G77 ministers to tackle economy, UN reform at Doha summit


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G77 ministers to tackle economy, UN reform at Doha summit

  1. 1. EYE ON UNESCAP A media file on coverage of economic and social issues. For your comments or queries, please contact us. Chief, UNIS. UN Building, Rajadamnern Avenue Bangkok 10200 Thailand. Tel (66 2 ) 288 1866 Fax (66 2) 288 1052 Email: unisbbk.unescap@un.org www.unescap.org Issue Number 033 Date: 16 June 2005 Source Headline Date REGIONAL - GENERAL Agence France Presse G77 ministers to tackle economy, UN reform at Doha 13 June 2005 summit Agence France Presse UN envoy urges China to be "humane" towards N. Korean 13 June 2005 refugees Hindu Walk to end child hunger 13 Jun2 2005 Japan Times Japan's UNSC bid dealt blow by U.S. 8 June 2005 UN News Centre Annan calls on Eastern and Central European States to 14 June 2005 support UN reform United News of Bangladesh WFP, TNT Join Worldwide Effort to End Child Hunger 12 June 2005 Xinhua General News Cambodians Raise Funds To Help Hungry Children 12 June 2005 UNESCAP ABC Radio Australia Poverty levels in Asia on the improve 15 June 2005 UNIS-ESCWA Regional Integration, Bilateralism, and Multilateralism on 15 June 2005 Agenda of Meeting of Executive Secretaries of UN Regional Commissions Hosted by UN-ESCWA One World South Asia Bangladesh: on the sustainable path 13 June 2005 Vietnam News Agency ESCAP proposes establishing Asian investment bank 15 June 2005 G77 ministers to tackle economy, UN reform at Doha summit Agence France Presse 13 June 2005 Foreign ministers of the Group of 77 plus China met ahead of a summit of the largest Third World coalition due to discuss UN reform and measures to strengthen their developing economies. The G77, which groups 132 countries in the alliance of developing states at the United Nations, will discuss South-South partnerships, North-South relations and UN reform at the two-day summit opening Wednesday in the Qatari capital, Doha. The G77 has been tackling economic development since its founding in 1964. However, some members, such as Brazil, India and associate member China, have become rising economic forces on the world stage since then. Qatar Foreign Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassem Al-Thani called on industrialised countries to honor their promises to help developing nations. "Developing countries do not need new pledges. They await the effective implementation of previous pledges," he said. G77 executive secretary Murad Ahmia said: "Our objective is to consolidate South-South cooperation in the economic, social and ecological sectors... in order to achieve development." Despite the slow pace of cooperation among G77 members, "there is an improvement in trade exchanges among developing countries," Ahmia said, highlighting a preferential trade agreement introduced by 50 group members. Ahmia said the last G77 summit in Havana in 2000 approved the creation of a "solidarity fund, which is currently functioning within the framework of the United Nations." Participants told AFP that G77 experts meetings in Doha since Sunday have discussed the possible creation of a banking institution for southern countries after a proposal by Arab Gulf monarchies. Ahmia gave a cautious welcome to the decision of the G8 leading industrialised countries to wipe out the debts of the planet's 18 poorest states, amounting to about 40 billion dollars. "Any initiative which aims at canceling the debts of developing countries is welcome," he said, but added that such measures should be made to all developing countries, without being "politically-motivated." At least 39 heads of state are expected to attend the summit out of the 118 countries likely to participate, organisers said. British Prime Minister Tony Blair may speak at the summit, ahead of hosting a G8 meeting in Scotland next month where Africa aid will be a prime issue, although his participation has not been confirmed. On the political front, participants at the G77 summit were due to attempt to gather support for UN reforms that would "take into consideration the interests of the south," said one official.
