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MINISTERIAL DECLARATION OF THE LEAST DEVELOPED COUNTRIES (LDCs) PDF Print E-mail
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Monday, 26 September 2011 17:37

Exclusive: NEW YORK- We, the Ministers and Heads of Delegation of the least developed countries, having met in New York on 26 September 2011 to provide strategic guidance for the full, effective and timely implementation of the Istanbul Declaration and Programme of Action for the Least Developed Countries for the Decade 2011-2020, Agreed ad ref

Expressing our satisfaction over the successful conclusion of the Fourth United Nations Conference on the Least Developed Countries held in Istanbul, Turkry from 9-13 May 2011, Agreed ad ref

Recalling the Istanbul Declaration and Programme of Action for the Least Developed Countries for the decade 2011-2020 adopted at the Fourth United Nations Conference on the Least Developed Countries and endorsed by the General Assembly resolution 65/280 of 17 June 2011 which calls upon all the relevant stakeholders to commit to implementing the Programme of Action, Agreed ad ref

Reaffirming the overarching goal of the Istanbul Programme of Action to overcome the structural challenges faced by the least developed countries in order to eradicate poverty, achieve internationally agreed development goals, including MDGs and enable graduation of half the number of countries from the least developed country category, Agreed ad ref

Recalling Economic and Social Council resolution 2011/9 of 22 July 2011 on the implementation of the Programme of Action for the Least Developed Countries for the Decade 2011-2020, Agreed ad ref

Recalling also the political declaration of the High-level Meeting of the General Assembly on the prevention and control of non-communicable diseases held in New York from 19–20 September 2011, Agreed ad ref

Recalling further the outcome of the High-level Meeting of the General Assembly on addressing desertification, land degradation and drought in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication held on 20 September 2011, Agreed ad ref

Welcoming the report of the Secretary-General on the Outcome of the Fourth United Nations Conference on the Least Developed Countries for the Decade 2011-2020, Agreed ad ref

Adopt the following Declaration:

1.    We express our profound gratitude to the Government and the people of the Republic of Turkey for having successfully hosted the Fourth United Nations Conference on the Least Developed Countries in Istanbul from 9 to 13 May 2011 and for all necessary support provided for  the substantive as well as organizational aspects of the preparations of the Conference; Agreed ad ref

2.    We emphasize the imperative need for strengthening global partnership for  development  towards meeting the the overarching goal of the Istanbul Programme of Action to overcome the structural challenges faced by the least developed countries in order to eradicate poverty, achieve internationally agreed development goals and enable graduation of half the number of countries from the least developed country category; Agreed ad ref

3.    We reiterate our firm commitment to implementing the Istanbul Programme of Action, including by integrating its provisions into our national policies and development framework and conducting regular reviews with the full involvement of all key stakeholders. We, in cooperation with the United Nations Country Teams and other relevant stakeholders, will also broaden the existing country review mechanisms, including those for the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals, and the implementation of Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers, Common Country Assessments and United Nations Development Assistance Frameworks, and the existing consultative mechanisms to cover the review of the Istanbul Programme of Action; Agreed ad ref

4.     We emphasize that the main thrust of the Istanbul Programme of Action is to build a critical mass of viable and competitive productive capacity in agriculture, manufacturing and services; diversification; infrastructure development, enhanced investment and structural transformation in the least developed countries. We call upon the development partners to fulfil their existing commitments at the earliest in a predictable manner and  provide additional financial and technical support to the least developed countries to develop productive capacities across-the-board in line with the least developed countries priorities; Agreed ad ref

5.    We urge the  development partners and all other relevant stakeholders to help ensure access to, the development, acquisition, transfer and diffusion of technologies, particularly environmentally sound technologies and corresponding know-how to the least developed countries; and, in this context, we underline the increased need for technical and financial assistance to the least developed countries for strengthening their national innovation capacity, inter alia, through Research and Development (R&D); Agreed ad ref

