62nd Session of the General Assembly
Agenda Items 56 A, B, C
GLOBALIZATION AND INTERDEPENDENCE
Statement by Virgínia Brás Gomes
Permanent Mission of Portugal to the United Nations
on behalf of the European Union
New York, 31 October 2007
I have the honour to speak on behalf of the European Union.
The Candidate Countries Turkey, Croatia* and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia*, the Countries of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidates Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Serbia, as well as Ukraine, Moldova, Armenia, and Georgia align themselves with this declaration.
The international community has long recognized that the outcomes of globalization are unevenly distributed and that the issue of inequality has increased in profile in the recent past in the light of growing uncertainty, in both developed and developing countries, about the merits of the whole globalization process, evidenced by calls for protectionist measures. Indeed, far greater attention must be given to the social dimension of globalization, as well as to issues of equitable access in terms of the means and resources globalization offers to tackle poverty and achieve the internationally agreed development goals, including the MDGs.
While globalization poses many challenges, in particular for developing countries, it has at the same time created immense opportunities for economic growth. However, the pro-development impact of globalization needs to be induced primarily by political decisions and actions that privilege the social wellbeing of the population, in particular of disadvantaged and marginalized individuals and groups that are hardest hit by its negative effects.
As one of the world’s major trading partners and the largest donor of development assistance and contributor to multilateral trade-related programmes, the EU will continue to work to ensure that globalization is indeed a positive force for all.
In this regard, special attention should be given to LDCs and African countries, which need to increase their exports, attract more FDI and build solid institutions responsive to the needs of their people.
The EU is of the view that countries should integrate trade policies into national development strategies and plans. We remain committed to open markets, progressive trade liberalization and stronger multilateral rules and, for these reasons, we remain fully committed to the Doha Development Agenda. We will continue to work with all our partners in the WTO for a successful, balanced and comprehensive outcome of the Doha Round that has the potential for greater trade liberalization to help developing countries tackle poverty.
The EU strongly supports the widely accepted principle that good governance and sound institutions are prerequisites for sustainable development and poverty eradication. As the report rightly states, national development strategies have to be formulated with a view to maximizing the positive impact of globalization by effectively implementing social and environmental policies that promote education, empower women, foster good health, create decent and productive employment and provide basic infrastructure for clean water, sanitation, energy, communication and transportation - all vital areas for sustained economic growth and development. All these policies will help prevent the marginalization of various groups, in particular women.
This year’s report on “Impact of international commitments, policies and processes on the scope and the implementation of national development strategies” draws attention to the need for significant national commitments of financial, human and intellectual resources. In this regard, the EU would like to reiterate our common commitments from the 2005 World Summit, that each country must take primary responsibility for its own development, and that the role of national policies and development strategies cannot be overemphasized. The EU considers domestic resource mobilization an issue of the utmost importance, all the more so because it is not in the long-term interest of any country to excessively rely on foreign capital.
The revenues of natural resources can be a substantial source of finance for development, if well managed. The international community should reflect on how this positive effect can be enhanced. The EU has only recently recognized that transparency in resource induced financial flows is a key prerequisite for the development oriented management of revenues from natural resources. Transparency is also an essential precondition for improving the business environment, as referred to in the European Council’s conclusions 9562/07, of May 15, 2007. But creating this environment is a shared responsibility of governments and international partners.
Together we should look into ways of increasing the quality and transparency of contracts and financial flows related to natural resources and work for global codes of conduct and standards for transparency.
Governments should contribute to an enabling business-friendly environment in order not only to attract FDI but also to increase local private sector investment. In this context, public investments in basic infrastructure, development of human capital and institutional capacity are all relevant for sustained economic growth. In our view, public-private partnerships should also be encouraged.
In addition, the new and emerging challenges posed by the negative impacts of climate change are already disproportionately affecting the poorest and most vulnerable amongst us and threaten to undo years of development efforts directed at eradicating poverty and hunger. Fight against climate change and development need to go hand in hand. It is high time for the international community to work towards that objective.
We welcome the report’s suggestion for national governments to involve all stakeholders, including civil society and private sector, in policy making processes.
The report also points out that developing countries need to consider the full implications of regional and/or bilateral agreements, as well as to invest in training and human resources capacity building when negotiating such agreements.
In our perspective, national development can also be fostered by regional integration and cooperation. Strengthening regional trade agreements is a complementary approach that represents a new trend among trading partners and must be encouraged. We need to pursue new opportunities and develop a comprehensive approach, sharpening our efforts to open markets and tackle trade distortions, both within the multilateral system and through bilateral and regional initiatives.
Moreover, in regard to developing countries there appears to be untapped potential for closer regional cooperation. Mindful of this, the EU is currently negotiating Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) with African, Caribbean and Pacific countries, precisely with the goal of building regional markets. The market liberalization under discussion for these EPAs may take longer timeframes and be based on the principle of asymmetry; taking into account the specific needs and conditions of our ACP partners.
The upcoming EU-Africa Summit, to be held in Lisbon, will further reinforce the EU commitment to the establishment of the new platform for international cooperation based on four inter-related pillars: development, good governance and human rights, peace and stability and regional trade and integration.
