4 July 2005

More Aid, Greater Market Access Key to Attaining Millennium Goals, Delegates Stress, as Economic and Social Council Concludes High-Level Talks

Council President to Prepare Chair’s Summary for Circulation, as Segment Fails to Produce Ministerial Declaration

NEW YORK, 1 July (UN Headquarters) -- As the Economic and Social Council concluded its high-level segment today, speakers agreed that development was primarily the responsibility of individual countries, but stressed that increased international aid, as well as access to global trade were vital in achieving the Millennium Development Goals.

The Council’s 2005 session focused on the Millennium Development Goals -- a set of internationally agreed target set by world leaders five years ago -- and sought to provide concrete recommendations on achieving them.  The Goals range from halving extreme poverty, to halting the spread of HIV/AIDS, to providing universal primary education, all by 2015.

During today’s plenary, Turkey’s representative stressed the need for investments to reduce poverty and income disparity, ensure gender equality and reproductive rights, and protect human rights and the environment.  While each country was primarily responsible for its own sustainable development and implementing poverty-eradication policies, concerted efforts and concrete measures were needed to enable developing countries to achieve the Millennium Goals.

At the country level, the lack of adequate standards for transparency, rule of law and good governance were impairing cooperation between donors and recipients, he said.  Although developing countries were expected to create the necessary environment to improve their economies and overcome social and structural problems, the contribution of developed countries was vital.  They must fulfil the commitments of the Monterrey Consensus, successfully conclude the Doha Development Agenda on international trade, and reform major international financial and monetary institutions in creating a balanced and pro-development global system of trade and finance.

Similarly, the Director of Nigeria’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that national efforts to achieve the Millennium Goals would fail without international support.  Achieving development goals should be a shared responsibility between developed and developing countries and between the public and private sectors, with all parties fulfilling their commitments in a mutually reinforcing manner.

Highlighting his country’s efforts, he said it had taken concrete steps to tackle poverty and hunger, recognizing that progress in that area was key to achieving other goals.  With its main aim being to achieve food security as the foundation for poverty eradication, Nigeria had signed on to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Special Programme on Food Security.  Under that umbrella, the country had set up a $45 million Unilateral Trust Fund, jointly managed with FAO, to promote agricultural productivity, increase farmers’ output, and create a sustainable source of income generation.

Focusing on specific domestic needs, the Republic of Korea’s delegate said national resources could be expanded greatly by increasing savings, improving tax administration and making public administration more participatory and transparent.  Successful rural development meant enhancing rural infrastructure, implementing new technologies to increase agricultural productivity, investing in human resource development and promoting the active participation of rural communities in employment, income generation and other projects.

Moreover, he continued, with three of the eight Goals focusing on health -- those to reduce child as well as maternal mortality, and to combat diseases, including HIV/AIDS and malaria -- that sector should be further emphasized in the common efforts to achieve them.  “While we hesitate, people die”, he said, adding that the Republic of Korea had sponsored the International Vaccine Institute and had provided a home and $10 million to the Asia-Pacific Training Centre for Information and Communication Technology.

The Council also held a morning panel discussion on the response of the United Nations System Chiefs Executive Board (CEB) to the Millennium Declaration, with speakers referring to a recently released CEB report on that topic -- “One United Nations”.  The Millennium Declaration demanded a more coordinated, cohesive and functional system, they said, and the report showed how the entire system was working together to help countries pursue their own national goals.  It underscored the need for a common, system-wide position of zero tolerance for abuses, of openness to scrutiny, and of proactively implementing the most effective and reliable systems for monitoring, evaluation, audit and oversight. 

Panellists included Patrizio Civili, Secretary to the Chief Executive Board and Assistant Secretary-General for Policy Coordination and Inter-Agency Affairs in the Department of Economic and Social Affairs; Lennart Båge, President of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and Chairman of the High-Level Committee on Programmes of the chief Executive Board for Coordination (on the CEB Accountability Report); Thoraya Ahmed Obaid, Executive Director of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA); and Jomo Kwame Sundaram, Assistant Secretary-General for Economic Development, Department of Economic and Social Affairs.

During an afternoon panel on the 10-year reviews contribution to the 2005 World Summit, the heads of several United Nations agencies highlighted 10-year reviews of progress made in their respective areas, and how they could contribute to preparations for the September Summit, as well as the achievement of the Millennium Goals.  Panellists included Carmen María Gallardo Hernández  (El Salvador), Chairperson of the Commission on the Status of Women; Ernesto Araníbar Quiroga (Bolivia), Chairman of the Commission for Social Development; and Crispin Grey-Johnson (Gambia), Chairman of the Commission on Population and Development.

In closing remarks, ECOSOC President Munir Akram (Pakistan) explained that efforts to produce a ministerial declaration had not been successful, but that he would prepare and circulate a Chair’s summary of the high-level segment, reflecting the discussions that had taken place over the past three days. 

Highlighting broad themes that had emerged during the high-level segment, he noted that the Millennium Goals, as well as the major outcomes of conferences and summits constituted a comprehensive development agenda for the international community, and that implementation was the main challenge.  Overall achievement of the Goals had been uneven, but a new spirit of shared responsibility had recently become evident, manifested in announcements by the European Union to increase official development assistance (ODA) and the G-8 to cancel debt for the poorest countries.

He added that ECOSOC seemed to have rediscovered its role as the United Nations central body for promoting economic and social development.  It was clear that the Council was the only place where all key actors -- governments, international agencies, civil society and business -- could come together and have intense and open dialogue on the realization of the common agenda.

Also speaking today were high-level officials from Venezuela, Iceland, Lao Democratic People’s Republic, United States, El Salvador, Egypt, Russian Federation, Azerbaijan, Zambia, Cuba, Armenia, Brazil, Bangladesh, Italy, Cambodia, India, Algeria, United Arab Emirates, China, Belarus, Panama, Japan, Oman, Jamaica (on behalf of the Group of 77 and China), and the United Kingdom (on behalf of the European Union).

The Observer for the Holy See also made a statement.

In addition, statements were made by representatives of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) [also speaking on behalf of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the World Food Programme (WFP)], the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), the Committee for Development Policy (CDP), the International Organization for Migration, and the International Telecommunications Union (ITU).

Other speakers included representatives of the Commonwealth Secretariat, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources, the Common Fund for Commodities, and the Organization of the Islamic Conference.

Representatives of the following non-governmental organizations also spoke: All Pakistan Women’s Association, Association of Tunisian Mothers, World Information Transfer, Oasis Open City Foundation, the Temple of Understanding, Foundation for the Social Promotion of Culture, the Legião da Boa Vontade, and International Movement ATD Fourth World (also on behalf of Vivat International and the NGO Committee on Social Development).


The Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) met today to conclude its high-level segment with further discussion on progress made, challenges and opportunities in achieving internationally agreed development goals, and to adopt its Ministerial Declaration.  (For background information, see Press Release ECOSOC/6157 of 30 June).

It was also expected to hold panel discussions on the response of the United Nations System Chiefs Executive Board (CEB) to the Millennium Declaration; and on the 10-year reviews contribution to the 2005 Summit.


PATRIZIO CIVILI, Secretary, Chief Executive Board, and Assistant Secretary-General for Policy Coordination and Inter-Agency Affairs of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs, reported on the CEB and this year’s dialogue with ECOSOC.  He said the number of executive heads present during the session was in line with previous years, but the dialogue had not been as systematic and visible as it could be.  The reasons for that had to do with the Council’s structure, reporting practices and mandates, and the absence of a single overriding focus for the dialogue.

The CEB’s focus for the present and years to come was progress being made through policies and actions on implementation of the Millennium Declaration, he said.  Referring to a report just released by the CEB, entitled “One United Nations”, he said that document would serve as a prelude for expanded dialogue with ECOSOC.  He also noted that a mutually reinforcing convergence had developed between ECOSOC and the CEB, adding that the coordinated and integrated follow-up to United Nations conferences and summits that was envisioned by ECOSOC was far from a theoretical construction divorced from national reality.

Continuing, he said the Millennium Goals would remain unrealized unless commitments from United Nations conferences and summits, and the existing wealth of policy prescriptions were translated into action by both developed and developing countries.  The 2005 September Summit would be launched under that perspective.  Realization had deepened within the CEB that all parts of the United Nations system were rallying around the principles of multilateral solidarity, and that the Organization must pull together in an unprecedented manner.

LENNART BÅGE, President, International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and Chairman of the High-Level Committee on Programmes of the Chief Executive Board for Coordination, presented the report “One United Nations”, which he said, was the product of a profound consultative process engaging the whole system.  The whole United Nations system had contributed to it.  The report aimed to strengthen the case for multilateralism by demonstrating how resources within the system could be efficiently mobilized, and how the links between normative and operational work could be strengthened to create results.  The consultative process forged had strengthened links and enhanced partnerships between the organizations in the system.  The Millennium Declaration had led to a new unity of purpose within the system.  As Member States took important decisions in various areas, it was critical that the United Nations system be ready to shoulder the responsibilities entrusted to it.

The Millennium Declaration, he said, had had a profound impact on the orientation of the work of the United Nations system.  It had changed how the different parts worked.  The CEB members had a common resolve to measure results and be accountable for their efforts, not as individuals, but as one common system.  The report supported the thrust of the Secretary-General’s own report, “In Larger Freedom”, regarding the need for a comprehensive response for present day challenges.  Three premises guided the United Nations system in supporting the achievement of the Millennium Goals.  The first was the holistic nature of human-centred development.  The second premise was that the achievement of the Goals required sustained and enhanced economic growth to support socially and environmentally sustainable development.  Third, it required the creation of a supportive and enabling international environment. 