  2. 2. Two G77 members, India and Brazil, are vying for permanent seats on an expanded UN Security Council along with Germany and Japan. However, India's rival Pakistan, also a G77 member, has publicly denounced the plan. Representatives of non-aligned countries are due to meet Monday on the sidelines of the G77 in order to adopt a common stand for UN reforms ahead of a September UN summit in New York. G77 foreign ministers were also expected to draft a plan of action to be submitted to the Doha conference, in which the group will denounce Washington's unilateral sanctions against Syria and Cuba. Syria is under US sanctions over allegations it sponsors terrorism, while Washington has had a comprehensive economic embargo on Cuba, the only only one-party communist state in the Americas, since 1962. UN envoy urges China to be "humane" towards N. Korean refugees Agence France Presse 13 June 2005 KUALA LUMPUR, June 13 (AFP) - China must take a more humane approach towards North Korean refugees and stop forcing them to return to the Stalinist nation where they face persecution, a United Nations envoy said Monday. Vitit Muntarbhorn, the UN special rapporteur on human rights in North Korea, said the international community should lean on China to change its attitude and uphold its legal obligations. "It is very important to engage with China and encourage China to adopt a balanced and humane approach," Muntarbhorn told reporters at a UN-sponsored conference on migration and refugee issues in the Malaysian capital. As China is a party to the International Refugee Convention, it "should be supported well to implement its obligations under that convention," he said. "The people coming from the DPR Korea (North Korea) are more than hunger cases, they fear persecution upon return to their country of origin," he said. As such, they were refugees and "should be dealt with and respected accordingly," he said. "We should work with China so that we can create a greater degree of confidence with China to react in a balanced manner and it is important to work with and engage China to adopt the preferred options for the future." US Republican Senator Sam Brownback last month threatened to seek sanctions against China if it did not stop turning back refugees from North Korea who face persecution and possible execution at home. "Thousands are fleeing persecution and starvation only to be rounded up by the Chinese in contravention of international law and then sent back to North Korea to persecution and probable death," he said. Vitit was appointed in July 2004 with a mandate to investigate and report on human rights violations in North Korea and to begin a dialogue with its government. But he said his efforts had met with little success so far. "I've tried to be very constructive, I've tried to be polite, courteous and I've tried to contact the North Korean authorities but regrettably I've not been allowed into the country," he said. He has also sought talks with North Korean diplomats but said that there had been "limited engagement". North Korea earlier this year rejected a United Nations resolution criticising human rights violations in the communist state, saying it was part of a US-led "hostile" campaign and was "politically-motivated". The UN Commission on Human Rights had expressed deep concern about torture, public executions, internment of civilians and forced labor. It urged North Korea to address the concern "by immediately putting an end to the systemic, widespread and grave violations of human rights". Walk to end child hunger The Hindu 13 Jun2 2005 A large number of Delhiites woke up early on Sunday morning to walk 5 kilometres -- not for their health but to express solidarity with more than 200,000 people worldwide concerned about child hunger. They were joined by Delhi Health Minister Yoganand Shastri and socialite Nafisa Ali. The Global Walk to End Child Hunger -- organised by the World Food Programme and TNT, the global mail delivery service -- kicked off at 8 a.m. Walkers set off from India Gate and proceeded through Ferozeshah Road and Copernicus Marg before returning to India Gate. They were not alone. Long before Delhiites woke up, walkers at Auckland in New Zealand started walking and long after they returned, many more set off under the African sun in Malawi. In an international show of support, people around the globe from Moscow to Los Angeles and from Sydney to Santiago took part in the walk. International though the walk might have been, all the participants were united by the plight of long-suffering children worldwide. The statistics are shocking: 18,000 children worldwide starve to death every day, another 300 million more suffer from chronic hunger and 100 million cannot afford to go to school. The walk's importance to Indian children became evident last year when enough money was raised to feed 1,000 school children in Chhattisgarh for an entire year. The money raised from this year's walk will also be used to feed starving Indian children. Though the walk is over, those keen to help fight child hunger can donate at a click of a mouse at www.fighthunger.org. Copyright 2005 Kasturi & Sons Ltd (KSL). Source: Financial Times Information Limited - Asia Intelligence Wire. Japan's UNSC bid dealt blow by U.S. The Japan Times 8 June 2005
