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    4 November 1999
    Secretary-General Says UNCTAD X Will Permit Formulation of Strategies
    Aimed at Integration in World Economy of Developing Countries

    NEW YORK, 3 November (UN Headquarter) -- Following is the text of Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s message to the ceremony marking “100 Days to UNCTAD X”, which was delivered today in Bangkok on his behalf by Adrianus Mooy, the Executive Secretary of the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP):

     The tenth United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD X) will be a special and important event in the calendar of the international community.  For one thing, it will be the first major conference of the new millennium, an occasion that lends itself particularly well to taking stock of past achievements or disappointments while setting the course for the future.  For another, the Conference would hardly be held in a more apt setting:  Thailand, a country held up for so long as an example of successful development before it was caught up in the Asian financial crisis of 1997.  There are surely lessons to learn from the experience of Thailand, including, we hope, lessons on how to weather a crisis and come out of it stronger.

     Thus, both the timing and the venue of UNCTAD X are propitious.  As we enter the twenty-first century, we can look back on some progress over the past decades in advancing the cause of development, but we cannot ignore the reality of the hundreds of millions of people who continue to live in desperate poverty.  Globalization, for all the benefits it has brought, has not yet provided answers to the problems of mass unemployment or income inequality.

     The UNCTAD X will provide therefore a golden opportunity for the international community to take firm and courageous action to enhance the contribution of developing countries to the global economy and to take steps to ensure that the benefits of globalization are shared more equitably.  It will be an occasion for an honest and objective review of the policy and institutional framework for global trade and finance from the perspective of development and a time to take stock of past and recent economic initiatives and development paradigms.  The Conference offers us a chance to chart a bold new course that offers all countries and all people the prospect of better, sustainable, economic and social development.

     The UNCTAD X will also allow us to place the issues that matter most to people in developing countries firmly in view:  peace and development.  We all know that the violence and social tensions which afflict so many developing countries are caused, at least in part, by deprivation and inequality.  The United Nations will continue to focus its energies and resources on the task of reducing the poverty which at present condemns so many millions of our fellow human beings to a life of misery and degradation.

     The UNCTAD X can provide a framework for the key decisions to be taken by the governments of both developed and developing countries.  At the national level, governments must give priority to job-creation strategies, in the countryside as well as the cities, while carrying out structural reforms and promoting private sector development.  The developed countries need to take action to provide higher levels of development assistance and debt relief, and to improve market access for developing countries.  The developing countries themselves need to continue their efforts to reform their economies.

     The success of UNCTAD X depends largely on the active participation of all concerned members of the international community, including civil society, the business community and the Bretton Woods institutions.  While reminding us that the ethical imperative to address the plight of hundreds of millions of people is more compelling than ever, UNCTAD X will allow us to formulate strategies and policies designed to ensure the integration of developing countries, especially the least developed among them, in the world economy.  I am confident that this major international conference, to be held just 100 days from now, will meet these high expectations.  We are truly indebted to the people and Government of Thailand for hosting this event.

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