6.    We  call for the early implementation of the decision taken in the Istanbul Programme of Action to undertake on a priority basis by 2013 a joint gap and capacity analysis with the aim of establishing a Technology Bank and Science, Technology and Information (STI) supporting mechanism, dedicated to least developed countries; Agreed ad ref

7.    We call upon the development partners to assist the least developed countries in moving up the value chain in processing and export of agricultural products. We call for the establishment of a system of stockholding, among others, in dealing with humanitarian food emergencies or as a means to mitigate price volatility as agreed upon in the Istanbul Programme of Action; Agreed ad ref

8.    We welcome the initiatives taken by some countries in providing duty-free and quota-free (DFQF) market access to all products from all the least developed countries. However, we recognize that the least developed countries have not been able to meaningfully benefit from the global trading system due to restrictive market entry conditions and supply-side constraints. We note priorities of LDCs captured in recent LDC decisions in particular Dar Es Salaam Declaration. In this regard, we call upon the Member States to :

a.    Realize timely implementation of duty-free quota-free market access, on a lasting basis, for all least developed countries consistent with the Hong Kong Ministerial Declaration adopted by the World Trade Organization in 2005; Resist protectionist tendencies and rectify trade-distorting measures, including in agriculture, that are inconsistent with multilateral obligations;

b.    Address non-tariff measures and eliminate arbitrary or unjustified non-tariff barriers;

c.    Facilitate and accelerate negotiations with acceding least developed countries based on the accession guidelines adopted by the World Trade Organization General Council in December 2002.

d.    Define and agree on details of monitoring procedure for DFQF market access and the rules of origin;

e.    Conclude early the Doha Round of trade negotiations with an ambitious, comprehensive, balanced, equitable and development-oriented outcome; In case of delay in the conclusion of the DDR, agree on an “early harvest package” incorporating the issues of LDCs including enhanced market access, agriculture and fisheries, an outcome on cotton and services by 2011; Agreed ad ref

9.    We note with concern that the efforts made by the least developed countries towards achieving the MDGs could not make substantial progress mainly due to unmet official development assistance (ODA) commitments, limited productive capacity, growing debt burden, unfavourable market access conditions, and inadequate foreign direct investment (FDI) inflows, among others. We call upon the development partners to enhance their support to  the least developed countries to enable them  achieve the Millennium Development Goals by 2015 and making further significant progress by 2020; Agreed ad ref

10.    We are deeply concerned that the least developed countries continue to be vulnerable to a variety of shocks, including food, fuel, financial and economic crises, and natural disasters. We, therefore, underline the need for building necessary resilience of the least developed countries to withstand various external and internal shocks and to mitigate their adverse effects. In this regard, we call upon the development partners to provide financial and technical support for  the least developed countries’ risk mitigation strategies, such as national facilities for crisis mitigation and resilience, to strengthen their capacity to respond to the effects of economic shocks as committed in the Istanbul Programme of Action; Agreed ad ref

11.    We recognize with deep concern that the least developed countries are disproportionately affected by the adverse impacts of climate change. We express grave concern at the lack of progress in the current climate change negotiations and urge all Parties to conclude the negotiations with developed countries taking the lead to cut emission and provide adequate, predictable and additional financial and technological resources to the least developed countries. We call for realization of immediate and direct access for LDCs to fast-start finance for adaptation agreed at the UNFCCC and green technology at affordable cost. We also call for clarity on finance for the period between 2012 and 2020, and ask for the full and timely operationalization of the Green Climate Fund and the promotion and facilitation of clean development mechanism projects in the least developed countries and addressing the needs of people displaced as a result of extreme weather events. We stress that allocation of adaptation and mitigation funds should be additional to ODA commitments and should be fair, equitable and proportionate to the impact of climate change; Agreed ad ref

12.     We attach utmost importance to the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) to be held in Brazil on 4-6 June 2012. We call upon the international community to adequately address  the special challenges and priorities and safeguard the interest of  the least developed countries in the context of the three pillars of sustainable development, namely economic development, social development and environmental sustainability in the outcome document of the Conference. Agreed ad ref

