16 November 2005
Speakers Express Concern about Financial Viability of UN Institute as Second Committee Begins Considering Training, Research
Delegates Conclude Poverty Eradication Debate, Hear Five Drafts Introduced
NEW YORK, 15 November (UN Headquarters) -- Delegates expressed concern today over the financial viability of the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR), as the Second Committee (Economic and Financial) began its consideration of training and research.
Nigeria's representative stressed that UNITAR should use its limited resources to concentrate on its core programmes rather than pursuing programmes on "environmental democracy" or oil exploration and extraction, since such subjects were beyond the Institute's competence. By sticking to its core programmes, UNITAR would win and sustain the confidence of its donors. Furthermore, the Institute could not provide the services that Member States often demanded and expected if its resources were derived mainly from earmarked funds, usually with stringent conditions and from a narrow donor base. UNITAR should be treated like other United Nations institutions that enjoyed rent- and maintenance-free services. If need be, the relevant article of its Statute should be amended, paving the way for it to draw from the regular budget of the United Nations.
Jamaica's representative, speaking on behalf of the "Group of 77" developing countries and China, urged Member States to increase their contributions to the Institute's General Fund, and to work speedily to resolve issues relating to the costs of renting and maintaining the premises used by UNITAR. The Institute's programmes addressed issues of significant priority to developing countries, and almost 10,000 participants had benefited from its workshops and seminars, with a further 17,000 following its distance and e-learning programmes.
Earlier, the Committee concluded its discussion of poverty eradication and other development issues, with delegates emphasizing the importance of engaging in human-resource development to fight poverty, while being mindful of the hard-to-reach rural poor. Speakers pointed out that increasing productivity in the agricultural sector was an effective way to tackle both aims at once. For instance, Malaysia's representative said his country had attempted to raise the incomes of agricultural workers by introducing land-development schemes and new higher-yielding crops. It had also integrated agricultural and rural development with the downstream processing of farm products, by training its farmers in the use of new technologies and establishing direct markets for farmers in urban centres.
In a similar vein, the representative of the Philippines said his country had engaged in the dissemination of rice research and technologies, in an effort to promote public awareness of the contribution of rice-based systems to both food security and poverty alleviation. The country's International Rice Research Institute indicated that by 2025, more than half of the world's anticipated 10 billion people would depend on rice as their principal food. Thus, without a rise in productivity, it would be difficult for rice-dependent countries to meet the increased demand for affordable food. Rice production, however, continued to face declining growth due to competing uses of land and water, declining economic return, a high rate of post-harvest losses, increasing labour shortages, institutional limitations and environmental pollution.
Singapore's delegate said that, with just over 2 million people, his country had maximized the use of its limited human resources by equipping them with skills to meet work-place challenges and contribute to national development. Singapore's education system stressed merit, competition, science and technology, and regular benchmarking against international standards. It was open to all, regardless of ethnicity, religion, gender or social background. Rapid technological changes and intense competition, driven by information and communication technology, increasing globalization and economic liberalization, had introduced new challenges to Singapore's human-resource development strategy. Having benefited from the help of developed countries and international organizations after its independence, Singapore was willing, in turn, to share its own knowledge with others.
Delegates also spoke of the need to widen access to financial services, so that even the poor could benefit. Microcredit and microfinance was one mechanism that could help achieve that goal. At the same time, many speakers noted that the efforts of developing countries would be meaningless without their strong participation in international economic decision-making and norm-setting. It was important that the international community live up to its commitment to an open, equitable, rule-based, predictable and non-discriminatory multilateral trading system, so that developing countries could be in a better position to develop their economies. In the words of Venezuela's representative, the present international trade system was neither fair nor transparent, nor sufficiently geared towards development. Poverty was not a natural phenomenon but a social construct and the fight against it was mainly political.