  3. 3. By KANAKO TAKAHARA, Staff writer Japan will probably postpone submitting a resolution to expand the U.N. Security Council in light of an objection aired last week by U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Foreign Ministry sources said Tuesday. In a telephone conversation Friday with Foreign Minister Nobutaka Machimura, Rice urged Tokyo to refrain from submitting the resolution this month, the sources said. "If the resolution is submitted in haste, we would have to oppose to it," a senior ministry official quoted Rice as telling Machimura. "There would be confusion if it is submitted too early." Although the U.S. has publicly voiced support for Japan's candidacy to become a permanent Security Council member, it is widely believed to be reluctant to expand the membership because it could make consensus-building harder. The so-called Group of Four UNSC hopefuls -- Japan, Brazil, Germany and India -- have worked toward jointly submitting the resolution later this month to the U.N. General Assembly. They hope a decision on Security Council reform will be made during a U.N. summit in September. The resolution advocates increasing the current number of UNSC permanent members from five to 11 and adding four more nonpermanent members. The four countries are seeking to obtain the expanded permanent seats. Japan will try to win wider support for the Group of Four resolution before submitting it to the General Assembly, the ministry sources said. Machimura hinted to reporters Tuesday morning that the submission of the resolution, initially planned this month, would likely be delayed until July. "The African Union summit will be held in early July and African nations have asked us to wait until then to submit the resolution," Machimura said, adding that the Caribbean nations summit takes place July 1. "We will decide on the appropriate timing to submit the resolution after judging those moves and reactions from other nations," he said. Machimura refused to comment on the contents of his conversation with Rice. The Foreign Ministry earlier said U.N. reform was among the topics covered in the discussion but gave no specifics. Japan will try to persuade the three other Group of Four members to postpone submitting the resolution, but it is unclear whether they will agree, especially since Germany wants to submit the resolution this month as planned, the sources said. In a related move, Machimura on Monday canceled a trip to Nigeria to attend a meeting of the African Union member states, after the African Union withdrew its invitation to the Group of Four, apparently because of the union's ties with a group of U.N. states opposing the Group of Four's proposal. Instead, Machimura headed Tuesday to Brunei, Vietnam and Cambodia to lobby for Japan's Security Council bid. The senior Foreign Ministry official said Machimura will try to make sure the Southeast Asian nations continue to support Japan's Security Council candidacy, given that China appears to be lobbying those countries not to back Tokyo's bid. Annan calls on Eastern and Central European States to support UN reform UN News Centre 14 June 2005 14 June 2005 – Though eight East and Central European countries are entering the European Union, giving rise to dramatic changes in their region, the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) still need “to engage fully in the process of reform and revitalization that is high on the agenda at the United Nations,” Secretary-General Kofi Annan said today. In a message to the ninth St. Petersburg International Economic Forum in the Russian Federation, delivered by Sergei Ordzhonikidze, Director General of the UN Office at Geneva (UNOG), Mr. Annan noted that during the UN’s 60th anniversary year this year he had put before Member States a report entitled “In Larger Freedom.” It “contains far-reaching recommendations for defeating poverty, strengthening human rights, building an effective collective security system and strengthening the United Nations itself,” Mr. Annan said. “As these reform efforts move ahead, the United Nations family – including the Economic Commission for Europe (ECE), the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), and a number of UN agencies – will continue to be your partner,” he added. The General Assembly’s summit in September, which is expected to take action on the reforms Member States have been negotiating, could be a time of “bold and even historic decisions,” Mr. Annan said. “But success will depend on the ability of Governments and world leaders to heal their divisions and work together for the common good.” The Forum had an important role to play in preventing new divisions from arising by promoting closer economic ties between the enlarged EU and the CIS, he said. WFP, TNT Join Worldwide Effort to End Child Hunger United News of Bangladesh 12 June 2005 Dhaka, June 12 (UNB) - The global fundraising walk of the World Food Programme (WFP) was held in the country as elsewhere in the world today. WFP and TNT staff, partners, families and friends numbering around 400 people joined the walk to focus hunger that kills one child every five seconds despite the production of more than enough food for everyone. The Walk was aimed at raising public awareness about global hunger as well as raising funds for WFP's global School Feeding Campaign, said a press release.
