Press Releases

    21 March 2002


    (Received from a UN Information Officer.)

    MONTERREY, 20 March -- "Coherence starts at home", stated Eveline Herfkens, Minister for Development Cooperation of the Netherlands and Co-Chair of one of two ministerial round tables held this morning as part of the International Conference on Financing for Development, taking place in Monterrey, Mexico, from 18 to 22 March.

    The need for coherence at the national level, within international institutions and between international institutions, was emphasized during the discussion in Ministerial Round Table B2, also co-chaired by Trevor Manuel, Minister for Finance of South Africa.

    Countries had done their homework in terms of developing their own policies, continued Ms. Herfkens. Donors should support and fund home-grown policies and programmes. They could not continue giving with one hand and taking away more with the other hand. Governments were creating problems by saying one thing in one place and something different in another place.

    The lack of coherence in developing countries was often a reflection of incoherence on behalf of donors and the international community, stated one speaker. In that regard, flexibility of partners to adapt themselves to the needs of the countries they supported was crucial, as was the elimination of conditionalities set on assistance. A common effort was needed from both recipient and donor countries in ensuring policy coherence at the national and international levels. Donor countries and international organizations had agendas of their own, and reconciling them with national agendas was difficult.

    One representative stated how important it was to build up new confidence between developed and developing countries. Without such confidence, it would be difficult to sustain coherence in policies. Coherence, said another representative, required partnerships, as well as the elimination of conditionalities. Coherence also involved having the effective participation of poor countries in international financial institutions.

    Incoherence between social and economic development programmes, said one speaker, would result in marginalization, exclusion and extremism, as well as in increased poverty. It was essential to harmonize policies in order to focus on objectives, such as poverty reduction. The only policy that would be successful, stressed one speaker, would be one that was driven by the recipient country.

    Transparency and communication were emphasized by several speakers as crucial for coherence in development. Pakistan’s representative felt there could not be enough communication. With transparency, all stakeholders would know what was going on. In that regard, it would be useful to establish a focal point in the government to coordinate with donors. Transparency was crucial, stated Mr. Manuel, for widening ownership and demystifying what went on.

    The representative of the World Trade Organization (WTO) noted that there was now greater transparency within his organization. There was better participation of its members in decision-making, which was done on the basis of consensus. The more WTO members understood trade issues and how trade could serve as an engine for growth, the better they could mainstream trade issues into their development policies and the better they could negotiate. The WTO had put development at the heart of its work.

    It was felt by several speakers that poverty reduction strategy papers (PRSPs) were a useful tool for building national coherence should and not just be restricted to those involved in the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) Debt Initiative. The representative of the World Bank said that, following a review of the PRSP process, it was felt that it provided a useful means for coherence, between donors and recipients, among donors and in development policies.

    The issue of increasing coherence within the United Nations system, while maintaining the mandates of its various bodies, was raised by several speakers. The representative of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) said that the organization must monitor results and impacts. Even with the constraints in the system, specific measures could be taken to foster greater coordination and coherence.

    Responding to the concerns raised, Deputy Secretary-General Louise Fréchette said that the United Nations cost very little money to the nations of the world and provided a good value for the money given to it. While it had many problems, being rich and wasteful was not one of them. One of the main problems had been fragmentation within the system. She expressed concern about the increased earmarking of funds given to the Organization. In order to strengthen the United Nations in its day-to-day functions, it was necessary to ensure that the Organization and its principal organ in the economic and social field -- the Economic and Social Council -- focused on the issues of the day.

    In that regard, some speakers felt there was the need to create a credible body to address the issue of coherence. The French delegation stated that it was contemplating presenting a resolution during the next General Assembly requesting the Secretary-General to explore the idea of establishing an economic and social security council to address the need for coherence. At the same time, some speakers noted that it was not necessary to create new institutions, and efforts should focus on strengthening existing mechanisms.

    Participating in the round table were:

    African States: Burundi, Congo, Liberia, Madagascar, Mali, Mauritania, Mozambique, Niger, Somalia, South Africa, Tunisia, Uganda.

    Asian States: Bahrain, Bhutan, Cambodia, Kuwait, Lao People´s Democratic Republic, Mongolia, Myanmar, Pakistan, Philippines, Singapore.

    Eastern European States: Belarus, Bulgaria, Croatia, Estonia, Russian Federation, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.

    Latin American and Caribbean States: Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay.

    Western European and other States: France, Liechtenstein, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Switzerland.

    Institutional stakeholder participants: United Nations; World Bank; International Monetary Fund (IMF); World Trade Organization (WTO); International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD); United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM); Latin American Economic System (SELA); IUCN-The World Conservation Union.

    Business sector participants: BRED Banque Populaire; Eurorient; ESKOM; Grupo Empresarial Olmeca; KfW; Soros Fund Management; Money Matters Institute.

    Civil society participants: All Pakistan Federation of Labour (APFOL); CIDSE; Espacio Autónomo; Instituto Braziliero de Analysis Sociais e Economicas (IBASE); Oxfam International; Bretton Woods Projects; Third World Network.

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