Info Service on WTO and Trade Issues (Jul16/16)
21 July 2016
Third World Network
UNCTAD-14: Will end with Nairobi Azimio and Nairobi Consensus
Published in SUNS #8287 dated 21 July 2016
Nairobi, 20 Jul (Kanaga Raja) -- The 14th session of the UN Conference
on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), at the end of its second day of
work, has agreed on the names of the instruments it will end up with,
but their content is anything but settled, and is an existential battle,
according to several conference sources.
At a media briefing on Wednesday (20 July), Dr Amina Mohamed, the
President of the Conference, speaking on the latest negotiations on
the "draft outcome document" said: "we are doing well,
we are progressing well, we're on track. Delegations are showing flexibility
on many of the issues under discussion. We're hoping to conclude the
negotiations in good time."
Speaking at a media briefing on Tuesday (19 July), Dr Amina Mohamed
had said "We expect to have two major instruments at the end
of the UNCTAD-14 conference: a Political Declaration to be called
the "Nairobi Azimio", and a negotiated text, expected to
be called the "Nairobi Consensus." Both together will be
called the Nairobi Outcome.
At the briefing on Wednesday, the third day of the Conference, she
said the 'Nairobi Azimio' or the Political Declaration, is almost
concluded. "We're doing it on our responsibility as the host
country but we have had input from others as well," she said,
adding that hopefully by tomorrow (Thursday), it will be ready.
"We are now negotiating the consensus document. The negotiations
are ongoing. We're not there yet. We have a lot of areas already agreed.
I think I can safely say that about 60% of the work has been done.
We have 40% of the work that is ongoing right now. There is a lot
of goodwill in the negotiating sessions and so we hope to get this
done hopefully sometime tomorrow," she said.
The second, the negotiated text, is under negotiations at the Committee
of the Whole (COW).
A conference source, speaking on condition of anonymity, said however,
that while the names of the two expected instruments of the Nairobi
Outcome have been sorted out, what appears not quite clear yet is
the state of the negotiated text, and there is some worry that it
could end up being diluted. The negotiations are proving to be difficult
with the text now becoming too long, with over 100 paragraphs, said
The European Union is leading the process, the source told the SUNS,
expressing further worry that amongst others, there is no mention
in the text of adequate resources for UNCTAD.
According to another source, the EU, during the plenary, was very
clear that they want to convert UNCTAD into a technical assistance
organisation, downscaling the intergovernmental process, and increasing
the technical assistance.
The EU wants to take the organisation out of the controversial issues
involving macro policy, finance and debt, and focus UNCTAD on so-called
areas of comparative advantages only in trade facilitation, aid for
trade, gender issues etc.
[According to European media reports, after the last meeting of the
EU Council of Ministers, after the United Kingdom's Brexit vote, the
German Chancellor Angela Merkel, with other EU Council members, has
taken the delicate task of negotiating an outcome after UK exit, an
existential crisis for the EU, out of the hands of the EU's Executive
Commission (EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and his fellow
Commissioners), entrusting it to a former Belgian diplomat. And there
is considerable on-going discussions among member-states and their
political leaders, on the perceived public disquiet on the "democratic
deficit" in the EU and how to take back some of the powers now
being exercised by the Executive Commission. SUNS]
At UNCTAD-14 here, the Commission is trying to show its authority
and basically behaving "in a pressurising kind of way",
to try and squeeze UNCTAD out of the key issues, and that is now being
reflected in their efforts at reshaping the text.
The source, speaking on condition of anonymity, told SUNS that the
European Commission is not even talking to the EU parliamentarians.
And this is now proving controversial because they have created a
"Green Room" style process at UNCTAD-14. Fortunately, the
G77 are pushing back on that, said the source.
However, said the source, the negotiations within COW are not going
well and proving to be tense again on issues such as debt and policy
The tax issue is also pretty controversial, as the EU does not want
UNCTAD picking up on this issue, even though it is an obvious question
of development finance and is a major constraint on developing countries.
The source was of the view that the EU is a bigger stumbling block
than the JUSCANZ group, which consists of Japan, United States, Canada,
Australia, and New Zealand. The EU (speaking and acting through the
Commission here), would like to put a "take-it-or-leave-it text"
on the table and then see what happens, and hopes developing countries
will just take it.