The report, he said, described the United Nations system’s strategy to support the achievement of development objectives within the wider United Nations agenda.  It presented the challenges ahead at the national, regional and international levels.  The United Nations was poised to implement a comprehensive approach, maximizing its collective abilities to achieve results.  To meet today’s challenges and to progress in meeting the Goals, the organizations of the United Nations system were resolved to building “one United Nations”.  Achieving “one United Nations” would require changes in practices and policies of the organizations of the system, covering many areas.  Three core areas mentioned in the report were:  deepening understanding and better managing knowledge; achieving a more purposeful mobilization of all resources and capacities; and increasing transparency and accountability.  He reiterated the strong commitment of the United Nations system of doing its utmost to carry forth the vision of a world in larger freedom. 

THORAYA AHMED OBAID, Executive Director, United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), said the Charter of the United Nations began with three words:  “We the Peoples”.  The United Nations must, therefore, be accountable to the peoples it served.  All over the world, peoples continued to look to the United Nations to champion its founding principles of peace, security, development and human rights.  The Organization must be accountable to governments to ensure that the money they gave was well spent and achieved results, through cohesive actions at the country level.  Governments must be accountable, to ensure that the funds they received benefited their constituency. 

She said, as the United Nations promoted transparency and accountability at the national and local levels, the United Nations system itself must internalize and apply those principles within.  The report launched today stated that that meant a common, system-wide position of zero tolerance for abuses, of openness to scrutiny, and of proactively implementing the most effective and reliable systems for monitoring, evaluation, audit and oversight.  There was a need for system-wide action to evaluate United Nations performance in terms not merely of effort, but of real impact in targeted areas.

The Millennium Declaration and the Millennium Development Goal process had demanded and facilitated the evolution of a more coordinated, cohesive and functional system, she said, of which the report provided many examples.  The report showed how the entire system was working together to help countries implement the Millennium Declaration within their own national goals.  Through the CEB, the system had made substantial progress, but more was needed to foster a culture of excellence and integrity.  There was a new environment today, characterized by the growing power of people and instant communication.  Millions of people saw opportunity, not around the corner, but across their national border.  The gap between the world’s rich and poor had never been wider.

Pleased that the entire United Nations system had acted decisively in recent years to improve the way in which it addressed the challenges faced, she said the internal reforms the system was undertaking were not only at the global level, but also at the local and country level.  That was critical, because it was at the national and community level where the real difference must, and would, be made.  “We need your support so that we can move forward towards one United Nations, as the report has asked us to do”, she said.

JOMO KWAME SUNDARAM, Assistant Secretary-General on Economic Development, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, noted that the recently released Millennium Goals report was a collaborative effort among United Nations agencies and outside organizations, which complemented the Secretary-General’s report

“In Larger Freedom”.  The Millennium report reviewed how far the international community had come in reaching goals agreed upon in the Millennium Declaration, and also provided input into this week’s events -- the high-level segments on financing for development and ECOSOC.

He noted that there had been a massive reduction of poverty in Asia during the 1990s, but human welfare indicators in other regions were less promising.  Globally, poverty had been reduced by 130 million, but the number of poor in sub-Saharan Africa had increased substantially, and the poor had gotten poorer.  Efforts to combat poverty had been set back in several areas by conflicts and natural disasters.  Poverty in rural areas had been exacerbated by environmental degradation, especially in forested areas.  The resultant flight to urban areas had contributed to the growth of slums, which had outpaced urban development.

For the poorest countries, external aid was vital for reducing poverty, he said, adding that external aid had reached high levels in 2004, but that that had been partly due to exchange rate movements.  Billions of people worldwide lacked decent work, especially women, who were often paid less and given the worst jobs.  Malaria and tuberculosis together took as many lives as HIV/AIDS, and drugs to treat both diseases were often lacking.

Taking the floor again, Mr. CIVILI added that there was an extensive section of the report on the role of the regional commissions and regional contributions to global policymaking.  On the first day of the Council’s coordination segment, there would be a panel on the response of the system to the Millennium Declaration, which would speak to the substance of the CEB report.  Therefore, there would be another opportunity for the Council to engage with the Board on the report.

Mr. BÅGE added that the coming together as a system, harnessing all the synergies and putting together the capacities of the various organizations was a constant challenge.  The Millennium Declaration had brought out much new energy for the system to come together.  It was important for Member States, within the executive boards and governing bodies, to push for the same.  The challenges, as daunting as they were, required the system coming together as “one United Nations”. 

General Debate

MILIVOJE PANIĆ, Vice-Chairman, Committee for Development Policy (CDP), said that during its seventh session in March, the CDP had considered the likelihood of achieving the internationally agreed development goals as a contribution to the High-Level Segment of the Council.  The Committee had focused particularly on the sub-Saharan African region, where success might prove to be most elusive.  In the 1990s, sub-Saharan Africa was the only developing region in the world where poverty increased, as a result of several closely linked developments, including insufficient economic growth, the spread of HIV/AIDS and civil wars.  The widening income disparity in the region during the decade weakened the link between growth and poverty reduction, and poor governance contributed to the worsening economic prospects.  The international community, during that period, reduced its official development assistance (ODA), while tariffs and agricultural subsidies in developed countries continued to hinder experts.

He said the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals should be a shared responsibility between sub-Saharan Africa and its development partners.  African countries must take ownership and leadership in the implementation of the Goals.  At the same time, the volume and quality of external aid to sub-Saharan Africa must increase substantially.  There were encouraging signs.  ODA flows had increased and their distribution had improved.  The European Union agreed recently to increase substantially its ODA over the next decade.  The Group of Eight (G-8) summit might signal the start of new, urgent action in Africa. 

The Committee had listed a number of recommendations in its report, he said.  The projected increase by the Commission for Africa of aid to the region to $50 billion in 2010 and to $75 billion in 2015, if realized, would make a major contribution towards achieving the Goals.  However, an increase in the volume of aid must be accompanied by improvements in its quality.  External assistance must be delivered in ways that strengthened the existing administrative machinery, rather than through parallel channels that bypassed and undermined existing institutional arrangements.

He said steps needed to be taken to expand capacity to absorb aid and by removing bottlenecks in the productive sectors.  Priority should be given to channelling aid towards institutional strengthening and capacity-building.  Creation of an effective monitoring and evaluation process would enable stakeholders to exercise their rights and responsibilities in the effort to achieve the Goals.  The monitoring process in sub-Saharan Africa should be strengthened by improving the statistical capacity of those countries.  Investment in electricity, roads, telephones and irrigation was crucial if the people in Africa were to break the vicious cycle of poverty.

CARLOS ALVARADO, Vice-Minister for Social Development of Venezuela, said that since 1999 his Government was building a new society based on the guarantee of social, economic, cultural and political rights.  The Government was committed to a constant search for improving the quality of life for all individuals.  Poverty was a key element that restrained the fully enjoyment of social rights and a better quality of life in his country.  He proposed that the ECOSOC include new indicators for the analysis and follow-up of the Millennium Goals.  Those new indicators should be able to measure quality of life in terms of access to health services and education, employment, housing and participation in decision-making. 

He noted that $1 or $2 a day was not enough to guarantee a better quality of life.  One of the most effective poverty eradication strategies in his country had been social missions.  Among the social missions for reducing poverty were the educational mission, housing mission and mission Zamora, relating to property issues.  Among the significant achievements regarding the realization of the Millennium Goals, he mentioned that the Bolivarian education project currently under way intended to universalize public education at all levels.  He reaffirmed Venezuela’s commitment in the fight against poverty and exclusion.  To date, Venezuela had reached some of the Goals for 2015, while work on other Goals was under way. 

He added that extensive debate was needed to discuss external debt and its implication in the realization of the Millennium Goals.  It was necessary to seriously consider cancellation of debt or to consider other alternatives on the matter.  In addition, he said that the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean’s (ECLAC) report on the status of the Millennium Goals contained inaccurate information and significant omissions regarding his Government’s actions in the fight against poverty and hunger.

EMMANUEL OGUNNAIKE, Director, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Nigeria, said that best efforts at the national level to achieve the Millennium Goals would prove insufficient unless they were supported internationally.  Achieving development goals should be treated as a shared responsibility between developed and developing countries and between the public and private sectors.  All parties must fulfil their commitments in a mutually reinforcing manner to pave the way for the realization of strategic development objectives.

Nigeria had taken concrete steps to tackle poverty and hunger, he said, recognizing that progress in that area was key to achieving other goals.  The country’s fight against poverty was being waged under the National Poverty Alleviation Programme, which also had elements focusing on manpower and capacity development, women and youth empowerment and public-private partnerships.  Nigeria’s main objective was to achieve food security as the foundation for poverty eradication, and had signed on to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Special Programme on Food Security.  Under that programme, it had established a $45 million Unilateral Trust Fund jointly managed with the FAO, to promote agricultural productivity, increase farmers’ output, and create a sustainable source of income generation.

Meeting the target of 0.7 per cent of gross domestic product for ODA was a necessary complement to national efforts in resource mobilization, he said.  Nigeria welcomed the fact that some donors had not only reaffirmed their commitments to that target, but had indicated dates they would attain it.  However, States must not allow ODA to become neutralized by debt.  As the Millennium Project argued, it was counterproductive for creditors to “provide development assistance with one hand and withdraw it with the other”.  Available records indicated that developing countries in 2003 spent $39 billion to service their debts, but received only $27 billion in aid, thus, recording a shortfall of $12 billion in resource transfer.

HJÁLMAR W. HANNESSON (Iceland) said central to the ideal of the United Nations was the concept of common humanity.  The Millennium Development Goals had galvanized unprecedented efforts to meet the needs of the worlds poorest.  Investment strategies to achieve the Goals would not work unless they were supported by transparent, accountable systems of governance.  They would also not be met in the least developed countries -- particularly in Africa -- in the absence of increased official development assistance.  Iceland would double its ODA by 2009.  Economic growth, led principally by the private sector and a fair international trading regime, would be the key driver towards attainment of the Goals.

He said it was impossible to reduce poverty without radical measures to improve access to energy.  Around 2 billion people did not have access to electricity.  More attention should be paid to more efficient use of energy resources, development of new technologies and increasing the share of renewable energy resources.  Geothermal energy was fundamental to his country’s economy and Iceland had sought to share its experience regarding that renewable and clean energy with other countries.  One must guard against the physical degradation of the environment and the depletion of living natural resources which must be harvested responsibly and sustainably.

