Press Releases

    8 December 2005

    Second Committee Approves Draft Resolution Recommending Effective, Comprehensive Solution to Debt Problems of Developing Countries

    Panel Discusses UN System's Role in Supporting Country-Level Strategies in Follow-Up to 2005 World Summit

    NEW YORK, 07 December (UN Headquarters) -- The General Assembly would emphasize the special importance of a timely, effective, comprehensive and durable solution to developing-country debt problems, and of creditors and debtors sharing responsibility for preventing unsustainable debt, according to one of three draft resolutions that the Second Committee (Economic and Financial) approved by consensus today.

    Also by that draft, on external debt crisis and development (document A/C.2/60/L.51), the Assembly would stress that debt relief could play a key role in liberating resources that should be directed towards poverty eradication, sustained economic growth, sustainable development, and achievement of internationally agreed development goals. It would urge countries to direct freed-up resources towards those objectives.

    By other terms of the text, which was approved as orally amended, the Assembly would underline that long-term debt sustainability depended on economic growth, mobilization of domestic resources and debtor-country export prospects, an enabling environment conducive to development, progress in following sound macroeconomic policies, transparent and effective regulatory frameworks, and success in overcoming structural development problems.

    The Assembly would, by further terms, call on heavily indebted poor countries to improve their domestic policies and economic management through poverty reduction strategies, and to create a domestic environment conducive to private-sector development, economic growth and poverty reduction, including a stable macroeconomic framework, transparent and accountable systems of public finance, a sound business climate and a predictable investment climate.

    Further by the text, the Assembly would emphasize that country-specific circumstances and the impact of external shocks should be considered in debt sustainability analyses, underscore that no single indicator should be used to make definitive judgements about debt sustainability, and invite the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank to consider changes caused by natural disasters, conflicts, changes in global growth prospects, or in the terms of trade and other such events.

    Also by the text, the Assembly would emphasize that the key element of the Gleneagles proposal by the Group of Eight, to cancel 100 per cent of debt owed by heavily indebted poor countries to the International Monetary Fund, the International Development Association and the African Development Fund, is that debt relief will be fully financed by donors to ensure that the financing capacity of international financial institutions is not reduced. It would further stress the importance of promoting responsible borrowing and lending, and the need to help heavily indebted poor countries manage their borrowing and avoid a build-up of unsustainable debt, including through grants.

    By other terms, the Assembly would emphasize that the Evian approach of the Paris Club, decided upon by creditors in October 2003, deals with the bilateral debt of non-heavily indebted poor countries and low- and middle-income countries, considering not only financing gaps but also the medium-term debt sustainability of these countries. Further by the draft, it would stress the need to resolve the debt problems of low- and middle-income developing countries with unsustainable debt burdens that were ineligible for assistance under the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries Initiative, and stress that this should not detract from official development assistance (ODA) resources, while maintaining the financial integrity of multilateral financial institutions.

    Addressing that draft resolution, Venezuela's representative said that while his country had joined the consensus, it opposed the reference in its preambular paragraphs to the 2005 World Summit Outcome Document. The same explanation applied to the text on human resources development.

    The draft resolution on human resources development (document A/C.2/60/L.49), would have the Assembly urge the adoption of cross-sectoral approaches to human resources development, combining economic growth, poverty eradication, provision of basic social services, sustainable livelihoods, empowerment of women, involvement of young people, the needs of vulnerable groups of society and local indigenous communities, political freedom, popular participation, and respect for human rights, justice and equity.

    By other terms, the Assembly would call for the adoption of policies to facilitate investment on infrastructure and capacity development, particularly in education, health, and science and technology, and further encourage Governments to manage educational resources transparently. The Assembly would also call for enhanced cooperation among all development partners, and for steps to integrate gender perspectives into human resources development strategies. It would also emphasize the need to ensure women's participation in formulating and implementing such policies, strategies and actions.

    Also by that text, the Assembly would encourage the use of information and communication technology (ICT) in education, training, knowledge sharing, recruitment, and job creation; stress the importance of implementing the Tunis Commitment and Tunis Agenda for the Information Society, adopted during the second phase of the World Summit on the Information Society in Tunis last month; and call on the international community to support developing countries in that regard.

    By other terms, the Assembly would call on United Nations bodies to support the building of science and technology capacities compatible with local needs, resources, culture and practices. It would further call on the international community to support developing-country efforts to address the adverse effects on human resources of HIV/AIDS, malaria, tuberculosis and other infectious diseases.

    By the third draft, on the United Nations System Staff College in Turin, Italy, (document A/C.2/60/L.50), the Assembly would invite the international community to strengthen its support to the College through voluntary contributions, so as to enable it to consolidate its distinctive contribution to fostering a cohesive management culture across the United Nations system that would be responsive to the requirements of Member States.

    Further by the text, the Assembly would encourage the Staff College to provide strategic leadership in order to increase operational effectiveness, promote inter-agency collaboration and strengthen management culture, including the development of new systems of performance management, flexible and collaborative work structures, and cost-effective service delivery to clients and beneficiaries. By other terms, it would call on relevant United Nations bodies, including the United Nations University, the United Nations Institute for Training and Research and the Staff College, to collaborate closely to those ends.

    Also by the draft, the Assembly would call on all organizations of the United Nations system to make full and effective use of the Staff College's facilities. It would also decide that article IV, paragraph 5, of the Statute of the Staff College should be amended so that biennial reports on College activities were submitted to the Economic and Social Council rather than to the General Assembly.

    Following its approval of those three texts, the Committee held a panel discussion on "The United Nations system's role in supporting country-level development strategies, including national poverty reduction strategies, in the follow-up to the 2005 World Summit".

    Addressing that theme, speakers noted that the United Nations Development Group was currently preparing a three-year action plan for achieving the Millennium Development Goals, which should be available in 2006. The plan focused on creating a financial framework for reaching excluded populations and closing service gaps, ensuring progress sustainability, and managing developmental risks.

    Other participants observed that United Nations country teams could help focus attention on cross-sectoral development issues, including gender and exclusion; the need to extend the Goals to every village; applying international standards to development strategies; and linking field experience with national policies. A representative of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) said that body was aligning country-team work with national processes, ensuring that population and development, as well as gender and reproductive health, were adequately addressed in development efforts. A representative of the International Labour Organization (ILO) said that body was working through country-level frameworks for more coherent and integrated approaches to employment rights, and promoting social dialogue and social protection within nations.

    Speakers also stressed that the United Nations could act as a policy clearinghouse for Member States, emphasizing that success stories in one country inspired policy adoption in others. Although a single development strategy was impractical in tackling unique national problems, common root causes of fragility could still be identified, including institutional weaknesses in enforcing the rule of law. There was also a need to make better use of public expenditure in achieving the Millennium Goals, especially in middle-income countries, which could benefit from dialogue on better use of policy space.

    Panellists in the discussion were Turhan Saleh, Director of the Millennium Development Goals Unit, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP); Richard Morgan, Deputy Director of Strategic Planning and Programme Guidance at the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF); Rogelio Fernandez Castilla, Director of UNFPA's Technical Support Division; and Azita Berar-Awad, Director of the National Policy Group in the ILO's Policy Integration Department.

    The Second Committee will meet again at 3 p.m. on Friday, 9 November.

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