5:39 AM Dec 8, 1993
AGENDA MUST RESTORE UN'S ROLE, SAY G77New York Dec 6 (TWN) -- The Group of Seventyseven has called upon the UN Secretary-General to seize a "historical opportunity" and formulate an Agenda for Development that would restore the UN's prominent role in areas of economic, social and international cooperation. The Chairman of the Group of 77, Amb. Luis Fernando Jaramillo was speaking last week in the Economic Committee to give some preliminary views on the report by Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali on the 'Agenda for Development'. Boutros-Ghali has been asked by the Assembly to prepare and present an "Agenda for Development" -- in effect to balance his earlier "Agenda for Peace", which has become a charter for UN's overemphasis on peace and security issues, downgrading the economic and social questions, and leaving development to the Bretton Woods/GATT institutions. Boutros-Ghali's "Agenda for Development" was to be drawn up and presented in consultation with member-States. A questionnaire was issued by his office to UN members, and based on the responses, on the eve of the debate in the Second Committee, Boutros-Ghali has presented an outline of sorts. Jaramillo was offering his comments on these, and sketching out some preliminary G77 ideas of the direction in which the Group expects the S.G. to move on this matter. "The Agenda for Development," Jaramillo said, "provides the Secretary-General with an historical opportunity to show independence of thought, leadership and vision, and to offer a substantive contribution aimed at restoring a prominent role for the UN in the areas of economic, social and international cooperation. "The Agenda should show us a new way, that of a more democratic, more just, more equitable world. It should lead us to a different ethics, one in which human beings are the centre of attention and their rights and welfare its fundamental objective." The G77 coordinator said the document, which had been distributed late, contained some initial interesting elements, but did not meet their expectations to enable a more substantive debate. Jaramillo noted that the Assembly's mandate to the Secretary-General, based on a G77 proposal requesting the elaboration of an Agenda for Development, was based "on the need to bring together, in a fresh vision, the review of opportunities, problems, and perceptions on development and to approach, from an updated perspective, the situation and outlook of international economic cooperation." The G77 initiative was also a response to the incomplete and disjointed treatment given to the principal issues of interest in this area, he said. Besides providing an updated conceptualization of development, it implied the linkage of the principal problems in the economic, political and social agenda in order to design more appropriate and effective institutional actions in the UN system, and thus be action-oriented. As a starting point, the Agenda for Development should provide the firm commitment and the means to fully implement the different agreements and strategies agreed previously within the framework of international economic cooperation. It should not reopen or renegotiate existing agreements which cover issues of interest for the developing countries, but reaffirm those commitments, without prejudice to identifying new areas and opportunities for cooperation arising from recent changes in the international context. The Agenda for Development should be based on a simple but fundamental concept: economic growth is a basic prerequisite of development; yet development is much more than economic growth. It should be also guided by principles of justice, equity and social responsibility and place at the centre of its analyses and recommendations the objective of overcoming the situation of poverty affecting large segments of the population of developing countries. The Agenda for Development should also translate into actions aimed at alleviating the social and political tensions arising from the lack of opportunities, the lack of remunerative employment, and the deterioration of health conditions, food, housing, education and other basic services. The growing concentration of wealth, the persistent unemployment and the rise of poverty, were all aspects of the same phenomenon whose results could be no other than social disintegration, the loss of autonomy and the erosion of democratic systems. There were a number of challenges and current realities providing additional support to the Agenda for Development. The globalization of the world economy, while uncovering new dilemmas, had opened up diverse opportunities for economic cooperation. The implications of this globalization process for developing countries should occupy a priority place in the Agenda. Similarly, the rapid scientific advances and technological changes taking place in the world should be considered with a view to identifying the existing potentials for developing countries and the manner in which these changes could be steered to assimilate them in a positive fashion and to avoid new and undesirable imbalances. The effects of the disappearance of the cold war and the framework of relations created by it should continue to be analyzed in depth in order to propose new policies for the reallocation of resources and direction of efforts towards more productive goals. The so-called process of transition of the former socialist European economies should also be the object of permanent review in order to find possible areas of cooperation and safeguarding the interests of the developing countries. Finally, the subject of sustainable development should be inserted within the framework of the Agenda in order to ensure that environmental objectives do not infringe on the South's right to development. While the countries of the Third World were committed to promote their own growth and welfare, this should not distract attention from the responsibility of the international community, which is perhaps greater, particularly when the world economy is undergoing a full process of integration. The international environment determines the success of the efforts of the developing countries and resolving their problems of growth, distribution and poverty. In this context, the Agenda for Development should come up with an up-to-date vision of the role of the market and the function of the State so that the competitive integration of the developing countries into the world economy would translate into sustained progress in the quality of life of their peoples. The renewal of the dialogue between the developing countries and the developed countries should equally play a catalytic role in creating a transparent and equitable international system, and preventing international commitments from becoming a dead letter. The issues of trade, investment, debt, official assistance, transfer of resources and technology, and the coordination of macroeconomic policies, among others, should receive an appropriate treatment within the current scope of growing globalization and interdependence. The countries of the North should understand that the developing countries have an enormous potential for exerting decisive influence on the global economy; cooperation with the developing countries and the revitalization of their economies are essential for providing more solidity and stability to the process of globalization. An important part of this strategy should be that of promoting and strengthening economic cooperation among developing countries. The role of the UN in the area of economic cooperation was being eclipsed by other organizations and institutions which often lacked true pluralism. International cooperation required a firm foundation in global organizations such as the UN and this was a necessary condition for the promotion of genuine cooperation. "The UN is the only global organization with a clear mandate in all the relevant areas of development. It is the only one with a capacity to articulate, within an integrated vision, the various economic, environmental, social and political issues. It should be at the forefront of efforts to restore the truly participatory character of international organizations and their decision-making mechanisms. "This requires restoring the U.N.'s capabilities and financial resources to allow it to fulfil its functions fully and promoting a system of economic and social relations whose basic purpose is justice, freedom and equity. "It would be incomplete without an in-depth review of the relations with the Bretton Wood institutions and the GATT. Those institutions and their procedures should be placed under continual and close coordination with the UN, as well as with its guidelines and policies. In fact, that would amount to nothing more than the faithful implementation of the mandates originally contained in the Charter of the United Nations.