Water and sanitation were basic foundations for human life and health, he continued.  Water was crucial for preserving biodiversity.  Coastal zones were the most productive ecosystems on Earth.  Today, they were at particular risk, due to pollution from land-based activities.  Many coastal and island developing States were heavily dependent on living marine resources.  The 1995 Global Programme of Action for the Protection of the Marine Environment from Land-Based Activities, was the only global mechanism explicitly addressing the linkages between freshwater and coastal and marine environments.  Iceland urged governments that had committed themselves to the Programme to further strengthen its effective implementation.

ALOUNKEO KITTIKHOUN (Lao People’s Democratic Republic) said he shared the Secretary-General’s assessment that overall implementation had been slow and uneven across and within regions.  Also, one of the root causes for the slow and mixed progress in implementation was shortage of funding for development.  Although slightly picking up in recent years, greater ODA was needed to support the efforts of countries with special needs, including landlocked developing countries (LLDCs).  In addition, for ODA to be effective, it should be delivered in conformity to the recipient country’s development priorities and specificities without stringent conditions or complex disbursement procedures. 

He said that, despite the progress achieved, the full and effective implementation of the Almaty Programme of Action required a genuine partnership of all stakeholders.  Given the capacity constraints associated with geographical disadvantages, which hindered efforts to achieve sustained economic growth and integration into the global economy, he called for increased support and assistance, both financial and technical from the donor community.  He also hoped that South-South cooperation and triangular cooperation would be more forthcoming in support of the LLDCs’ endeavours.  He emphasized the need for the 2005 high-level event to address, to the fullest extent possible, the special needs of LLDCs in its outcome.  In particular, the implementation of Millennium Development Goal 8, target 14, relating to LLDCs should be quantifiable to measure progress. 

CHOI YOUNG-JIN (Republic of Korea) said that although significant progress had been made towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals globally, he was concerned that that progress had been slow in some regions of Africa, Asia and the Pacific.  The Asia-Pacific region was home to two thirds of the world’s poorest people and nearly 40 per cent of the total population of the least developed countries.  Increased attention must be devoted to least developed countries, taking into consideration the special needs of landlocked developing countries and small island developing States.  Key issues in achieving the development goals were financing for development, rural development, health issues and science and technology.

As for financing for development, he said it was necessary to cultivate domestic resources, secure more aid and promote international trade. Domestic resources could be greatly expanded by increasing domestic savings, improving tax administration and making public administration more participatory and transparent. ODA must be further increased and its effectiveness enhanced.  Successful completion of the Doha development agenda negotiations was also essential.  Successful rural development should feature the enhancement of rural infrastructure, the implementation of new technologies to increase agricultural productivity, investment in human resource development and active participation of rural communities in employment, income-generation and other projects.

Health issues should be further emphasized in the common efforts to accelerate achievement of the development goals.  Three of the eight Goals were focused on health:  reducing child mortality, improving maternal health and combating diseases, including HIV/AIDS and malaria.  Those issues called for urgent action.  “While we hesitate, people die”, he said.  It was necessary to build development countries’ capacity for science and technology and to increase international assistance in the critical research areas of agriculture, health and environmental management.  His country had sponsored the International Vaccine Institute and had provided a home and $10 million to the Asia-Pacific Training Centre for Information and Communication Technology.

ASIM ARAR, Head of Department, Multilateral Economic Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Turkey, stressed that poverty could not be eliminated without structural change.  Investments must be made to reduce poverty and income disparity, ensure gender equality and reproductive rights, and protect human rights and the environment.  While each country was primarily responsible for its own sustainable development and implementing poverty eradication policies, concerted effort and concrete measures were needed to enable developing countries to achieve the Millennium Goals.

The lack of adequate standards for transparency, rule of law and good governance were impairing cooperation between donors and recipients, he said.  Although developing countries were expected to create the necessary environment to better their economies and overcome social and structural problems, especially by mobilizing national resources and ensuring the involvement of civil society and the private sector, the contribution of developed countries was vital.  Fulfilling commitments in the Monterrey Consensus was equally important, as was the timely and successful completion of the Doha development agenda and reform of major international financial and monetary institutions in creating a balance and pro-development global system of trade and finance.

SICHAN SIV (United States) said achieving international development goals and sustainable development would require new thinking and a fundamental commitment to core values.  His country’s contribution to development assistance now accounted for one quarter of that contributed by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries, and its assistance to African nations had dramatically increased.

He said the United States led the world with its $15 billion commitment to combat HIV/AIDS, and was also the largest contributor to the United Nations Fund to Combat Aids, Tuberculosis and Malaria.  It was also active in environmental areas, working domestically and internationally to address the long-term challenges of climate change.  In addition, it was partnering with governments, non-governmental organizations and businesses to turn other international commitments into action in the environmental sphere.

With its G-8 partners, the United States had also taken steps to increase ODA for the poorest countries, and cancel the external debt of the world’s poorest countries to the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the African Development Bank.  His country was also committed to the successful conclusion of the Doha trade negotiations, acknowledging that trade was vital for development.  He added, however, that, without rule of law and an honest government, international aid had little value.

CARMEN MARÍA GALLARDO HERNÁNDEZ (El Salvador) said that 2005 was a year of special significance for the international community.  Member States had accepted the challenge of reforming the United Nations, in order to adjust the Organization to the international realities of the new millennium.  The ECOSOC played an important role in that reform process.  As recognized by the Secretary-General, the Millennium Goals were a solid platform from which to address the needs of the poorest of the world.  However, by themselves, they did not represent a comprehensive development programme.  Achieving the Millennium Development Goals and implementing a broader development agenda were closely interlinked. 

El Salvador, she said, had made significant progress in reducing poverty in the 1990s, which had been particularly important in the urban areas.  The analysis on the progress and shortcomings regarding the Goals did not show any gender disparities, but that should not lead to any complacency.  The performance of education indicators in the last 11 years showed that additional efforts would be needed in the education sector to achieve the universal education goal by 2015.  On health, she noted that the problems of two thirds of the population were primary in nature.  Easy access to health services and constant monitoring were required.  Important efforts had been made in the area of gender equality.  The challenge in that field was to strengthen the national legal framework to promote the achievement of the related Millennium Development Goal, since there were still gaps and the commitment was not there to address those gaps.  

MAGED ABDELFATTAH ABDELAZIZ (Egypt) aligned himself with the statement on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China.  He attached particular importance to Africa and said there should be a yearly dialogue to coordinate policies between the ECOSOC, the international financial institutions and other organization, including the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD), on Africa.  He supported the ideas on strengthening the role of the Council, in particular in support of countries emerging from conflict through the peacebuilding commission.  To that end, his Mission had put forward a working paper.  He also supported the role of ECOSOC regarding discussions on environmental and economic threats.

He said that in finding innovative sources for development, the organic links between the development role played by the United Nations and the technical role played by the Bretton Woods institutions should be emphasized.  There was agreement on the need to create a Human Rights Council.  The human rights mechanisms in the United Nations must be strengthened.  There was also a need to emphasize the role of Member States in the United Nations in the development sectors. 

His country was determined to implement the Millennium Development Goals, he said.  Recently, his country had strengthened civil and human rights, as well as good governance.  Ambitious plans were under way to reform the social sector.  Human rights and fundamental freedoms were seen as very important in his country.  Decisions had been made to guarantee that every citizen enjoyed human rights.  Constitutional reforms had opened the field for competitiveness in the executive field.  Relations with the civil society had also been reformed.  He noted, however, that one could not ask for more democracy nationally if international society was no longer democratic. 

VASSILY A. NEBENZIA (Russian Federation) said that each country bore the main responsibility for its own development, and financing of its national development strategies from its own resources.  At the same time, international development assistance continued to be crucial.  The success of national strategies would, to a great extent, depend on the readiness of the donor community to accept them as a real basis for providing coordinated assistance to a country and support their implementation.  Along with increasing the volume of ODA, it was essential to take measures to increase its effectiveness.  Also, debt relief was important source of resource mobilization for the development goals.  Recognizing the special needs of Africa, Russia intended to announce this year the cancellation of $2.2 billion for the poorest African States on a bilateral basis with the heavily indebted poor countries (HIPC) framework.  Also, the expansion of international trade and progress towards a more equitable trade system created additional opportunities for achieving the development goals. 

Despite the existing difficulties related to the completion of its transition to a market economy, his country had exerted significant efforts to ensure progress of the Millennium Goals at the national level.  The last four years had been marked by significant growth of gross national product (GNP); real incomes of citizens had increased; social sector reform had been initiated to promote a more equitable provision of social services; and a new Labour Code had aimed to create more favourable conditions for labour market development and protection of workers’ rights.  The Government was paying serious attention to combating HIV/AIDS, and was committed to environmental protection and management.

YASHAR ALIYEV (Azerbaijan) said no single country could fully enjoy development when its security was undermined and when the fundamental rights of its population were violated.  He, therefore, strongly supported the interdependent and mutually reinforcing nature of development, security and human rights.  Eradication of poverty and improvement of living standards were key goals of his Government’s development agenda, pursued through the State Programme of Poverty Reduction and Economic Growth.  A progress report had indicated a necessity of linking policy measures to the budgeting process.

He said an indispensable element of economic development was the creation of broader opportunities for private sector growth.  Promotion of small- and medium-size enterprises had been strengthened by the adoption of the State Programme on Entrepreneurship.  As his country attached great importance to financial transparency, it had demonstrated its will and capability to spend its oil revenues prudently.  It was a pilot country in implementing the Extracting Industries Transparency Initiative.  Under the programme “Converting black gold into human gold”, the Government had increased its support to the education sector and was addressing the reform of the overall State system of public administration, legislation and policies by 2015. 