13.    we call upon the international community to mainstream the priority agenda of  the least developed countries in the debates and outcomes of the major UN Conferences and Summits in the areas of economic, social and related fields; Agreed ad ref

14.    We reiterate our call to the Secretary-General to include the issues of concern to the least developed countries in all relevant reports in the economic, social, environmental and related fields in order to ensure follow-up of their development in the broader context of the world economy and contribute to preventing their marginalization while promoting their further integration into the world economy; Agreed ad ref

15.     We call upon development partners to respond to trade-capacity needs of the least developed countries by significantly increasing the share of assistance through Aid for Trade and support for the Enhanced Integrated Framework and strengthening their capacity to access available resources, in support of the needs and demands of least developed countries expressed through their national development strategies; Agreed ad ref

16.    We are deeply concerned that the official development assistance to   the least developed countries is far below the target of 0.15-0.20 percent as committed in the Brussels Programme of Action and subsequently reiterated in the Monterrey Consensus and the Istanbul Programme of Action. We renew our call to the OECD countries to fulfil their ODA commitments to the least developed countries in a timely and transparent manner and further increase the resources to the least developed countries while reviewing their ODA commitments in 2015. We underline that the current global economic scenario should not be used as a pretext to slacken off the process of delivery of commitments taking into account that the LDCs are the most affected group of countries by the impacts of ongoing economic and financial crises. Allocation of global ODA resources should also take into account the structural handicaps and constraints which are unique to the least developed countries. We also call upon development partners to ensure a right balance in the allocation of ODA among various sectors with particular focus on productive sectors, including infrastructure and agriculture; Agreed ad ref

17.    We also stress the need for enhancing the quality of aid including through transparency, accountability, long-term predictability and untying of aid for the least developed countries. We further emphasize that ODA should be channelled through national budgetary system and should be aligned with national priorities based on the principle of national ownership and leadership in the development process; We look forward to the Fourth High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness to be held in Busan, Korea  from 29 November to 1 December 2011 and call for a review of the Aid Effectiveness Agenda to particularly address the quality and quantity of aid in a timely manner; Agreed ad ref

18.    We note with concern that the least developed countries have been facing a huge shortage of finance to meet their development needs. We underline the importance of innovative sources of financing which should be additional, substantial, and predictable and disbursed in a manner that respects the priorities and special needs of the least developed countries and not unduly burden them; Agreed ad ref

19.     We express our deep concern that in spite of the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries Initiative and the Multilateral Debt Relief Initiative, many least developed countries still struggle with a high debt burden. We stress the need to undertake effective measures, particularly through full cancellation of multilateral and bilateral debts owed by all the least developed countries to creditors, both public and private. We also underscore the need for appropriate debt workouts and debt standstill for  the least developed countries, where needed; Agreed ad ref

20.    We recognize that foreign direct investment can play an important and catalytic role in augmenting domestic savings, employment generation, technology transfer and entrepreneurship development. We commit ourselves to undertake a stable economic, legal and institutional framework in order to attract foreign direct investment and strongly call upon the development partners to establish an investment promotion regime in  the least developed countries including through  such provisions  as insurance, guarantees and preferential financing programmes and private enterprise funds for investment in least developed countries as agreed upon in the Istanbul Programme of Action; Agreed ad ref

21.    We recognize the importance of remittances to the least developed countries as significant private financial resources. We underline the need for reducing the transaction cost of remittance flows and fostering the development impact of remittances. We will work towards simplifying migration procedures to reduce the cost of outward migration and call upon the development partners to implement the commitments made in the IPoA, particularly to resist unfair and discriminatory treatment of migrant workers, the imposition of unreasonable restrictions on labour migration, developing a system of short-term migration, removing unnecessary restrictions on outward remittances, and supporting the lowering of transaction costs. We welcome the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding between the Government of Benin and the Global Coordination Bureau of the least developed countries, held on 12 May 2011 during the Fourth United Nations Conference on the Least Developed Countries, on the establishment of the International Migrant Remittances Observatory; Agreed ad ref

