UN remains committed to helping least developed countries, Annan says

UN remains committed to helping least developed countries, Annan says

The United Nations family remains strongly committed to helping the least developed countries (LDCs) overcome the formidable obstacles they face, Secretary-General Kofi Annan said today to a meeting of government officials from the world's poorest nations.

"Special efforts are being made throughout the UN system, particularly in follow-up to UN conferences, to ensure that the needs and concerns of LDCs are a central part of decision-making," the Secretary-General said in a message to the meeting, which is being held in Cotonou, Benin.

South-South cooperation, meanwhile, provides still-untapped potential particularly in agriculture, energy and information technologies, the Secretary-General said in his message, which was delivered by Anwarul Karim Chowdhury, his High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States.

"The New Partnership for Africa's Development… highlights the importance of governance and capacity-building, likewise offers promise," Mr. Annan added, referring to an initiative put forward by the continent's leaders to combine economic and social development with political reform.

"The challenges faced by LDCs are immense but not insurmountable," Mr. Annan said, voicing hope that all of those nations "and their development partners, as well s civil society, the private sector and all other stakeholders, will forge partnerships that will make the difference between success and stagnation."

Underscoring that theme, Mr. Chowdhury said in his own address to the meeting that the Programme of Action adopted at a meeting on LDCs in Brussels more than a year ago provided a strong global partnership to accelerate sustained economic growth and sustainable development.

He urged the LDCs to integrate the Brussels Programme into their national development plans, and to establish a focal point to monitor country-level implementation and to work closely with the UN.

"I would like to urge the international community to make a difference in the lives of the 600 million people living in 49 least developed countries," he said, calling for international solidarity to realize the goals set in Brussels.