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Taking Up International Trade Commission Report, Sixth Committee Speakers Applaud Adoption of Texts on Electronic Commerce, Secure Transactions

Delegates Defer 4 Requests for Observer Status until Seventy-third Session

While deferring action on four observer requests, the Sixth Committee took up the report of the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) fiftieth session that included possibilities of reform, as well as the finalization and adoption of two legislative texts in the areas of electronic commerce and secured transactions.

Considering eight requests for observer status in the work of the General Assembly, the Committee also decided to defer action on the Cooperation Council of Turkic-speaking States, the Eurasian Economic Union, the Community of Democracies and the Global Environment Facility until the seventy-third session of the General Assembly.

Janos Martonyi (Hungary), Chair of UNCITRAL introduced the Commission’s report (document A/72/17), which he said was the result of a comprehensive session that covered a wide-ranging variety of issues.  Spotlighting the UNCITRAL Model Law on Electronic Transferable Records and Explanatory Notes, he said that text should bring a number of benefits to commerce due to speed and security of transmission.  The second text, Guide to Enactment of the Secured Transactions Model Law, would provide key assistance to legislators.

Turning to the Working Groups, he noted that the Commission had given its Working Group III a mandate to work on the possible reform of investor-State dispute settlement.  Broad discretion in that mandate would be left to the Working Group.  Recommended solutions should also allow States to choose to what extent they wished to adopt relevant resolutions.

Contractual issues related to cloud computing had been the focus of Working Group IV on Electronic Commerce, he said.  The Group had begun to compile a checklist of contractual issues on that matter.  Working Group V, meanwhile, had continued to work on a model law on the recognition and enforcement of insolvency-related judgements.

Working Group I on Micro, Small and Medium-sized Enterprises had focused on the initial stages of those organizations, looking for measures to support both their establishment and their ongoing viability, he said.  Working Group II on Dispute Settlement had made progress on a range of issues, from the legal effect of agreements to the treatment of settlement agreements concluded in the course of judicial or arbitral proceeding.

Also noteworthy was the work of the UNCITRAL Regional Centre for Asia and the Pacific based in Incheon, Republic of Korea, which had continued to provide capacity building and technical assistance to States and international and regional organizations.  The Centre had taken part in many regionally-based international trade law alliances, including other appropriate United Nations bodies.

Speaking for the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), El Salvador’s delegate hailed UNCITRAL for ensuring the representation of various geographical regions and the major economic and legal systems of the world.  However, challenges in codifying international trade law were increasing.  The nature of commerce at the global level was undergoing modification due to incessant technological development and the diversification of commercial activities.  The Commission must adapt, as much as possible, to the dynamics of trade activities. 

In that vein, the representative of Bahrain noted that a proposal by his Government to establish an UNCITRAL regional centre for the Middle East and North Africa had been approved by the Commission.  Among other things, the centre would aim to increase familiarity with UNCITRAL texts in the region, give technical assistance to States in the region on the adoption and use of those texts and enable coordination with international and regional organizations on trade law reform projects in the region.

Because electronic identity continued to be a significant concern internationally, the United Kingdom’s representative expressed his support for the progress made by Working Group IV on Electronic Commerce, which included in its work the inclusion of verified electronic identity and strong authentication for online digital transactions supporting international trade.  The issue was a key element being the creation of interoperability and trust frameworks, he stressed.

The Committee also considered the matter of the Administration of Justice at the United Nations, with representatives taking up reports addressing the United Nations Offices that fulfilled aspects of that duty, including the Internal Justice Council, the United Nations Ombudsman and the Office of Staff Legal Assistance, among others.

Speaking for the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), the representative of Jamaica said that certain trends should be looked at, particularly in the light of United Nations reform efforts.  For example, while the Secretariat had made considerable investments to improve relations between the Organization and its staff, there had been a relatively high rate of overturn by the Appeals Tribunal in cases coming from the Dispute Tribunal.

Also voicing concern, the representative of the United States pointed out that the Internal Justice Council’s report showed that a substantial fear of retaliation existed among staff, and, during the reporting period of the report, there were no findings on the accountability of managers, she said.

However, the European Union delegate highlighted the work of the Management Evaluation Unit, noting that the high quality of its work could be seen in the low proportion of cases challenged by staff members before the Dispute Tribunal.  The Office of Staff Legal Assistance was also instrumental in avoiding unnecessary conflicts and misunderstandings, he noted.

Speaking today on UNCITRAL were representatives of Austria, Philippines, Singapore, Peru, India, Japan, Russian Federation, Thailand, South Africa, Argentina, Belarus, Italy, Chile, Indonesia, Honduras, United States, Israel, Cameroon, and Morocco, as well as the European Union and the International Chamber of Commerce.

Speaking on the granting of observer status were representatives of Cuba, Venezuela, China, Togo, Viet Nam, Sri Lanka, Timor-Leste, Bangladesh, Nepal, Peru, Ecuador, Singapore, Philippines, Japan, Belarus, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uruguay, United States, and Colombia.

Speaking today on the Administration of Justice at the United Nations were representatives of El Salvador (for the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC)), Canada (also speaking for Australia and New Zealand), Switzerland, Mexico, and Guatemala.

The Sixth Committee will reconvene at 3 p.m. on Tuesday, 10 October, to take up its consideration of the Report on the Special Committee on the Charter of the United Nations and the Strengthening of the Role of the Organization and to commence the debate on the Scope and Application of the Principle of Universal Jurisdiction.

United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL)

JANOS MARTONYI (Hungary), Chair of the fiftieth session of the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL), introduced the Commission’s report (document A/72/17), describing the session as comprehensive and touching upon a wide range of issues.

The Commission had finalized and adopted two legislative texts in the areas of electronic commerce and shared transactions, he said.  The UNCITRAL Model Law on Electronic Transferable Records and Explanatory Notes should bring a number of benefits to commerce due to speed and security of transmission.  It also built on existing texts on electronic commerce and on the principles of functional equivalence and technological neutrality.  The second text, Guide to Enactment of the Secured Transactions Model Law, would provide useful assistance to legislators.

Working Group I on Micro, Small and Medium-sized Enterprises had made progress in addressing its mandates to reduce the legal obstacles faced by such businesses throughout their life cycle, he said.  Efforts in that Working Group focused on the first stage of the life cycle of such enterprises, on measures to facilitate the establishment of such businesses and to support their viability once they were in existence.

Meanwhile, Working Group II on Dispute Settlement had continued its work on the preparation of an instrument to deal with the enforcement of international settlement agreements resulting from conciliation, he continued.  It had made progress related to the compromise reached at its sixty-sixth session regarding the legal effect of agreements, the treatment of settlement agreements concluded in the course of judicial or arbitral proceeding and possible opt-in declaration by parties, among other matters.

Working Group IV on Electronic Commerce had worked on legal aspects of identity management and trust services, as well as contractual issues related to cloud computing, he noted.  It had begun its preparation of a checklist of contractual issues of cloud computing by identifying the content and structure of that checklist.  Work in the area of identity management and trust services would require more brainstorming to crystalize the issues to be addressed.

Turning to Working Group V on insolvency, he said that it had continued to make progress with its work on a model law on the recognition and enforcement of insolvency-related judgements, as well as on legislative provisions on facilitating the cross-border insolvency of multinational enterprise groups.  The model law was nearing completion and a draft text, together with a guide to enactment, would likely be submitted for consideration by the Commission in 2018.  Once those texts had been finalized, the Working Group would consider the treatment of micro, small and medium-sized businesses in insolvency, with regard to which preliminary work had already begun.

He also noted that the Commission had given its Working Group III a mandate to work on the possible reform of investor-State dispute settlement.  The Working Group would identify concerns on that matter and consider whether reform was desirable.  The Commission also agreed that broad discretion in that mandate should be left to the Working Group and any recommended solutions should take into account the ongoing work of relevant international organizations and should allow each State the choice of whether and to what extent it wished to adopt the relevant resolutions.

The Committee had made progress carrying out the various legislative projects on technical assistance and coordination, he said, adding that it was aware that the development of those legislative texts was only the first step in the process of trade law harmonization.  Dissemination of information and the conduct of promotion activities as well as technical cooperation and assistance projects were vital to the further use, adoption and interpretation of UNCITRAL texts.  In that respect, he commended the efforts by the Secretariat to provide information and to share practical experience in the enactment of those texts.

The UNCITRAL Regional Centre for Asia and the Pacific based in Incheon, Republic of Korea, had continued to provide capacity building and technical assistance to States, as well as international and regional organizations.  The Centre had promoted certainty in international commercial transactions through the dissemination of international trade norms and standards.  There was now a tangible increase of accessions, ratifications and enactments of UNCITRAL texts in the Asia-Pacific region.  The Regional Centre had actively participated in regionally-based international trade law partnerships and alliances, including with other appropriate United Nations funds, programmes and specialized agencies.

He stressed that it was of the utmost importance for the Commission to promote the uniform interpretation and application of its texts.  One of the ways that was pursued was through the Case Law on UNICTRAL Texts system (CLOUT).  As a result of collaboration between the UNICTRAL Secretariat and a network of national correspondents appointed by Member States, information on court decisions and arbitral awards interpreting UNICITRAL legislative texts were being published in the

In response to the General Assembly’s invitation, the Commission had been transmitting comments on its role in promoting the rule of law, he said, adding that its comments focused on the ways and means to further disseminate international commercial law to strengthen the principle.  In those comments, the Commission had referred to its traditional and innovative dissemination activities and their importance for strengthening the rule of law.  He also underscored that a number of UNICITRAL’s projects relied heavily or entirely on extra-budgetary resources, and he reiterated the Commission’s appeal to the States to provide funding for such activities and to assist the Secretariat in identifying additional resources.

Statements

HECTOR ENRIQUE JAIME CALDERÓN (El Salvador), speaking for the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), hailed UNCITRAL for ensuring the representation of various geographical regions and the major economic and legal systems of the world.  For developing countries the Commission represented the possibility of participating in the harmonization, unification and modernization of international trade law.  Commending the progress achieved in the six Working Groups, he highlighted the work of Working Groups IV and VI, by approving the “Model Law on Electronic Transferable Records and Explanatory Notes” and a “Guide to Enactment of the UNCITRAL Model Law on Secured Transactions.”

However, he added, challenges in codifying international trade law were increasing.  Volume and the nature of commerce at the global level were undergoing modification without pause due to incessant technological development and the diversification of commercial activities.  The Commission must adapt, as much as possible, to the dynamics of trade activities.  Noting that participation in the sessions of the Commission was significant for the members of the Community, he added that alternating the meetings between New York and Vienna was enabling those States that did not have diplomatic representation in Austria to participate.  He called on the Organization to continue the current system, thereby facilitating broad membership participation.

ANCA CRISTINA MEZDREA, European Union delegation, said that the traditional Investor–State Dispute Settlement presented various challenges and should be reformed.  Those challenges had sparked off an international debate, with many countries already thinking about how to reform the Settlement.  In other areas of law where dispute resolution involved public matters, a multilateral approach was better suited to effectively address all the issues at stake.

She noted that, as a first step, the Commission had agreed to work on identifying underlying issues and concerns in order to provide the rationale for any proposed reforms and to proceed with the development of possible solutions.  The Commission presented many advantages in terms of transparency and accessibility.  Encouraging countries, international organizations and observers to actively participate in the discussions, she expressed hope for a satisfactory outcome. 

NADIA ALEXANDRA KALB (Austria), aligning herself with the European Union, said that it was a source of pride for her country to host the Commission and its Secretariat in Vienna.  Noting that the Commission had finalized and adopted the UNCITRAL Model Law on Electronic Transferable Records, with an explanatory note, she added that Austria supported the work of the Commission concerned with technical cooperation and assistance in the field of international trade law reform and development. Austria was serving as the coordinator for the UNCITRAL resolution, she said encouraging delegates to co-sponsor the draft text.

IGOR GARLIT BAILEN (Philippines), expressing support for fair, stable, and predictable legal frameworks for generating inclusive, sustainable and equitable development, added that the past year had been another productive year for the Commission.  His country paid close attention to the development of standards on transparency, including the UNCITRAL Rules on Transparency in Treaty-based Investor-State Arbitration (Transparency Rules).  The related Convention, which provided a mechanism for the application of the Transparency Rules, would be entered into force on 18 October.  Also commending the progress made by Working Group I on Micro, Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises, he reaffirmed support for UNCITRAL’s Regional Centre for Asia and the Pacific.

SERAPHINA FONG (Singapore) said the Model Law on Electronic Transferable Records, an important instrument, would remove uncertainty in many jurisdictions on the use and effect of such records.  She commended the Commission and its Working Group IV for their practical approach, which did not affect existing substantive law governing such documents and instruments.  That would facilitate States in the adoption of the Model Law and would bring clear benefits to commercial parties without having to review or create any substantive law on negotiable instruments.  While many interesting ideas had been raised at the fiftieth session concerning the Commission’s future work, some of those suggestions needed to be carefully examined to determine if they were within that body’s mandate, or if they could be better undertaken by some other entities within or outside the United Nations system.  Even for work that clearly fell within UNCITRAL’s remit, there would be increasing demands made on its resources and those of Member States, she noted, adding it would become critically important for the Commission to prioritise its work.

ANGEL HORNA (Peru) cited his country’s President’s address to Congress that stressed the importance of micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises.  A plan had been designed for accessing credit, as well as a favourable tax regime for those enterprises in the short term.  Furthermore, reduction of obstacles for those enterprises was much appreciated, he said, underscoring that it was now a globalized world of electronic commerce.  The Working Group in charge of that subject was critically important.  He welcomed the adoption in July on the Model Law on that subject and reiterated Peru’s willingness to share expertise on digital identity.

YEDLA UMASANKAR (India) said that the legal texts and model laws developed by the Commission were directly relevant to the commercial transactions of individuals, corporations and States.  The UNCITRAL Model Law on Secured Transactions would increase the availability of secured credit across national borders and would contribute to the development of international trade.  The Model Law on Electronic Transferable Records and its explanatory notes would contribute to the development of systems to enable progress in the field of paperless trade.

HARUKA SAWADA (Japan), commending the substantive deliberations taking place in the Working Group I, expressed the hope that, during the next session of the Commission, its Working Group II, which was handling the challenging topic of Dispute Settlement, would be able to complete its work leading to the adoption of the instrument.  Congratulating UNCITRAL on finalizing and adopting the Model Law on Electronic Transferable Records, he added that Working Group IV must continue to pay attention to technological neutrality.  The Model Law would promote legislation on electronic commerce, he said.