He said the challenges ahead included:  development of a strong statistical base for setting baseline targets; strengthening the process of budgeting; and, most importantly, mitigating the economic, social and environmental impacts of the occupation of 20 per cent of Azerbaijan’s territory by Armenia.  He recognized the need for dealing with the economic and social dimensions of conflict and supported the idea of the Council working with the proposed Peacebuilding Commission and, ultimately, with the Security Council.  However, the Council’s involvement should not be limited to countries emerging from conflict.  It was equally important to enhance the policy guidance role of the Council regarding countries in conflict.

TENS C. KAPOMA (Zambia) said that Zambia was a least developed country that was determined to graduate from that category through implementation of sound economic development programmes, as enshrined in the Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper.  Programmes were also aimed at achieving the Millennium Goals.  The Government had scaled up implementation of structural reforms.  The main focus had been on improving public expenditure management and financial accounting, so as to create an environment for good economic governance.  Emphasis was also placed on the development of the private sector as the engine for growth.  To that effect, a private sector development plan had been prepared, aimed at removing bottlenecks and creating a conducive environment for investment and trade. 

Zambia had registered positive growth since 1999, averaging 4.6 per cent per annum, he said.  That growth had become broad-based, extending beyond the mining sector to include construction, agriculture, manufacturing and tourism.  Among the country’s challenges were the very high levels of poverty, inadequate domestic funds to support development, and a weak and insufficient human resource base.  On the way forward, he said the Government would continue the implementation of bold measures to ensure wealth creation and poverty reduction, and improve efficiency in the utilization and management of resources.  Zambia appealed to the international community to increase the volume and quality of aid and technical assistance. 

ORLANDO REQUEIJO GUAL (Cuba) said the international community was experiencing the greatest inequality humanity had ever known, and even the modest Millennium Declaration was in danger of remaining unfulfilled.  People who were starving now numbered 850 million, almost a billion adults were illiterate, 325 children did not attend school, 11 million boys and girls died each year of preventable and curable diseases, and more than half a million women died each year during pregnancy or labour.

The global order, he said, was dominated by mistaken neoliberal policies and unsustainable in every way.  Overwhelming foreign debt and the net transference of resources towards the developed world, the evident failure to comply with ODA commitments, and the lack of political will to foster profound reform of the multilateral monetary, financial and commercial system contrasted with the billion dollars those nations spent on agricultural subsidies and the astronomical figures they invested in weapons.

Development should be placed, once and for all, at the centre of the United Nations agenda, he stressed.  It should not be hampered by a group of rich countries that openly pressured the South by imposing all kinds of conditionalities, aimed at guaranteeing the pre-emininence of economic, social, political and cultural models condemned to failure.  Any serious proposal for United Nations reform should comprise elements promoting the real dimension of development, and should foster genuine international cooperation in all fields.

CELESTINO MIGLIORE, Permanent Observer of the Holy See, welcomed the London agreement by the G-8 finance ministers to cancel the debts of 18 heavily indebted countries.  In order to consolidate such achievements, they had to be put in perspective, however.  The actual sums involved here were modest compared with the vast military expenditure throughout the world and the subsidies played by the industrialized countries to sectors in their own economies, when often those subsidies were responsible for severe distortions in the poorest countries.

He said the debt remission measures, which hopefully would be adopted by the multilateral financial institutions, needed to be extended to some 38 heavily indebted countries.  Also, if debt remission were implemented by diverting financial resources from other aid programmes, and if there were no significant increase in real ODA, the world would end up facing a situation worse than before Gleneagles.  Debt remission and increased ODA must be complemented by the creation of an international trade system that was at the very least friendly towards the most indebted countries.  Those countries, for their part, must promote an economic development that was fully responsive to local social requirements.

When talking about financing for development, one could not fail to mention the lack of financing for basic scientific research and for the industrial development of pharmaceutical products to combat the major tropical diseases such as malaria, as well as the lack of research in favour of agriculture, he said.  There was no point in waiting for private investments in such fields, since those were problems that did not concern directly the public of the countries where the resources existed.  What was needed was a generous provision of public monies in favour of many existing initiatives, such as the Global Fund, to promote an intensive and broad participation of the world’s scientific research institutes.

A representative of the All Pakistan Women’s Association presented the Islamabad Plan of Action, adopted at the International Conference on Gender Mainstreaming and the Millennium Development Goals, held in Pakistan from 28 to 30 March.  The Conference was organized to mark the centenniary birth of Begum Raa’na Liaquat Ali Khan, who won the United Nations Human Rights Award in 1978.  The participants included representatives of governments, intergovernmental institutions, non-governmental organizations and scholars from all over the world.  The Plan of Action sought to promote gender-based approaches to achieving the Millennium Goals.  Participants pledged to implement the Plan and to comply with the principles of good governance, the rule of law and gender mainstreaming, as well as work towards eliminating gender-based discrimination and provide equal access for women.  Also, participants called on the international community and stakeholders to enhance their political will and financial support to translate commitments into action, and to reaffirm international support for the Beijing Platform for Action, among other things.

A representative of the Association of Tunisian Mothers presented a Declaration that had been adopted at the preparatory session for the second phase of the World Summit of the Information Society, to be held in Tunis in 2006.  The declaration calls on governments to promote information and communication technologies (ICT) training, credit, equipment, and financial and human resources, especially for families and children and mothers with special needs, at the private and municipal levels.

The declaration also introduces innovative measures to promote partnerships among the Government, the private sector, and civil society to:  work towards the Millennium Goals; eradicate gender inequality through ICT; set up ICT training programmes for mothers and children; and ensure equitable employment in ICT sectors.  Further, it encourages non-governmental organizations to monitor implementation of the declaration and the Tunis Plan of Action and report on progress each year.

The representative of World Information Transfer, Inc. said healthy productive people were the greatest asset of any nation and it was encouraging that the Millennium Development Goals addressed those issues in Goals 4, 5 and 6.  Her organization strongly supported those efforts, particularly with respect to the necessity of preventing man-made catastrophes like Chernobyl or Bhopal; focusing on the impact of the lack of clean water; and the presence of chemical pollutants on the health of populations. 

She recommended that governments:  implement the health related Millennium Development Goals by coordinating efforts to strengthen public health infrastructure; more rapidly report cases of disease, particularly those with potential to become global pandemics; and increase public knowledge of science-based health information to limit potential for disease catastrophes.

A representative of Oasis Open City Foundation spoke about the Sintra Declaration for developing Agenda 21 in Portugal, which was a follow-up of the Brazilian Declaration statement presented to ECOSOC’s 2004 high-level segment.  Through the leadership of Open City, she said, non-governmental organizations, government, local authorities, the scientific community, schools and civil society representatives were all working together towards implementation of important local activities.  Portugal’s Agenda 21 shaped a new attitude towards local development.

Panel with Chairpersons

At the outset of today’s afternoon meeting, Mr. CIVILI said that grasping the lessons learned at the review of the three major conferences on women, social development and population and development was an important part of the preparations for the September Summit.  The Council should find ways to ensure that the messages resulting from the three Commissions were brought to bear on the Summit’s outcome.

Ms. GALLARDO HERNÁNDEZ (El Salvador), Chairperson of the Commission on the Status of Women, said the forty-ninth session of the Commission had special significance, as it was the 10-year review of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, as well as the outcome of the twenty-third special session of the General Assembly.  The main focus of the session was implementation of commitments at the national level.  The importance of exchanging good practices and the challenges in implementation were discussed.  She also reported on the outcomes of round tables and panels held during the Commission’s session. 

The Commission, she said, had adopted a declaration which reaffirmed the Beijing commitments and the outcomes of the special session, as well as emphasized the mutual synergies between the Beijing Platform and the achievement of the internationally agreed development goals, including those in the Millennium Declaration. That declaration was a major contribution to the Assembly’s high-level plenary in September. The Council had to ensure that gender equality and the advancement of women featured prominently in the September Summit’s outcome.  The ECOSOC had a leadership role to play with regard to gender equality and the advancement of women.  International peace and security was not possible without development, and development could not be sustainable without respect for all fundamental rights and freedoms. 

ERNESTO ARANÍBAR QUIROGA (Bolivia), Chairman of the Commission for Social Development, said that 10 years after the Copenhagen Summit for Social Development, the forty-third session of the Commission had reaffirmed the basic tenets of Copenhagen.  Through panel discussions, high-level round tables and general debate, the Commission pointed to a number of trends that adversely impacted social development.  There had been uneven progress in the calls for far-reaching efforts to reinforce the inclusive vision as stated by the summit.  The Commission, in trying to counter that trend, had sought to highlight the broader social development picture first portrayed in Copenhagen.

He said the Commission had noted that a common characteristic of poor countries included the servicing of a sizable external debt.  In addition to stressing the need to meet pledges of official development assistance, proposals for financing social development ranged from the creation of a tax on international transactions to the exchange of debt relief for social development initiatives.  The Commission had also called attention to the changing dynamics of a global labour market and the lack of an international strategy on employment and migration.  Governments had further underlined the need for the United Nations to continue supporting regional and subregional initiatives and that NEPAD should be given priority attention as a development partner.  There had also been a call for attention to the special needs of the least developed countries, landlocked developing countries and small island developing States.

He said the Commission was convinced that, in the face of the so-called “jobless growth”, it was now of paramount importance to underline the fact that the most visible connection between the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals and security, development and respect of human rights was linked to the creation of productive and sustainable sources of employment as the main resort to avoid marginalization in the social fabric.

The “Declaration on the tenth anniversary of the World Summit for Social Development”, adopted at the forty-third session, recognized that continued implementation of the Copenhagen Commitments was crucial towards achieving a society for all.  It also recognized that the implementation of those Commitments and the attainment of the Millennium Goals were mutually reinforcing.  Closer cooperation and coordination were required to adequately address the root and structural causes of poverty and their relationship to employment and social integration.  Requirements included:  proper integration of economic and social policies, better understanding and management of the social dimension of globalization, and a renewed conception of the relationship between the public and private spheres.