In other business, Jamaica's representative introduced, on behalf of the Group of 77, five draft resolutions relating, respectively, to corruption and the transfer of illicit funds; natural disasters and vulnerability; new and renewable sources of energy; South-South cooperation; and the Third United Nations Conference on the Least Developed Countries.
Also speaking today were the representatives of San Marino, Tunisia, Sri Lanka, Qatar, Guyana (on behalf of the Caribbean Community), Indonesia, Nepal, Kazakhstan and Italy.
Observers for the International Organization for Migration (IOM), the World Tourism Organization and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources also made statements.
Introducing reports as the Committee took up training and research were the Executive Director of UNITAR, and the Acting Director for Administration and Management of the United Nations System Staff College in Turin, Italy.
The Second Committee will meet again at 10 a.m. tomorrow, Wednesday, 16 November, to begin its consideration of global partnerships.
The Second Committee (Economic and Financial) met today to conclude its discussion of eradication of poverty and other development issues. It was also expected to begin its consideration of training and research, and to hear the introduction of several draft resolutions.
Before the Committee was the Secretary-General's report on the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (document A/60/304), which highlights ongoing training and capacity-building programmes of the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR). The report notes that UNITAR continues to offer programmes in multilateral diplomacy and international affairs management; briefing and debriefing special and personal representatives of the Secretary-General; and peacemaking and preventive diplomacy, which provides advanced training in conflict analysis, negotiation and mediation for United Nations staff and diplomats.
According to the report, the Institute holds regional training programmes to enhance conflict prevention and peacebuilding in Africa, which have been held annually in Addis Ababa for the past six years; training programmes to enhance conflict prevention and peacebuilding capacities of indigenous peoples; and a Training Programme for Civilian Personnel in Peacekeeping Operations on the Special Needs of Women and Children in Conflict.
The report says that UNITAR's decentralized cooperation programme assists local authorities (parliamentarians and mayors) and their partners (civil society and the private sector) with access to basic services, such as water and sanitation, waste management, transport and energy; urban planification; the information society (e-governance, e-administration, e-democracy); and human and social development (public health, HIV/AIDS, cultural diversity, urban safety). Other programmes focus on environmental law; climate change; chemicals, waste and environmental democracy; legal aspects of debt and financial management; and operational satellite applications (UNOSAT), which is the sole United Nations activity dedicated entirely to developing satellite imagery for the use of the United Nations and developing countries worldwide.
Noting that the UNITAR New York Office held 33 courses in English, French or Spanish over the past year, which were attended by 1,837 delegates, the report says that new courses, including the summer institute on United Nations reform, and the workshop on remittances and development, met the most pressing needs of permanent missions, and were directly related to the United Nations agenda. In addition, the UNITAR Hiroshima Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific, which was set up in 2003, holds regional week-long workshops for academics and practitioners from the Asia-Pacific region. The Dushanbe Field Office in Tajikistan was opened in 2004, in cooperation with Tajikistan's Ministry of Economy and Trade of Tajikistan, to help that country with its accession to the World Trade Organization.
The report recommends that the General Assembly consider resolving expeditiously at its sixtieth session issues of rental and maintenance costs for premises used by UNITAR in New York and Geneva. Moreover, the Institute's financial viability remains at issue, while non-earmarked contributions to its General Fund remain seriously inadequate. Member States should consider resuming or increasing their contributions.
Also before the Committee was a note by the Secretary-General transmitting the Report of the Director of the United Nations System Staff College on its work, activities and accomplishments (document A/60/328), which discusses the activities of the College since 1 January 2002, when its became a distinct institution within the United Nations system.
Mandated to train staff members, provide strategic leadership and promote institutional management skills, the College has implemented 35 learning activities in peace and security up to 30 June 2005; the resident coordinator system; communication, partnerships and civil society; management and leadership development; knowledge management; and the learning managers forum. The College also provided ad hoc support to United Nations bodies through 894 workshops and other expert services.