MAXIM MUSIKHIN (Russian Federation) said that his country was a party to a number of international agreements that had been developed within the Commission. Furthermore, texts developed by UNCITRAL were enhancing his country’s legislation. Spotlighting Working Group II’s work drafting a document on the enforcement of international settlement agreements resulting from conciliation proceedings, as well as its work on a convention on the issue, he noted that his country was an active participant in those matters.  On Working Group V, he said he hoped that solutions would be found which took into account the interests of all UNCITRAL members on the enforcement of insolvency related judgements.

HECTOR ENRIQUE CELARIE LANDAVERDE (El Salvador), aligning himself with CELAC, commended the worthwhile efforts of each working group.  Praising the Commission’s decision to entrust to Working Group III on Investor-State Dispute Settlement, he added that it would be an invaluable contribution to the codification of international law.  Also congratulating Working Groups IV and VI on their adoption of the Model Law on Electronic Transferable Records and the Guide to Enactment of the Model Law on Secured Transactions respectively, he said that the work carried out by Working Group IV in particular was of great value to his country’s development.

SUN THATHONG (Thailand) noted that his country had benefited from the Legislative Guide on Secure Transactions in drafting Thailand’s national secured transactions legislation.  He also commended the Commission for providing valuable technical assistance in reading and applying its various texts.  Thailand, along with various reginal stakeholders, continued to collaborate closely with the Commission’s regional centre for Asia and the Pacific.  Adoption of the Model Law on Electronic Transferable Records with Explanatory Notes and the Guide to Enactment of the Model law on Secured Transitions continued to play a vital role in modernizing trade law regimes.  Entrusting Working Group III with the mandate to work on the possible reform of investor-State dispute settlement would help facilitate consideration of concerns and allow States to deliberate on ways forward.  In that context, he stressed that the Working Group must conduct its work in a transparent and inclusive manner.  UNCITRAL must steer the wheels of international trade law towards human-centred goals which prioritized more than just profit. 

SABONGA MPONGOSHA (South Africa) said that the work on micro, small and medium-sized enterprises could make valuable contributions towards streamlining the process of establishing Limited Liability Organizations in many States.  UNCITRAL’s work on electronic commerce also did important work, harmonizing the rules in an increasingly important area of trade law that affected consumers in the developed and developing world.  He also noted with interest the change of topic of Working Group III, and welcomed the increased focus on investor-state dispute settlement.  UNCITRAL had been one of the few international fora that consistently focused on concerns related to that issue by a number of States, including South Africa.

JOSÉ LUIS FERNANDEZ VALONI (Argentina), associating himself with CELAC, said that UNICTRAL had helped create an enabling environment for trade, adding that his country had ratified several of its instruments.  The progress of Working Group VI’s efforts on developing model law on security interests as well as its guide to interpret that model law in States was appreciated.  Several States had taken steps to modernize their security systems to reduce risks and to ensure lower interest rates in order to attract greater investments for their infrastructure.  Spotlighting the aims of Working Group I preparing a body of legal standards for micro, small and medium-sized enterprises to simplify standards, he stressed that those endeavours were useful for the development of such enterprises; it reduced the requirements for incorporation.

RUSLAN VARANKOV (Belarus) highlighted how Working Group IV supported the development of a document outlining the contractual issues of cloud computing.  On addressing that issue it was important to focus on risk distribution mechanisms.  He also underscored the importance of the expansion of the Model Law on Transporter Insolvency.  Voicing support for work to enhance the existing mechanism for the settlement of commercial and investment disputes, he also commended UNICTRAL on maintaining the online cloud database that helped share best practices and knowledge.

SALVATORE ZAPPALÁ (Italy), aligning himself with the European Union, said he attached great importance to the work of the Commission and its working groups, and had been pleased with the way they had worked in producing seminal legal texts.  The Commission was an effective forum for deliberations on tools to improve rules and regulations in the area of international trade law and in assisting Member States to adapt legislation to a changing landscape.  He acknowledged the quality of the working group discussions and the effective way in which meetings had been held in Vienna and New York.  Notwithstanding differing legal systems and domestic agendas, the Commission had been able to demonstrate that Member States could sit together and genuinely work to reach common solutions, he said.

STEPHEN H. SMITH (United Kingdom), noting that his country was a founding member of UNCITRAL, thanked the Experts Group of Working Group I for their hard work in arriving at a text for the Group to consider for adoption by the Commission next year.  Turning to Working Group IV, he expressed support for the inclusion of verified electronic identity and strong authentication in regards to online digital transactions supporting international trade.  Electronic identity continued to be a significant concern internationally, a key element being the creation of interoperability and trust frameworks, he said. 

JAVIER GOROSTEGUI OBANOZ (Chile), aligning himself with CELAC, said that the Commission’s work promoted greater coherence in the harmonization of international trade law, while taking into account the realities and contexts of different States.  Tackling corruption was necessary for the development of trade, he said, also noting recent proposals geared towards reforming the investor-State dispute settlement process. “We are opening up a new front for legal academic discussion,” he said, encouraging UNCITRAL to take on a higher profile.  He also encouraged delegates to work constructively and enable inclusive dialogue, adding that the model laws adopted by the Working Groups would help codify international laws.

AHMAD SHALEH BAWAZIR (Indonesia) commended Working Group I’s aims to reduce the legal obstacles encountered by micro, small and medium enterprises, especially in developing countries.  The legislative guide should be a flexible text that would enable States to simplify the work of those enterprises so to allow them to grow and compete.  He also voiced support for the “prudent approach” taken by the Commission concerning the Investors-State Dispute Settlement.  In particular, he urged that deliberation always be based on the balance between protecting the investors in the host State, while providing policy spaces for the host State to assert its national interest.  Major attention should be paid to the importance of technical cooperation and assistance to developing countries in matters related to the adaptation and use of texts adopted by the Commission.  In that sense, the Secretariat should continue providing assistance and improve its outreach to those countries.

FAHAD AHMED ALDOSERI (Bahrain) noted that the Commission had approved the proposal by his Government to establish an UNCITRAL regional centre for the Middle East and North Africa in his country and increase familiarity with UNCITRAL texts and their level of adoption and use in the region.  The objectives of the proposed regional centre would be providing technical assistance to States on the adoption, use and understanding of UNCITRAL text; coordination with international and regional organizations on trade law reform projects in the region; coordination of the communication between States in the region and UNCITRAL; and building and participating in regional partnerships and alliances including other United Nations bodies.

YOLANNIE CERRATO (Honduras), associating herself with CELAC, said that she welcomed the approval of the Model Law on Electronic Transferable Records and the Guide to Enactment of the Model Law on Secured Transactions.  That was a tremendous contribution to the strengthening of the framework for international trade law.  Her Government had enacted a law on electronic signatures and a law on electronic commerce without prejudice to other legal instruments.  With regard to the Commission’s work in seeking to achieve the transparent settlement of disputes at national and international levels, she also said Honduras hoped to include in its legal system the Model Law on Electronic Transferable Records and the technical notes on online dispute resolution.

MARK A. SIMONOFF (United States) welcomed the adoption of the Model Law on Electronic Transferable Records and encouraged States to consider implementing it should their domestic law not already provide an adequate framework.  The Commission’s work on a Guide to Enactment for the Model Law on Secured Transactions would assist States in reforming their domestic legal regime in ways that would facilitate access to credit.  With respect to ongoing work on conciliation, he praised UNCITRAL’s plan to develop a related convention, which should help promote its use internationally in the same way the New York Convention had helped promote the use of arbitration.  His Government had taken steps toward becoming a party to the United Nations Convention on Transparency in Treaty-Based Investor-State Arbitration, which had been transmitted to the United States Senate in December 2016 for approval.

AMIT HEUMANN (Israel), highlighting some of the progress UNCITAL had made over the past year, said that he looked forward to participating in Working Group I’s upcoming deliberations on micro, small and medium-sized enterprises.  Turning to Working Group II’s work on international commercial settlement agreements resulting from conciliation, he said that the instrument being developed would provide Member States with the guidance needed to deal with such agreements.  He looked forward to participating in the Working Group on Investor-State Dispute Settlement Reform, but noted that Israel’s participation did not imply support for a permanent mechanism or that it would join a convention on that issue, if one were ever finalized.

VICTOR TCHATCHOUWO (Cameroon), commending the Commission for adopting the Model Law on Electronic Secured Transactions and the note on arbitration proceedings, said that the use of texts developed by the Commission would facilitate the harmonization of international trade law.  Encouraging Member States to improve the implementation of those texts, he expressed support for the Commission’s initiatives to coordinate the legal activities of regional trade organizations.  That not only strengthened cooperation between them, but also promoted rule of law.  Developing countries benefited enormously from the Commission’s work on technical assistance, he said, recalling his country’s proposal to establish a regional centre for the Commission in Africa. 

MOHAMED BENTAJA (Morocco) said that he welcomed the work on the insolvency of micro, small and medium-sized enterprises, and the reform underway to create an investor-State dispute mechanism that would protect investors when carrying out activities in various States.  For instance, investment and investors should be protected from expropriation, he said, adding he welcomed the reforms, as they protected investors in the process of carrying out their activities.

HIROKO MURAKI GOTTLIEB, International Chamber of Commerce, said that UNCITRAL was a vital partner of the Chamber and its work was critically important.  Historically, the Chamber had contributed to the work of UNCITRAL through numerous international trade law-related instruments that it had drafted.  She said she was grateful that the Commission and its members had adopted a decision endorsing the Chamber’s Uniform Rules for Forfaiting.  UNCITRAL’s endorsement of those rules would facilitate financing of receivables arising from international trade transactions by providing a new set of rules applicable to forfaiting transactions.  Those Rules also complemented a number of international trade law instruments.

Requests for Observer Status

The representative of Cuba, making a general statement, said that only intergovernmental organizations should be granted observer status.  That stance was not merely a procedural issue or “red tape”, she said, adding that in-depth information was required on each individual organization.

The representative of Venezuela said that only organizations addressing topics of interest to the General Assembly should be granted observer status.  It was vital the Sixth Committee had before it a summary of the make-up and membership of each organization.

The Committee then decided to recommend the deferral of observer status for the Cooperation Council of Turkic-speaking States.  The Council, an international intergovernmental organization, promoted cooperation among Turkic-speaking States and aimed to serve as a new regional instrument for advancing international cooperation in Eurasian continent, particularly in Central Asia and Caucasus.

The Committee also decided to recommend the deferral of observer status for the Eurasian Economic Union, an economic union of states located primarily in northern Eurasia.

The Committee then decided to recommend the deferral of observer status for the Community of Democracies, an intergovernmental coalition of States that was bringing together Governments, civil society and private sector in the pursuit of supporting democratic rules.

The Committee then turned to a request for observer status for the International Network for Bamboo and Rattan in the General Assembly.

The representative of China introduced draft resolution A/C.6/72/L.8, noting that the Network was the only intergovernmental organization that specialized in the conservation and development of bamboo and rattan, the two most important non-timber forest products.  Its membership had grown from the original nine founding member States and six observer States to the current 43 member States and more than 10 observer States, with regional offices or focal points in Ecuador, Ghana and Ethiopia.

The representative of Togo said that observer status would be an asset to the Network so it could continue to promote environmentally friendly socio-economic development.  Since its founding, the Network had had a tangible impact on people’s lives, training tens of thousands working in bamboo and rattan production.

Viet Nam’s representative said that the Network worked to improve the wellbeing of producers and users of bamboo and rattan by coordinating and supporting research and development into those resources.  Because bamboo and rattan were non-timber forest products in Asia as well as other regions, the Network was directly contributing to sustainable development.

The representative of Sri Lanka said that the work of the Network helped to implement a range of the Sustainable Development Goals which targeted poverty alleviation, sustainable energy and climate change.  It also played a vital role in South-South cooperation, and supported countries in using bamboo and rattan to improve environmental security.

The representative of Cuba said that the Network was an intergovernmental, autonomous and non-profit organization that enabled South-South cooperation. Granting it observer status would be a major contribution to improving the work of the General Assembly.

The representative of Venezuela said she was certain that the participation of the Network would promote South-South cooperation.  Granting it observer status would leave the United Nations in a better position to meet and respond to global challenges

The representative of Timor-Leste said that the Network played a unique role in supporting its members to find and demonstrate innovative ways of using bamboo and rattan to protect environments and biodiversity, while alleviating poverty.

The representative of Bangladesh said that the mission of the Network had provided training to tens of thousands of bamboo practitioners, helping them enter new markets and use new technologies.

The representative of Nepal said that his country was an active member of the Network.  Granting observer status to the Network would enable it to achieve its full potential, thereby contributing to sustainable development.

The representative of Peru said that the Network had been engaged in projects in his country to prevent and mitigate natural disasters.  Its priorities also dovetailed fully with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

The representative of Ecuador said that the Network provided environmental security in Ecuador and other countries, and provided support to his country as it strove to fulfil the Sustainable Development Goals.

The Committee then took up request for observer status for the “ASEAN+3” Macroeconomic Research Office in the General Assembly.

The Representative of Singapore introduced draft resolution A/C.6/72/L.9,  “Observer status for the ASEAN+3 Macroeconomic Research Office in the General Assembly”, saying that the organization was a platform consisting of the 10 Member States plus China, Japan and the Republic of Korea.  The Research Office, which functioned as the regional macroeconomic surveillance unit, met the criteria of General Assembly decision 49/426 of 9 December 1994.  Granting observer status would help cooperation between the Office and the United Nations and would contribute to a stable global macro-economic environment, as well as deepen interactions with other countries and regional and international organizations.

The representative of China said that the purpose of the Research Office was the promotion of regional economic and financial stability, monitoring the situation of regional economies, and supporting the implementation of the arrangement for multilateral liquidity.  Granting observer status to the organization would help enhance the exchanges and cooperation between this organization and the United Nations.

The representative of the Philippines, recalling the 1997 Asian financial crisis which had threated a global economic meltdown, said the Research Office’s purpose was to avert any financial crisis in that region.  The Research Office sought to prevent a repeat of that by deepening regional cooperation with stronger safety nets, particularly by decreasing balance of payment difficulties in times of crises.  Furthermore, it had the full legal capacity to enter into contracts and to deal with ASEAN+3 Governments in conducting surveillance activities and with other international and development institutions for better coordination and collaborative activities. 

