Press Releases

         15 November 2004

    Economic and Social Council Reactivates Ad Hoc Advisory Group on Haiti as It Takes Action on Three Texts, Concludes 2004 Session

    NEW YORK, 15 November (UN Headquarters) -- Reactivating the Ad Hoc Advisory Group on Haiti this afternoon, the Economic and Social Council appointed the membership of that body as it took action  on two draft decisions and a draft resolution and concluded its 2004 substantive session. The Council approved all three texts by consensus.

    According to a draft decision contained in document E/2004/L.58/Rev.1, the Permanent Representatives of Benin, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Haiti, Spain and Trinidad and Tobago would become members of the Advisory Group. In addition, the Group would invite the participation of the Council President and the Special Representative of the Secretary-General in Haiti, who would also act as Chairman of the core group.

    The Council decided that the Advisory Group would provide advice on Haiti’s long-term development strategy, with particular attention to coherence and sustainability in international support for the country, building upon the Interim Cooperation Framework and stressing the need to avoid overlap with existing mechanisms. In that effort, the Group would work with Member States, the United Nations System, the Bretton Woods institutions, regional entities and other major stakeholders.

    By the terms of the second draft decision, on regional cooperation (document E/2004/L.59), the Council would hold a dialogue with the Executive Secretaries of the regional commissions immediately after the high-level segment of its 2005 substantive session.

    In the afternoon’s final action, the Council approved, as orally amended, a draft resolution on international cooperation in tax matters (document E/2004/L.60; see document E/2004/L.61 for programme budget implications). By its terms, the General Assembly would convert the Ad Hoc Group of Experts on International Cooperation in Tax Matters into a 33-member, intergovernmental Committee operating as a subsidiary body of the Economic and Social Council. The Council would elect members of the panel from among Member States, to serve four-year terms, with a view to equitable geographical distribution.

    The seats would be regionally allocated as follows: eight members from African States; seven members from Asian States; six members from Latin American and Caribbean States; four members from Eastern European States; and eight members form Western European and Other States. As a transitional measure, the present group of experts would remain in place until the new panel could be elected in 2005.

    Concerning mandate and operations, the text would have the General Assembly decide that the new panel should convene its first meeting in 2005, and meet annually thereafter, and should endeavour to hold technically focused meetings at more frequent intervals. Among other things, the Committee would keep under review United Nations manuals and model conventions on international tax issues, and should cooperate with other international and regional organizations on new and emerging global tax-related issues.

    Following those actions, the representative of Haiti thanked all those who had made possible the Council’s approval of the text concerning his country. Haiti’s long political crisis, which had resulted in the slowing of external aid and the freezing of loans and foreign investments, had undermined what little infrastructure the country had. Following the establishment of the Ad Hoc Group, the Government would be able to focus on its problems with a two-pronged approach: at the Security Council level for short- and medium-term needs, and at the level of the Economic and Social Council for long-term needs.

    With regard to the text on tax cooperation, the representative of Cameroon thanked all who had collaborated, over a period of five months, to make its approval possible. The representatives of Belize, Qatar (on behalf of the Group of 77 and China), Netherlands (on behalf of the European Union and associated States) and Barbados also expressed gratitude.

    The representative of the United States said the tax resolution responded to the call made at the Monterrey International Conference on Financing for Development for strengthened international tax cooperation, while fully safeguarding the respective revenue interests of developed and developing countries. Furthermore, nothing in the text limited the ability of any Member State to make sovereign decisions about its own tax system.

    Japan’s representative said the resolution responded to the Monterrey Consensus only through enhancing the framework for tax cooperation and upgrading the ad hoc expert group. It failed, however, to respond clearly to the call for cooperation with such multilateral bodies as the tax committee of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). Japan was also concerned about the budget implications of the reform of the tax group and would closely monitor that issue.

    In concluding its 2004 substantive session, the Council deferred action on its draft resolution III, entitled “Implementation of resolutions concerning the participation of associate member countries of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean in the follow-up to United Nations world conferences and in the work of the Economic and Social Council” (document E/2004/15/Add.2), under item 10. Under sub-item 13(g), it deferred consideration of recommendations contained in the report of the Committee of Experts on Public Administration on its third session.

    The Economic and Social Council will meet again at a date and time to be announced.

    * *** *