As for funding, the report states that the College receives annual core contributions from member organizations of the Chief Executives Board; untied contributions from Italy, the host country; voluntary contributions from other United Nations organizations for the supply of services; and voluntary contributions from Member States, private corporations, non-governmental organizations and charitable foundations. During the recent reporting period, the College has focused on expanding its range of services, but it must develop its activities on the basis of a systematic needs assessment.
DANIELE BODINI ( San Marino) said that most of the poor in developing countries were employed, but they were mostly unskilled and earning extremely low wages, and not compensated by any social safety net. The challenge that successful developing countries faced was to generate economic growth through higher quality jobs while providing a system of social protection. To that end, it was necessary to mobilize sufficient resources for education and for vocational training, and removing cultural obstacles that prevented women from accessing the labour market.
He said the amount of resources that developed countries could transfer to developing countries depended on their own economic situation, and the resources remaining after they had tackled their own poverty. Currently, many industrialized countries, especially in Western Europe, faced difficult economic conditions, and for some of them, unprecedented social unrest. If a greater percentage of a country's population became unemployed because of a reduction in trade barriers, then it was natural that the country's priority would turn to its own growing number of poor. Indeed, demographic implosions, migration flows, endemic diseases and natural disasters could dramatically change the landscape in developed countries, rendering them economically and socially weaker. Member States must be able to negotiate in good faith to reach an equilibrium that would not deprive the people of wealthier nations of their well-being.
JALEL SNOUSSI ( Tunisia) said his country had chosen investment as a strategy to multiply production and increase food security, in reducing rural poverty and in supporting the disadvantaged. The strategy required sustainable financial resources and predictable trade flows, which were currently lacking through much of the developing world. The risks of political and economic instability would continue to burden the world. Poverty was the product of unequal economic development, and any efforts to eradicate it would succeed only through a global alliance.
The September World Summit had ensured that the Millennium Goals would be placed at the heart of a new global struggle to eradicate poverty, he said. Official development assistance (ODA), complemented by innovative sources of financing, was a significant tool for development. To that end, the international community should ensure that the Global Solidarity Fund entered into operation as soon as possible, as stipulated in the Summit Outcome Document. Given that trade flows also served as valuable catalysts for economic growth, the international trading system must consider the interest of developing countries. The global community should also come up with a mechanism to cancel unsustainable debt, without compromising the international financial institutions.
LAURO L. BAJA (Philippines), aligning himself with the "Group of 77" developing countries and China, said that his country, together with 43 others, had proclaimed 2004 as the International Year of Rice, anchored in the belief that the battle against hunger, malnutrition and environmental damage, as well as the creation of productive employment, should take into account the promotion of that important commodity, which was the staple food of more than half of the world's population. For its own part, the Philippines had undertaken technical seminars and information dissemination on rice research and technologies, a national conference on rice farming and biodiversity, and exhibits featuring rice in arts, crafts and culture, believing that rice could play a vital role in meeting the challenges of global food security.
He said that his country's International Rice Research Institute indicated that by 2025, more than half of the world's anticipated 10 billion people would depend on rice as their principal food. Thus, without a rise in productivity, it would be difficult for rice-dependent countries to meet the increased demand for affordable food. Rice production, however, continued to face declining growth due to competing uses of land and water, declining economic return, a high rate of post-harvest losses, increasing labour shortages, institutional limitations and environmental pollution. In addition, three quarters of the working poor were in developing countries; rice-based production systems in 113 countries on five continents employed nearly a billion people worldwide, including small-scale farmers, and could help address concern over unemployment. The Philippines believed that the Food and Agricultural Organization, in coordination with Member States and other relevant international organizations, should promote public awareness at all levels of the contribution of rice-based systems to food security, better nutrition, poverty alleviation and livelihood improvement.
