"We need a realisic agenda for the least developed countries that is people-driven"

Statement by Dr. Arjun Karki at the ambassadorial-level meeting of the group of the Least Developed Countries *

New York, 25 February 2010
Mr. Chairman, Mr. Cheick Sidi Diarra, High Representative for LDCs, LLDCs and SIDS, Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,

Thank you for inviting me to this meeting as the International Coordinator of LDC Watch. It is my regret that I could not be with you at the meeting in person today; however, I would like to share with you a few words, specifically on the preparatory process towards the LDC IV that is underway.

I am immensely pleased to share with you that LDC Watch is leading the civil society process, having been officially mandated by the UN-OHRLLS, and we are indeed honoured to assume this historically important responsibility. As the only LDC civil society network engaged in policy advocacy and campaigns in the interest of the LDCs since 2001, we are taking this leadership role both as strength and as a challenge, on behalf of the entire LDC civil society constituency.

In this context, let me share that LDC Watch has been organizing national civil society consultations, targeting all of the 49 LDCs, focusing on review of the implementation of the Brussels Programme of Action (BPoA) including the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). These national consultations have proven to be building blocks for our regional interventions which in turn will feed into the international engagement process towards the LDC IV.

As a part of the preparatory process at the regional level, LDC Watch, in cooperation with the UNECA and UN-OHRLLS, is organizing the African LDC Civil Society Assembly on 4-5 March in Addis Ababa – just prior to the official African Regional Review of the BPoA on 8-9 March. The outcomes of the Assembly are expected to feed into the official African Regional Review of the BPoA. We strongly believe that this civil society process in Africa will also provide significant inputs for the Review of the MDGs at a High-Level Meeting in September this year. This most recent collaboration has indeed been a firm gesture of partnership with civil society and further, provides optimism for genuine cooperation in the future, which is essential as we move towards LDC IV.

Mr. Chairman, Under-Secretary General, Your Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,

Our challenges are common, and we face a shared responsibility to face them collectively.  I am especially underscoring the cooperation that we expect from our key partners: the member states, the relevant UN bodies, and the host government of LDC IV. The GA resolution 63/227 “recognises the importance of the contributions of civil society actors at the Conference and in its preparatory process, and in this regard stresses the need for their active participation in accordance with the rules of procedure of the General Assembly”. We have already begun communication with the Government of Turkey, in particular through Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Turkey, Mr. Ertuğrul Apakan, who has assured us of the host country’s full cooperation and support; this has been extremely encouraging for LDC Watch and for civil society engagement more widely.

I would like to reiterate today that LDC Watch believes in meaningful, substantive contributions in terms of a clear and concrete policy space in the entire review process. We believe in playing the role of both partner and pressure group, as we articulate people’s perspectives on sustainable development and poverty eradication in LDCs. In the process, we strongly hope that we will receive optimum support and cooperation from member states and the UN system in terms of space for effective advocacy and campaigns, political will and adequate resources. These have been missing in terms of implementation of the BPoA – which has been seen as a failure on the part of all stakeholders.

During the past decade, numerous global challenges have come to the fore, and are further hindering the development opportunities for LDCs. As we know, these have included the multiple crises of hunger, fuel, unsustainable debt and in particular, climate change - drastically ranging from desertification in Africa, sea-level rise in the Asia-Pacific including the catastrophic melting Himalayas. Greater still, remains the uphill task of addressing the structural causes of vulnerability, exclusion, marginalisation and exploitation that creates and perpetuates poverty, ever dampening the way to sustainable development in LDCs, It is in the context of these alarming challenges that the Programme of Action for LDCs for the decade 2011-2020 must be conceived and agreed upon in Turkey. It is against this backdrop that we must engage with the review of the BPoA.

In conclusion, it should be our utmost priority to come up with a realistic development agenda for the LDCs that is people-driven, appropriate for addressing the increasing human rights challenges faced by LDC citizens today, and that builds upon the important lessons learnt over the last decade. It is around this consensus that we should unite. On behalf of LDC civil society, I look forward to working together with you to make the LDC IV process a genuine success.

Thank you.

* Arjun Karki is member of Social Watch Coordinating Committee