  4. 4. In over 270 cities in 84 countries, the event reminded people of the heartrending fact that 18,000 children die of hunger daily in the food sufficient world. Another 300 million children suffer chronic hunger while 100 million do not attend school. About 200,000 people in 84 countries around the globe have joined this battle to advocate and raise over US$ 2.3 million to eradicating child hunger under a global campaign of WFP, a front line humanitarian UN agency that is fighting hunger globally. In Dhaka, the Walk with colorful banners and festoons started from IDB Bhaban at Sher-e-Bangla Nagar and ended in front of the Jatiya Sangshad Bhaban. Eminent singer Runa Laila and prominent film actor Alamgir joined the walk. In connection with the Walk, another fundraising event - grand gala Mime Magic and dance show - was held in Dhaka Saturday evening at Spectra Convention Centre, Gulshan. Attending the event a number of diplomats and cultural celebrities expressed their solidarity with the noble cause to end child hunger. Australian High Commssioner Lorraine Barker, United Nations Resident Coordinator Jorgen Lissner, UNICEF Representative Morten Giersing, cultural celebrities Runa Laila, Miss Bangladesh Shathi, Tariq Anam, Shahidul Alam Sacchu, Tariq Masud and Catherin Masud, Chayanika Chowhdury, TV presenter Farzana Brownia, model girls Azra, Emmie and Camily Alam also attended the event. After the Walk Sunday morning in Dhaka, WFP Representative in Bangladesh Douglas Casson Coutts said: "In Bangladesh about 50 per cent of children under the age of 5 are underweight and stunted which results in a reduced mental capacity and physical development." He added: "I believe, the joining of our friends and partners in the Walk has boosted our morale to continue our efforts to improve the quality of life of the poor school-going children." Cambodians Raise Funds To Help Hungry Children Xinhua General News 12 June 2005 Phnom Penh, June 12, 2005 A walk to fight hunger, sponsored by the UN World Food Program (WFP), was held here Sunday in order to raise fund to help hungry children in Cambodia and the world, according to Chinese News Agency Xinhua. More than 500 people, including senior government ministers, on Sunday participated in the walk starting from the Independence Monument to the riverside and back. Five years ago, the United Nations set forth a series of eight objectives called the UN Millennium Development Goals. Cambodia adopts these goals, which call for, among other things, universal primary education for children by 2015, the reduction of child mortality, and most importantly, a 50 percent reduction of the number of chronically hungry people in the world. "We are here today to join together with fellow citizens and partner organizations around the world who took the time and steps to demonstrate their commitment to end child hunger," said Thomas J Keusters, WFP's country representative. Nhim Vanda, first vice-chairman of the National Committee on Disaster Management, said that the aim of the event is to call the people and the society to devote much attention to the hungry children. He appealed people from all walks of life to help the hungers and the poor. Money raised by the walk will benefit the World Feed Program (WFP) School Feeding Program, which last year provided food to 376, 000 school children in Cambodia. Internationally, the WFP will host about 200 walks in 90 countries on Sunday, according to the report.--AKP Poverty levels in Asia on the improve ABC Radio Australia 15 June 2005 Asia leads the world in meeting a key development goal of halving extreme poverty by 2015. But a United Nations report says Asia has fallen well short in other areas including education, HIV/AIDS and child mortality. A total of 703 million Asians were living on less than $US 1 dollar a day in 2001 compared with 936 million in 1990, according to the UN. But that contrasts with regional setbacks in some of the UN's seven other millennium development goals, including lagging school enrolments, widening gender gaps and little or no improvement in reducing child mortality. "Having a higher income as a whole average does not necessarily result in a fair or equitable income distribution," said the UN's regional chief Kim Hak-su.