YASOJA GUNASEKERA ( Sri Lanka) stressed that economic growth arising from globalization must bring about tangible results for people at the periphery. Many developing countries had opened up their economies on the assumption that more trade, rather than aid, would stimulate economic development. Yet trade barriers had continued to exist in various forms, hindering recovery and growth. Market access for developing-country exports, preferably under concessionary terms, would greatly benefit poverty reduction and wealth creation. Excessive debt burdens continued to impede developing economies, exacerbated by escalating oil prices and depressed commodity prices. Hopefully, the forthcoming World Trade Organization (WTO) meeting would make globalization beneficial for all nations.
Turning to women in development, she said Sri Lanka had a literacy rate of 97 per cent for women, and that girls' participation in primary and secondary education had surpassed that of boys. Women played an active role in the labour force had secured one third of state sector employment and half of all jobs in the private sector. Their contribution to key sectors of the economy through employment overseas in export processing zones and plantations was vital to the growth of Sri Lanka's gross domestic product.
WALTER CHIA (Singapore), aligning himself with the Group of 77, said that, with just over 2 million people, his country had maximised the use of its limited human resources by equipping them with skills to meet the challenges of the workplace and contribute to national development. Singapore's education system stressed merit, competition, science and technology, and regular benchmarking against international standards. It was open to all regardless of ethnicity, religion, gender or social background. Meanwhile, the Ministry of Trade and Industry and the Economic Development Board worked closely with the private sector, labour unions and other stakeholders to ascertain the skills required by the nation's economic development blueprints.
He said that the rapid technological changes and intense competition, driven by information and communication technology, increasing globalization and economic liberalization, had introduced new challenges to Singapore's human-resource development strategy. As a result, the "Manpower 21 Plan" had been launched in 1999 and updated in 2003 to help the people stay relevant and competent in the knowledge-based economy. A partnership involving the Government, employers and labour unions was key, with the Government playing a lead role in laying down policies, providing funds, and setting up relevant institutions in consultation with other stakeholders. Singapore had benefited from the help of developed countries and international organizations after independence, including the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and countries like Japan, Germany and France, and it was willing to share its own knowledge with others, in turn. Indeed, since 1993, more than 38,000 government officials from 161 developing countries had come to Singapore for training. While not all of Singapore's experiences were applicable, the principles adopted were worth some study.
ASHRI MUDA ( Malaysia) said the international community should take an integrated approach towards strengthening poverty eradication programmes at all levels. No nation would succeed in generating economic growth without an enabling international environment. Market access and foreign direct investment (FDI) were vital to promoting economic growth and generating productive employment. Debt relief and ODA should be provided to needy countries, as liberated resources could then be directed towards poverty eradication activities, sustained economic growth and sustainable development.
He said that his country's poverty eradication strategies emphasized income earning opportunities, recognizing the multidimensional nature of poverty and the need for practical and integrated approaches. Malaysia's development plans were divided into core national policies, categorized as long-term, medium-term, annual and special development plans, and sectoral and industry-specific master plans. The country had attempted to raise the incomes of agricultural workers, introducing new land development schemes and new higher-yielding crops. It had also integrated agricultural and rural development with the downstream processing of farm products; established direct markets for farmers in urban centres; provided training for attitudinal change and applying improved production technology; and provided a better infrastructure for easier market access.
JAMAL NASSER AL-BADER ( Qatar) praised United Nations efforts to bring peace and security to areas of tension by way of development. Indeed, in the fight against poverty, attention must be paid to the macroeconomic framework of nations, and there must be enough flexibility to adjust those frameworks for purposes of economic stability and to reduce poverty. National plans must also focus on providing wide access to credit, information technology and basic social services, while allowing all segments of the population into the decision-making process.
He said economies in most rural areas were agriculture-based and marked by a decrease in productivity because there were fewer tracts of arable land, and poor understanding of new agricultural methods. Also, rural women often engaged in activities that did not bring in income, and there was a great gap between male and female school enrolments. Policies focusing on capacity-building and skills-training were needed. However, developing countries could not cover the costs of such policies without outside help. More FDI was needed in the agricultural sector. Developing partners, United Nations agencies, the Bretton Woods institutions, members of civil society, and the private sector were called upon to mobilize resources to help least developed countries. There was also a need to free up trade in agriculture.