CRISPIN GREY-JOHNSON (Gambia), Chairman of the Commission on Population and Development, said the 2004 review of the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) had identified some success in implementing the Programme of Action, but noted that progress had often been hindered by increased inequalities in countries or among population groups.  For example, the global population rate had decreased, but least developed countries were still experiencing high population growth, which had remained a concern for more than half of the governments in less developed regions.

Regarding mortality, some 100 countries, representing nearly half the world’s population, had met the 2005 goal of reaching a life expectancy greater than 70 years, he said.  However, 36 countries, mainly in sub-Saharan Africa, still had life expectancies below 50 years.  Further, many nations had experienced a stagnation of mortality rates and some had seen their life expectancy plummet, mainly due to HIV/AIDS, re-emergence of infectious diseases such as malaria and tuberculosis, and the effects of conflict.

As for reproductive health, he said that many nations had set up reproductive health programmes, expanded access to them and improved their quality, but millions of people continued to lack access to reproductive health, and the risk of maternal mortality had remained unacceptably high in many countries.  Increased levels of international migration had also contributed to the loss of human resources for many countries of origin, and given rise to political, economic or social tensions in several countries of destination.

Conference goals had clearly not been met to mobilize financial resources to implement the Programme of Action, he said.  The outcome document of the ICPD +10 urged donors to fulfil their commitments for population assistance, and called on both donors and developing countries to strengthen their commitment to meet costed estimates of the Programme of Action.

When the floor was opened for comments, the representative of the United Kingdom, speaking on behalf of the European Union, said that the unanimous reaffirmation of the outcomes of the three major conferences had sent a clear signal of the international community’s support for and determination to pursue their full implementation.  The continued implementation of those outcomes by all Member States was a basic contribution to the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals.  The functional commissions had a role to play by identifying the policy areas which were key to achieving all the development goals.  The ECOSOC also had an important role to play.  The Union was committed to a successful and ambitious outcome to the September Summit and to see the goals achieved in the next 10 years, and not in the next 110 years. 

He asked the panel how the political support invigorated by the tenth anniversary celebrations of the three conferences could be maintained and integrated into the September Summit.  What did the panel think of the draft outcome document for the Summit that was on the table?  Also, after the September Summit, how could the functional commissions contribute to following up on the implementation of the Goals?

A representative of the non-governmental organization Interrights noted that all of the declarations of the three major conferences contained recognition of the fact that persons with disabilities were the poorest of the poor and that special attention was needed to ensure that they enjoyed equal opportunities and equal rights.  The Copenhagen document stated that persons with disabilities were the largest minority in the world and suggested action to develop policies to promote equal educational opportunities for children and equal access to rehabilitation.  While those issues had been highlighted during the three major conferences, they appeared to be rolled back during the 10-year reviews.  The biggest roll back concerned the Millennium Development Goals, which recognized the rights of women, children and migrants, among others, but did not contain any references to the rights of one of the largest minorities -- persons with disabilities.   

Responding to questions, Mr. ARANÍBAR QUIROGA said that one of the key elements to further achievement of the Goals was the creation and maintenance of productive employment.  He agreed that the implementation of the Goals would lead to new challenges and huge possibilities for coordination between the various functional commissions of the ECOSOC.  One of the parallel effects of the impetus to implement the Millennium Development Goals would be better coordination between ECOSOC’s functional commissions.

Ms. GALLARDO HERNÁNDEZ reported that she had been involved in direct activities with the Assembly President, so that gender mainstreaming would be an integral part of the September high-level meeting.  The issues of peace, development and human rights were priorities for all countries.  Without the real inclusion of women, it would not be possible to change the realities of countries.  She was also undertaking efforts to ensure that the issue of persons with disabilities was included in the Summit. 

Mr. GREY-JOHNSON stressed the need to maintain and increase the tremendous political will that had been seen.  The ongoing high-level events were part of the process to maintain and increase that momentum.  After the September Summit, it would be necessary to work out ways to strengthen monitoring capacities, to engage all partners, hold them to their commitments and “make sure they pay up”. 

He agreed that persons with disabilities were an important emerging group, especially with many conflicts raging.  His commission was aware of the need to call attention to the special needs of that group.  Advocacy should be increased and strengthened, at both the national and international levels, in order to respond to the needs identified.

Continuation of General Debate

ARMEN MARTIROSYAN (Armenia) said that although the Millennium Development Goals reflected the critical part of a much broader development agenda, they presented a daunting challenge for the developing countries and countries with economies in transition.  Progress made had been slow and uneven.  Nonetheless, the Millennium Goals could be achieved by the target date if there was political will and commitment, and a spirit of shared responsibility and partnership.  Financing for development was among the key issues to be addressed.  In that regard he welcomed the European Union initiative to establish a timetable to reach the target of 0.7 per cent in 2015 and the G-8 initiative for debt cancellation to most of the heavily indebted countries.

He said the role of trade in promoting economic growth was indispensable, and supported in that regard completion of the Doha round.  While the provision of duty- and quota-free access was essential for the least developed countries, strategies aimed at enhancing the competitiveness and diversification of exports were necessary for the developing countries and countries with economies in transition.  The potential of information and communication technologies had not been fully tapped.  It was important to introduce an adequate mechanism for technology transfers to developing countries and countries with economies in transition.

He stressed the challenges faced by countries with special needs, such as least developed countries, landlocked developing countries and small island developing States, and called for an effective implementation of the relevant commitments undertaken in Brussels, Almaty and Mauritius.  As a landlocked country, affected by unilateral coercive measures by two of its neighbours, Armenia also strongly supported the elimination of all such practices, as they hampered the development not only of the individual countries concerned, but of the entire region, he said.

FREDERICO DUQUE ESTRADA MEYER, Minister Plenipotentiary of Brazil, said that ODA remained the most important instrument to assist many developing countries.  He fully supported the launching of an International Finance Facility (IFF), and stressed that innovative sources of financing for development must be explored to generate additional resources.  The Technical Group on Innovative Financing Mechanism, consisting of Brazil, France, Chile, Spain, Germany and Algeria, had been focusing on two initiatives:  the launch of a pilot project of an international solidarity contribution on airline tickets to finance the fight against HIV/AIDS and other pandemics; and a resolution to facilitate and reduce the costs of remittances, while recognizing that remittances were private and not a new source of finance.

He also emphasized the need to renew efforts and political will to complete the World Trade Organization (WTO) Doha round of trade negotiations no later than 2006, and ensure that its outcome could help achieve a multilateral trading system that was truly responsive to development concerns.  Efforts should also be made to ensure that all developing countries’ debt was sustainable, and would not undermine national efforts to achieve internationally agreed development goals.  In addition, States should focus on the special needs and challenges faced by least developed countries, landlocked developing countries, and small island developing States.  They should also consider that South-South cooperation played an enhanced and complementary role in achieving the Goals at the global level, provided that financial assistance through international multilateral institutions was increased.

IFTEKHAR AHMED CHOWDHURY (Bangladesh) said that concrete progress had been achieved in the economic and social fields in some countries.  However, a significant majority continued to be marginalized, particularly the least developed countries.  Inequality among nations persisted or was widening.  Unemployment and poverty continued to deteriorate and remained a source of concern in many countries.  Against a backdrop of a pluralistic society, improved governance, through employing indigenous ideas and effective utilization of ODA, and with the active participation of a vibrant civil society, Bangladesh had achieved considerable progress, including lowering population growth, fostering women’s empowerment, and developing an effective disaster management capacity.  Poverty reduction had been made the overarching strategic goal of the Government. 

Despite that progress, Bangladesh would require total external support of $6.3 billion annually between 2005 and 2015 to meet the Millennium Development Goals.  Several things needed to be done to create an enabling international environment for attaining the internationally agreed development goals.  Among them was to:  ensure good governance at national and international levels; establish an open, rule-based, equitable trade regime; deliver on the Monterrey commitments; relieve the debt burden; and facilitate technology transfer.  He also highlighted the special needs of the least developed countries, which required that the international community deliver 0.15 to 0.20 per cent of ODA to those countries, provide duty-free and quota-free access to the products of those countries, and cancel all official debts of those countries. 

ALDO MANTOVANI (Italy) noted that much attention had been devoted to the critical issue of resources.  In terms of ODA, Italy was committed to reaching by 2015 the target of 0.7 per cent.  It had also signed on to the additional commitment of reaching 0.51 per cent by 2010.  In the area of debt, it had, since 2001, cancelled $2.7 billion in debt of the heavily indebted poor countries and was planning to cancel up to $4.5 billion.  Also, Italy supported the United Nations 2004 initiative against poverty and hunger, promoted by the Technical Group on Innovative Financing Mechanisms.  It favoured the adoption of voluntary mechanisms, and looked with interest on the proposal to establish an international finance facility, whose feasibility should be tested through a pilot project to create such a facility for vaccines. 

He said that rural development was a key issue, which was complicated by poverty, farmer isolation and marginalization, and the fact that farming was the sole source of livelihood for local agricultural communities.  He supported ECOSOC’s decision to dedicate appropriate time in the current session to reviewing the implementation of the 2003 Ministerial Declaration on that issue.  Italy had directed to sub-Saharan Africa more than 40 per cent of its development cooperation resources, in coordination with the United Nations agro-food agencies.  Also, support had been channelled through the New Partnership for Africa’s Development.  He believed the Global Fund to Fight HIV/AIDS, Malaria and Tuberculosis presented a unique opportunity to increase the responsibilities of local authorities, strengthen prevention, improve health-care systems and foster access of the poor to new therapies and new medicines.  Coordination and monitoring of the Fund should be enhanced. 

CHEM WIDHYA (Cambodia) said his Government had devised a “rectangular strategy” for growth, employment, equity and efficiency focused on good governance.  It aimed to clear all the impediments towards achieving long-term sustainable development, whereby public investment would give priority to education, public health and physical infrastructure.  But, like many other least developed countries, Cambodia still faced an uphill struggle to curb poverty while stimulating growth.  Despite steady economic growth during the past 12 years, poverty had not yet declined significantly, falling from 39 per cent in 1994 to only 36 per cent in 1999.  Economic growth also had to keep pace with rapid population growth and generate sufficient employment to young people coming into the labour market each year.  If past trends continued, poverty would only decline to 28 per cent by 2015. 