The representative of Japan said that in the aftermath of the 1997 crash, the States of the region had established the Research Office in order to encourage regional financial integration and cooperation.  The Office’s activities not only benefited the region but were broadly aligned with the aims of the United Nations, such as promoting economic progress and solutions to international economic problems. 

The Committee took up the request for observer status for the Eurasian Group on Combating Money Laundering and Financing of Terrorism in the General Assembly.

The representative of Belarus introduced draft resolution A/C.6/72/L.4, saying that the Group’s work was based on an agreement between his country, India, Kazakhstan, China, Kyrgyzstan, Russian Federation, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, to cooperate in combating the financing of terrorism.  All its member States were fine-tuning their national financial systems into alignment with international standards.  Granting the Group observer status would promote effective cooperation between them and the United Nations.

The representative of Kyrgyzstan said that the Group was an intergovernmental organization with the goal of cooperation at the regional level to focus on money laundering and the financing of terrorism.  

The representative of China said that the Group fully met the criteria for observer status. Its activities covered matters of interest to the General Assembly and its main purpose was to conduct effective regional interaction to ensure the compliance of its member States with the international standard set by the Financial Action Task Force.

The representative of Tajikistan said that the Group was a regional intergovernmental organization that conducted joint activities aimed at combating money laundering and combating terrorism.  

The Committee then took up the request for observer status for the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands Secretariat.

The representative of Uruguay introduced draft resolution A/C.6/72/L.6, noting that the Convention was drawn up in Ramsar, Iran, in 1971.  It was an intergovernmental Convention aimed at the conservation and sustainable use of wetlands through national, regional and international cooperation.  The Convention entered into force in 1975, with amendments in 1982 and 1987.  The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) was the depository of the Convention.  The Preamble of the Convention reaffirmed the key ecological role played by wetlands as a habitat for unique flora and fauna, particularly in aquatic environments.

The representative of the United States said it was a State party of the Convention and supported the work of its Secretariat.  She voiced appreciation for its positive contributions on conversations relevant to its mandate.  Nevertheless, she had studied the application and her country had questions on its status as an intergovernmental organization.

The representative of Venezuela, noting that her country was home to five internationally important wetlands, said that the Secretariat of the Convention met all the requirements for observers set out by the General Assembly.

The representative of Colombia said that wetlands were vital and provided fresh water, food and building materials.  The Secretariat met all the criteria for observer status in the General Assembly and pursued activities of interest for that body.

The representative of Peru said that his country was a contracting party to the Convention, and his country had also adopted guidelines for the designation of Ramsar sites in order to identify wetlands of international importance.  The Convention’s Secretariat met all the requirements for observer status.

The Committee then decided to recommend the deferral of observer status for the Global Environment Facility, a partnership of 183 countries with international institutions, civil society organizations and the private sector to address global environmental issues.

Statements on Administration of Justice

The Sixth Committee took up consideration two reports of the Secretary-General on the Administration of Justice, including “Activities of the Office of the United Nations Ombudsman and Mediation Services” (document A/72/138) and “Administration of justice at the United Nations” (document A/72/204), as well as the Report of the Internal Justice Council on the Administration of Justice (document A/72/210).

HECTOR ENRIQUE CELARIE LANDAVERDE (El Salvador), speaking for CELAC, noted that the United Nations Office of Staff Legal Assistance had been performing a vital task through representation, advice and other legal services and that the Internal Justice Council continued to play an important role in the system to help ensure independence, professionalism and accountability.  The Dispute Tribunal and Appeals Tribunal had shown firm commitment to contribute to justice at the Organization.  New ways should be explored to improve the use of the informal system like the Mediation Division, he said, encouraging proper geographical and gender distribution among judges and staff, and stressing the importance of the Management Evaluation Unit in preventing unnecessary litigation.

Turning to the work of the Office of the United Nations Ombudsman and Mediation Services, he emphasized that informal resolution of conflict was crucial to the administration of justice.  He called for incentives to encourage more recourse to informal resolution.  The Office should, among other things, ensure accountability and transparency in the decision-making process by holding managers accountable for their actions and providing institutional capacity to resolve workplace conflicts.  The Sixth Committee should continue to coordinate and cooperate closely with the Fifth Committee to ensure an appropriate division of labour and avoid overlaps or encroachment of mandates.

GILLES MARHIC, European Union delegation, said the informal resolution of disputes was one of the most crucial elements of the Organization’s justice administration system.  It enabled faster and more flexible means of facilitation, problem-solving, shuttle diplomacy, mediation and conflict coaching, while also avoiding time-consuming and stressful litigation processes.  Voicing concern over the results of a 2016 survey finding that 60 per cent of staff had experienced a recent workplace conflict and a similar proportion felt stress levels to be above what they considered acceptable, he welcomed the expanded use of strategic data and multilingual surveys to help identify systemic issues.  Organizing thematic informational sessions and workshops, skill-building initiatives and individual coaching were also useful tools.

He also commended the work of the Management Evaluation Unit — including its systematic efforts to identify requests with a good potential for settlement through informal resolution.  The quality of the Unit’s work was demonstrated by the relatively low proportion of cases challenged by staff members before the Dispute Tribunal.  That body, along with the Appeals Tribunal, formed an equally important part of the justice administration.  The Office of Staff Legal Assistance was also instrumental in avoiding unnecessary conflicts and misunderstandings.  Regarding Panel recommendation 58 — in which the Chair of the Sixth Committee had recommended that the Secretary-General be requested to provide further information on the improvement of investigations into misconduct and harassment to staff members — he noted that the joint planning between the Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS) and the Administrative Law Section was intended to facilitate the development and delivery of relevant training across the Secretariat in the last months of 2017.

E. COURTENAY RATTRAY (Jamaica), speaking for the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and associating himself with CELAC and the Non-Aligned Movement, expressed support for any measures intended to strengthen the administration of justice and improve its effectiveness at the managerial and operational levels.  In particular, he voiced his support for efforts to ensure that well-established principles of law, such as separation of powers and judicial independence, governed the management of the justice system.  While those fundamental principles were critical, fidelity to them must be matched by a commitment to ensuring the highest standards of accountability if the administration of the internal justice system. 

Considerable investments had been made by the Secretariat to implement systems aimed at improving relations between the Organization and its staff, he said.  Nevertheless, there was a relatively high rate of overturn by the Appeals Tribunal in cases coming from the Dispute Tribunal.  Further analysis of the factors leading to that outcome would be appreciated.  In addition, staff in peacekeeping missions represented a disproportionate percentage of clients being served by the Office of Staff Legal Assistance.  There was a need to obtain an in-depth understanding of those trends, as well as their significance to the United Nations operations and reform efforts.  Finally, he noted with concern the Internal Justice Council’s identification of friction in the relationship between some judges and some Registry staff, which had affected productivity and morale.  The Council’s recommendation that the two entities’ responsibilities should be clearly delineated merit support, he said, also urging that the durational period between filing cases and resolving them be expedited.

CATHERINE BOUCHER (Canada), also speaking for Australia and New Zealand, commended the inclusion of a Code of Conduct for Legal Representatives and Litigants in Person in the Annex to General Assembly resolution 71/266.  That inclusion would help ensure that all individuals acting as legal representatives for the United Nations were held to the same high standards of professional conduct.  In 2016, the majority of staff members filing cases with the United Nations Dispute Tribunal had been self-represented, and no matter how intelligent or hard-working they were, navigating a complex labour dispute with a large organization could be daunting and overwhelming. 

She also underscored the importance of ensuring the United Nations had a system that allowed its human resources professionals to effectively manage employees who were not meeting the Organization’s high standards.  Only 1 per cent of staff had received ratings suggesting they were underperforming, in part because managers feared employees lodging complaints.  The International Justice Council’s report included references to concerns relating to the reality and appearance of the independence of the judges of the United Nations Dispute Tribunal and the Appeals Tribunal.  Such impressions could compromise the trust of litigants.  The independence of judges was therefore critical. 

DAMARIS CARNAL (Switzerland) said that the system of administration of justice must be provided with the necessary resources to be able to function effectively and fairly.  Expressing concern that certain key functions were under-resourced, she added that effective protection against retaliation was an indispensable attribute of a fair and effective system of internal justice.  Almost half of the workforce consisted of non-staff personnel.  Many of those persons were engaged, not in short-time consultancy-type work, but in performing the same or similar functions as staff over prolonged periods of time.  In the absence of a remedy before domestic courts, which were generally unavailable due to the Organization’s immunity, those persons must be granted access to an alternative remedy to settle work-related disputes.

ANA FIERRO (Mexico), while praising the hard work of the organs and agencies that made up the internal justice system at the Organization, said that clear improvements were needed in accessibility and operationalization.  Drawing attention to the plight of non-staff personnel, she pointed out that often local staff was hired as consultants and individual contractors to perform the same functions as staff.  When it came to access to means of resolving workplace disputes, staff and non-staff personnel were treated differently.  Furthermore, staff members were often unaware of the tools to uphold their rights; that held particularly true for non-staff.

CARLOS GARCÍA REYES (Guatemala), associating himself with CELAC, said that the administration of justice system was intended to be transparent.  Its actions were supposed to be compatible with international law and due process.  Against that background, he said he was delighted by the headway achieved since that system had rolled out, adding that it had had a positive impact on workplace performance.  He expressed his support for the Office of Staff Legal Assistance, which had played a key role through the provision of legal services and advice to staff.  Legal assistance was a tool that provided representation and ensured that everyone was treated equally.

EMILY PIERCE (United States) said that the Internal Justice Council’s report made it clear that there still existed a substantial fear of retaliation among staff.   During the reporting period, there were no findings on the accountability of managers.  The Management Evaluation Unit’s work in conducting management reviews of administration decisions appeared to have resulted in a decrease in the amount of litigation pursued at the Dispute Tribunal and the Appeals Tribunal.  Acknowledging the contributions of the Office of the Ombudsman and Mediation Services, she added that early and informal resolution of disputes should be encouraged.

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Daily Press Briefing by the Office of the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General

The following is a near-verbatim transcript of today’s noon briefing by Stéphane Dujarric, Spokesman for the Secretary-General.

**Nobel Peace Prize

As you will have seen now, this morning, the Secretary-General tweeted out his congratulations to the International Campaign to [Abolish] Nuclear Weapons on their win of the Nobel Peace Prize for 2017.  Now more than ever, the Secretary-General said, we need a world without nuclear weapons.  And we do expect a full statement very shortly.

[The following statement was issued afterward:  The Secretary-General congratulates the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) on being awarded the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize.  Events over the past months have reminded us of the catastrophic risk that nuclear weapons pose to humanity.  This Prize recognizes the determined efforts of civil society to highlight the unconscionable humanitarian and environmental consequences that would result if they were ever used again.

In July, these efforts contributed to the adoption of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, the first multilateral legally binding instrument for nuclear disarmament in decades.  Nuclear disarmament has been an objective for the United Nations since the very first General Assembly resolution in 1946, which established the goal of ridding the world of nuclear weapons and all weapons of mass destruction.  At a time when nuclear anxieties are at the highest level since the Cold War, the Secretary-General calls on all countries to show vision and greater commitment for a world free of nuclear weapons.  The Secretary-General stresses the urgency to do all we can to end the threat of a nuclear nightmare.]

**Children and Armed Conflict

As you are also well aware, the Secretary-General’s report on Children and Armed Conflict is out as a document, online in six languages, and you heard from his Special Representative, Virginia Gamba, on that topic earlier today.  In a statement we issued yesterday afternoon, the Secretary-General said that he is appalled that more than 8,000 children were killed and maimed in conflict situations in 2016.  The Secretary-General once more urges parties to conflict to abide by their responsibility to protect children, in accordance with their obligation under international humanitarian and human rights law.  He calls on all parties to conflict to engage with the United Nations to improve the protection of children in line with the relevant Security Council resolutions.

**Bangladesh-Myanmar

The Emergency Relief Coordinator, Mark Lowcock, spoke to the press in Geneva today, having recently wrapped up a visit to Bangladesh with UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Fund) Executive Director Anthony Lake.  The Emergency Relief Coordinator stressed today that the origins of the crisis in Bangladesh are in Myanmar and that its solutions ultimately have to be in Myanmar.  He reiterated the Secretary-General’s calls for unfettered full humanitarian access and [an end] to military operation; and the safe, dignified and voluntary return of Rohingya refugees.  He said that this is a refugee crisis and reiterated his gratitude to the Government, institutions and people of Bangladesh for their generosity towards these refugees.

Meanwhile, UNHCR [Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees] is focusing on protecting refugees and providing them with shelter and water and sanitation.  It is also working towards relieving overcrowding in the two existing camps of Kutupalong and Nyapara.  For its part, the World Health Organization (WHO) aims to put the additional funding towards stepping up health services, including by bolstering the prevention of communicable diseases.  Our humanitarian colleagues now tell us the number of Rohingya refugees who have fled Myanmar for Bangladesh since 25 August stands at 515,000 people.

**Syria

Turning to Syria, the UN continues to be deeply concerned for the safety and protection of over a million people across Syria’s Deir ez-Zor Governorate.  On Wednesday, fighting around Sawa village and surrounding areas led to hundreds of families reportedly fleeing to northern Deir ez-Zor or to the eastern countryside.  Many of the displaced have moved to locations difficult for humanitarian workers to have access.  The last UN interagency humanitarian delivery to Deir ez-Zor city was on 27 September, which delivered assistance for 75,000 people.  Since the last delivery, fighting in the western countryside south of Deir ez-Zor city has reportedly resulted in the highway in the area being cut off, and it continues to be inaccessible for commercial and humanitarian movement.

**Cameroon

The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights today echoed the concern of the Secretary-General about the violence in South-West and North-West Cameroon.  The Office calls on the Government of Cameroon to establish prompt, effective, impartial and independent investigations to ensure accountability.  They also urge the authorities to ensure that the security forces exercise restraint and take measures to prevent the use of force when policing demonstrations.  The High Commissioner’s Office reiterates that people should be allowed to exercise their right to peaceful assembly and freedom of expression, including through having uninterrupted access to the internet.  Our colleagues also call on all people to pursue peaceful means to make themselves heard.  The High Commissioner’s Office urges the Government and Anglophone groups to engage in a meaningful political dialogue so that the grievances of the Anglophone population can be fully addressed.