LUCA DALL'OGLIO, observer for the International Organization for Migration (IOM), said that migration of skilled workers was not necessarily a negative phenomenon, and that countries with large populations, as well as broad and flexible human resource bases, could replace migrant outflows. Until the recent past, several Western European countries had been sending skilled workers abroad without impoverishing national human capital. Benefits relating to the migration of skilled workers and people with advanced education, including remittances and the vast array of resources a qualified and wealthy destination country could offer to the country of origin, largely offset the loss of investment in education and training.
He said the IOM had developed several programmes aimed at fostering cultural and socio-economic ties between migrant-receiving and origin countries to enhance temporary or permanent returns, increase investments in the home country, establish micro-enterprises, and create jobs. Regional and subregional frameworks offered additional opportunities for cooperation between the two sets of countries, as shown by the recent Regional Seminar on the Social Implications of International Migration, held in Bangkok in August 2005. That seminar had adopted several recommendations for action, including measures to address "brain drain".
GEORGE W. TALBOT (Guyana), speaking on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and aligning himself with the Group of 77, said the rate of economic growth in the Caribbean was insufficient to achieve development and eradicate poverty. The region had been made vulnerable through unfair trade, environmental degradation and diseases, such as HIV/AIDS and malaria, and it needed more resources from the international community to reach its goals. Developed countries should heed deadlines for attaining the targeted 0.7 per cent of gross national income for ODA.
He said CARICOM members continued to advocate partnership to provide greater access to microcredit and microfinance to poor people, and upgrade education systems by improving standards and providing universal access to education. However, globalization and its negative effects continued to widen the economic and social gaps between developed and developing countries. Although CARICOM members had opened their markets, observed good governance and encouraged conditions for technology transfer, they were still awaiting the advantages and prosperity promised by globalization.
PRAYONO ATIYANTO ( Indonesia) said it was time the international community went beyond slogans in deciding on practical action to follow up and monitor initiatives agreed at the 2005 World Summit. While developing-country Governments were responsible for their own development, their efforts would be meaningless without strong participation in international economic and decision-making and norm-setting. It was also important that the commitment for an open, equitable, rule-based, predictable and non-discriminatory multilateral trading system be delivered. Achieving such conditions would help make development finance flow, uplift living standards, provide adequate health and education facilities and promote environmental protection.
Noting that technology transfer was also an important element in eradicating poverty, he said developing countries had largely been spectators, or at best users, of technological advances produced in developed countries. Scientific and technological capacities in developing countries must be increased to promote economic growth and solve scientific challenges. While some countries lacked sufficient infrastructure for information and communication technology, incentives and partnerships in that area could be explored. To that end, the upcoming World Summit on the Information Society in Tunis must produce a pro-development.
RAFEEUDIN AHMED, World Tourism Organization, said tourism played an increasing role in the economies of several developing and least developed countries, with tourist arrivals (not including newly-industrialized Asian countries) reaching 112 million in 2004, or 16.2 per cent of international tourist arrivals in the world. That translated into $100 billion, or 19.3 per cent of the world total in tourism receipts. Among least developed countries, tourism was a major source of foreign exchange earnings.
Tourism was well placed to meet the needs of the poor because the high degree of geographical expansion in related activities meant that benefits were spread even to isolated, rural areas, he said. Furthermore, tourism was a labour- intensive industry, requiring little training and capable of providing jobs for groups of people who were often among the most excluded, such as women and young people. It was also one of the few industries in which most developing countries had a comparative advantage over developed countries, because of their culture, natural wildlife, climate, handicrafts and non-polluted landscapes. For that reason, the World Tourism Organization had conducted research on the possible role of microfinance to fuel the creation of small and medium enterprises in poor areas, and launched a programme around the topic of "sustainable tourism as an effective tool for eliminating poverty". A declaration on "Harnessing tourism for the millennium development goals", adopted by a group of Governments, industrial concerns, United Nations entities and civil society leaders in September 2005, at the invitation of the World Trade Organization, also drew attention to the crucial role that tourism could play in small island developing States and other tourism-dependent developing countries.
