Officials at UN-backed meeting urge greater support for world's poorest States

18 March 2004

The President of the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) and other senior officials today urged action to implement plans for tackling poverty in the world's least developed countries (LDCs).

Addressing a press briefing held in conjunction with an ECOSOC preparatory meeting on the issue, that body's President, Marjatta Rasi of Finland, said the Council would hold a ministerial segment in June to discuss progress achieved so far in reaching the targets set in the 2001 Brussels Programme of Action for LDCs.

That plan contains a set of key commitments for implementing the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) - antipoverty targets set by the UN in 2000 - including specific commitments relating to governance, trade, sustainable development and the mobilization of financial resources.

Over the course of yesterday and today, officials had a "very active discussion" of these issues in a series of roundtables which would serve to provide input for the June session, the President said.

Benin's Foreign Minister, Rogatien Biaou, voiced hope that through the implementation of the Brussels Programme of Action it would be possible to make substantial progress towards the objective of reducing the number of people living in extreme poverty and hunger. He called for increases in official development assistance (ODA), foreign direct investment and cooperation among countries of the South.

Anwarul K. Chowdhury, High Representative of the Secretary-General for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States, noted that since 1981, the UN has been convening conferences every decade to address the needs of LDCs, but global attention and action still did not meet the global expectations.

Ambassador Chowdhury emphasized that more must be done for the 50 poorest countries in the world. He asserted that the ministerial declaration to be adopted at the end of ECOSOC's June high-level segment should contain concrete, action-oriented measures highlighting opportunities for the international community.

One of the major ways to mobilize resources was to cancel the debt of the 50 LDCs, he added, stressing that it was too much to expect the poorest countries of the world to continue to pay more for debt servicing than what they were earning from trade. Debt cancellation was a sure and strong message from the international community that they were really concerned with the LDCs, he said.

He also cited estimates that more than $500 million could be generated for LDCs from technical cooperation support received from other developing countries. In addition, foreign remittances, an area that had not been explored in greater detail, provided an opportunity not only for investment but for poverty reduction in LDCs.


Video of the press briefing [21 mins]


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