TWN Info Service on WTO and Trade Issues (Jul16/21)
25 July 2016
Third World Network

UNCTAD-14: Closes, adopting Nairobi Azimio and Nairobi Maafikiano
Published in SUNS #8289 dated 25  July 2016

Nairobi, 22 Jul (Kanaga Raja) -- The closing plenary of the fourteenth session of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD-14) on Friday (22 July) afternoon adopted both the "Nairobi Azimio" (Political Declaration) and the "Nairobi Maafikiano" (the Nairobi consensus outcome) that sets out the work of UNCTAD for the next four years.

The closing plenary was followed by a closing ceremony that brought to a close the six-day event that began on 17 July.

"I'm delighted that our 194 member states have been able to reach this consensus, giving a central role to UNCTAD in delivering the sustainable development goals," UNCTAD Secretary-General, Mukhisa Kituyi, said in a press release.

"With this document, we can get on with the business of cutting edge analysis, building political consensus, and providing the necessary technical assistance that will make globalization and trade work for billions of people in the global South," he said.

Earlier on Friday (22 July) morning, the Committee of the Whole had adopted the consensus outcome after holding a long session over the previous night and into the morning of Friday to try and finalize the consensus outcome document. This resulted in the closing plenary being delayed by about five hours.

At a media briefing following the adoption of the negotiated text by the Committee of the Whole (COW) on late Friday morning, and before the closing plenary of the conference later in the afternoon, Dr Amina Mohamed, President of the Conference, expressed gratitude to President Uhuru Kenyatta, "who had the foresight and the determination to host UNCTAD and the courage to do it six months before the conference."

"Today we have an outcome that I think all of us can be proud of and also we have been able to showcase what our country has to offer."

Ms. Mohamed added: "I am pleased to inform you that this morning after many, many hours of negotiations, we were able, as members of UNCTAD, to adopt an outcome ad referendum - an outcome that we are very pleased with," she told the assembled journalists.

She said that two documents have been adopted (in the COW), one being the Nairobi Azimio (or Political Declaration) that was done under the responsibility of the Kenyan Government, hosts of the conference.

The second document is the negotiated outcome, which has been given a Kenyan name as well - the 'Nairobi Maafikiano', which basically means the Nairobi Consensus, and which was adopted ad referendum (in the COW), she said.

"We are really, really happy that we have been able to get a deal done," amongst the 194 member states of the United Nations, member states of UNCTAD.

"A good day for Kenya, a good day for UNCTAD, a good day for the international community, a big win for multilateralism," she said.

Speaking to SUNS following the end of the COW session that adopted the consensus outcome, Ambassador Wayne McCook of Jamaica, Chair of the G77 and China, said that "the G77 and China have focussed on finding ways to ensure that the commitment to strengthening UNCTAD was achieved."

"We wanted to do so both in terms of the traditional mandate of UNCTAD for trade and development and also with respect to the role that UNCTAD needs to play in the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals," he said.

"The themes and sub-themes that guided us in preparation of the outcome and the mandate were very clear and the work that we did was focussed on seeking to give effect to those themes and commitments."

"I think you will see that we have looked at strengthening the intergovernmental machinery which of course has been one of the pillars of UNCTAD that has not really been given its full potential and we've addressed a number of key areas," he said.

In this context, the G77 and China Chair said that "we were able to secure commitments to work in the areas of debt and taxation, in ways that were possible given, as you know, the context in which we now have to approach these questions in UNCTAD."

"But I think by and large, when you look at the principles that we have secured, I think we have restored to the document all the key principles, one of which we had lost - policy space - and had to be made focus of a particular commitment."

"And then of course to ensure that in all areas of the mandate, we secured continued commitments within the mandate, and in some areas as we did in tax we, in a rather limited but important way, we have brought it into the picture," said Ambassador McCook.

Also speaking to SUNS, Ambassador Christopher Onyanga Aparr of Uganda said that "my impression is that at least we have done something" that when properly utilized and implemented should be useful for developing countries.

"It has been hard but I am happy we were able to work through," he said.

Asked about UNCTAD's mandate, he said, "I think it has been whittled down a little bit. I would have loved it to increase but I think the mandate has been whittled down a bit."

Asked what he saw as positive in the outcome document, he said that the positive aspect is to accommodate "our feelings about how the developed world is going to inter-relate with us as developing countries."

The issue of policy space, while not well articulated, is imbued (in the outcome document), he said.

One conference source told SUNS, on condition of anonymity, among the positives in the outcome document is on illicit trade flows, structural transformation of African economies and their integration into the world economy being undertaken by the African countries themselves, the issue of taxation, and the issue of coherence (national, regional and multilateral policies).

Speaking on the outcome document, other conference sources said that UNCTAD's mandate has been preserved or maintained, rather than enhanced, and that it was a tough fight to preserve the mandate.

Another source told SUNS on condition of anonymity that the Group B (developed countries), despite strong protests by civil society, went back on the Addis Ababa outcomes of last year. The EU, in particular, was negotiating from a position of weakness, the source said.

Yet another source told SUNS that the EU's disengagement in Geneva delayed the process.

(Future issues of SUNS will carry details of both the outcome documents of the UNCTAD-14) +