He believed that, despite the national ownership, each least developed country bore on its own, genuine partnership between developing and developed countries was of the essence.  Genuine partnership meant reciprocal accountability.  The least developed countries clearly needed increased aid and assistance from the developed countries to enable them to overcome poverty on a sustainable basis.  The private sector could not be a substitute to the crucial and leading role that governments over the world played.  He joined others in calling for the developed countries to make sustained efforts in order to attain the goals set by the Brussels Plan of Action for the least developed countries, particularly achieving the ODA target of 0.7 per cent for developing countries and 0.15 to 0.20 per cent to the least developed countries. 

NIRUPAM SEN (India) said that if globalization was inexorable, multilateralism was its life-sustaining and corrective mechanism.  A globalizing world reinforced the growing interdependence among nations, and no one country could take on the exclusive responsibility of ensuring peace and security and/or development.  It was particularly important to address the deficit in global decision-making through enhanced participation of developing countries in the international institutions, but there had been little progress in implementing the Monterrey Consensus agreement to give them a greater voice in decision-making processes.  Addressing that question could directly affect the ability of developing countries to influence multilateral systems that did not always consider their interests.

He said the State should not be restricted to merely providing a favourable macroeconomic, legal and regulatory framework for private sector growth and attracting investments from abroad, but must also make substantial investments in human development and basic physical, social and institutional infrastructure, and promote science, technology and innovation.  Reduced rates of child mortality could not be achieved without improving access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation, roads to schools and hospitals, and electrical power for basic services.  It was true that the rate of growth could not be increased without increasing investment and marginal output.

Stressing that trade was essential for development, he said achieving the Millennium Goals hinged on realizing the development dimensions of the WTO Doha round of talks.  Major reform in agricultural trade and subsidies policies in developed countries was needed, so that agriculture could become an engine of growth and poverty reduction in developing countries.  It was time to bring down the barriers against trade and development that had been erected in several industrialized economies, which denied developing countries opportunities for faster growth.

MOURAD BENMEHIDI (Algeria) said the magnitude of the developments observed for some 20 years had led to a greater number of imbalances in the distribution of resources and a deepening of the exclusion of many people and countries of the South from the benefits of development.  Five years ago, world leaders had signed the Millennium Declaration, establishing the priorities of the international community in the area of development for the new century.  The Declaration put the human person at the centre of development concerns. 

The Secretary-General’s report on the Millennium Development Goals was pessimistic by saying that if current trends persisted many poor countries would not be able to achieve the development objectives, he said.  The same report noted that the international community had the means to attain the Millennium Goals.  He welcomed the recent initiative of the EU to coordinate its timetables for achieving official development assistance targets.  The decision of the G-8 countries to cancel the debt of 18 nations should be encouraged because it created prospects for international development cooperation, which had been strengthened by the creation of the development fund for the South, proposed by Qatar.

He added that development problems constituted a real challenge that must be addressed urgently.  Therefore, it was necessary to transcend differences and forge greater international solidarity.  Algeria had made the goals a priority and its efforts had produced promising results.  His country would be able to achieve its goals by 2015, and some even sooner. 

HAMAD HAREB AL-HABSI (United Arab Emirates), aligning himself with the statement on behalf of the Group of 77 and China, said that, while commending international efforts made towards implementing the outcomes and recommendations of the United Nations conferences and summits on development, he regretted that implementation in most of the developing countries had been lagging, due to a lack of commitment to the obligations undertaken by the principal stakeholders, especially those related to the financing for development and creating an enabling environment for development.  Another reason was the absence of coordination and integration. 

He stressed the importance of doubling the efforts of all concerned parties to overcome the challenges, including fulfilment of donor countries of their obligation to allocate 0.7 per cent of their gross national income as official development assistance, dealing with the debt problems of developing countries and allowing them fair access to the international market.  He urged developing countries to adopt economic policies that encouraged work and productivity, and to create an enabling environment attractive to direct foreign investments and supportive of the private sector

He said that progress made by his country in all areas of development was an example of success in achieving the Millennium Development Goals through coordinated and integrated implementation of the recommendations of the conferences on development.  It had adopted a national development policy aiming at developing human resources, achieving justice and political stability and advancing economic development.  It was also focusing, among other things, on achieving social security, developing the society, protecting human rights and maintaining gender equality.  In 2003, foreign aid had amounted to 3.5 per cent of its gross national income.  Remittances sent by the foreign workforce in the country were considered one of the sources of financial flows to developing countries.

ZHANG YISHAN (China) said that achieving the Millennium Development Goals required national initiatives, since countries shouldered the main responsibility for their national development.  Countries should integrate the Goals into their national development strategies and adopt pragmatic, focused and sequenced strategies when formulating long-term plans.  They could start by formulating poverty reduction strategies, make good use of domestic resources, increase investment in infrastructure and education, “marching towards the ‘MDGs’ step by step”.  To strengthen their self-development capacity, developing countries should resolve to carry out structural reforms, improve their policies, reinforce personnel training and gradually improve governance.  There was no panacea for development; countries needed to find a development path suited to their own national conditions.  For its part, the international community should be more understanding and encouraging of those countries’ choices and leave them sufficient “policy space”. 

He stressed the need for supportive actions from the international community. The European Union countries, for example, had formulated timetables to reach internationally agreed official development assistance targets and the G-8 financial ministers had taken initiatives to exempt the multilateral debts of 18 least developed countries.  Those were important steps in the right direction, and other developed countries should follow suit.  They should strengthen their macroeconomic policy coordination and ensure international economic and financial stability.  He supported innovative financing as a way of complementing ODA.  He also looked forward to the pilot projects of the International Finance Facility, which should provide experiences for wider financing arrangements.  Countries should also make concerted efforts to establish an open, fair and rule-based multilateral trade system. 

The Doha round should solve such problems as the agricultural product subsidies and trade barriers, he said.  The global community, as a whole, should adopt measurable actions to enhance developing countries’ participation in economic decision-making, correcting systemic imbalances, and ensuring the policy coherence and consistency of the relevant international financial and trade institutions.  In short, the international community should “do more, better and faster to assist developing countries in achieving the ‘MDGs’”.  Civil society participation was also important, as was the private sector.  Together, those were active forces for realizing the Goals.  National governments should create conditions and encourage their involvement in a wide spectrum of causes, from poverty eradication to education and gender equality.  In addition, a strengthened United Nations role in development should be made a priority of overall reform.

ALEG IVANOU (Belarus) said that if the current rate of implementation of many Millennium Development Goals continued, it would take 100 years to attain them.  There were only 10 years left.  Concerted efforts were therefore necessary, in which the United Nations must play a coordinating role.  The recent decision of the European Union to set a timetable to increase by 2010 the volume of official development assistance was most welcome.  It was, however, more important to complete the Doha round no later than 2006.  That would in the long provide a much greater dividend for developing countries and countries with economies in transition, and make them much less dependent on foreign aid. 

He welcomed the G-8 decision regarding debt cancellation, but called upon creditors and international financial institutions to look comprehensively at the set of radical proposals made during the recent summit meeting of Group the 77 and China.  The countries of Eastern Europe had fewer problems in attaining the Millennium Development Goals, he said, but there were differences within the region.  Small, poor countries of the region required more assistance in areas of poverty eradication and infant mortality, among other things. 

Socio-economic progress and attaining the Millennium Goals were inconceivable without radical national strategies.  It was important to strengthen the partnership between local government, the private sector and civil society.  The media could also play an important role.  The role of ECOSOC must be strengthened in the efforts to attain the Millennium Goals.  His country, together with others, intended to play an important role in restoring ECOSOC’s former role.

GIANCARLO SOLER TORRIJOS (Panama) said his Government was aware that the primary responsibility for development lay at the door of each country, and Panama’s efforts went further than the Millennium Goals in realizing its objectives.  The country was committed to good governance, had done away with “gag rules” limiting freedom of expression, and had also made efforts to eliminate corruption.  It was making progress in mobilizing development resources, having recently enacted a public expenditure law to free up needed resources.  Panama was a highly indebted country with serious problems of income distribution, which it was tackling through a social benefits programme.

He applauded countries that had committed 0.7 per cent of gross domestic product to ODA or set up special timetables to do so.  Middle-income nations continued to need financial and technical cooperation and the international community must consider new forms of debt sustainability for countries that still needed it.  Further, the Doha Round of trade negotiations must be implemented no later than 2006 and developing countries must have greater participation in international decision-making.  States also needed to promote new measures to guarantee the sustainability of the planet, which must be a shared responsibility.

KAZUO SUNAGA (Japan) said that with the mid-term review of the Millennium Declaration almost at hand, it was time for the Council, a principle forum for policy dialogue for socio-economic development, to prove that it had the capacity and leadership to make the Millennium Development Goals a reality.  Japan strongly emphasized poverty reduction through economic growth.  For sustainable development, it was necessary to mobilize resources from all sources, including official development assistance, trade and investment and private financial flows.  It was also crucial to ensure the balanced development of both urban and rural areas.  Japan would continue its efforts towards the goal of providing ODA equivalent to 0.7 per cent of its gross national income.  It would also ensure a credible and sufficient level of ODA, strive to realize a strategic expansion of its ODA volume and double its ODA to Africa in the next three years.

Partnership and ownership were essential principles for development, he said.  South-South cooperation could contribute substantially to the achievement of the Millennium Goals by fostering human resources development and facilitating trade among developing countries.  Globalization had aggravated the impact of transborder threats on developing countries.  It was necessary to work collectively to overcome those threats countries could not confront individually.  Japan’s approach to global issues was based on the concept of human security, a concept which stressed the protection and empowerment of individuals.  HIV/AIDS and other infectious disease were foremost in the policies of most Member States.  The environment, particularly climate change and natural disasters, also required concerted action, both on a regional and global scale. Gender equality and the empowerment of women should be integrated into every phases of ODA implementation.  All of those were high-priority areas for Japan’s ODA.

