Let’s walk the walk towards making LDCs history, said Dr Arjun Karki of LDC Watch

Speaking at a meeting on UNCATD’s contribution to the Istanbul Programme of Action for LDCs this September, Arjun Karki, LDC Watch International Coordinator presented the NGO perspective

Mr. President, Deputy Secretary-General, Ambassador Bairagi,
Excellencies, colleagues, ladies and gentleman,

We welcome the first progress report by the UNCTAD secretariat on its contribution to the
implementation of the Istanbul Programme since it was adopted in 2011.

From our perspective, it is fundamental that LDCs strengthen their domestic economies, in
terms of stronger productive capacities aimed primarily for providing for its peoples’ needs.
This will lead to stable growth, employment generation, food security, sustainable
livelihoods. It will also bolster the target of graduation of at least half of the LDCs by 2020.

The dominant export-led and market-centred growth strategy, with the ever expanding deregulation of finances and markets, is against trade for development in LDCs. Trade liberalisation costs Africa alone a massive $270billion, while hunger, unemployment, violence, climate catastrophes continue to plague its peoples.

We urge UNCTAD to promote and support national priorities and national sovereignty in
building domestic economies. In this respect, trade and investment policies should be
consistent with the development of domestic productive capacity, especially the small- and
medium-sized enterprises and local cooperatives, including formalising the informal
sector, which is predominant in LDCs.

The IPoA target of allocating 10% of national budget for agriculture should be urgently implemented for rural development and employment generation, in particular targeting the youth: we have 60% of youth population, 40% of which is unemployed.

Sustainable extraction and use of natural resources should be ensured. Foreign investment should not undermine domestic economies and foreign companies must adopt internationally-agreed principles, agreements and obligations based on universal human rights. Existing free trade and investment agreements including the Aid for Trade initiative should be reviewed and revised, towards genuine trade for development in the LDCs.

UNCTAD should further promote democratically accountable developmental states which will deliver decent employment and social protection floors for our peoples leading to
progressive distribution of income and wealth. Additionally, UNCTAD should facilitate global partnership for development, urging development partners to foster trade and investment based on human rights, gender justice, social, economical and environmental justice. In particular, the growing human-induced climate change crisis affects the LDCs and developing countries the most, resulting in regular loss and damage to their peoples.

We reiterate our call for urgent delivery of Official Development Assistance (ODA)
commitments to LDCs. The Istanbul Programme contains a renewed deadline of 2015, for
OECD DAC partners to provide 0.15-0.20% of their GNI; however, progress has not
been optimistic in this regard. The 2012 MDG Gap Task Force Report which was released
yesterday states that the DAC donors reduced bilateral aid to LDCs by 2% in real terms in 2011, while bilateral aid to sub-Saharan Africa fell by almost 1% in 2011, mainly due to the ongoing financial and economic crises. We cannot accept that trillions of dollars can be mobilised for financial bail-outs as well as for massive militarisation while ODA commitments gets compromised.

We call on our development partners to meet their commitments without any excuse while we call on our governments to ensure a progressive taxation system to mobilise domestic resource. In today’s crises times, development finance is imperative to provide for essential services that bolster fundamental human security.

UNCTAD should also advance consensus-building towards endorsing and
implementing the principles of promoting responsible sovereign lending and borrowing.

Debt continues to burden LDCs despite the HIPC and the MDRI debt relief programmes. In
2009, LDCs paid more than $8.2 billion to service external debt, almost $2billion of which
was interest payments. In 2010, UNCTAD reported that there were 10 LDCs in debt distress
and 10 at high risk of debt distress. UNCTAD should promote the call for fair and
transparent debt resolution mechanisms, debt cancellation initiatives and comprehensive
debt audits premised on unjust and illegitimate debt. We have appreciated Norway’s
unprecedented creditors audit and debt cancellation in this context.

In closing, we would like to emphasize that the global partnership for development for the
LDCs should be taken seriously and with due significance as there can be NO development
without LDCs. Therefore, in this context, the TDB should also ensure high-level political
participation including from the capitals, in deliberations such as we’re having today.

As mandated by IPoA, LDC Watch would like to reaffirm our commitment towards
implementing the Istanbul Programme, particularly, keeping the 2015 global mid-term
review in the radar. We have already organised regional strategy consultations in Addis Ababa, Africa; Bangkok, Asia; and in Auckland, the Pacific in partnership with the OHRLLS, ECA, ESCAP, UNCTAD and the UNMC.

We urge UNCTAD to continue its support in ensuring civil society participation, further promoting and providing capacity enhancement of LDC civil society in order to encourage and ensure democratic development in LDCs. We look forward to strengthening our collaboration and partnership especially, given the forthcoming post-2015 development agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) which are central to LDCs. We reiterate our call to the development community – lets walk the walk towards making LDCs history and a world without LDCs!

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