TIRTHA RAJ WAGLE ( Nepal) said least developed countries must address the interrelationship of poverty, unemployment and conflicts. The international community should support their efforts to replace the vicious cycle of underdevelopment, unemployment and violence with one of peace, development and productive employment. Poor countries required increased aid flows, debt relief, and support for capacity-building. The multilateral trading system must be just and equitable to spur growth in least developed countries through enhanced trade.
The international community should support economic sectors to benefit the working poor, he said. With the elimination of apparel quotas in January 2005, many least developed countries had lost their markets and unskilled labourers were now unemployed. Recent reports had noted that Nepal's garment exports -- one of its major foreign currency earning sources -- had declined by 39 per cent over the past 10 months, over 60 garment industries had closed down, and more than 50,000 factory workers had lost their jobs. The global community must pay greater heed to trade-adjustment costs and find ways to enhance competitiveness.
BARLYBAY SADYKOV (Kazakhstan) said his country gave priority to questions of poverty, the employment of women, state aid to poor families, the development of small- and medium-sized business, and large-scale educational, health and environmental programmes. To develop its human resources, the top 3,000 college students had the opportunity to further their education in the world's leading universities through a government financial aid plan, while a microcredit policy -- where two thirds of recipients were women -- was being actively promoted in rural areas. Further arrangements to provide financial resources to the poor, including an enhanced legal microcredit framework, to raise awareness of the principles of provision and use of microcredit, would continue to be priority areas for the Government in years to come. A microcredit system for first-time entrepreneurs would be developed under the "National Small Business Development and Support Programme".
He said economic development should be accompanied by policies that addressed potential sources of instability. For instance, there must not be a disproportionate gap between rich and poor in access to health care, education and participation in social activities. Kazakhstan's goal was to build a modern and competitive economy in an open, democratic and prosperous society of free citizens based on the rule of law, where the features and traditions of a multinational society could exist in harmony.
BHAGWAT SINGH, observer for the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN), said the international community could only reduce poverty if ecosystems were conserved and properly managed. There was a direct relationship between the health of ecosystems and opportunities for the poor to increase food security, improve their health, build assets, reduce risks and live more secure lives. Conversely, land degradation, desertification, pollution, and unequal access to water and productive ecosystems were all associated with declining human well-being.
The international community must more clearly and decisively address environment management, conservation of ecosystems and biodiversity, he stressed. To that end, IUCN had recently set up the Conservation for Poverty Reduction Initiative, aimed at creating a broad alliance of governmental and civil society organizations to restore and conserve ecosystem services that were essential to ensuring sustainable livelihoods. Poverty-reduction funding and Millennium Goal planning must mainstream the quantity of water and improved access to it, as well as better management of agricultural lands, and fisheries. At the same time, the rights of the poor to lands and resources that they needed to improve their lives must be secured.
GABRIEL SALAZAR-PINEDA (Venezuela), aligning himself with the Group of 77, said poverty was a systemic problem stemming from the current international architecture and its pattern of power relations, which, if unaddressed, would render the goal of poverty eradication a mere dream. Indeed, the present international trade system was neither fair nor transparent, and not sufficiently geared towards development.
Noting that poverty was not a natural phenomenon, he said that it was a social construct and that the fight against it was mainly political. In Venezuela, the Government worked alongside it citizens to maintain freedom from poverty, by engaging them in decision-making processes and setting up numerous financial and legislative programmes, such as microcredit and business support for small and medium enterprises; job training for women; restoration of inactive enterprises; land distribution; and technological support in rural areas. Those national programmes were characterized by broad coverage and cut across gender and age groups.