Moving towards the September Summit, Japan was actively engaged in all aspects of United Nations reform, including Security Council and ECOSOC reform, he said.  ECOSOC needed to transform itself into an efficient body that could guide the United Nations in tackling the world’s outstanding socio-economic problems.  For that reason, Japan supported the Secretary-General’s reform proposals.  The Council, among other things, should promote coordination and coherence among development partners and set mid- and long-term agendas for the entire United Nations system.  ECOSOC should devote most of its attention to priority issues and strengthen its relationship with other international bodies.  It also needed to be more proactive in post-conflict management by collaborating more closely with the proposed Peacebuilding Commission.  ECOSOC reform -- if properly carried out -- would be the stepping stone towards realizing the Millennium Goals and United Nations reform in general.

FUAD AL-HINAI (Oman), associating himself with the Group of 77 and China, said his country’s efforts in poverty and hunger eradication had been put in place long before the 2000 Millennium Declaration.  Some of those efforts had contributed towards limiting or reducing poverty, while other efforts had been directly targeted at providing assistance to the low-income groups.  Oman had made significant strides in reducing the illiteracy rate from 41 per cent in 1993 to 22 per cent in 2004.  The net enrolment ratio in primary education was 97.6 per cent, with 97.3 per cent being male and 98.1 per cent female.  The target for eradicating illiteracy would be achieved before 2015.

He said the Basic Law of the State stipulated that justice, equality and fair opportunities among Omanis were the foundations of the community that were ensured by the Government.  Women constituted 40 per cent of society and, while significant gains had been made in women’s education and economic participation, there was still room for improvement.  Women occupied 2.4 per cent of the elected seats in the Consultative Council and 14 per cent of the appointed seats of the State Council.  Three women occupied Ministerial Cabinet positions. 

Broadening health-care services and advancement in social, economic and environment conditions had resulted in the improvement of the health indicators, he said.  Oman had achieved the Millennium Development Goal of reducing the infant mortality rate by two thirds.  Successes had been achieved in immunization programmes, reduction of maternal mortality, reduction of malaria and a drop in HIV/AIDS cases from 6.4 per 100,000 people in 1996 to 3.9 per 100,000 people in 2004, constituting an annual rate of decrease of 6.1 per cent.

HARTWIG DE HAEN, Assistant Director-General, Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), also speaking on behalf of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the World Food Programme (WFP), said the good news was that poverty had dropped from 28 per cent of the world in 1990 to 21 per cent in 2002.  Aid budgets were at record high levels, foreign direct investment was growing and interest in the fate of the developing world had rarely been so intense.  The bad news was that the same could not be said for the hungry.  The proportion of undernourished people in developing countries had declined from 20 to 17 per cent in the 1990s, which made it unlikely that the 1996 World Food Summit goal of halving the number of hungry by 2015 would be met. 

He said the numbers proved that tackling poverty would not automatically take care of hunger.  Developing countries that focused exclusively on poverty would take a generation longer to make real progress in improving their people’s nutrition and health.  The hungry did not necessarily enjoy the fruits of increased aid and investment.  Malnourished, sickly workers were rarely in high demand.  The situation was not hopeless, however.  The fact that more than 30 countries -- with a combined population of more than 2 billion -- had cut the prevalence of hunger by 25 per cent in the 1990s gave cause for optimism.  Much could be learned from how those countries had made such impressive strides.

The Rome-based food, agriculture and rural development agencies proposed that people living in “hunger hot spots” must be served, he said, adding that waiting was not an option.  Each day that passed did irreparable damage to human beings and cost money and opportunities.  The combined cost of protein-energy malnutrition, low birth weight babies and micronutrient deficiencies cost developing countries 5 to 10 per cent of their gross domestic product (GDP); at least $500 billion.  FAO, IFAD and WFP advocated a “twin-track” approach, combining immediate assistance for the poor and hungry with long-term development programmes.  Programmes and policies must focus on where they were needed most; rural areas and in agriculture.  Meaningful progress would require that the international agricultural trading system offer developing countries a fairer chance to earn income from their commodities.  All that would cost roughly an additional $25 billion a year.  Developing countries currently spent some $30 billion in dealing with the consequences of hunger and malnutrition.  There was no time to wait longer; lives were at stake. 

WINSTON COX, Deputy Secretary-General, Commonwealth Secretariat, said urgent action was needed to prevent sub-Saharan Africa from missing all the 2015 goals.  While globalization had generated enormous wealth and modern technology had transformed the lives of the rich, two thirds of the world’s population were unable to make a phone call.  The opportunity existed, however, to reduce poverty.  There was a massive groundswell of public opinion in support of pro-poor development, rooted in the yearning for social justice.  Ameliorating the plight of Africa would be an important item on the Gleneagles agenda.  The international community had the know-how and the resources to make poverty history.  Gleneagles should provide the will. 

Hope that was not sustained by action, however, soon died, he said.  Action required that industrial countries followed through on their commitments to increase official development assistance and to fund debt forgiveness.  Action also required developing countries to improve governance and remain committed to socio-economic policies that targeted poverty reduction and that promoted participation and equity.  All countries needed to work together and negotiate rules of international trade that put development at the head of the agenda.  Countries must see themselves as partners in the confines of spaceship Earth.  At the negotiating table the asymmetries of power and influence must give way to the asymmetry of need. 

He said the Millennium Development Goals would not be attained without more and better aid.  He, therefore, welcomed the European Union’s decision to double its ODA and the commitment by major European countries to the 0.7 per cent ODA target.  More debt relief was of limited value unless the G-8 countries opened their markets to the products of poor countries.  Countries with improving terms of trade would grow out of poverty, transform their economies, and experience increasing levels of economic participation.  It was also important that the special problems of the economies of the very small countries be addressed in the Doha Round and the international aid architecture.  If the leading industrial nations became preoccupied with managing down the expectations of developing countries, there would be little hope of making poverty history.

ROBERT BARNES, Vice-President, International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, said the organization’s objectives for the first part of the current millennium had found powerful convergence with those that States had accepted in the Millennium Declaration.  Its work now was increasingly directed at providing the vital community base necessary for achieving common aspirations, as described in the Millennium Declaration and in its accompanying development goals.  The Millennium Goals were not an unrealistic set of targets, but attaining them would depend on changes in the mindset of governments and other public institutions. 

He said the Federation had spoken of the need for governments to link to and effectively partner with their Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies as their auxiliaries in the humanitarian field, and to civil society, in order to build a culture of prevention to sustain development and dignity.  Prevention in that context meant empowering communities to build strength and resiliency, which would facilitate the development of their human capital.  Prevention also required that the impact of natural disasters must be minimized by effective programmes at the community level.  It also meant that there must be full recognition of the part played by volunteers in achieving sustainable development and protecting human dignity.  The creation of a human rights-based social fabric was a critical ingredient in the building of resilient, peaceful and prosperous communities.

NDIORO NDIAYE, Deputy Director-General, International Organization for Migration (IOM), said the considerable attention paid by many actors in the international development field to international migration was hardly suprising, as roughly 1 in every 35 persons was a migrant.  Current estimates indicated that there were some 185 to 192 million migrants in the world, or 2.9 per cent of the world’s population, nearly 50 per cent of whom were women.  The current policy debate within the IOM Council had opened new possibilities for the development of common approaches to migration management based on cooperation between States.  It was with a sense of urgency that the organization was preparing for its high-level dialogue on international migration and development, to take place at the United Nations in 2006. 

She said IOM had initiated an updated migration and development strategy, which offered an important added value both for host and receiving countries, and it stood ready to assist countries in any way possible.  Migrants as potential agents of development could contribute to the fight against poverty, not only by skills transfer, but also through remittances, investment and expenditure, and entrepreneurial activities to achieve the Millennium Development Goals.  Despite the overwhelming evidence of migrants’ positive contribution in that regard, however, migration did not feature prominently in the original Millennium Development Goals framework and the relationship between migration and the Goals had not yet been widely explored. 

Migration cut across and impacted on all or most of the Millennium Development Goals to varying degrees, she said.  In Goal 1, for example, the most direct link between migration and poverty reduction could be identified through the more than $100 billion remittances migrants annually sent home.  In terms of Goal 3, aimed at promoting gender equality and empowering women, migrant women as economic decision-makers were key players in the migration and development equation.  Regarding Goal 8, on developing a global partnership for development, the opening up of trading and financial systems had an impact on migration, especially in lowering transfer costs for remittances and establishing legal channels for the transfer of those financial flows.  Moreover, partnerships between countries of origin and destination, the public and private sectors, and civil society at large, including diaspora associations, could form the basis of economic growth, joint business ventures, trade and increased investment flows. 

SUE MAINKA, International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources, said that the Goals were interconnected and could not be achieved in isolation or sequentially.  The achievement of Goal 7 on environmental sustainability, for example, was essential if other Goals on poverty, water, health, and nutrition and gender equality were to be met.  Loss of biodiversity and its ecosystem services could have serious, and sometimes catastrophic, consequences on the world’s population, particularly on the world’s poor.  An estimated 75 per cent of the world’s 3 billion poor lived in rural areas and depended heavily on natural resources for their survival.  One billion Asians relied on fish as their primary source of protein and the global fishing industry employed some 200 million people.  Yet, 14 of 17 fisheries worldwide were in decline today, impacting on both food security and household incomes.  And the World Health Organization (WHO) had noted that environmental factors, such as unsafe drinking water and smoke from biomass cooking fires, caused about 25 per cent of all preventable diseases. 