  5. 5. Regional Integration, Bilateralism, and Multilateralism on Agenda of Meeting of Executive Secretaries of UN Regional Commissions Hosted by UN-ESCWA UNIS-ESCWA 15 June 2005 Press Release Beirut, 15 June 2005 (United Nations Information Service)— In the context of the Meeting of Executive Secretaries (ES) of the five UN regional commissions that will be hosted by UN-ESCWA at the UN House, Beirut, on 7 and 8 July 2005, a roundtable will be held on “Regional Integration, Bilateralism, and Multilateralism: Harmony or Conflict?” that includes key speeches by UN-ESCWA ES Mervat Tallawy and Lebanese Finance, Economy and Trade Minister Dimyanos Kattar. The Executive Secretaries expressed their satisfaction with the outcome of a roundtable on “Bilateralism and Regionalism in the Aftermath of Cancun: Re-establishing the Primacy of Multilateralism” they held in Sao Paolo, Brazil, last June. The roundtable was well-attended, and raised important issues that need to be further explored by the regional commissions. The ES’s agreed with the proposal of Mr. Rubens Ricupero, former Secretary-General of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), for the commissions to hold another roundtable in the near future that would possibly involve the participation of a wider group of stakeholders such as representatives from other UN agencies, bilateral and regional integration groupings as well as experts from some developed and developing member States. A date was then fixed for the ES Meeting in Beirut. This roundtable aims to discuss the future of regional integration in light of the various bilateral and multilateral agreements that are being undertaken between developing countries and the developed economies. In an era of globalization and the formation of regional blocks it has become inevitable that Arab countries seek economic integration among themselves in order to face the contemporary economic problems that are confronting them, from the vast openness of the global economy, to the accompanying competitiveness of goods imported from industrialized countries with those from developing countries, including Arab countries. The Arab world, which covers an area of 5.3 million square miles and is inhabited by 302 million people, the equivalent of 10.2% of the area of the planet and 4.8% of its population, has amassed a GDP of around $718 billion in 2003, the equivalent of only 2% of the world’s GDP in the same year and around only 3.5% of the world’s total trade. The picture is not that different at the regional level, as Arab intraregional trade in 2003 did not surpass 7.8% of the total foreign trade of the Arab world, noting that the Greater Arab Free Trade Area (GAFTA) was fully implemented in 2005 exempting all goods of Arab origin from tariffs, import taxes and other charges. In spite of the full elimination of tariff barriers, there remain several non-tariff barriers to trade that hinder the full liberalization of Arab intraregional trade in GAFTA and achievement of economic integration, such as: uncompleted rules of origin; non-transparent procedures of tariff administration; immature dispute settlement mechanisms; and high transport charges. It is worth nothing that the Executive Secretaries Meeting comes on the eve of a world summit due to be held at UN headquarters in New York in September. Participating in the ES Meeting are: Ms. Brigita Schmognerova, ES of the UN Economic Commission for Europe (ECE); Mr. Kim Hak-Su, ES of the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), Mr. Jose Luis Machinea, ES of the UN Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC); Mr. K.Y. Amoako, ES of the UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA); and Ms. Mervat Tallawy, ES of UN-ESCWA. The meeting will also be attended by world-renowned figures, senior UN officials, and a host of political, diplomatic, economic, intellectual, cultural and media personalities. Bangladesh: on the sustainable path One World South Asia 13 June 2005 When the Mughal emperor Jehangir established Dhaka – the capital and the largest metropolis of Bangladesh – in 1608 on the banks of the river Buriganga, little did he know that it would become one of the most polluted cities in the world. In our series on sustainable development trends in South Asia, the spotlight in this issue is on Bangladesh and its endeavours towards ensuring better environmental conditions. Agriculture is the most favoured economic option in Bangladesh, which contributes to the country’s GDP (gross domestic product) with about 23 per cent share and employs about 62 per cent of the country’s total labour force. It has, however, been a food-deficit country for several decades now. Rice and wheat production was emphasized upon since the Green Revolution in the 1970s to achieve self-sufficiency in food grains. As a result, some secondary crops, including coarse grains, pulses, roots, and tubers – which occupy about six per cent of the total cropped area – became less attractive. A UNESCAP-CAPSA (United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific - Community Abuse Prevention Services Agency)-sponsored study was undertaken in 2003 to examine the possibilities of enhancing sustainable development of diverse agriculture in Bangladesh. It revealed that the development of secondary crops would help the country tide over its food crisis. Following the Rio Earth Summit (1992), the government of Bangladesh initiated a UNDP (United Nations Development Programme)-backed programme to identify and prioritize environmental concerns, which included management of natural resources, and protection and regeneration of biodiversity unique to the country. Out of this exercise came the comprehensive SEMP (Sustainable Environment Management Programme) that was the first national attempt to target critical environmental challenges through an umbrella programme working at the policy as well as the community levels.