**Fishing

The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) urged today more countries to join the treaty against illegal fishing — the Port State Measures Agreement — aimed at ridding the world of a multibillion-dollar scourge that damages human nutrition and environmental sustainability.

**Budget

We have a press release on the financial situation of the UN which is available on our office, courtesy of the Department of Management.

**Appointments

Today, the Secretary-General has appointed Major General Kristin Lund of Norway as the Head of Mission and Chief of Staff of the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO).  Major General Lund succeeds Major General Arthur David Gawn of New Zealand, who will complete his assignment on 19 October.  The Secretary-General is grateful to Major General Gawn for his two years of dedicated leadership.  Since joining the Norwegian Army in 1979, Major General Lund has had a distinguished military career, with wide-ranging command and staff experience at both national and international levels, including as the Deputy Commander of the Norwegian Army Forces Command.  Her bio is in my office.  If I am not mistaken, she was also the first woman to be appointed a Force Commander at the United Nations.

**Press Briefings

After I am done here, we will hear briefly from Brenden [Varma] and then we will be joined by our guests:  Feki tamoeloa ‘Utoi kamanu, the Under-Secretary-General and High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States.  She will be joined by Odbayar Erdenetsogt — I apologize for the pronunciation — Ambassador at-Large and Interim Director of the International Think Tank for LLDCs; and Ambassador Lazarous Kapambwe, Permanent Representative of the Republic of Zambia to the UN and Chair of Landlocked Developing Countries.  They will brief you on the intergovernmental agreement on the International Think Tank for the Landlocked Developing Countries, which enters into force today.  Right after that, you will hear from the Ambassador Permanent Representative of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Ambassador Abdallah Y.  Al-Mouallimi.  And at 1 p.m. on Monday, there will be a press conference here by the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, the newly minted winners of the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize.  Khalas.  Questions? Yes, sir.

**Questions and Answers

Question:  [Inaudible]… do you like answering about Cyprus?

Spokesman:  There are no questions I don’t like answering.

Question:  Okay, thank you.  First, Stéphane, yesterday, answering about recognition, you said that this procedure is up to other international organizations and not up to the Secretary-General to decide.  How is it possible for the United Nations and the Secretary-General to talk about any kind of recognition that will officially divide an equal UN member, like the Republic of Cyprus and to neglect…

Spokesman:  I think what I… go ahead.

Question:  Thank you.  And to neglect 200,000 refugees, like myself, actually, who were forced to leave their home in 1974 because of the Turkish invasion and occupation.

Spokesman:  Two things.  The settlement of Cyprus is one that is up to the parties.  The United Nations has put up its good offices.  The Secretary-General has put up his good offices.  A report has gone to the Security Council.  It will be made public later this month.  And I think the Secretary-General’s views on the issue is well known.  What I was answering was on the issue of principle, on how recognition of membership is devised.  It is not a statement on the current state of the discussions in Cyprus.  Yes, sir?

Question:  The second question is related to what you just said.  Although the Secretary-General’s report is not yet a public document, like you just said, we are all aware that there was no reference by the Secretary-General for the reason that led to the Crans‑Montana failure, and the reason is because Turkey refused to withdraw their troops and guarantees.  Is the General… Secretary-General aware that the absence of such a reference encourages Turkey, the invader, to talk about two states in Cyprus? For example, three days ago…

Spokesman:  I think… I’m not here to hear a statement.  What is the… I will answer the question, which is the Secretary-General put in a lot of effort this year on the Cyprus issue.  I think he was very clear in his statement after Crans‑Montana.  He used very clear and simple words.  I don’t think they’re up for reinterpretation.  There will be a report to the Security Council, and I think we’ll let the report speak for itself.  I will come back to you.  Thank you.  Yes ma’am?

Question:  Hi.  It’s been widely published that the Trump Administration is planning to decertify Iran next week.  Is the Secretary-General concerned that this might trigger a new arms race in Iran, and what is he doing about it?

Spokesman:  As a matter of… as a standing order, we’re not going to comment on things that may or may not happen.  I think the Secretary-General’s been very clear on his view of the joint agreement… JCPOA [Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action] — thank you, Matthew — and that he feels it was one of the most critical diplomatic achievements of the past years, and that everything should be done to preserve it.  Mr. Klein?

Correspondent:  Thank you.  I want to go back to Cyprus for a moment, if I may.

Spokesman:  Who would have thunk?

Question:  Who would have thunk.  As you know, settlements have been declared illegal under international law in the West Bank, previously in Gaza but now in the West Bank, for quite a number of years and including in the resolution passed last December by the Security Council.  So I would like to know whether the Secretary-General would distinguish the settlement of Turkish residents from Turkey, en masse, in the Turkish portion of Cyprus.  Does he see that as also potentially illegal settlement activity, particularly with the military from Turkey stationed there, or does he see a distinction?

Spokesman:  I appreciate your question.  I will leave the compare-and-contrast exercise to analysts and journalists.  The Secretary-General has done… put in a lot of time and effort to try to reach… and I would say to his immediate predecessors as well, a settlement on Cyprus.  He has… it is up to the parties to come to an agreement.  The UN is there to facilitate it, and there are obviously a large number of issues that have to be worked through by those parties.

Question:  But if settlements… no, let me just…?

Spokesman:  I’m not… listen.  I’m not equipped intellectually or in any other manner to go into this issue in the depth that you would like me to go into.  Yes, sir?

Correspondent:  Thank you, Matthew.

Spokesman:  I know Farhan [Haq] and I look alike, but I guess maybe I need to shave my beard.  Yes, go ahead.

Correspondent:  I think it was because of that.

Spokesman:  That’s okay.  Go ahead.

Question:  I need more coffee.  So I have two questions about Iraq.  The first one is you might have heard the news that Iraqi forces successfully controlled Hawija.  That was the last major ISIS stronghold in Iraq, a major victory for the Iraqi forces.  Is there any statement coming out by the Secretary-General or by yourself?  And the second question is about the tensions between Erbil and Baghdad.  Right now, the French president has made an initiative for dialogue.  I know your envoy has met with most of the leaders these days, but it doesn’t look like it’s enough.  The tensions are really rising; it hasn’t been stopped.  Why the Secretary-General is not taking more role than sending his envoy, given that his priority, since day number one, is preventing a conflict?

Spokesman:  The Secretary-General’s following this issue extremely closely.  Our colleagues in the political mission in Iraq are in the lead and are keeping the Secretary-General abreast.  We’re fully aware of the rising tensions.  Our calls continue for calm.  If I have any more to share with you on the discussions, I will.  On the liberation of Hawija, I don’t have anything specific, just to say that obviously, our humanitarian colleagues are… on the ground have created space for those people who had fled the town.  And I think with the liberation of Hawija or any other town that we’ve seen from Daesh, it’s important that the reconstruction not be only physical but also psychological, in a way, to ensure that people feel safe in coming home, that communities of different faiths or groups are able to live together, and that they all have faith in the authorities.

Question:  With regard to the tensions, does the Secretary-General think this is… these current efforts are enough?

Spokesman:  I think we’re watching the situation as it goes.  Mr. Lee?

Question:  Sure, thanks a lot.  I want to… I do want to ask you about Cameroon, but since you… you said that you… you like answering all questions, I want to start with…

Spokesman:  I knew that was going to come back to me.

Question:  Yeah, it is, and you’re… this is… it’s a policy question, so I think…  Which I think you’re equipped to answer.  I believe so.  It’s… it’s a media access question, and it’s not about me.  It has to do with the journalists from… from Saharawi Media, RASD TV, who applied a month ago to be accredited to cover the UN, including this month when Western Sahara is on the Council’s agenda.  And he received a denial that said that you can only be accredited here if you’re with an organization formerly registered… formally registered as a media organization in a country recognized by the UN General Assembly.  So I know some people think of this as sort of the Taiwan rule.  But is it true, is it the case that this rule is also applied to Western Sahara which, although not a country yet, is party to a conflict on the… on the… can you…

Spokesman:  I don’t… I’ll look into it.

Question:  And also what is the… because… and the policy… the second part of the policy question is:  Given the propensity of some governments to… to dislike, decertify, and close down and media, including in Cameroon, why does the UN… I could understand them saying we need to… we, as the UN, say this is a media organization, but why does a media organization have to be approved by its own government, which is what the line quoted to this individual implies?

Spokesman:  I will look into the issue.  Your Cameroon… Go ahead.

Question:  Yeah, yeah.  And I did see Prince… or Rupert Colville’s statement and I just… and I want… and you may say ask them, but I wanted to ask you.  There’s two things in it that I wanted to ask you about.  One of has — they used a Government figure of ten killed, which is much lower than you can just find in a cursory search.  So does this imply that the UN has no capability, or it just hasn’t yet tallied its own figures? And can you find out from the Secretariat or UN system-wide what is the presence of the UN system in the two regions that these various statements have referred to? Are there…

Spokesman:  Okay, I know we have a presence.  I’ll… I thought I had the information, I’ll get that to you.  I can’t speak for our human rights colleagues, but I believe they… they… as a matter of course, they can speak on things they can actually verify.

Question:  Right.  And the final thing, and I appreciate it, is that you didn’t read the part of the statement where it finished by welcoming Paul Biya’s statement calling for dialogue.  And so yesterday… I know you don’t read the whole statement.  I understand.  But too many people… this was… was a particularly absurd part of the statement, the reason being the President hasn’t been back to the country since the GA.

Spokesman:  I mean, we have welcomed the Government’s call for a dialogue.

Question:  Do you believe that any dialogue has taken place and will Mr. Francois Fall play a part in that dialogue?

Spokesman:  We remain available and we would like Mr. Fall to travel as soon as possible.  Jordan?

Question:  Thank you.  There is a report that the SG, actually on Wednesday, had a phone call with the King of Saudi Arabia, who was in Russia.  If that’s the case, did the SG discuss the report on armed…?

Spokesman:  They did speak while the King was in… was indeed in Moscow.  They had a very good and pleasant discussion on, I would phrase it as on issues of global… on the Middle East and beyond, and issues of common concern.

Question:  My question:  If the SG phone call was mainly because of the report on the armed conflict?

Spokesman:  I think there are a lot of issues on the bilateral UN—Saudi agenda.

Question:  Can you tell me…?

Spokesman:  No, I can’t tell you more.  I’ve run out of words.

Question:  Can you tell me yes or no, or you don’t know?

Spokesman:  What I know is irrelevant.  What I’m answering is relevant.  Last question, then we’ll go to our guests.

Question:  Second one, please?  Thank you for giving me this opportunity.  Like you said in the first place, allow me to say that there’s no doubt about the Secretary-General’s attempts regarding the Cyprus problem.  However, the Crans‑Montana failure was due to the refusal of Turkey to withdraw their troops…

Spokesman:  No, I’m not entering into a debate of what happened.  I just want to hear your question.  If you have a question…

Correspondent:  I have a question.

Spokesman:  Give me a question mark.

Question:  Three days ago, because of this… because of this reference, they declared enclave tax to the Greek Cypriots.  This is a very serious question.  How is the United Nations and the Secretary-General responding to that? Enclave tax in our own country.  That’s the question.  Thank you.

Spokesman:  The… all these numbers of issues need to be dealt with by the parties, and the Secretary-General very much hopes that the parties will reach an agreement, and I will leave it at that.  One quick question, and then we’ll go to Brenden.  [He later added:  At 10:50 a.m. on 4 October, an UNFICYP vehicle carrying humanitarian supplies departed Nicosia for Greek Cypriot communities in the Karpas, as has been regular practice for close to four decades.  UNFICYP was obliged to limit today’s delivery to medical aid supplies, following the Turkish Cypriot administration’s unilateral decision to impose taxes and fees on other humanitarian goods.  UNFICYP regrets the decision taken by the Turkish Cypriot administration, which it considers to be an unfortunate development.  The Mission’s role of delivering humanitarian assistance to Greek Cypriot and Maronite communities in the northern part of the island is based on a longstanding agreement between the sides known as Vienna III, and provides hundreds of elderly and other vulnerable people with basic supplies on a weekly basis.  UNFICYP stands ready to assist the sides to reach a mutually acceptable solution, with the interests of the affected communities in mind.]

Question:  Do you have any statement in your… in your book or binder or whatever it is that you have back there on Cambodia moving to… to… to decertify the main opposition party?  I know you’ve had other comments in the past.

Spokesman:  Not at this point, but I’ll get something.  Brenden will brief very briefly, and then I’ll come back with our guests.

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Speakers Consider Value of Interdependence, Multilateralism, Joint Action in Tackling Global Challenges, on Fourth Day of Annual General Debate

The interdependence of States and the benefits of joint action must be recognized and reaffirmed, the General Assembly heard today, as speakers debated the value of multilateralism in addressing pressing global challenges, ranging from inequality to climate change.

Never in history had moving away from diplomacy led to progress in the promotion of universal values, said Prime Minister Charles Michel of Belgium, declaring that doing so would be an act of “cowardly abandon”.  On the fourth day of the Assembly’s annual general debate, he described multilateralism as a robust and reliable driving force for creating a better world, emphasizing the necessity of coordination and consensus.  Globalization had generated doubts and fears, yet multilateralism was not to blame, he said, emphasizing that although multilateralism was complicated and could create difficulties, international and regional organizations and action must be strengthened.

Reinforcing that sentiment, Margot Wallström, Sweden’s Minister for Foreign Affairs stressed:  “This is the moment for multilateralism, not unilateralism”, warning that unless countries grasped that chance, they would “face the consequences”.  Today, “going it alone” was not an option, she said, adding that Member States had the responsibility to act coherently and flexibly.

Prime Minister Edi Rama of Albania said protectionist approaches were challenging the existing international global order without proposing anything credible to replace it.  However, no country, however big, rich or powerful, could face or solve problems alone, he cautioned.  In that context, one of the pillars of Albania’s foreign policy was the development of regional cooperation and the transformation of the Western Balkans into an area of free movement for people, goods, capital and ideas, he said.

In a similar vein, Prime Minister Allen Michael Chastanet of Saint Lucia said multilateral discussions were needed to address inequality and other issues.  If States indulged their differences, inequity would persist as the driving force in the international system and people would struggle to survive, he cautioned, emphasizing that the global reality increasingly called for integrating economies, the environment and people.

