(Geneva, 3 March 2008)

Mr President,

At the outset, allow me to extend to the Secretary General, His Excellency Mr Ban Ki Moon, a warm welcome to Geneva. Allow me also to thank Dr Supachai Panitchpakdi, Secretary General of UNCTAD, for his presence.

We are most pleased to have the UN Secretary General with us, and to have this opportunity to share with him our views and expectations with respect to UNCTAD and the broader development agenda.

Mr President,

2008 is a key year for development. In a few short weeks, we will convene in Accra, Ghana, for UNCTAD XII. In September, the UN General Assembly in a high level session will convene at the initiative of the UN Secretary General to energize progress towards accomplishment of the Millennium Development Goals, with a focus on Africa. At the end of the year, progress in implementing the Monterrey Consensus will be assessed and reviewed. In addition, we hope that the UN Secretary General’s proposals to strengthen the UN’s development machinery will be positively considered and adopted, thus enabling the UN system to make a deeper impact in accomplishing our development goals.

The cumulative effect of these processes and initiatives should be to galvanise the global community in the spirit of partnership for development, as well as to restore development at the heart of the United Nations. For the G-77 and China in Geneva, this includes ensuring that UNCTAD remains a key pillar of the UN’s development machinery and a strong and leading voice in the global development community including with respect to the accomplishment of the internationally agreed development goals including the MDGs. There can be no luxury of turf wars in the pursuit of development. UNCTAD must therefore play a major role in charting the course towards 2015 and the global event on development to assess progress towards accomplishing the MDGs, which we also expect would examine the broader global agenda itself.

We appreciate the efforts of Dr Supachai to restore the organic link between the secretariat and the Group of 77 and China. We also appreciate the professional and consensual approach that he brings to the secretariat’s relationship with member states. The atmosphere prevailing between member states is also largely positive and it is encouraging that all regions have expressed their commitment to strengthening UNCTAD and to make it a key player in the United Nations system. Our group would not countenance a diminution or redefinition of UNCTAD’s mandates.

Notwithstanding these encouraging signs, the road ahead is full of challenges. Our negotiations towards Accra are marked with conceptual differences which remain to be bridged, and the danger of our process being unduly influenced by events beyond UNCTAD’s walls must be resisted. We must therefore revitalize the spirit of partnership in order to ensure that we remain committed and focused on the central tasks of strengthening UNCTAD. In this, we need the full cooperation of our development partners.

A strong and successful outcome in Accra must be fully supported by developments in New York. We look to the UN Secretary General to support our efforts. We therefore view with keen interest his proposals on those elements which relate to UNCTAD and its future programmes of work. As far as your actions in New York are concerned, the G77 and China in Geneva reiterates its strong belief and commitment to the development pillar of the UN and reaffirm that it should not be compromised in relation to other areas of UN’s work. We are concerned that the pendulum in the UN has swung too much away from economic development to non-economic issues. Without income increases, poverty cannot be eradicated. By coming here to the TDB, whose primary preoccupation is accelerating economic development of developing countries through the routes of trade, investment, finance, and technology, you are signalling to the UN system that the time has come to bring back the balance in favour of our development work. That is why your speech to this TDB comes at a propitious time, and signals a symbolism which goes beyond UNCTAD. Indeed, development itself must become more meaningful by creating jobs to improve lives!

As the principal beneficiaries of development, we urge you to bring back this balance by investing more and substantially in economic development and growth activities which are at the core of UNCTAD’s work in the current biennium as well as in the 2010-2011 budget. We are pleased to note that in response to the General Assembly position on strengthening the development pillar, you have put together a package for providing much needed additional resources to UNCTAD. We do hope that your proposal will enable UNCTAD to fill the critical resource gaps and do justice to its mandate and meet the expectations of its intended beneficiaries. The G77 and China welcomes your leadership in restoring this balance in favour of economic development and we assure you of our full support in the full realization of this development package and the attainment of the expected outcomes.

In this regard, we would like special attention to be drawn to redressing gaps in UNCTAD’s analytical capacity in areas of particular benefit to developing countries, including enhancing their understanding of the evolution of the global economic system, and in the area of policy development. We note with concern that this capacity has been eroded in previous years notwithstanding UNCTAD’s strong mandate to work in these areas.

In addition, we would like to see a strengthening of UNCTAD’s capacity to support economic cooperation among developing countries. UNCTAD’s capacity in this field has not been allowed to flourish in recent years. Today, when developing countries have substantially increased trade, investment and economic exchanges among themselves, there is a compelling logic for restoring UNCTAD’s capacity to support this important substantive area.

Mr President,

We also look to the UN Secretary General to consolidate UNCTAD’s position at the heart of the UN’s development machinery. This would mean ensuring that other entities of the UN system including the regional commissions and the specialized agencies, funds, and programmes, collaborate fully and closely with UNCTAD on matters within its mandate and expertise. UNCTAD must also play a key role in the UN’s work in addressing new and emerging issues. UNCTAD’s intergovernmental machinery should also contribute actively and directly in the current exercise to enhance system-wide coherence on those matters which have an impact on developing countries and UNCTAD’s work.

The Group of 77 and China also looks forward to UNCTAD playing an active and leading role in the Development Cooperation Forum. We expect that the UNCTAD Secretariat be part of the effort to service the substantive needs of the DCF. We also look forward to the Trade and Development Board actively contributing to the work of the DCF in order to provide the Geneva perspective on development issues.

Mr President,

We have every confidence that the UN Secretary General will ensure that our concerns are addressed, and that together we will accomplish our shared goal of strengthening the UN System, including UNCTAD, and of charting the way towards a successful and meaningful global year of development in 2015. While we admit that realising all the MDGs will not be easy, none of us should be found wanting in effort and spirit.

Thank you Mr President.

© The Group of 77