22.     We reiterate our commitment to strengthen good governance, the rule of law, human rights, gender equality and empowerment of women and girls, democratic participation, including by enhancing the role of parliaments and to combat corruption; Agreed ad ref

23.     We call upon the international community to strengthen the coordination and coherence among the United Nations system and all other multilateral financial, trade and development institutions to support economic growth, poverty eradication and sustainable development in the least developed countries; Agreed ad ref

24.    We invite the Economic and Social Council to include the review of the implementation of the Istanbul Programme of Action in its annual ministerial reviews and also the Development Cooperation Forum to keep reviewing trends in international development cooperation, as well as policy coherence for development, particularly for the least developed countries;  Agreed ad ref

25.    In this regard, we welcome the theme of ECOSOC Annual Ministerial Review for 2012 on promoting productive capacity, employment, and decent work to eradicate poverty in the context of inclusive, sustainable and equitable economic growth at all levels for achieving the MDGs, which is the main focus of the Istanbul Programme Action and look forward to a substantive discussion. We invite the ECOSOC to undertake a comprehensive review of the implementation of the Istanbul Programme of Action in its annual ministerial review in 2015 with a view to identifying lessons learned and best practices as well as gaps and shortcomings in the implementation and outlining a way forward on how to overcome them by all stakeholders; Agreed ad ref

26.    We note with concern that the least developed countries are seriously under-represented and have not been given their due share in terms of voice and participation in the decision making process of the BWIs. The voting system and accountability structure of the BWIs must undergo fundamental reform with a view to ensuring effective voice and participation of the least developed countries in their decision making processes. We reiterate our call for the recognition of  the least developed countries as a specific category by the Bretton Woods Institutions based on the United Nations Vulnerability Index for the sake of coordination and coherence of the international development cooperation;   Agreed ad ref

27.    We recognize that South-South and triangular cooperation has emerged and expanded significantly as a vital force in the world economic landscape. We stress that the potentials of South–South and triangular cooperation for trade, investment, economic and technological cooperation should be fully harnessed as a real complement to, and not a substitute for, North–South cooperation. The Global System of Trade Preferences among developing countries (GSTP) needs to be further strengthened. We commend increasing volume of development assistance and financial flows, technology transfer, and duty-free, quota-free market access being provided by countries of the South to the least developed countries. We welcome such initiatives and call for other members in the South to do the same; Agreed ad ref

28.    We underline that the least developed countries must enjoy full flexibility and policy space in determining their own macroeconomic policies. Such flexibility should enable them to effectively manage and regulate their domestic economic policy in light of their national development strategies. We call upon the development partners that national efforts of the least developed countries should be complemented by supportive global programmes, measures and policies aimed at expanding the development opportunities of the least developed countries, while taking into account national conditions and ensuring respect for national ownership strategies and sovereignty; Agreed ad ref

29.     We recognize that smooth transition of countries graduating from least developed country status is vital to ensure that these countries are eased onto a sustainable development path without any disruption to their development plans, programmes and projects. We call upon the development and trading partners to continue to support the implementation of the transition strategy and avoid any abrupt reductions in financial and technical assistance and should extend trade preferences to the graduated country, as an incentive package for countries to graduate. We request the General Assembly to take a decision at its 66th Session on the establishment of an ad hoc working group to further study and strengthen the smooth transition process; Agreed ad ref

30.    We strongly call upon  development partners and all other relevant actors to implement the Istanbul Programme of Action in a timely manner by integrating it into their respective national cooperation policy frameworks, programmes and activities, to ensure enhanced, predictable and targeted support to the least developed countries, as set out in the Istanbul Programme of Action, and the delivery of their commitments, and to consider appropriate measures to overcome shortfalls or shortcomings, if any; Agreed ad ref

31.    We invite the United Nations System, including the OHRLLS, DESA, UNCTAD, UN Funds and Programmes, Specialized Agencies, Functional Commissions and Regional Commissions as well as  other multilateral organizations, including the Bretton Woods institutions and international and regional financial institutions, to contribute to the implementation of the Istanbul Programme of Action and to integrate it into their programmes of work and to participate fully in its review at the national, sub-regional, regional and global levels. We also invite the United Nations Development Group to integrate the implementation of the Istanbul Programme of Action into it’s work plans; Agreed ad ref