Gudlaugur Thór Thórdarson, Iceland’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, said his country had risen to become one of the wealthiest countries in Europe, describing its “rags to riches” path as a textbook example of the power of free trade.  He urged the international community to open its markets and allow poor countries to trade freely with all consumers.  Free trade also meant forming international relationships and promoting interaction among all peoples, regardless of colour or religion.  Since the markets of the world’s richest countries remained closed to the poorest, it was incumbent upon the international community to support developing nations, he emphasized.

Samura M. W. Kamara, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Sierra Leone, speaking on behalf of President Ernest Bai Koroma, stressed the need to strengthen the role of mediation in the settlement of disputes, highlighting the gains realized through preventive diplomacy.  Mediation remained a powerful tool for preventing and settling armed conflicts and must be fully utilized.  Mediation efforts had proven very fruitful for Sierra Leone in terms of timely cessation of hostilities, credible ceasefire agreements and the deployment of peacekeeping missions, he said.

Throughout the day, speakers also highlighted the devastating havoc that climate change was wreaking on thei

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Harnessing rather than suppressing informal trade can give Africa a boost

Photo: ©Sebastian Liste/NOOR for FAO

Seeds for sale in Sierra Leone.

25 May 2017, Kigali – Africa’s vast but informal cross-border trade can contribute to improving livelihoods and increasing regional integration across the continent, according to a new report presented at a conference here.

Informal cross-border trading, in which transactions are not compliant with local tax and other rules,  accounts for a large share – between 20 and a hefty 70 percent – of employment in sub-Saharan Africa, and putting it on a regular footing can lift sustainable prosperity and markedly improve prospects for women, says FAO’s new publication, Formalization of informal trade in Africa.

Around half of all intra-African cross-border trade is classified as informal, indicating its large if officially invisible role. Proactive policies that recognize such activity, tapping its potential with the aim of steering it towards proper regulatory status, are to be preferred over heavy-handed approaches to eradicate or seek rents from entrepreneurs, according to FAO.

“Facilitating formalization is the only viable policy option for Africa’s transformation agenda to realize its objectives,” says Suffyan Koroma, FAO senior economist and lead author of the report. 

“Despite the significant contribution of the informal sector to African economies, the policy makers quite often have no information on ICBT due to lack of quality data, this has hampered the development of supporting policies to the sector,”said Clement Onyango from the Nairobichapter of Consumer Unity and Trust Society, a non-governmental organization that is co-hosting the conference with FAO.

A huge role for women

Informal cross-border trade activity is largely a second-choice option taken by people in the absence of clearly defined formal alternatives. It consists of trade in goods and services, often agricultural in nature, and in times of food crises and other shocks has proven to be more responsible than legal channels.

Off-the-radar economic activity, not all of it involving international trade, accounts for around 40 percent of GDP in Africa, higher than in Latin America or Asia.

The trade is rarely illegal. In most cases it is informal because practitioners have poor access to all the appropriate business licenses, administrative skills and knowledge of import and custom-tax laws to act otherwise. While such activity is an important source of household income, practitioners are often prey to corruption and their weak access to credit means their activities are rarely stable or sustainable.

 Women constitute the largest share of such informal traders, comprising more than half in Western and Central Africa and about 70 percent in Southern Africa, the FAO report found.

Patterns differ by region: In Tanzania, women dominate trade in manufactured products while men handle mostly raw or semi-processed agricultural products, whereas the opposite is the case in Cameroon. Women and men tend to differ in which foodstuffs – fresh produce or commodity staples – they trade as well. Appropriate policies must take such facts into account.

The Kigali conference is part of ongoing FAO-supported work in the country, along with UN Women and other development partners, aimed at enabling women to benefit more from agri-food chains, a project geared to allowing women small traders access useful information as well as start-up capital.

Local agricultural produce and livestock account for two-thirds of Rwanda’s exports, most of which are informally traded, with the bulk going to neighboring countries, notably the Democratic Republic of Congo. Rwanda encourages informal small traders to form cooperatives as a step towards regularization.

Women trading between the border posts of Kenya and Uganda and between Rwanda and Burundi prefer to use brokers who appear to shield them from what they perceive as unprofessional behavior of customs officials, the report notes.

FAO, working with Catholic Relief Service, has also organized open-door events on the Rwanda-Congo border where women cooperatives were invited to learn more about the cross-border tax regime directly from custom officials and government representatives.

“Rwanda has emerged as a model of best practice for cross border trade through its efforts to integrate the informal economy by easing trade channels for small-scale agricultural traders,”said Attaher Maiga, FAO’s Representative in Rwanda.

Policy recommendations

Aware that “ICBT-blindness” in national and regional trade policies and poverty reduction strategies may be hampering progress, African governments are increasingly making efforts to identify dynamics in the sector. In Uganda, both the Bureau of Statistics and the central bank monitor such flows and the government is discussing whether an approach focusing on quality control and value-added potential so that traders can earn more should take priority over a laisser-faire approach or actions aimed at suppression.

Key priorities to facilitate the formalization of informal cross-border trading according to FAO, include the simplification of licensing requirements, tax  incentives, fostering partnerships, radio, television and town-hall outreach to participants in the informal economy, and intensifying efforts to tackle official corruption. 

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Raising Domestic Revenues, Resisting Protectionism Key to Funding Sustainable Development Goals, Speakers Tell Economic and Social Council Forum

The Economic and Social Council Forum on Financing for Development follow-up opened its expert segment today with a panel discussion and set of three thematic round tables dedicated to garnering the vast resources required to achieve the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Alexander Trepelkov, Director of the Financing for Development Office in the Department of Economic and Social Affairs, said the Forum’s expert segment would focus on the state of implementation in all “action areas” of the Addis Ababa Action Agenda, adopted in 2015 to fund the world’s sustainable development framework.  “The next two days present an excellent opportunity to identify success stories and the lessons drawn from them to apply in our countries and contexts,” he said.

In the morning, the Forum took part in a panel discussion on the “2017 report of the Inter-Agency Task Force on Financing for Development”, formed in 2015 to follow up on the Addis Agenda.  Five panellists highlighted the report’s findings and offered proposals for spurring global growth.

Yonov Frederick Agah, Deputy Director-General of the World Trade Organization (WTO), said a central recommendation was that Governments should work together to resist inward-looking and protectionist pressures.  While trade generated higher productivity, inadequate attention to those left behind by globalization had raised concerns.  The policy response should recognize that trade was only one factor contributing to economic change, along with technology and innovation.

Another major focus must be to raise domestic revenues, said Siddarth Tiwari, Director of the Strategy Policy and Review Department of the International Monetary Fund (IMF).  The Fund had increased support for doing that by one fifth since 2015.  While easier said than done, it required the most attention.

Richard Kozul-Wright, Director of the Division on Globalization and Development Strategies at the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), said the biggest problem was the global slowdown in public and private investment.  The reasons for that included sluggish global demand following policy mistakes in advanced economies, corporate rent-seeking that had dampened productive investment, and high debt dependence.  He called for a new global strategy to achieve the inclusive outcomes embedded in the Sustainable Development Goals.

The morning also featured a round table on “domestic and international public resources”, covering action areas A and C of the Addis Agenda.  Four panellists outlined ways to mobilize resources, with Darrell Bradley, Mayor of Belize City, stressing that subnational governments generated as much as 40 per cent of public investment.

On that point, Philippe Orliange, Director of Agence Française de Développement, said that with 23 national, regional and international development banks, and $3 trillion in assets, the International Development Finance Club had a key role to play in domestic resource mobilization as it could finance local governments.

Jorge Moreira da Silva, Director of the Development Cooperation Directorate of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), said his organization was catalysing investment in “Sustainable Development Goal-critical” sectors, and collaborating with the United Nations to develop the “total official support for sustainable development” – a new measure to better understand today’s global financing landscape.

Two afternoon round tables took up issues of “domestic and international private business and finance” and “debt and systemic issues”, respectively.  In the first, moderator Preeti Sinha, Senior President of the YES Institute, said “Sustainable Development Goal finance” should be led by the private sector, as $3 trillion would be needed annually.  The major question hinged on balancing that need with the funds available, $218 trillion of which was in global capital markets and $75 billion in the “impact industry”.

In the second round table, panellist Patricia Miranda, Senior Officer on Finance for Development at Latindadd Fundación Jubileo in Bolivia, said that if developed countries fell into debt distress, it would have a systemic impact on the global economy.  It had taken Latin America two decades to recover from the effects of debt on the most marginalized peoples.  As such, it was essential to provide the right framework to encourage early debtor-creditor engagement towards efficient and timely restructuring.

The Forum on Financing for Development follow-up will reconvene at 9:30 a.m. on Thursday, 25 May, to continue its expert segment.

Opening Remarks

ALEXANDER TREPELKOV, Director of the Financing for Development Office, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, opened the expert segment of the Economic and Social Council Forum on Financing for Development follow-up, which he said would focus on the state of implementation in all action areas of the Addis Ababa Action Agenda.  It also would allow for addressing new and emerging topics, with the Inter-Agency Task Force on Financing for Development report serving as a guide for the discussion.  Led by the World Bank Group, International Monetary Fund (IMF), World Trade Organization (WTO), United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the report contained input from more than 50 United Nations agencies, funds, programmes and offices, regional commissions and others.  “The next two days present an excellent opportunity to identify success stories and the lessons drawn from them to apply in our countries and contexts,” he said.  The goal was for the Task Force analysis to support States in implementing the Addis Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals.

Panel Discussion

The Forum held a panel discussion on the “2017 report of the Inter-Agency Task Force on Financing for Development”, moderated by Shari Spiegel, Chief, Policy Analysis and Development, Financing for Development Office, Department of Economic and Social Affairs.  The panel featured presentations by Yonov Frederick Agah, Deputy Director-General, WTO; Siddarth Tiwari, Director, Strategy Policy and Review Department, IMF; Richard Kozul-Wright, Director, Division on Globalization and Development Strategies, UNCTAD; Pedro Conceição, Director, Bureau for Policy and Programme Support, UNDP; and David Kuijper, Adviser, Financing for Development, World Bank Group.

Ms. SPIEGEL said the Task Force report contained an opening segment on the implementation of the Addis Agenda, a thematic chapter, and subsequent chapters on each area of that instrument.  It had found that slow growth and a challenging economic environment, while improving, had hampered implementation of the Agenda.  It was unlikely that the goal of eliminating poverty would be achieved by 2030.  The Task Force also had found that long-term investment in infrastructure and addressing vulnerabilities through social protection floors and a global safety net were needed.  Those two issues, if done right, could create a positive cycle, by helping to achieve the Goals and fostering growth.

Mr. AGAH said one of the report’s central recommendations was that Governments should work together to resist inward-looking and protectionist pressures.  The benefits of opening trade were broad and deep.  Trade generated higher productivity, increased competition, more choice and better prices in the marketplace.  Yet, inadequate attention to those left behind by globalization, trade and technology had raised concerns about the trade system.  Governments must ensure its benefits reached more people.  The policy response should recognize that trade was only one factor contributing to economic change, along with technology and innovation.  WTO had a unique role in fostering equitable trade relations underpinned by common rules agreed by its members.  Strengthening the WTO was essential, he said, calling on Governments and institutions to ensure that the benefits were better understood.  Unequal levels of digital development had limited some countries’ participation in e-commerce.  While access to information and communications technology was necessary, it was not the only factor required for all people to benefit from online trade.

Mr. TIWARI said there was no silver bullet that would “get us to the end” of the Addis Agenda.  International, regional, national and subnational efforts across all areas were needed.  Following the 2008 financial crisis, public and private investment in infrastructure had fallen.  Yet infrastructure was vital for sustaining growth in many countries.  In more than half of low-income countries, the revenue-to-gross domestic product (GDP) ratio hovered around 15 per cent, which was generally inadequate to provide even basic services, minus wage and other payments.  Thus, a key focus moving forward would be to raise domestic revenues.  The Fund had increased support for doing that by one fifth since 2015.  While “easier said than done”, it required the most attention.

Mr. KOZUL-WRIGHT said the report’s first chapter called for a new growth strategy to achieve the inclusive outcomes embedded in the Goals.  “We don’t have that growth strategy yet,” he said.  Since the 2008 crisis, growth had slowed and inequality had risen, what the IMF called the “new normal”.  The biggest challenge today was the slowdown in public and private investment, and as the Goals represented a call for the biggest investment push in modern history, a major question centred on why investment had slowed.  There were three reasons, first of which was slowing global demand, which impacted profit expectations and was attributed to policy mistakes in advanced economies, notably a one-sided reliance on monetary policy to stimulate demand, which had increased global instability, and distributional constraints.  The second reason was the “financialization of corporate strategies”.  Corporations had moved into short-term, rent-seeking behaviour which was detrimental to long-term productive investment.  The third reason was the drag from high debt dependence, with debt stocks having risen by $50 trillion since 2008.  Investment had declined across the board in both developed and developing countries.  In seeking a new global growth strategy, those systemic challenges must be addressed.  There was an essential need for developing countries to expand their fiscal space, while a far more ambitious set of mechanisms must be created to address debt overhang and related problems.

Mr. CONCEIÇÃO said the Goals were “coming to life”, known by the public and increasingly being integrated into national plans, strategies and budgets.  Countries today were asking UNDP how to prioritize their plans to achieve the Goals, and then finance those priorities.  One Addis Agenda recommendation had to do with integrated national financing frameworks, which he called visionary, as countries required a holistic approach.  Part of those efforts involved aligning resources to implement the Goals.  The report referred to development finance assessments, which helped countries establish a baseline for financing flows and policy institutions to help them formulate national financing frameworks.  Another recommendation had to do with vulnerability.  It was becoming clear that a major risk to implementation of the Goals had to do with how countries suffered shocks, whether from conflict, trade or climate.  Thus, the report addressed social protections and financing instruments that allowed countries to address systematic shocks, and referred to State-contingent financing instruments in that context.

Mr. KUIJPER addressed the issue of countries and markets that were under stress — whether from fragility, environmental factors or displacement.  Three quarters of the global poor lived in such countries and it was important to tackle the transformation required in them in an innovative manner.  The main obligation was to connect growth opportunities to the global financial system, with a view to connecting them to long-term finance.  There were two ways to do that.  One was through official development assistance (ODA).  The fundamentals that fostered risk could not be addressed unless there were significant channels of ODA to those countries.  A second way centred on gender.  Globally, some countries were losing 5 to 30 per cent of growth due to a lack of gender-sensitive policies and others that led to the advancement of women’s position in the economy.