In relation to the issue of increasing the voice and participation of developing countries in global governance and global rule, the EU continues to support the governance reform efforts underway both at the IMF and the World Bank.
Concerning ODA flows, the EU recognizes the need, suggested in the report, for donors to align their overall support to recipient countries and reiterates its commitment to the implementation of the Monterrey Consensus. In this regard, EU Member States adopted in 2005 a timetable to achieve 0.7% of Gross National Income for ODA by 2015 with an intermediate collective target of 0.56% by 2010. We also committed ourselves to improve quality and effectiveness of ODA, in line with the “Paris Declaration” on Aid Effectiveness. Since Monterrey, the Union has collectively surpassed the 2006 ODA target of 0.39% of GNI, set before the World Summit Outcome. The EU, that has also set new and ambitious targets for ODA for Africa, is currently providing 57% of global ODA.
We now look forward to two important conferences scheduled for next year: the follow-up to the Monterrey Financing for Development Conference in Doha and the follow-up to the “Paris Declaration” Meeting in Ghana.
The increasingly relevant role played by some developing countries in shaping the world economy and the subsequent emergence of new donors from within developing countries is a positive sign, indeed, and must be encouraged, within a framework that ensures the quality and effectiveness of aid, with adequate coordination and division of labour among donors, based on the rules and best practices developed by the OECD, the EU and the International Financing Institutions.
The EU would like to highlight the leading role that some of its Member States are playing in voluntary initiatives already underway in the context of new instruments of aid for social development. These types of initiatives are implemented with a view to mobilize predictable and increasingly stable sources of financing. We underline, as examples, the International Financial Facility for Immunization and UNITAID.
Regarding the role of the UN system, we note the proposals contained in the report for the design of policy implication packages and policy notes that analyze the impacts of international agreements on national economies and determine possible responses to the challenges. These proposals need further discussion.
On agenda item 56 b), the EU welcomes the report by the Secretary-general on the “Implementation of the General Assembly resolution 60/205” – Science and technology for development.
We consider the projects and initiatives conducted by the Commission on Science and Technology for Development and UNCTAD and their joint work highly relevant, attaching particular importance to the Network of Centers of Excellence, science, technology and innovation policy reviews, demand-driven technical assistance projects and the inter-agency cooperation network on biotechnology - UN-Biotech.
We also highly value activities that contribute to enhance digital opportunities and help bridge the digital divide, assisting developing countries to establish R&D initiatives and promote access, development and diffusion of technologies and know-how. In this context, the EU welcomes the priority given to African countries in this regard.
We also commend any approach that leads to raising awareness on the relevance of integrating science, technology and innovation policies into national development strategies.
We now focus on agenda item 56 c) on Preventing and combating corrupt practices and transfer of assets of illicit origin and returning such assets, in particular to the countries of origin, consistent with the United Nations Convention against Corruption. In today’s globalized world, criminal phenomena should be looked upon as a major cross-border problem that calls for an integrated prevention and combat strategy.
The economic impact of corruption, particularly on developing countries, is well documented. Corruption damages a country’s political and economic development. Abuse of power erodes democratic values, often relying on criminal methods to maintain influence or control. Corruption distorts conditions for business and trade, and stifles market competition. It is a major obstacle to the sustainable development of countries and their democratic governance. The fight against corruption has become an important issue for international development cooperation.
Member states of the EU have implemented the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention that entered into force in 1999 and have strengthened their anti-bribery legislation and systems to level the playing field for international business.
In December 2005, the UN Convention against Corruption entered into force. To date, UNCAC has been ratified by 103 states and needs to be implemented as quickly as possible.
Regulation of the transfer of assets of illicit origin and recovery and return of those assets that are addressed in Chapter V of the Convention play an important role in preventing and combating corrupt practices.
The EU not only endorses all the work undertaken by the UN in this regard, but is also conscious of the importance to pursue common principles and lines of action. For that effect, we have adopted a common position, in March 2007, for the establishment of recovery asset bureaus in order to facilitate tracing and identification of assets of illicit origin.
In addition, a common EU position is presently being negotiated for the two additional UNCAC working groups - review mechanism and technical assistance. A meaningful review mechanism and a constructive dialogue on technical assistance play a key role for the operationalization of UNCAC.
We stress the importance of all the modalities of judicial cooperation regarding the issue of asset recovery, as well as the importance of data gathering instruments, such as the checklist recently sent to Member States by the UNODC for the effective assessment of technical assistance needs.
The EU welcomes the possibility to further discuss these issues during the II Session of the Conference of States Parties of the UN Convention against Corruption, to be held in Bali, in 2008.
As referred to in the report of the World Commission on the Social Dimension of Globalization, “A Fair Globalization: Creating Opportunities for All”, Globalization has set in motion a process of far-reaching change that is affecting everyone. New technology, (…), has created a world more interconnected than ever before. This spans not only growing interdependence in economic relation (…) but also social and political interaction among organizations and individuals across the world.
Although the potential for good is, indeed, immense, we are still far from realizing it. The EU remains firm in its commitment to move towards the full realization of this potential, which will benefit us all.
Thank you, Madam Chair.
* Croatia and The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia continue to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process.