Action by campaigners ensures UNCTAD can continue to work on economic development

Action by campaigners ensures UNCTAD can continue to work on economic development

Date: 1 May 2012

Last week we reported how developed countries, with the UK as one of the worst offenders, were attempting to remove the remit of UNCTAD to work on economic development issues – including food speculation.

But action by campaigners and developing countries has prevented this, as the statement below, published by global justice groups at the end of last week’s conference, explains:

Final Statement of Civil Society on the Outcome of UNCTAD XIII 

April 26, 2012

As civil society groups present at the UNCTAD XIII, we welcome the final Declaration of the conference, which provides consensus-based support for a strong mandate for UNCTAD’s vital work on financial and related crises that have already damaged and continue to threaten the lives and livelihoods of women and men in both developed and developing countries. At the same time, we lament the weakening, by the same developed countries whose deregulated financial markets resulted in the crises, of the Declaration’s policy analysis on the negative impacts of the global economic and related crises.

We have closely monitored the official negotiations. In each successive iteration of the negotiating text, we witnessed outrageous attempts by developed countries to change the policy basis and mandate of UNCTAD’s work with respect key areas, such as the financial crisis, macroeconomic policy, debt management, the World Trade Organization (WTO) and other trade agreements, intellectual property, industrial policy, investment and other issues, toward reflecting more the interests of developed country corporations and investors, rather than maintaining historical policy commitments to assist developing countries to utilize trade and investment for inclusive and sustainable development.

Developed countries even pushed hard to try to prevent the final document from reaffirming the Accra Accord of the previous UNCTAD XII conference. While this should not have even been a point of contention, given that it represents previously accepted commitments, we are pleased to note that the achievements of Accra were affirmed in the end. The Accra Accord mandates UNCTAD to work on key issues of interdependence, policy coherence, and macroeconomic policies. We look forward to seeing all governments, and specifically the Trade and Development Board, implement this commitment to ensure that this work is maintained as a key aspect of the work plan for UNCTAD agreed at Doha.

We welcome that the most extreme positions of the developed countries were neutralized in the final outcome document. The Declaration acknowledges the financial crisis and the need for adequate regulation to avoid future crises. The most controversial paragraph, 17 (d), now calls for UNCTAD to “continue, as a contribution to the work of the UN, research and analysis on the prospects of, and impact on, developing countries in matters of trade and development, in light of the global economic and financial crisis.” As civil society, we celebrate that this Declaration language gives a clear mandate to UNCTAD to continue its excellent and highly lauded work on the global economic crisis.

Our own Civil Society Declaration, which was presented to the delegates during the first plenary meeting, provides a much more comprehensive and accurate representation of the current dynamics in the global economy. For the billions of people around the world who suffered the consequences of the global financial crisis and ongoing debt crises, it is critical that UNCTAD continues to provide analysis of the root causes of crises – including inadequate financial regulation, the trends in the global economy that affect developing countries, and to promote solutions to avoid new crises.

As representatives of civil society, we vow to hold UNCTAD and its members accountable to the fulfilment of this robust mandate.