  6. 6. The Environmental Pollution Control Ordinance, 1977, replaced the existing Water Pollution Control Ordinance, 1970, and was the first official regulatory framework to provide for the control and prevention of environmental pollution in Bangladesh. A more comprehensive regulatory mechanism came much later in 1995 in the form of the Environmental Protection Act that provided for the conservation, improvement, and mitigation of pollution. The Act led to the creation of the Department of Environment in 1989 in the country. Along with the legislative measures, the government of Bangladesh implemented the use of unleaded gasoline in Dhaka. The problem of lead pollution in the city was identified as early as 1980. Timely action on the part of the Ministry of Energy in 1997 led to the reduction of lead content in petroleum products from 0.8 gram per litre in the 1980s to an average of 0.4 gram per litre in 1997. This was achieved by blending locally refined gasoline with imported unleaded gasoline. Growing public pressure encouraged the National Environment Council to adopt a resolution to switch over to unleaded gasoline in 1998 and, subsequently, the Ministry of Energy decided to go lead-free in 2002. Governmental as well as non-governmental organizations in the country have realized the potential of renewable energy sources and have been implementing various SPV (solar photovoltaic) projects for the last few years. While most of these are in the demonstration/dissemination stage, SHS (solar home systems) are being used at a scale much larger than ever before. Recent initiatives in this direction include more varied applications, but compared to other countries in the South Asian region, Bangladesh still lags behind considerably in the energy sweepstakes. Since the implementation of the NEP (National Energy Policy) in 1996, a number of policy recommendations have been standardized. First, the private sector is authorized to take part in the production of electricity, exploration, production, and management of natural gas, and so on. As a result, a number of private companies are operating with small-to medium-scale power plants. Second, all the new, government-owned power generation units use natural gas, as the base fuel and the older technologies in coal-fired and diesel-based plants are being phased out. Moreover, the new installations (combined cycle-power generation units) are more efficient. Overall, the NEP has been very effective in terms of reduction of greenhouse gas emissions from electricity production, although capital investments for improved alternatives were much higher than those for old technologies. Bangladesh, despite its proclivity to natural disasters and political turmoil, has been successful in outmoding non- sustainable and polluting methods of energy and electricity production. It has also made significant inroads into sustainable agricultural practices and eco-friendly management techniques. The sustainability report card, therefore, stands the country in good stead, even though it has miles to go to match a few of its neighbours. Source: Terragreen ESCAP proposes establishing Asian investment bank Vietnam News Agency 15 June 2005 New York (VNA) - The United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) is conducting a feasibility study on the establishment of an Asian Investment Bank (AIB), with the aim of providing funds for regional countries to develop the infrastructure of their energy, transport, and telecommunications industries. According to ESCAP, Southeast Asian countries need between 200-300 billion USD each year for infrastructure projects. At present, investment capital sources available from the regional financial market are far from meeting the demand of major projects. ESCAP called on Asian-Pacific governments to contribute initial capital to the proposed AIB in the form of stocks and shares, and affirmed that the bank's operations would not be the same as that of the Asian Development Bank (ADB). The ADB provides low-interest credit and diversifies investment items while the AIB would only invest in infrastructure projects that require large capital sources.—Enditem -End-