He said the lack of equality in the current power structure had allowed poverty to flourish nationally and internationally. It was necessary to address questions of wealth and how it was being concentrated in the hands of a few. The fight against poverty must be waged by the poor for the poor, not by the elite to preserve their position in the marketplace.
The Committee then turned to its agenda item on training and research.
Introduction of Reports
MARCEL BOISARD, Executive Director, United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR), introducing the Institute's report (document A/60/304), said 2005 had been a good year, both operationally and financially. The Institute's volume of activities had increased considerably and areas where it could provide useful contributions had been strengthened. An increasing number of courses were now available electronically, which had helped increase UNITAR's beneficiaries.
In addition to its regular programme, he said, the Institute was now providing training in multilateral diplomacy and the management of international affairs, programmes on preventative diplomacy, a series of grant programmes in international law and conflict resolution, and correspondence courses on peacekeeping. It also offered courses in capacity-building in the economic and social spheres, was the guiding body behind several environmental conventions, and responded to training needs in international trade, as well as financial management.
All UNITAR programmes were prepared in close coordination with one or more bodies, either within or outside the United Nations system, allowing it to design more than 150 workshops annually, he said. The Institute had also become one of the main protagonists behind implementation of international legal instruments relating to the environment. In addition, it had assisted with training in the peaceful settlement of disputes; launched a training programme in preventive diplomacy and peacebuilding; set up an information and restitution programme to strengthen the efficiency of future operations in the field; and begun a correspondence programme on peacekeeping operations to provide distance learning at an affordable price for many students worldwide.
However, despite its continuing efforts, the Institute's General Fund, which was responsible for training courses attended by United Nations delegates at key centres, had remained highly vulnerable, he said. Extending those activities to other cities would be difficult, considering the low level of voluntary contributions. For those requiring training in multilateral negotiations, public speaking and drafting resolutions, UNITAR was essential as it was the only body providing such services.
He said that despite considerable effort, the Institute was still unable to win over main donors. For several years, the Second Committee had been debating whether the United Nations should take over UNITAR's rent and maintenance costs, but that issue was still unresolved. Providing training and capacity-building in institutional affairs was an important element of sustainable development, but the Institute had remained self-funded, with no support from the Organization.
PAOLO CERATTO, Acting Director for Administration and Management, United Nations System Staff College, Turin, Italy, introduced the report of that institution's Director on its work, activities and accomplishments (document A/60/328), saying that training United Nations Country Teams took up the lion's share of its work. It targeted first-time United Nations resident coordinators and coordination officers, conducted strategic planning retreats to bring the Common Country Assessment process to life, and to carry forward the United Nations Development Assistance Framework (UNDAF) strategy. That had resulted in the completion of 39 UNDAF exercises in 2005. As a result of that training, United Nations Country Teams were more focused on the priority Millennium Development Goals and more effective in the planning and implementation of those goals. The College's potential could be further realized with the help of adequate and predictable funding.
The peace and security programme, begun in 1998, had trained staff from the Secretariat, United Nations funds and programmes, specialized agencies, regional commissions and more, he said. Financed by three donors -- the United Kingdom, Germany and Sweden -- it allowed 200 staff members to acquire and consolidate skills and knowledge in country-conflict analysis in 2004-2005. With further support, a multi-year programming effort could be launched for peace and security.
He said that while training or learning were not the answer to all problems, they could help produce a well-trained workforce that could delivery multilateral solutions with unity of purpose. Member States should support the building of an "educational conspiracy" so that the system could "breathe together" on the path towards the Millennium Development Goals.
BYRON BLAKE ( Jamaica), speaking on behalf of the Group of 77, noted that UNITAR had recorded a significant increase in its training initiatives. Close to 10,000 participants had benefited from its workshops and seminars and about 17,000 had followed its distance and e-learning programmes. Of special interest were its efforts to assist States in building capacity to soundly manage chemicals and wastes, as well as to support the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in programmes on vulnerability, adaptation and mitigation. The Institute's expanded number of programmes addressed issues of significant priority to developing countries.