Mr. TIWARI, responding to a second question by Ms. Spiegel, said the medium-term forecast for developing countries was lower than projected in 2015, with growth between 2015 and 2020 weaker mainly for oil producers and exporters.  Budget revenues had fallen, as had net flows to low-income countries.  As to why investment was not increasing, he said there was no liquidity in terms of raising capital.  Before 2008, productivity and the share of labour income were falling, which likely had constrained investment.  Public balance sheets were strained.  “Productivity needs to rise,” he said.  Without it, neither public nor private investment would increase.  Innovation, a major productivity driver, also must increase and be inclusive.  He advocated skills development, without which large parts of the population would be left behind.  He cited Denmark and Singapore with national strategies and skill development programmes as two countries that had kept up with a changing landscape.

Mr. KOZUL-WRIGHT said “getting the macroeconomics right” was fundamental to building the sustainable growth path that the world needed.  The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development was rightly ambitious.  It was unclear, however, whether there was an ambitious environment in which to pursue it.  He called 1947 “the year that multilateralism started”.  The IMF had opened, the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) had been initiated, the United Nations had been established, its regional commissions had held their first conference, importantly, on trade and employment, and the Marshall Plan — the most ambitious development cooperation plan in history — had been inaugurated.  Ambition was an issue to place on the table.

Mr. CONCEIÇÃO agreed that productivity must increase, especially through technology use.  However, evidence had shown a delinking between labour productivity increases and average family earnings in both developed and developing countries.  “We have to examine the role of technology,” he said.  On one hand, there was no lack of savings.  On the other, investment needs were massive, even without the Goals and notably for infrastructure.  ODA was relevant for countries that had shifted to a higher income level but were still vulnerable.

Mr. KUIJPER agreed that the spirit of 1947 must return.  “We need to create a similar kind of momentum behind this Agenda,” he said, citing an enormous challenge of “getting the financing for development process right”.  The creation of good ideas required a process in which many ideas could flow.

Mr. AGAH said the issue of inclusive growth must start with trade, markets productive capacity and competitiveness.  Each country, depending on its economic and political situation, could adapt complementary policies in investment, infrastructure or other areas to achieve its goals.

In the ensuing discussion, a speaker from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) commented that its data and measurement frameworks were global public goods.  Bangladesh’s delegate asked Mr. Tiwari whether it was possible to address domestic resource mobilization, without addressing illicit flows, through international cooperation.  A speaker from the World Health Organization (WHO) said that page 33 of the Task Force report referred to tobacco taxation, which he called a “low-lying fruit” as a revenue stream for financing development.  Algeria’s delegate said the report’s section on trade did not fully consider recommendations of the joint report by WTO, the World Bank and IMF, and asked whether its content would be integrated into the next Task Force report.  The European Union representative welcomed the well-balanced report, and contributions by OECD, asking whether the 2018 Forum, to be held from 23 to 26 April, would have the latest data available.  Ms. SPIEGEL replied to the latter question that the Task Force could not update the report with the latest OECD data, due to printing deadlines.  However, the website could be updated.

Responding to those queries, Mr. CONCEIÇÃO said there was potential for innovative financing mechanisms.

Mr. KUIJPER, on the issue of tobacco taxation, said lessons could be learned from other experiences in innovation.

Mr. AGAH said that how well countries negotiated outcomes from the Doha round of trade talks depended on those involved.  The report by WTO, IMF and the World Bank had a slightly different focus.  Trade gains could never be equally distributed.  There would always be losers.  He advocated for examining competitiveness, and how well countries participated in markets.

Mr. TIWARI said a chapter in IMF’s World Economic Outlook examined labour income, which had fallen over the years, due in part to technology.

Mr. KOZUL-WRIGHT said trade gains were always significant in a perfectly competitive and informed marketplace and uncertain in an imperfect one.

Round Table A

Following the panel discussion, the Forum held a round table on “domestic and international public resources”.  Moderated by Pooja Rangaprasad, Policy Coordinator, Financial Transparency Coalition, it featured presentations by Darrell Bradley, Mayor of Belize City; Elfrieda Steward Tamba, Commissioner General, Liberia Revenue Authority; Philippe Orliange, Director, Agence Française de Développement; and Jorge Moreira da Silva, Director, Development Cooperation Directorate, OECD.

Opening the discussion, Ms. RANGAPRASAD said that the Addis Agenda recognized the centrality of mobilizing and effectively using domestic resources to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals and of complementing those efforts through scaled-up international public financial support, especially in the poorest and most vulnerable countries.  Policies to increase tax revenues had important implications for gender bias since women spent a larger portion of their income on basic goods while also getting paid lower wages than men.  Therefore, it was necessary to look into gender budgeting as a tool while also increasing commitments for dedicating aid and resources for gender equality.

Mr. BRADLEY citing a recent OECD study which showed that subnational governments currently generated as much as 40 per cent of the public investment, said that, when 30 per cent of national resources were granted to local governments, they were able to produce 50 per cent of the public investment.  In Belize, cash transfers from the central Government represented only 6 per cent of the annual budget for the Belize City council and the actual sum transferred had remained constant for the past 15 years despite an increasing population.  Local governments in Belize had filled the finance gap through creative strategies, which in turn required strong local leadership with a commitment to transparency and meaningful citizen engagement.  National Governments must create and supplement the legal, structural and policy frameworks that allowed empowered local governments to develop into relevant, effective and complementary branches of government.

Ms. TAMBA, noting that Africa hosted 65 per cent of the world’s ultra-poor and Liberia stood third among the least developed countries in the region, recalled the dip in Liberia’s economy due to the Ebola outbreak.  Nevertheless domestic revenue had increased between 2006 and 2013 due to strong growth and smart reforms in revenue administration.  She cited effective tools for public financing at the local level such as budget appropriations through the Country Development Fund and social contracts with endowed countries through the Social Development Fund.  In the last five years, Liberia had received $238 million in grants and $191 million in loans from international sources, representing 9 per cent and 7 per cent of the country’s total revenue respectively.  Stressing the importance of strengthening local systems for better resource management, she said that development banks had an important role in providing financing for sustainable development in Liberia.  The impact of ODA could also be maximized by building a social contract for eliminating leaks in revenue flow caused by transfer pricing, money-laundering, poor legislation and illicit flows.

Mr. ORLIANGE, calling development finance the “third pillar of development”, said that with 23 national, regional and international development banks, and cumulative assets of $3 trillion, the International Development Finance Club had a key role in domestic resource mobilization which could finance local governments.  There was also international recognition of the role of development banks as key implementing entities for international funds such as the Green Climate Fund.  The Club provided a collaborative platform for practitioners of development finance, as members could exchange experiences, disseminate best practices, identify areas of common interest for cooperation, and combine their financial and intellectual resources.  The Club’s key aim was to advocate for measuring and mainstreaming climate finance and facilitating access to financing for projects and their preparation.  The Club was fully aligned with the development finance agenda, he said, calling on the United Nations system and the Forum to bear in mind the potential of development banks.

Mr. DA SILVA, noting that his organization was the custodian of ODA, said that development aid had reached a new peak in 2016 as refugee costs had increased.  ODA still represented as much as 70 per cent of external financing for many least developed countries, and his organization was also catalysing investment in Sustainable Development Goal-critical sectors and strengthening development finance accountability and incentives.  Going beyond ODA statistically and analytically, it was necessary to put in place better measurement frameworks.  His organization was collaborating with the United Nations systems in developing the total official support for sustainable development which would help better understand the new international financing landscape.  Turning to the global outlook on financing for development, he said that OECD was supporting that through innovative research on financing, policy synergies and trade-offs, as well as by creating a nexus between external thinkers and practitioners.

A speaker from the IMF then took the floor, saying that while there had been enormous progress, figures showed that in half of the lowest income countries, less than 15 per cent of GDP was being raised through tax revenues.  The Fund aimed to help developing countries with revenue outcomes by improving the structure and fairness of national tax systems.  Highlighting the importance of international cooperation in revenue reforms, she said that it was crucial to harness synergies between major international financial institutions.  The Fund had worked with partner institutions to create a platform for collaboration on taxation.

In the ensuing discussion, the representative of Algeria asked the panellists how to improve accountability in the use of public financing.  A representative of Citigroup commented on the importance of harnessing private-sector resources to improve development financing.  Belgium’s representative said his Government followed a policy of giving tax exemptions to public financing projects, while a civil society representative noted that some countries in both the North and South followed regressive taxation policies which adversely affected resources available for public financing.

Responding to those queries, Mr. DA SILVA said that total official support for sustainable development could provide an added value to the discussion on transparency and accountability.  Stressing the importance of new sources of information, he added that it was important to get the total official support for sustainable development methodology endorsed widely so that it could be used for effective stock-taking.

Mr. ORLIANGE said that development banks were built to take risks that others couldn’t take, and therefore, instead of focusing on short-term gains, they could provide financing over the long term, whether for infrastructure or social programmes.  On the question of regressive taxation, he said that it was difficult to finance public policy if taxation rates were too low.  Countries had to take national decisions about their own policies but “if you have regressive taxation, you are digging the inequalities deeper,” he said.

Ms. TAMBA said that domestic resource mobilization was especially crucial in Africa and with the changing international taxation landscape, Liberia and Africa as a whole stood to benefit.  She called on developed countries to “walk the talk.”

Mr. BRADLEY said that in order to be meaningful, all strategies and interventions for improving the quality of life should be owned by the community.  Decentralization was crucial to achieving that, and a multilevel government framework based on transparency and trust would enable people to see local government as a relevant development partner.  The magic of local government was that it was closest to people, and it was positioned to listen to the concerns of women, indigenous people and other vulnerable groups.

Round Table B

In the afternoon, the Forum held a round table on “domestic and international private business and finance”.  Moderated by Preeti Sinha, Senior President, YES Institute, it featured presentations by Courtney Rattray, Permanent Representative of Jamaica to the United Nations; Hervé Duteil, Managing Director, Head of Corporate Social Responsibility and Sustainable Finance for the Americas, BNP Paribas; Naohiro Nishiguchi, Executive Managing Director, Japan Innovation Network; Nidia Reyes, Chief of Competitive Intelligence, Banca de las Oportunidades, Colombia; and Leora Klapper, Lead Economist, Development Research, World Bank Group.

Ms. SINHA quoted Mahatma Gandhi to say “the rich must live more simply so that the poor may simply live”.  All countries were developing countries in that they were struggling to address climate change and other social issues.  The 2030 Agenda offered a way to bring public and private finance together.  YES Bank, founded by Rana Kapoor, had a market capitalization of $10 billion, showing that “emerging markets do offer returns”.  Sustainable Development Goals finance should be led by the private sector, followed by the United Nations, as $3 trillion would be needed annually.  The major question hinged on balancing that need with the funds available, $218 trillion of which was in global capital markets and $75 billion in the “impact industry”.

Mr. RATTRAY said following the Addis Agenda, many felt that “something was missing”.  There was a need for a State-based mechanism that would unlock the trillions of dollars needed per year to finance development.  The new body — the Group of Friends — had 56 members, many of whom were ambassadors, along with experts from the United Nations, the private sector and think tanks.  States had a legitimate role in reorienting the financial system towards the Goals.  Most assets under its management were held by insurance, private wealth and mutual funds.  Central to its efforts to attract capital was convening a broad array of stakeholders.  The Group of Friends engaged stakeholders to holistically assess risk by having investors price in externalities.  It also worked with regulators to prevent capital from being misallocated.  There was a need to foster domestic capacity to develop “bankable” projects, he said, noting that the Group was working with Blackrock in that context.

Mr. DUTEIL described the need to place the goal of financing sustainability “on the business map”.  BNP Paribas had traditionally mapped its business along economic, civic, environmental and social pillars, but then further mapped it along the 17 Goals, setting targets and incentives.  As a result, the first of its 13 public key performance indicators was that 15 per cent of its loans to companies must finance projects or companies that directly addressed one of the Goals.  Today, that percentage was 16.5 per cent.  Realizing those 13 indicators would also directly affect the compensation of its top officers.  BNP Paribas was also implementing a shadow carbon price into the credit analysis of its counterparties in key sectors.  In unlocking private pools of capital, much of the challenge revolved around return, risk, liquidity and time horizons.  Noting that $41 trillion would change hands from the “Baby Boomers” to the “Gen X” and “Millennial” generations, he said that impact investing, which represented less than 0.5 per cent of portfolios, would remain small and “the privilege of the happy few who have a few billion to spare”.  The good news was that banks were in the business of creating bridges between capital and projects in need of funding.  As an example, he described a sustainable bond linked to the Goals that was recently issued by the World Bank and underwritten by BNP Paribas.  The bond directly financed sustainable projects around the world supported by the World Bank but offered to investors a return linked to the stock performance of a basket of equities issued by corporations which directly supported the Goals through at least 20 per cent of their activities.  While banks could create new financing tools for the Goals with the support of partners like multilateral development banks, those products still had to be distributed and bought.  That was where positive regulation that encouraged impact investing could solve part of the conundrum.

Mr. NISHIGUCHI said that in 2016, UNDP and the Japan Innovation Network had launched the Sustainable Development Goals Holistic Innovation Platform to engage the private sector in increasing the pipeline of bankable projects to help achieve the Goals.  The Platform had 300 individual members and 75 companies, with more expected to join this year.  It was critical for any private-sector player to create a “passage” between the Goals and cash flow.  To do so, it was important to understand the innovation process, especially the incubation stage.  It was important to have a high-quality incubation stage, as it would articulate the challenges (the Goals), the client value and the business model.  The operational stage captured the business plan, the finance and the roll out.  He underscored the need to look at the Goals, not as corporate social responsibility, but as a business programme.  Thematic sessions organized for specific Goals had produced hypothetical business models and involved countries including Kenya, Cameroon, Ethiopia, Egypt, Madagascar, South Africa and the United Republic of Tanzania.  To increase the pipeline, the private sector must regard the Goals as an innovation not an operational project, as well as connect multiple Goals as a way to deepen solutions.  A typical enemy was a silo mentality, he said, stressing that achieving the Goals required a collaborative approach.

