Doha outcome a very significant achievement, says G77

For the developing-country Group of 77 - which was established at UNCTAD's first session in 1964 - the outcome of the Doha conference was of vital importance. With its expanded current membership of over 130 states from its initial 77, its goal of promoting the collective economic interests of the South is inextricably bound up with a strong mandate for UNCTAD.

WHAT was achieved at UNCTAD XIII has been very significant, said the G77 and China at the closing plenary of the Committee of the Whole at the UNCTAD conference on 26 April.

The European Union welcomed the Doha mandate, which it said gave UNCTAD a very solid mandate for the next four years. The JUSSCANNZ group said UNCTAD XIII had a positive conclusion and all had shown their commitment.

The non-governmental organisations (NGOs), in a statement, said they were concerned that some countries tried to circumscribe the work of UNCTAD on the financial crisis, but the NGOs interpreted the outcome to mean that UNCTAD can address the root causes of the crisis in order to avoid future crises.

Reaffirming the Accra Accord

'For the G77 and China, the most important issue has been reaffirming and building upon the Accra Accord,' said Ambassador Pisanu Chanvitan of Thailand, who coordinated the group's preparatory committee for UNCTAD XIII.

The group was thus very pleased that the Doha outcome document contains this point, he said. 'UNCTAD now has a clear roadmap for its work in the next four years.'

The G77 and China coordinator also said that the Doha outcome reiterated the role of UNCTAD as the UN focal point for the integrated treatment of trade and development, and interrelated issues in the areas of finance, technology, investment and sustainable development.

This need for an integrated approach is even more valid and relevant in the world today which is facing various problems and crises, including the crises in finance and the environment, which has effects on trade and overall development, he said.

'Therefore, we consider it important for UNCTAD to play an even more important role through its three pillars [viz., research and analysis, consensus-building and technical cooperation] in providing a holistic and interrelated approach to addressing global issues and problems in the years to come. We in Doha have contributed to making this possible by reiterating the role of UNCTAD as the focal point for this.'

Ambassador Chanvitan thanked all the G77's partners for their understanding and their cooperation in successfully negotiating these two most important issues (referring to paragraphs 16 and 17) in the outcome document and all the other issues as well.

He added: 'The G77 and China believes that although the negotiations were quite tough at times, the shared understanding that we arrived at has laid the goodwill and foundation for our mutual cooperation. We definitely look forward to a renewed and higher spirit of cooperation in the various meetings and fora in UNCTAD in the years ahead.'

The European Union (with a European Commission representative speaking) said that the EU welcomed the results of the conference and the Doha mandate. 'The Doha mandate gives UNCTAD a very solid mandate, it is balanced and ambitious,' he said. He added that all the member states can feel comfortable working with this mandate in the next four years.

He said that the EU showed its commitment to UNCTAD during the process. Its three pillars are highly important and very much appreciated. The EU always wanted an outcome in Doha and UNCTAD can do its work within its mandate.

He added that the results in Doha show that very important work is given for UNCTAD in the next four years. UNCTAD should remain the focal point for trade and development and other related issues. The EU wants to see UNCTAD deliver results and enhance synergies and complementarities with other organisations.

He said that in these difficult times all organisations are urged to work with available resources. 'We want to strengthen UNCTAD and its impact. Its work is fundamental not only for developing countries but for us all. The EU is satisfied with the outcome and the outcome reflects all members' interest.'

The JUSSCANNZ group (which includes the US, Japan, Canada, Switzerland, Norway, Australia and New Zealand), represented by the Swiss ambassador based in Geneva, said there was a positive conclusion. All showed commitment, no one gave up and difficulties were overcome.

He said that the results of this conference, which JUSSCANNZ welcomed, were of utmost significance because, firstly, the multilateral community had registered a success, secondly, the programme of work to focus on activities had been specified, and thirdly, there were valuable side-events that gave UNCTAD a profile. He added that the outcome gave a four-year direction to UNCTAD and everyone benefits when UNCTAD does good work.

Zimbabwe, speaking on behalf of the African group, praised the Chairman for remaining calm and focused when the road to Doha was strewn with challenges.

Iran, for the Asian group, said the outcome showed commitment by all to the global agenda. It was pleased that the text reaffirmed the Accra Accord and paved the way to strengthen UNCTAD.

El Salvador, for GRULAC (the Latin America and Caribbean group), said it was recognised in the conference that UNCTAD has a key role to play regarding the financial crisis.

Nepal, for the LDC group, said the balanced document reinforced its conviction that the multilateral approach is the best and that UNCTAD is more relevant than ever.

China said that there had been doubts as to whether an outcome document could be produced, but the partnership of all parties led to a success.

Support for UNCTAD

The NGOs, represented by Nathan Irumba of SEATINI (Southern and Eastern African Trade Information and Negotiations Institute), said that the NGO community had expressed its concerns at attempts by some countries to circumscribe the work of UNCTAD especially on the financial crisis as they were not keen for UNCTAD to do work on this.

However, the final outcome gives support to UNCTAD to work on the crisis and its impacts. Civil society will hold UNCTAD and its members accountable to this mandate. It was crucial that the Accra Accord was reaffirmed. Civil society was amazed that this became a point of debate but it was happy that the conference ended with this affirmation.

Civil society wants UNCTAD to address the root causes of the crisis, and even though this point that was proposed was not mentioned in the outcome document, 'we interpret that UNCTAD will address the root causes, as there is a need to avoid more crises'.

'In future, don't circumscribe the work of UNCTAD and take on the interpretation that we have given here,' concluded the NGO statement.

Ambassador M Maruping, the President of the Committee of the Whole who was much praised by all speakers, expressed his gratitude to the Friends of the Chair (ambassadors he had appointed to assist him), the Group Liaison Unit of UNCTAD, the secretariat staff, and all member states that had all made it possible for the outcome document to be agreed to. - TWN                                                                                

This article is reproduced from the South-North Development Monitor (SUNS, No. 7359, 27 April 2012), which is published by the Third World Network.

*Third World Resurgence No. 260, April 2012, pp 20-21