exist both within the U.N. system as well as between the United Nations and the Bretton Woods institutions. The Agenda for Development must also promote a renewed North-South dialogue based on a lucid and generous vision of an authentic partnership for the development of all.