However, the developing countries are saying that is not going to
happen, with South Africa, for example, saying that it will not support
any text that goes back on the UNCTAD Conference in Doha (in 2012).
The EU seems to be more aggressive here than it was in Doha, said
Another source, also speaking on condition of anonymity, referred
to the Committee of the Whole process on Tuesday and said that progress
has been made on a number of issues. However, some issues still remain,
and "we don't yet have the elements to finalize them." There
are a lot of things poised on the edge, and if they fall the right
way, progress can be made, said the source.
Referring to the negotiated text, Dr Mohamed told the media briefing
Tuesday, "I think it is a very healthy negotiation that is ongoing,
a very healthy debate and delegations have been working very, very
hard into the late evening to make sure that they get it ready for
adoption in time for the closing on Friday. And so we will just wish
them well, encourage them and see whether they will be able to find
the options that they need to get a consensus."
"Because at the end of the day we expect to have a document that
meets the requirements and the agreement of all of us so that it is
adopted, as is always the case with UNCTAD, by consensus," she
Asked to elaborate on the contentious issues in the negotiating text
and whether they can be resolved in the coming days, Dr Mohamed said
that she was not going to talk about the contentious issues.
"Actually, as we speak some are being resolved," she said.
"I think there is a very healthy debate that is going on. The
negotiations are on track, as I said before, and we're hopeful that
in fact we'll get to an agreed text before the end of day, hopefully
tomorrow, so that we're ready to present it to the final session on
Friday," she said.
While declining to go into details, the President of the conference
said that the number of areas (of contention) is decreasing and "it
is decreasing fast."
Dr Mohamed also expressed gratitude to all the delegations attending
UNCTAD-14, saying that they have been carrying out their deliberations
in an exemplary manner and "I think we are on a very good track
and we are already beginning to see good results."
She said that Monday (18 July) marked a fruitful day in the discussions
with the key highlight being the convening of the World Leaders' Summit
and the Heads of Agencies roundtable.
In addition, the World Investment Forum also kicked off, with this
year's forum being the first major international meeting on financing
the SDGs, following the UN summit on the post-2015 development agenda
and the Paris COP21 climate change meeting.
So building on the outcome of the third International Conference on
Financing for Development, the 2016 World Investment Forum seeks to
tackle the future of financing challenges facing the implementation
of the SDGs.
Asked about how the possible effects of Brexit will be featured in
the text, Dr Mohamed said that at the moment all the members of the
European Union are here.
"As you know, the UK is still a member of the EU until it invokes
procedures that are required for it to start its exit and so we haven't
had any effect of that on the negotiations."
For these negotiations there is no cause for alarm. "We do not
think it is going to affect our negotiations negatively," she
CIVIL SOCIETY'S VIEWS ON NEGOTIATING TEXT
Meanwhile, at a separate media briefing by civil society, Jason Braganza,
Deputy Executive Director of Tax Justice Network Africa, said that
it is an open secret that there have been challenges in having a relatively
easy week with regards to the negotiating text.
He went on to highlight several issues from the perspective of civil
Braganza said that on the global trading and financial architecture,
the language that is currently within the negotiating text is extremely
weak and "we are pushing very strongly … to reassert the importance
of having stronger language on a fairer global trading and financial
This is in light of and in the wake of the Panama Papers, which have
revealed very strong weaknesses in the financial architecture with
regard to tax evasion and tax avoidance.
The second issue is more about a global structural transformation
agenda and not a structural transformation agenda just for Africa.
There are systemic flaws that are emanating from the global framework,
and within the negotiating text "we are looking to have a bit
stronger language in the reform of the global architecture,"
Again, this emanates from the global economic and financial crisis
that has impacted not only developed countries but more adversely
the developing world.
He said that the third issue is around a more inclusive development
agenda (Agenda 2030). It is time after adopting Agenda 2030 to ensure
that this agenda is all-inclusive - it takes into account issues around
public services, gender, climate change, technology, the youth, natural
disasters, political security, and the like.
According to Braganza, the fourth issue is around the role and mandate
of UNCTAD. He said that the civil Society Forum has put very strong
language to be inserted within the negotiating text around the continued
importance and role that UNCTAD plays in supporting developing countries
achieve their mandate.
"This cannot be underscored nor underlined even further within
the negotiating text. We do not want a situation where UNCTAD is being
given a mandate just to do monitoring and evaluation," he said.