Ms. REYES focused on collaborative approaches to ensure innovation in the provision of financial services.  Colombia’s financial inclusion policy was based on an 11-year commitment to provide resources and transfer both capital and innovation to the private sector to help meet the needs of low-income people.  Simplified mechanisms had been created, establishing limits to the amounts that could be held in products that could reach low-income people, such as inclusive insurance.  In the case of microcredit and small loans, which did not exceed $460, the bank tried to make interest rates more flexible to incorporate the risk involved in supporting a segment of the population that would otherwise not be able to access lending.  In the future, Colombia would focus on raising more financial products and using them effectively, as well as deepening financial inclusion in the rural sector, as many products in Latin American countries were concentrated in urban areas.  Alternative mechanisms were needed to help small businesses access financing.  Colombia had brought together all Government and private entities involved in raising the level of economic and financial education.

Ms. KLAPPER said today’s discussion on raising financing for Governments and the private sector must be widened to include households and small- and medium-sized firms, as well as savings and payments.  The Bank’s Findex data measured how people saved, borrowed and managed payments, she said, explaining that there had been double-digit growth since 2001, when data were first collected.  India’s biometric identification system allowed the Government to roll out 200 million such accounts for people to access cheap food and fuel.  In China, merchant store keepers could now do financial transactions in rural areas.  Indeed, access to digital payments could help achieve the Goals.  In India, the roll out of bank branches had reduced poverty by 15 percentage points, while insurance projects in Ghana had also reduced poverty.  Financial inclusion could promote innovation.  In India and Bosnia and Herzegovina, giving entrepreneurs access to savings products and credit had led to growth, and in turn, more women’s economic empowerment.  In Kenya, Nepal, the Philippines and elsewhere, offering a woman an account had led to greater spending on food and household goods, even washing machines.  There were obstacles, especially for small- and medium-sized enterprises, which had a $2 trillion shortfall in needed credit, which was hampered by a weak credit information structure and “movable collateral registries” which made it difficult for banks to assess risks.  Research by Harvard University had found that firms investing more in sustainable standards had higher market performance and profitability.

In the ensuing discussion, a speaker from the United Nations Global Compact said foreign direct investment and corporate capital investment should be driven by a principles-based approach.  Otherwise, fundamental rights could be undermined.  A revolution was needed for new financial instruments that cut across the asset classes and Goals alike.  He asked about public policy frameworks that could mobilize private finance.  Japan’s delegate asked for ideas on a risk-sharing mechanism, and about the Government’s role in the Sustainable Development Goals Holistic Innovation Platform.  Chile’s delegate asked about challenges in implementing the various projects, while Uganda’s delegate asked about mobile money transfers substantively contributed to poverty reduction or simply “income smoothing”.  Peru’s delegate asked about progress in expanding financial services to people in poverty, as well as best practices for financial literacy and consumer protection.

A speaker from PRI, an association of 1,700 financial organizations managing $70 trillion, said one question commonly raised was whether a mechanism was in place to monitor the allocation of capital to be used for the Goals.  Canada’s delegate asked how the United Nations could help develop the pipeline of bankable projects, and more broadly about the asymmetry of information regarding risk, small- and medium-sized enterprises, and whether the Sustainable Development Goals Holistic Innovation Platform accepted companies from outside Japan.  A speaker representing civil society described an erosion of public interest by public-private partnerships, in part because of heavy contractual clauses with implications for Governments.  There was a great role for private financing, especially through small enterprises, which required different types of business support to build capacity and participate in markets.

Mr. RATTRAY responded that in mobilizing resources, countries must be assisted in developing capital markets, which was not simple.  They must also be encouraged to have a higher savings rate, which similarly would not happen overnight.  “We are conscious that the clock is ticking,” he stressed.

Mr. DUTEIL replied that public policy could mobilize capital at scale.  France had enacted a “90:10” scheme for companies with more than 50 employees, obliging them to offer employees access to funds that invested 5 to 10 per cent in impact investing, allocated to non-listed small- and medium-sized enterprises.  The result had been massive and offered an example of how public policy could be positive without being coercive.  Another example was the Tropical Landscapes Financing Facility, whereby investors invested in well-known entities, which in turn, redistributed the funds to small farmers.

Mr. NISHIGUCHI said the Platform would work with private sector, Governments and non-governmental organizations from any country, and was particularly interested in speaking with start-up communities.  Governments could help connect the Platform with start-ups and support the incubation stage, which would be a huge boost to creating bankable projects.

Ms. REYES said supporting the private sector in taking a risk on high-risk sectors involved co-financing incentives, as well as transferring technical assistance to them.  There was much to be done in terms of technology transfer.  On financial literacy, it was important to define objectives in a work plan coordinated among all players.

Ms. KLAPPER said financial inclusion should reduce poverty because it allowed people to invest in education and business opportunities.  It also prevented poor adults from falling into poverty during a crisis, such as the death of a family member.  There was evidence that in an emergency people received support from a geographically and socially wider group of friends.  On financial literacy, no academic literature had found that traditional textbook-based financial literacy worked.  What appeared to be better were “teachable moments” for explaining interest compounding, for example.  Fintech had positively impacted rural farmers repaying credit loans in sub-Saharan Africa, for example.

Round Table C

The Forum then held its final round table for the day, on “debt and systemic issues”.  Moderated by Siddharth Tiwari, Director, Strategy and Policy Review Department, IMF, it featured presentations by Angus Friday, Ambassador of Grenada to the United States; Camillo von Müller, Economist, Federal Ministry of Finance, Germany; Marilou Uy, Executive Director, International Group of 24 (G24) Secretariat; and Patricia Miranda, Senior Officer on Finance for Development, Latindadd Fundación Jubileo, Bolivia.

In his opening remarks, Mr. TIWARI said that the IMF was committed to strengthening global financial architecture.  The issues ranged from completing IMF quotas in governance reform to addressing gaps in global safety nets.  It was essential to provide the right framework to encourage early debtor-creditor engagement towards efficient and timely restructuring.

Mr. FRIDAY said that from the lens of a small island developing State such as his, it was necessary to acknowledge debt sustainability challenges and recognize the need for urgent solutions.  Since 1950, there had been 184 natural disasters in the Caribbean, resulting in damages worth $8 billion.  In Grenada alone, the hurricane in 2004 caused a 200 per cent loss of its GDP.  Emphasizing the links between years of extreme weather events and high levels of indebtedness, he said that debt restructuring had not worked successfully because there was a stepping up of interest rates and not enough local ownership.  The financial crisis and the impact on tourism had caused Grenada to default on its debt payments at the end of 2014.  In response, Grenada had brought together civil society and Government to create a social compact on spending and financing.  Grenada had also introduced a hurricane clause in its contracts with lenders, noting that the debts would be deferred in the event of a hurricane.  As of Tuesday, the IMF had completed its sixth review of Grenada and the country had passed with flying colours.

Mr. VON MULLER said that state-contingent debt instruments had an important role to play in the international financial architecture, in building resilience and improving sustainability.  Noting that the finance ministers and central bank governors of the G-20 had formulated a clear mission with regard to such instruments in the Chengdu communiqué, she said that during its G-20 presidency, Germany had responded to the call for further analysis of their technicalities, opportunities and challenges.  The history of state-contingent debt instruments showed the importance of contract designs, as well as the incentives and data credibility.  While GDP-linked bonds could be beneficial instruments when designed to generate fiscal space in difficult economic times, it was necessary to take steps to reduce the costs of insurance and carefully assess international demand.

Ms. UY said that global financial reforms had a wide range of effects on developing countries.  The Addis Agenda had acknowledged the importance of creating a coherent and inclusive global financial architecture.  The international monetary system must mitigate tensions and promote stability while supporting growth strategies of individual countries.  That was particularly important for emerging economies, whose growth rates had slowed recently.  While macroeconomic and structural policies constituted the first line of defence, in a highly interconnected globe efforts to manage global economic headwinds needed to be supported by multilateral action.  While the opening of financial borders had helped create capital flows, there were persistent problems with capital flow measures.  Policy differences between different countries could cause exchange-rate volatility, which in turn, created uncertainty and disrupted investment.  Better policy coordination was necessary and the IMF could play an important role in that.

Ms. MIRANDA said that it was vital to understand the composition of debt, which could originate from a variety of sources.  Besides traditional external credits for fiscal gaps, there were also sovereign bonds issued by other countries, including lower middle-income countries.  Furthermore, there was domestic debt and corporate debt, which had been rising in the last few years.  Subnational debt, from local governments and State-owned enterprises, could lead to fiscal risk.  Moreover, public-private partnerships could also give rise to debt.  While the Addis Agenda had reaffirmed the importance of a timely and independent debt restructuring process, it was necessary to go beyond those principles.  Reminding the Council that if developed countries fell into debt distress, it would have a systemic impact on the global economy, she called attention to the negative social impacts of debt, saying that it had taken Latin America two decades to recover from the effects of debt on the most marginalized peoples.

In the ensuing discussion, representatives of civil society highlighted the importance of responsible investment and safety nets, and asked about the growth of the shadow banking system, which included lightly regulated hedge funds.  Yet another representative of civil society asked about the lack of movement in regulating financial markets while a fourth representative noted that the “elephant in the room” underlying the debt issue was the classical mismatch between currencies.

Responding, Mr. FRIDAY agreed with the need for stronger safeguards and noted that more and more extreme weather events could be expected in the future.  Therefore, hurricane clauses should be automatically included, particularly for small island developing States.  Mr. MULLER said that GDP-linked bonds should be seen as part of a toolkit that contributed to debt sustainability.  Ms. UY said that it was time to assess the impact of financial sector regulatory reforms.

Mr. TIWARI said that the promise of jobs and higher incomes hinged crucially on creating the right environment for sustainable growth.  Infrastructure was a prerequisite for that kind of growth.  The strengthening of standards regulating financial instruments had resulted in unintended consequences such as the shift to shadow banks.  Ms. MIRANDA stressed the importance of transparency and open data, which she noted was a challenge not only for international financial institutions, but also for States.  Debt could be a symptom that there was something wrong in the economy, and therefore, it was necessary to look at the larger picture including tax systems, she said.

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Speeches: Trans-Africa Security: Combating Illicit Trafficking and Organized Crime in Africa

Good morning.

It is an honor to join you today at this year’s Senior Leaders Seminar hosted by the Africa Center for Strategic Studies (ACSS). Let me first thank ACSS for their leadership over the years in fostering critical partnerships with African nations on combating today’s transnational security threats.

Let me also thank all of you for your commitment in participating in this important program. Having studied myself at the U.S. Army War College in Carlisle, I believe that these peer-based learning seminars are very important, not only to assess, evaluate, and discuss the broad array of security challenges facing the continent and international community, but towards developing and harnessing more effective strategies and cross-border responses.

As you have no doubt heard throughout the week in your seminar, the United States remains a strong partner in helping safeguard communities against the threats posed by illicit trafficking networks and is keen to elevate our partnership with all of your governments.

In this regard, the U.S. Department of State is similarly committed to strengthen international cooperation in support of our U.S. law enforcement and security agencies, and the capacities of our allies and partners in Africa to disrupt and dismantle transnational organized criminals.

Converging Threats: Corruption, Crime, and Terrorism Pave Illicit Trafficking Corridor

Today’s reality is one in which we live in a world where there is no region, no country and no community who remain untouched by the destabilizing effects and corruptive influence of transnational organized crime and violent terrorism.

Their impact is truly global and their real threat centers in some cases in their convergence. In particular, we must recognize that trans-regional illicit trafficking of drugs, arms, humans, and other illicit trade goods and services, are fueling greater insecurity and instability across Africa, and in other parts of the world.

While the world’s attention has in recent months been focused on the conflicts in Syria and Afghanistan, or the efforts by North Korea and others on the weaponization of nuclear missiles, the threats posed by transnational organized criminals remain very real in the United States, Latin America, Africa, and globally.

This is especially true as it relates to the increasing links between cross-border narcotics trafficking and other forms of transnational organized crime across Africa that imperil not only the rule of law, economic development efforts, the promotion of trade and investment, but helps to fuel greater instability and insecurity.

In fact, according to General Thomas D. Waldhauser, U.S. Marine Corps, AFRICOM Commander, “parts of Africa remain a battleground between ideologies, interests, and values: [where] prosperity, and peace are often pitted against extremism, oppression, and conflict. The strategic environment includes instability that allows violent extremist organizations to grow and recruit disenfranchised populations.”

This strategic environment today that General Waldhauser underscores is also impacted by other transregional threats that further complicate security in Africa including issues related to the webs of corruption and cross-border criminality, and related converging threats.

Convergence: I often talk a lot about convergence, and this is something that I encourage you to examine more closely moving forward – and to view today’s transnational security threats through a prism of “convergence crime”.

Because the reality on the ground is that we can no longer simply focus on one component of a threat. In a world of converging threats – where various threats collide to form a more potent mix of insecurity globally; each is individually dangerous but whose sum represents a far greater threat across borders.

Thus, we need to see the threat environment more holistically – how, for example, corruption and complicit facilitators enable the illicit space for criminals and terrorist groups alike to thrive, and to exploit weaknesses in our borders and institutions that imperil our security.

And because as illicit trade operates in the shadow of the global economy, increasingly sophisticated traffickers are diversifying their portfolios in everything from narcotics, people, arms, and wildlife to counterfeits including fake medicines, and illicit tobacco and alcohol goods.

On the governance front, the proceeds of drug trafficking and other forms of illicit trafficking are fueling a dramatic increase in corruption among the very institutions responsible for fighting crime.

The collusion and complicity of some government officials with criminal networks have helped carve out an illicit trafficking corridor that stretches from the West African coast to the Horn of Africa, from North Africa south to the Gulf of Guinea.

Through these illicit trafficking routes, criminals and terrorists alike are moving people and products. From the coca and opium poppy fields of Colombia and Southeast Asia to the coasts of West Africa and its hashish plantations, drug cartels and other criminal networks navigate an illicit superhighway that serves illicit markets across the continent and around the globe. Along across these illicit routes, bad actors and networks are corrupting critical institutions and enforcement systems that exacerbate everyone’s security.

They employ the latest technological advances and use commercial jets, fishing vessels, and container ships to move drugs, people, small arms, crude oil, cigarettes, counterfeit and pirated goods, and toxic waste through the region, generating massive profits.

How massive are these profits? As I will point out shortly in my slides on the recent research of the OECD Task Force on Countering Illicit Trade, the illegal markets in Africa, and globally, are booming with staggering levels of illicit wealth in the global economy. Hundreds of millions of USD every year enable criminals and other threat networks to corrupt the regional economies and the global financial system.

