8:49 AM Feb 16, 1995


Geneva 16 Feb (TWN) -- The report of an interview to a German magazine by Karl Theodor Paschke, a former German diplomat now heading the Office of Internal Oversight Services at the UN, calling for the winding up of the UN Conference on Trade and Development, a UN General Assembly organ, and of UN Industrial Development Organization, the UN Specialized agency has evoked strong criticism from the Group of 77.

Even before this Paschke remark, the Group of 77 in Geneva had expressed concern over the report of the Global Governance Commission casting doubts about the usefulness of UNCTAD and suggesting its winding up.

After a meeting of the Group early this month, the Chairman of the G77's Geneva chapter, Amb. Guillermo Alberto Gonzalez, had sent a communication to the G77 Chair at New York, Amb. Felipe Mabilangan of the Philippines.

In that communication, Gonzalez had reiterated the Geneva chapter's view about the high priority attached by them to UNCTAD as the prime forum to meet the challenges of change and as the "most appropriate focal point within the United Nations proper for the integrated treatment of development and inter-related issues".

Gonzalez had then added in the communication to Mabilangan: "It is therefore understandable that the Group of 77 can not remain silent in the light of the recent report of the Commission on Global Governance which threw doubt on the future of UNCTAD. We wish to make it clear at the highest levels our unshakable faith in the continued validity of UNCTAD and that we will not be detracted by proposals to weaken the United Nations' major instrument for trade and development."

Gonzalez requested Mabilangan to convey these strong sentiments of the Geneva chapter to the New York chapter of the Group of 77 and to the UN Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali.

Group of 77 diplomats in Geneva noted Thursday that Paschke's post and job, created at the insistence of the US to eradicate waste and mismanagement, as decided by the UN General Assembly, is an office "under the authority of the UN Secretary-General".

The mandate of the office, spelt out in the General Assembly resolution, does not appear to cover activities impinging on the General Assembly and its mandates.

As part of his mandate to look at management and eliminate waste etc, Paschke who took the job last October is known to have indicated that he would be looking into UNCTAD activities (staffing, expenditures etc) and by pronouncing himself, in advance of this, to the German magazine, he appears to have at the least to have pre-judged any inquiry and, as in the Lewis Carol tales, given his judgement before looking for evidence.

The Paschke view, like that of the Global Governance Commission about the roles and mandates of the WTO and of UNCTAD suggest that like the Commission, he has not read either.

The WTO agreement spells out in very narrow terms the functions of the WTO in Art III -- terms which had been the subject of very careful negotiations among a key group of countries, the major industrialized nations and major developing countries, in November-December 1993. Most of them were unanimous in rejecting any language to widen the scope or make the WTO a forum for discussions or exploring new ideas and issues.

The WTO's role was specified as:

* shall facilitate the implementation, administration and operation and further the objectives of the WTO and of the Multilateral Trade Agreements and provide the framework for the implementation, administration and operation of the Plurilateral Trade Agreements;

* to provide "the forum" for negotiations among its members on their multilateral trade relations in matters dealt with under the agreements annexed to the WTO; and

* may provide "a forum" for further negotiations among its members concerning their multilateral trade relations and a framework for implementation of the results of such negotiations as may be decided by the Ministerial Conference.

Comments of the leading members, including the US, at that time and soon afterwards, including at UNCTAD itself suggested that while they saw the WTO as the place to "negotiate" contractual agreements in the trade area, they did envisage that process until there is an amount of consensus within the international community on the issues.

An UNCTAD role in discussing openly and independently many of these issues, and the wider interface of trade and development, and promoting consensus on them was reaffirmed, including at the mid-term review after Cartagena.

The views of the Global Governance Commission (which at the time it was set up was sarcastically referred to by some as the 'Mother of all Commissions' -- ala Saddam Hussein and his 'Mother of all wars' in the Gulf) come at an ironic juncture when the problems and disorders in the former Soviet Union and former Yugoslavia has shown the state of disorder in the current uni-polar and single Super-power New Order, and the Mexican crisis has shown the complete fragility of the economic base of the order built on neo-liberalism, a return to 19th century laissze faire.

The Paschke views (or that of the Global Governance Commission) on UNCTAD and the UN system are seen in the context of the Mexican crisis (and ignored warnings about such crises in the Third World from UNCTAD since 1992) has provoked extensive debates on the Fund/World Bank neo-liberal models of economics and development and the incompatibility of the WTO's rule-based system a 'free-trade system' operating in a climate of 'free and foot-loose capital movements'.