She said that investment in environmental sustainability was essential to achieving the Goals.  Rather than being a tax on development or an add-on to the development agenda, that investment was an effective and efficient intervention and leverage point.  Environmental sustainability supported and integrated multiple development goals and was a sound investment, especially for poverty reduction.  One key study showed that investments in water and soil conservation of up to $36 billion would save $53 billion in agricultural losses.  The study also found that the world spent roughly $1 trillion on subsidies in the agriculture, energy and water sectors.  Removal of a mere 10 per cent of the most socially and environmentally perverse subsidies would reduce environmental degradation and liberate more resources for poverty elimination than was currently being provided by global aggregate ODA.  She called for the following priority actions, among others:  ensuring environmental sustainability; committing significantly increased ODA to achieve that; and integrating the contributions of ecosystem services to household and national economies. 

ALI MCHUMO, Managing Director, Common Fund for Commodities, said that dependence on a narrow range of primary products for export earnings, and the resultant vulnerability to external shocks could create poverty traps in the international economic environment.  The prevailing commodity trade mechanism not only exacerbated poverty, but generated an unsustainable economic environment for growth and development that affected indebtedness, domestic capital formation and access to external private finance, as well as aid effectiveness.  Resources to help commodity-dependent countries become more competitive and self-sustaining economies required more than developing countries themselves could afford.  More ODA should be allocated to infrastructure and commodity-related programmes to address supply-side constraints affecting developing countries, especially the least developed countries.

Volatility in world commodity prices and drops in real commodity export earnings were major causes of economic instability and lower growth rates, he said.  The foreign exchange deficit caused by such short- and medium-term price volatility seriously undermined capacity use and efficiency and reduced the capacity to invest in productive sectors.  Past efforts in market intervention measures had not worked and the international community must still find a permanent solution to the problem of commodity price decline and volatility.

He added that international trade was vital to commodity-dependent countries, especially the least developed countries, and achievement of the Millennium Goals would be greatly assisted by broader access to major developed country markets.  Eliminating tariff and non-tariff barriers, including subsidies, would remove obstacles and distortions in the prices of commodities produced in developing countries.

SYED SHAHID HUSAIN, Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), said the responsibility for formulating and implementing national development policies rested with the governments of each country, with the collaboration of civil society.  However, external factors affecting or influencing the sustainability of national development policies and programmes required concrete and concerted measures at the regional, interregional and global levels.  Also, ongoing national efforts to strengthen transparency, the rule of law, constructive economic management, social services and good governance required patience, understanding and increased levels of support on the part of developed-country partners. 

Towards that end, he continued, the fulfilment of the Monterrey Consensus would be an important milestone in the efforts of the international community to meet those challenges.  In that vein, the OIC advocated further reform of the international financial structure so that it avoided destabilizing capital flows, maximized benefits and minimized risks from global capital markets.  Hopefully the G-8’s proposal for a 100 per cent cancellation of the debts of heavily indebted poor countries would be accomplished in a manner that would foster sustainability in those countries.  It was also to be hoped that it would be followed by stepped up levels of financial and technical support, so that the opportunity to cultivate sustainable practices in economic and social developmental might be seized and not lost on account of continued scarcity of resources. 

Ms. AHMED OBAID, Executive Director, United Nations Population Fund, said that achievement of the Goals went hand-in-hand with implementation of the wider development agenda of the historic United Nations conferences.  There was widespread agreement that the Millennium Development Goals and sustainable development as a whole could not be achieved without increased attention to population and reproductive health.  Implementation of the action programme adopted at the Population Conference in Cairo was key.  Unprecedented demographic challenges demanded a stronger and more coordinated policy response.  Those challenges included civil conflict and population displacement, greater urbanization, international migration, population growth in the poorest countries, HIV/AIDS, and the largest youth population in human history.  The world must act with urgency, she stressed.

As the international community approached the September Summit, it was clear that it had reached a critical juncture and the clock was ticking in the countdown to 2015, she said.  It could not be business as usual; things must not only be done differently, but different things must be done.  UNFPA was committed to United Nations reform and to increasing aid effectiveness.  The challenges faced in fighting poverty, disease and discrimination required more coordinated and effective responses.  The Fund was committed to working with partners to achieve the Goals, which provided a unifying framework to accelerate country-led development.  Its staff was working to develop capacity and self-reliance at the national level, with a focus on results, accountability, efficiency and transparency.  For example, they had developed a strategy with partners to intensify the response to improve maternal health and prevent HIV infection. 

She said that the real test was not in the words used in New York.  It was in the lives of women, men and young people who wanted to live in health, freedom and dignity.  The real test was how the world turned its good words into good deeds, so that more women could live free of fear and sexual violence, so that more young people could protect themselves from HIV and AIDS, so that every pregnancy was wanted and every woman could survive childbirth.  All children should be in school, and the world should see a visibly shrinking gap between rich and poor, between the powerful and the powerless, along with real hope and opportunity.  That was the real test and challenge, and UNFPA was fully committed to working with partners at all levels to turn those words into action. 

ARTHUR LEVIN, Chief Coordinator, External Relations and Communications, International Telecommunication Union (ITU), said the Union was pleased with the importance that the Secretary-General’s report accorded to Information and Communication Technologies, but it failed to mention the World Summit on Information Society, organized by the ITU, the first phase of which had been held in Geneva in December 2003.  The second phase would take place in Tunis, Tunisia, in September.  The Geneva Plan of Action recognized ICT as a tool to achieve the Millennium Development Goals and had set a target to connect the world by 2015. 

He said the World Summit had also addressed issues such as infrastructure and capacity-building.  One of the key elements of the Summit was the multi-stakeholder approach used.  The private sector and civil society had played an important role and all stakeholders had a role in building partnerships for development and bridging the digital divide.  Innovative ways of financing in the digital field had been found.  Delegates had reached agreement on the proposal by the President of Senegal to create a digital solidarity fund.  With $1 billion, all villages in the world could be connected by 2015. 

A representative of the Temple of Understanding, speaking on behalf of the 2004 annual Department of Public Information/NGO Conference, said the Conference had focused strongly on the theme of partnership, which had influenced NGO activities this year.  Non-governmental organizations had endorsed their sustained involvement with the Millennium Goals over the long term, and awareness of the Goals in civil society had been greatly enhanced.

A representative of Foundation for the Social Promotion of Culture, a Spanish NGO, said that since the beginning, the Foundation had focused on economic and social development, ensuring respect for human dignity and promoting peace, which was one of the goals of the 1995 Barcelona Declaration.  The Foundation had carried out over 135 projects in collaboration with over 30 NGOs.  It had a specific strategy for the Mediterranean, which had contributed greatly to attaining the Millennium Goals in all the countries in which it had carried out projects.  

A representative of Legião da Boa Vontade (Legion of Goodwill), a Brazilian NGO, said that her organization had mobilized civil society to publicize the achievement of the Millennium Goals, share best practices, discuss challenges and motivate partnership actions to fulfil the Goals.  With 55 years of experience in humanitarian and socio-educational programmes, the Legion had developed and presented today the statement of the Solidarity Society Network, a coalition formed to enable the inclusion of local communities in sustainable socio-economic development.  As its contribution to the Council’s high-level segment, she presented the result of recommendations collected through virtual surveys and meetings in three Brazilian cities -- São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and Brasilia – and in Buenos Aires, Argentina. 

A representative of the International Movement ATD Fourth World, also speaking on behalf of Vivat International and the NGO Committee on Social Development, said 2005 was a landmark year for the United Nations and every member of the world community.  Those living in poverty were hoping that their children could live free of poverty.  However, if the international community continued to fail to recognize and utilize the contribution to development that people with experience of extreme poverty were willing and able to make, the Millennium Development Goals would not be attained.  As people living in extreme poverty continued to be seen as mere recipients, their own efforts and hopes were overlooked. 

An example of successful partnership resulting in poverty eradication was a project in Maharashtra, India, she said.  An organization for the empowerment of women was engaged in direct poverty eradication through self-help groups and microcredit.  Women’s empowerment should be placed at the top of the development agenda and women should have an equal share in all policymaking and implementation processes.

She said the Declaration of the NGO Forum at the Commission for Social Development had emphasized the importance of keeping the spirit of Copenhagen alive by:  working for open partnerships between civil society and governments; working to place people and human rights at the centre of development; promoting equitable investment in social and economic development; and enduring the inclusion and participation of all those affected by government policy.

In closing remarks, ECOSOC President MUNIR AKRAM (Pakistan) said that since efforts to produce a ministerial declaration had not been successful, he would prepare and circulate a Chair’s summary of the high-level segment, reflecting the discussions that had taken place over the past three days. 

Highlighting some broad themes that had emerged during the discussion, he noted that the Millennium Goals, together with the major outcomes of conferences and summits, constituted a comprehensive development agenda for the international community.  Secondly, the main challenge faced was not one of conception but to ensure the implementation of that agenda.  Thirdly, it was clear that overall progress in achievement of the Goals had been uneven, by the Goals and by regions.  Fourthly, a new spirit of shared responsibility had been manifested recently, such as that expressed in the recent announcements of the European Union and the G-8.  But it was necessary to maintain that new spirit and ensure that it imbued the September Summit. 

Finally, he said, there was a sense that ECOSOC had rediscovered its role as the central body of the United Nations for the promotion of economic and social development.  It was clear that the Council was the only place where all key actors -- governments, international agencies, civil society and business -- could come together and have intense and open dialogue on the realization of the common agenda.

CHERRYL GORDON (Jamaica), on behalf of the Group of 77 developing countries and China, said the segment had provided for discussion of important topics, and it was to be hoped that deliberations would contribute to enhancing convergence on a number of issues.  Hopefully, the September Summit would lead to bold decisions and progress in a number of areas, especially financing for development, external debt and the completion of the Doha trade round.

ALICE WALPOLE (United Kingdom), speaking on behalf of the European Union, expressed regret that it had not been possible to agree on a declaration at the close of the segment, but noted the rich exchange of views that had taken place.  She paid tribute to the President’s team and the Secretariat, and welcomed the decision to circulate a Chair’s summary.  

 * *** *