Expressing pleasure that that Institute's funding had improved, he noted, however, that long-term financial viability was still a concern. Member States should increase their contributions to the General Fund, taking into account the successful restructuring and revitalization of the Institute and its effort to comply with the recommendations of the Board of Auditors.
Regarding the issue of rental and maintenance costs, he said that question was still pending and Member states should seek an expeditious resolution to that problem. The Group of 77 also recommended that the agenda item "Training and research" should be examined every two years by the General Assembly, rather than the current annual reviews.
OSITADINMA ANAEDU ( Nigeria), aligning himself with the Group of 77, said UNITAR could not provide the services that Member States often demanded and expected of the Institute if its resources were derived mainly from earmarked funds, usually with stringent conditions and from a narrow donor base. UNITAR should be treated like other institutions within the United Nations that enjoyed rent- and maintenance-free services. If need be, the relevant article of the Statute of UNITAR should be amended to pave the way for the Institute to draw from the regular budget of the United Nations.
He said it was not clear what the recently launched programme in "environmental democracy", as stated in paragraph 27 of the Secretary-General's report, was intended to achieve. UNITAR should concentrate on its core programmes that brought the greatest benefit to the wider membership, rather than spread itself thin in pursuing concepts and programmes that were premised on nebulous concepts. "Environmental democracy" should therefore be discontinued. It was equally unclear why UNITAR should single out oil exploration and extraction as the only commodity that generated important revenues for central Governments. Would UNITAR also design programmes for the equitable management of services and commodities in developed and developing countries, where there was agitation for the equitable sharing of resources as a means to promote communal peace? Such programmes were beyond the competence of UNITAR and it should refrain from engaging in them. The Institute should also manage its limited resources within its core programmes in order to win and sustain the confidence of donors.
NATALIA QUINTAVALLE ( Italy) expressed pleasure with the Institute's training policy, which combined know-how with specific actions, while acknowledging that much could be done to increase its coherence through staff training. One of UNITAR's main functions had been training United Nations staff in the field, which should continue, but it should also devote attention to training various bodies at Headquarters to enhance the Organization's management. Well-trained and organized staff could provide more effective multilateral solutions in the areas of development, peace and security.
Introduction of Draft Resolutions
CHERRYL GORDON (Jamaica), introduced, on behalf of the Group of 77, five draft resolutions saying that a text on preventing and combating corrupt practices and transfer of funds of illicit origin, and returning such assets to the countries of origin (document A/C.2/60/L.29) was similar to that presented last year, but it had been updated to consider the upcoming entry into force of the United Nations Convention against Corruption.
She said that a draft on natural disasters and vulnerability (document A/C.l2/60/L.27) built on last year's resolution on the same topic, to capture the increased number of natural disasters over the past few months, as well as underlying risk factors and vulnerabilities in many countries. Another draft, on promotion of new and renewable sources of energy, including the implementation of the World Solar Programme 2006-2015 (document A/C.2/60/L.28), was also similar to last year's, but it had been updated to consider the Secretary-General's report, which credited the World Solar Programme with significantly raising global awareness of renewable energy sources. The draft requested a 10-year extension for the Programme.
A text on South-South cooperation (document A/C.2/60/L.31) attempted to highlight international events in the area of South-South cooperation, as well as initiatives at national and regional levels, she said. Among other recommendations, it suggested that the Special Unit for South-South Cooperation, at the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), be strengthened. Finally, a draft on the Third United Nations Conference on the Least Developed Countries: High-level Meeting on the Comprehensive Global Review of the Implementation of the Programme of Action for the Least Developed Countries for the Decade 2001-2010 (document A/C.2/60/L.32), addressed the need to advance implementation of the Programme, as well as the 2006 General Assembly review of it.
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