11 September 2006

Preparatory Meeting Agrees on Draft Political Declaration for High-Level Meeting Reviewing 2001 Action Programme for Least Developed Countries

NEW YORK, 8 September (UN Headquarters) -- Just ahead of the high-level midterm comprehensive global review of the implementation of the Programme of Action for the Least Developed Countries for the Decade 2001-2010, to be held 18 and 19 September, the Preparatory Meeting of Expert today forwarded for adoption by Heads of State and Government a new political declaration.

Without the agreed renewed political commitment to the 2001 Brussels Programme of Action, seen by many as an optimal balance between international assistance and domestic commitment to boosting the development of the world's poorest countries, the Preparatory Meeting's Chairman, Johan L. Løvald (Norway) said this morning, "We would have failed as professionals, but even more seriously, we would have failed the poor in the least developed countries."

The Brussels Programme of Action was agreed at the third United Nations Conference on the Least Development Countries, held in Brussels, Belgium, from 14 to 20 May 2001.  It includes seven specific commitments made by the least developed countries and their development partners in such areas as mobilization of financial resources, improved governance, enhancing the role of trade in development and building human and institutional capacities.

In the text adopted this morning, Heads of State and Government would recommit themselves to meeting the special needs of the least developed countries by making progress towards the goals of poverty eradication, peace and development through the improvement of the quality of lives of people living in those countries and the strengthening of their abilities to build a better future for themselves and develop their countries as committed to in the Programme of Action.

Governments would reaffirm that the Programme of Action constituted a fundamental framework for a strong global partnership and note that, since its adoption, some progress had been registered in its implementation, but they would stress that, given the current trends, many least developed countries were unlikely to achieve the goals and objectives set out in the Programme.

They would acknowledge that more needed to be done to implement the Programme, particularly in the area of poverty eradication, and recognize the importance of achieving the Programme's goals and targets in a timely manner.  In that regard, the Governments would welcome the elaboration of the Cotonou Strategy for the further implementation of the Programme as a least developed countries-led and owned initiative (for more details about that strategy, adopted in Benin in June, see document A/61/117).

The international community first recognized the existence of a category of countries whose distinctness lay, not only in the profound poverty of their people, but also in the weakness of their economic, institutional and human resources, often compounded by geophysical handicaps.  Currently, 50 countries are on the United Nations list.  Those countries have been deemed to be ill-equipped to develop their domestic economies and to ensure an adequate standard of living for their populations.  Their economies are also acutely vulnerable to external shocks or natural disasters.  The group thus constitutes the weakest segment of the world community.  Thus, their economic and social development represents a major challenge for themselves, as well as for their development partners.

Serving as Rapporteur this week during preparations in the working group for the high-level meeting was Raja Nushirwan Zainal Abidin (Malaysia).

The High Representative of the Secretary-General for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States, Anwarul K. Chowdhury, said he hoped that the declaration would boost the efforts of those countries and their development partners in implementing the Brussels Programme.  Appreciation for the consensus adoption of the text was expressed by speakers from Benin, on behalf of the "Group of 77" developing countries and China; Finland, on behalf of the European Union; Canada; and the Russian Federation.

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