OPENING STATEMENT BY AMBASSADOR MASOOD KHAN, PERMANENT REPRESENTATIVE OF THE ISLAMIC REPUBLIC OF PAKISTAN TO THE UNITED NATIONS AND CHAIRMAN OF THE GROUP OF 77 AT THE MEETING OF THE GROUP OF 77 WITH THE HIGH-LEVEL PANEL ON SYSTEM WIDE COHERENCE (Palais des Nations, Geneva, Friday, 2 June 2006)
Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen.
I thank you for coming to this special meeting of the Group of 77 and China.
We are especially grateful to His Excellency Mr. Jens Stoltenberg, Prime Minister of Norway and Co-Chair of the High Level Panel on Coherence, for being with us this afternoon. We also welcome Ms. Hina Rabbani Khar, Ms Josette Shiner, Ms. Ruth Jacoby, Mr. Kemal Dervis and Mr. Mohamed El-Ashry for joining us on the podium.
Since March this year, the Group of 77 and China in Geneva have followed the calendar of the Panel from a distance, indirectly, but with deep interest. We are not privy to the broad thrust of the Panel’s thinking, because understandably your ongoing deliberations and consultations are “work in progress”. It is in this context that your presence here, Mr. Prime Minister, as well as of other Panel members or their representatives is important. It is an opportunity for the Panel to share their ideas with us, to remove misgivings, to assuage fears, and to address concerns. It is also an opportunity for the Geneva-based Ambassadors of the G-77 and China to convey their views to the Panel.
Only three days ago, on May 29, at Putrajaya, a Special Ministerial Meeting of the Group of 77 and China adopted a statement on UN reform. Within the parameters of that statement, I would briefly touch on some of the issues from the perspective of Geneva.
We would like to reiterate that System-wide Coherence process should aim at strengthening multilateralism and promote equity and development including development cooperation in the UN system. The proven advantages of the UN system in the area of development and its holistic approach stem from its universality and legitimacy. The 2005 Summit directed us to mainstream development. That is coherence in essence. It should be so in practice, too.
Being home to a number of UN bodies and specialized agencies, Geneva has a significant role in promoting System-wide Coherence. Development is the cross-cutting theme in the work of UNCTAD and a number of other Geneva-based international organizations including WTO, WHO, WIPO, IOM, ITU, and ILO.
The UN reform should not attempt to collapse member-driven organizations or amalgamate them artificially. Most of the UN organizations or even agencies are state-centric with governments acting as primary decision-makers. They work with other stakeholders, but the space for the intergovernmental decision-making ought to be respected. Reform should not be donor-driven. It must be based on strong and credible feedback from the developing world, where the challenge of development remains daunting.
It may also be borne in mind that monolithic structures would lead to more, not less, bureaucracy. There should be room for diversity and autonomy. The High-level Panel should develop a broad vision and not delve into technical minutiae.
The exercise of System-wide Coherence should not erode the mandate, resources and activities of the organizations and units in the UN system.
UNCTAD has only recently negotiated a difficult transition as a result of the Sao Paulo Consensus, which was revalidated multilateralism, saved the organization from near extinction, and given it an assertive, cohesive persona. Furthermore, UNCTAD enjoys the trust and confidence of developing countries, the principal objects of UN’s operational activities. The G-77 and China and UNCTAD have, in fact, a symbiotic relationship. Both were born at the same time.
The two exercises of the review of mandates and system-wide coherence should not dilute, supplant or subsume the mandate of UNCTAD. It should also not be made subservient to a department in the General Secretariat. UNCTAD’s organizational integrity must be upheld. It has demonstrated its value in promoting integration of developing countries into international economy. Its three pillars – research and analysis, consensus building and technical assistance – must be preserved and strengthened. Research and analysis should feed into the consensus building pillar which in turn should guide technical assistance.
UNCTAD’s work with regard to technical assistance should move in tandem with research; it should not become the organization’s flagship project. We are striving to operationalize new functions mandated by UNCTAD-XI in the areas of policy space, corporate responsibility, and ICT. UNCTAD’s proven competence and utility should continue to be used to develop soft law to, inter-alia, promote rule-making in WTO and other organizations. We believe that UNCTAD’s normative role as a catalyst for multilateral action from a comprehensive development perspective could advance consensus building in other UN forums.
UNCTAD’s mandate is provided on a four yearly basis by ministers. The Sao Paulo Consensus is only two yeas old. It does not as such fall within the purview of the review which is being undertaken for mandates more than five years old. We recommend attention to the existing mandates on coherence. UNCTAD, for instance, was mandated by the Sao Paulo Consensus to promote systemic coherence including through cooperation with other international organizations and follow-up to major UN conferences and summits in the fields of social and economic development.
A number of Geneva based organizations with pronounced development dimensions need attention. Intellectual Property, for instance, is not only dealt with by the WIPO but also in WTO, WHO, UNCTAD and other organizations. It is important to have development oriented coherence so that the whole range of issues in the development agenda including genetic resources, traditional knowledge and folklore, with particular reference to matters pertaining to disclosure of source and country of origin, is mainstreamed into the IP system. Development content of Multilateral Environment Agreements is also important.
Information technology for development is being dealt with in the ITU and UNCTAD. The mandate for strengthening the Commission on Science and Technology for Development to assist system wide follow up of the WSIS outcome must also be respected.
Although IOM is the lead organization on migration, the cross-cutting issue of migration, important to both sending and recipient states, is discussed in UNCTAD as well as in ILO, UNHCR and WTO and the United Nations General Assembly. In preparation for the United Nations General Assembly’s High Level Dialogue on International Migration and Development to be held in September 2006, different options for a coordinating mechanism to enhance coherence on the issue of migration should carefully examined.
The Group of 77 and China in Geneva have been discussing the UN reforms prior to your visit here. Broadly speaking, they are of the view that the on-going reform should: (a) enjoy broader legitimacy; and (b) enhance the synergy between normative, analytical and operational functions of the UN system. In order to have greater credibility, reform should respect core competencies and proven advantages. It should also factor in national ownership and priorities.
Let me conclude by quoting the following extracts from the Sao Paulo Consensus:
“Policy instruments and measures, at the national and international levels, should be adopted, in particular in the areas of trade and financing including through new financial initiatives, to encourage the creation of opportunities for the poor women and men of the world to have access to jobs and to stable and adequate remuneration. This is the sustainable road to reforms, stability and growth.”
“We recognize that improved coherence between national and international efforts and between the international monetary, financial and trading system is fundamental for sound global economic governance.”
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