32.    We welcome with appreciation the decisions taken by the Executive Boards of the United Nations Development Programme, the United Nations Population Fund, the United Nations Office for Project Services, the United Nations Children’s Fund and the UN-Women at their 2011 annual sessions to integrate the Istanbul Programme of Action within their respective programmes of work. We invite others, who have not yet done so, to do the same; Agreed ad ref

33.     We stress the need for vigorously pursuing implementation efforts in a coordinated and coherent manner engaging all 5 tracks that were engaged in the preparatory process, namely inter-governmental track, parliamentary track, CSO track, private sector track and UN coordination track. We also stress on the urgent need for effective and efficient follow-up and monitoring of the review and implementation of the Istanbul Programme of Action at the national, regional and global levels. We welcome the development of a roadmap by the Office of the High Representative for least developed countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States for the implementation of the Istanbul Programme of Action for the least developed countries for the Decade 2011-2020, which was endorsed at the Inter-Agency Consultative Group Meeting held on 28 June 2011. We call upon all actors as identified in the roadmap to begin the implementation of the new Programme of Action in a coordinated, coherent and effective manner without any further delay; Agreed ad ref

34.    We call upon the G-20 countries, particularly its Development Working Group to accord special priority to the challenges faced by the least developed countries in its Multi-Year Action Plan. We welcome the establishment of the High-Level Panel for Infrastructure Investment (HLP) by the G-20 countries and urge them to mobilize support for scaling up infrastructure financing for least developed countries. We also welcome the G-20 initiative to address excessive price volatility in food and agricultural markets, and its impact on food security. We call upon them to ensure voice and participation of LDCs in all their activities;  Agreed ad ref

35.    We call upon the G-8 countries to give due consideration to  LDC agenda and take appropriate measures to ensure that concerns of LDCs are duly taken into account in their decisions;  Agreed ad ref

36.    We appreciate those countries that have made voluntary contributions to the Trust Fund which have facilitated the participation of the least developed countries delegates to Fourth UN Conference on the least developed countries including its preparatory process. We invite Governments, intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations, major groups and other donors to contribute to the Trust Fund for undertaking implementation, follow-up and monitoring of Istanbul Programme of Action and for ensuring the participation of two representatives from each least developed country at the annual review of the Istanbul Programme of Action taking place in July every year during the Substantive Session of ECOSOC; Agreed ad ref

37.    We stress the importance of the extended mandate of UN-OHRLLS such as (i) effective follow-up and monitoring of the implementation of the Programme of Action, (ii) the full mobilization and coordination of all parts of the United Nations system to facilitating the coordinated implementation of and coherence in the follow-up and monitoring of the Programme of Action at the country, regional and global levels, (iii) to assist in mobilizing international support and resources for the implementation of the Programme of Action and awareness raising and advocacy works in favour of least developed countries in partnership with the relevant part of the United Nations, as well as with parliaments, civil society, the media, academia and foundations, and (iv) to provide appropriate support to group consultations of the least developed countries as well as broader discussions and consultations on the least developed countries related matters. In view of the above, the UN-OHRLLS should be equipped with additional resources commensurate with its increased mandate given by the Istanbul Programme of Action and endorsed by the General Assembly by its resolution 65/171 dated 17 June 2011. In this regard, we invite the General Assembly to review the Programme Budget Implications (PBI) at its 66th Session on the allocation of additional resources to the OHRLLS in relation to the implementation of the Istanbul Programme of Action;  Agreed ad ref

38.    We resolve to uphold our common aspiration of ensuring sustained economic growth and sustainable development in all least developed countries leading to our ultimate goal of graduation from the least developed country category. We will continue to maintain our solidarity and unity and pursue common position on issues related to our interest in various multilateral fora. Agreed ad ref

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