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Despite progress, world’s poorest countries still being marginalized – UN envoy

Despite progress, world’s poorest countries still being marginalized – UN envoy

Despite signs that the G8 industrial powers and other donors were finally beginning to acknowledge the plight of world’s least developed nations, a senior United Nations envoy has warned that the poorest of the poor are still being marginalized and needed more assistance and international attention than ever before.

“While the least developed countries are being marginalized by the international community, it is heartening that their special needs are gradually being noticed,” Under-Secretary-General Anwarul K. Chowdhury said yesterday, referring to the recent G8 meeting of the world’s most industrialized nations, which adopted a communiqué on trade recognizing the least developed countries (LDCs) and their specific problems.

“Their statement reiterated their commitment to the objective of ‘duty-free and quota-free market access for products originating from LDCs,’” said Mr. Chowdhury, who is also the UN High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States.

Addressing a one-day Workshop at UN Headquarters in New York of National Focal Points from the 50 LDCs on the 2001 Brussels Programme of Action for the Least Developed Countries, he stressed that the world needed to focus on the LDCs “simply because this most vulnerable group of countries have the least capacity to face the challenges of a globalized world.”

Mr. Chowdhury underscored the encouraging developments and a positive step by donor countries in honouring their commitments by increasing the total official development assistance flow to the LDCs to $23.5 billion – a 31 per cent increase in nominal terms in 2003 as compared to the previous year. “This represented the highest one year increase of official development assistance (ODA) to the LDCs.”

Referring to the commitment made by donor countries in 2001 at the Third United Nations Conference on Least Developed Countries in Brussels, he called on the international community “to expeditiously meet the target of 0.20 per cent of gross national product (GNP) as ODA to the least developed countries.”

Concluding the workshop, Mr. Chowdhury called on the LDCs to conduct inclusive, broad-based dialogue with a range of partners, particularly in civil society and the private sector.