At a time when many are heralding the rise of some of the world’s fastest-growing economies in sub-Saharan Africa, these criminal entrepreneurs are undermining that economic development and growth by financing flourishing illicit markets, turning many vulnerable communities into a corridor of insecurity and instability, and siphoning the real potential of the legitimate economy.

The UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), the World Economic Forum (WEF), Global Financial Integrity (GFI), and other international organizations, generally estimate that the illicit trade in arms, drugs, and people, and other forms of “convergence crime” generate approximately between 8–15 percent of GDP, or several USD trillions to include corrupt proceeds and illicit financial flows.

Cocaine trafficking remains among the most lucrative illicit activities. In April 2017, the UNODC reported that developing markets are fueling a resurgence of cocaine trafficking through West Africa. UNODC further added that seizures on the Atlantic island of Cabo Verde, in the Gambia, Nigeria, and Ghana had contributed to a 78 percent increase in cocaine seizures from 2009-2014 compared to the previous reporting period.

Smugglers and traffickers who intake the cocaine from the Americas will typically transport drugs and other contraband overland across the Sahel and North Africa, before crossing into destination markets in Europe and these new developing markets in the Middle East and Southeast Asia.

West Africa has also become a major transit point for heroin destined for the United States.

Illicit markets are growing across Africa to meet global demand for arms, counterfeits, cigarettes, natural resources, diamonds and other precious minerals, wildlife, illegally-harvested timber, illegal fishing, stolen luxury cars, and other illicit commodities.

The Crime-Terror Continuum: Regional Spillover Effects

Unfortunately, what happens in Africa does not stay in Africa.

A convergence of actors is further paving the corridor of illicit trafficking and crime-terror continuum across Africa – including North Africa – as criminal insurgencies are becoming players themselves in illicit markets and using the proceeds to finance their terror campaigns, secure their training camps, establish safe havens, and export violence to other regions. Violent extremist and terrorist groups draw on public anger towards corruption as a means to radicalize, recruit new members, and deepen sectarian division.

We only have to look at some of the current regional hot spots to clearly comprehend how certain crime-terror dynamics continue to contribute to insecurity and instability that have a ripple effect across borders.

Today’s thriving illegal economy is so lucrative that terrorists are increasingly turning to criminal activities to fund their violent campaigns such as those that we are witnessing today by al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), Boko Haram, al-Shabaab, and others.

In Mali, as drugs are trafficked through the country, the Sahel, and Maghreb, AQIM and its sympathizers are manipulating socio-economic conditions to further advance an illegal economy that allows them to tax the drugs through the territory that they control and finance their terror campaigns.

Libya also continues to be challenged with violence and insecurity. AQIM and ISIS are attempting to forge alliances with violent extremist networks in Libya and across the Maghreb, Sahel, and West Africa, and are involved in smuggling and trafficking in persons. Organized crime networks exploit a currency black market, irregular migration and illicit trade across borders to enrich themselves and militias that defy law and order.

Nigerian organized criminal networks remain a major player in moving cocaine and heroin worldwide, and have begun to produce and traffic methamphetamine to and around Southeast Asia. In addition to drug trafficking, some of these criminal organizations also engage in other forms of trafficking and fraud targeting citizens of the United States, Europe, and globally.

Widespread corruption in Nigeria further facilitates criminal activity, and, combined with Nigeria’s central location along major trafficking routes, enables criminal groups to flourish and make Nigeria an important trafficking hub.

Nigeria is also confronting a terrorist insurgency led by Boko Haram and its offshoot ISIS-West Africa, which remains the cause of the insecurity in the Lake Chad Basin.

Maritime crime has also captured the attention of the regional states and international community. The reported number of incidents in the Gulf of Guinea and the level of violence associated with those acts remain a concern.

The Economic Communities of West and Central African States, the Gulf of Guinea Commission, and their member states should be commended for the continued commitment to implement the June 2013 Yaoundé Summit. The signed Gulf of Guinea Code of Conduct (GGC) covers not only armed robbery at sea and piracy, but also other illicit maritime activity such as illegal fishing, maritime pollution, and human and drug trafficking. The Yaounde Code of Conduct, along with the updates to the Djibouti Code of Conduct to cover other transnational maritime crime, and the newly adopted Lomé Charter, provide excellent frameworks for African states to adopt strategies and implement programs to counter transnational crime in the maritime domain.

In recent years, INL has partnered with the Africa Center for Strategic Studies, AFRICOM, and our African partners on maritime security and regional threat mitigation strategies and to build the capacities and capabilities to disrupt and dismantle transnational criminal networks.

U.S. Diplomatic Efforts and International Cooperation in Africa

The United States strongly supports the great strides many African countries have made to improve security, good governance, rule of law, and sustainable economic development.

As President Donald J. Trump highlighted in new Executive Order on Transnational Criminal Organizations (E.O. TCO), the United States will continue to assist our partners to strengthen their security footprint and capabilities to combat today’s threat networks.

In support of the President’s E.O. TCO, the United States is committed to strengthen and sustain our resolve and capabilities to protect the homeland and break the corruptive power of transnational criminal networks, attack their financial underpinnings, strip them of their illicit wealth, and sever their access to the financial system.

The United States and its partners continually recognize the importance of net-centric partnerships to confront converging threats and the lethal nexus of organized crime, corruption, and terrorism along global illicit pathways and financial hubs.

For example, targeted financial actions like the 2011 311 finding against LCB can have a major impact, strengthening deterrence and showing that the international community is keeping close watch on Hizballah’s global financial architecture. Through years of cooperation with the Lebanese banking sector and the Lebanese Central Bank, the country has significantly improved its capacity to detect the kinds of behavior that led the United States to designate LCB six years ago.

Let me now share how the Department of State helps fight transnational crime, and in particular the organization I work for, the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL).

INL training efforts help countries build effective rule of law institutions, strengthening criminal justice systems, and strengthening their police, courts, and anti-crime efforts—everything from anti-corruption money laundering, cybercrime, and intellectual property theft to trafficking in goods, people, weapons, drugs, or endangered wildlife.

In coordination with partners in sub-Saharan and North Africa, INL develops and executes foreign assistance programming to promote civilian security and criminal justice sector reform in support of U.S. policy objectives. INL programs improve access to justice, promote stability and democratic reform, professionalize law enforcement entities, support local justice sector officials, and strengthen correction systems.

INL’s sub-Saharan and North Africa projects support partner governments’ efforts to respond effectively to the growing demand for peace and security. INL’s four main objectives are to assist African partners in combating transnational organized crime, drug trafficking, and terrorism, and their effects; support post-conflict stabilization operations and security sector reform; strengthen criminal justice systems to be accountable to the public and to respect human rights; and promote regional cooperation. INL implements its Africa program through a comprehensive range of bilateral and regional initiatives designed to maximize positive change in host countries and regions.

Let me highlight a few examples of these bilateral INL projects across Africa on criminal justice reform, anti-crime, and in support of counter-terrorism efforts:

Deployment of Resident Legal Advisors (RLAs) and Senior Legal Advisors: U.S. Department of Justice (DoJ) prosecutors embedded in U.S. Embassies to support justice sector development and capacity building: Some countries hosting RLAs include Ethiopia, Nigeria, Benin, Senegal, Niger, Mali, Mauritania, Mozambique, and others.

Kenya: Build the capacity of vetted units within the National Police Service and the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission investigations unit to investigate and prosecute high-level and government-wide corruption

Tanzania: enhance the criminal justice system in Tanzania to successfully prosecute wildlife crimes.

Benin: Build capacity of Benin’s law enforcement and judicial sectors to investigate and prosecute cases involving transnational organized crime, particularly drug trafficking; support to Benin’s border security agency; training of Formed Police Units (FPUs) for peacekeeping deployment; support to the Office Central de Répression du Trafic Illicite de Drogue et des Précurseurs

Ghana: Training police-prosecutors, creating a counternarcotics unit, training police SWAT unit; training FPUs for peacekeeping deployment; and improving the investigations and administration of justice related to maritime crimes, cyber-crime, and border-related crimes

Nigeria: Advise and support the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency; Justice and security dialogues project with law enforcement and civil society; international police education and training; curriculum reform; forensics support; Embedding advisors to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.

South Africa: Senior law enforcement advisor support to professionalize law enforcement and fundamental police operations; building investigative and enforcement capacities to combat wildlife trafficking

Finally, INL also administers the Transnational Organized Crime Rewards Program (TOCRP) which offers rewards up to $5 million for information, leads, and tips that help hobble transnational criminal organizations involved in activities beyond drug trafficking, such as human trafficking, money laundering, trafficking in arms, counterfeits and pirated goods, and other illicit trade areas.

Our embassies and/or our INL offices would be happy to share further information on INL bilateral and regional programming in specific countries in Africa as requested.

Let me say also few words on several regional initiatives that INL supports:

The West Africa Regional Security Initiative (WARSI)

WARSI funds assist the 15 Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) members to establish and sustain effective, professional, and accountable criminal justice and civilian security sectors. Technical assistance facilitates partner-country efforts to counter transnational threats including illicit trafficking and to strengthen conflict mitigation and state legitimacy. WARSI focuses on security sector reform (SSR) in countries with more foundational assistance needs and criminal justice sector reform to counter transnational organized crime (TOC) in countries with more stable institutions. Counter-TOC assistance is more advanced, and often includes training specialized units, such as counter narcotics task forces.

The Trans-Sahara Counterterrorism Partnership

The Trans-Sahara Counterterrorism Partnership (TSCTP) is a multi-faceted, multi-year U.S. strategy aimed at developing resilient institutions that are capable of preventing and responding to terrorism in a holistic, long term manner. INL TSCTP programs in Africa work to counter and prevent violent extremism by empowering partner countries to (1) provide effective and accountable security and justice services to enhance citizen cooperation with and trust in law enforcement and (2) develop the institutional foundation for counterterrorism and related capabilities, including border security and prison security and reintegration efforts. In doing so, INL focuses on enhancing and institutionalizing cooperation among TSCTP countries so that they increasingly learn with and from each other. Partner countries include Algeria, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, Morocco, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, and Tunisia.

The Partnership for Regional East Africa Counterterrorism

The Partnership for Regional East Africa Counterterrorism (PREACT) is the U.S. government’s multi-year, multi-sector initiative to build the long-term capabilities of East African partners to contain, disrupt, and marginalize terrorist networks in the region. INL’s PREACT funds empower East African criminal justice institutions to confront complex challenges posed by cross-border terrorism. INL’s active PREACT partners include Kenya, Somalia, and Tanzania.

Security Governance Initiative

The Security Governance Initiative (SGI) is a multi-year effort between the United States and partner countries to improve security sector governance and capacity to address threats. SGI partners with countries to undertake strategic and institutional reforms required to tackle key security challenges. Together with six current partners – Ghana, Kenya, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, and Tunisia – SGI focuses on shared security priorities and enhance security sector management. SGI is managed by the State Department’s Africa Bureau but leverages expertise and experience from across the Departments of State, Defense, Justice, and Homeland Security, the U.S. Agency for International Development, and the National Counterterrorism Center. Coordination and collaboration both within the U.S. government and with partner countries is a hallmark of SGI. INL’s activities undertaken as part of SGI seek to develop, support, and strengthen criminal justice institutions and capabilities to ensure citizen security and promote the rule of law, including sound policies, institutional structures, systems, processes, and effective management methods so that governments can efficiently and effectively deliver security and justice in a sustainable manner.

Regional Anti-Wildlife Trafficking Efforts

As many of you are aware, the United States continues to partner with the international community to combat the illegal wildlife trade.

INL is part of a whole of government approach to combating wildlife trafficking. We work closely with other parts of the Department and other agencies to support the global fight against wildlife trafficking through assistance to multiple countries in Africa. Under the National Strategy for Combating Wildlife Trafficking (CWT), INL builds the capacity of law enforcement agencies to investigate and prosecute wildlife crimes and develops regional cooperation mechanisms.

Activities can include training, mentoring, and equipment provision for park rangers, police, prosecutors, non-governmental organizations, and civil society entities to address the multiple dimensions of poaching and wildlife trafficking. Our first projects began in Kenya and South Africa, followed by Namibia and Tanzania. Future projects will cover larger areas of central and southern Africa, and address both source and transit countries.

Regional Law Enforcement Training

Finally, I would be remiss if I did not highlight INL’s International Law Enforcement Academy (ILEA) in Gaborone, Botswana. The ILEA program delivers courses on a wide range of law enforcement topics, and builds regional law enforcement networks to detect, disrupt, and dismantle transnational criminal organizations regardless of their means of operation and income.

Since inception in 2001, ILEA Gaborone has trained thousands of mid- and senior-level criminal justice officers in specialized skills on counter-terrorism, counter-narcotics operations, forensic accounting, customs interdiction, various forms of trafficking, document fraud, and illegal immigration. The program also engages with senior officials on the factors that facilitate these criminal networks, addressing public corruption, discussing modern community-oriented policing models, and cooperative international security networks that hinder illicit networks from flourishing.

As an outbranch of the successful ILEA network, INL opened the West Africa Regional Training Center (RTC) in Accra, Ghana, in January 2013. The RTC has convened hundreds of law enforcement, security, and judicial officials from multiple countries in West Africa and the Sahel, creating relationships across the region, and building knowledge and skills on topics ranging from investigative analysis to anti-corruption to counternarcotics.

We continue to explore future areas of assistance to include strengthening capabilities to preserve crime scenes for complex investigations, create strong case packages, and build more effective, evidence-based trials.

Conclusion: Partnerships for Sustainable Security

In closing, I want to again extend the appreciation on behalf of the U.S. Department of State for your commitment to work across borders, improve coordination and information-sharing, and leverage our respective capabilities and capacities to defeat our common adversaries.

We must continue to leverage all national economic, intelligence, and diplomatic powers to make it riskier, harder, and costlier for threat networks to do business within Africa, and externally.

Illicit trafficking remains the lifeblood of the numerous bad actors and networks, creating vulnerabilities for nations.

We must crackdown on corruption at all levels and cut off the ability of kleptocrats, criminals, and terrorists to enjoy the fruits of illicit enterprise and that enable the financial capacity to execute their operations.

By combating corruption, we can also shut the door and keep violent extremists from exploiting their grievances to wage jihad. We must prevent narco-corruption from destroying countries like Guinea and Guinea-Bissau.

In addition to our law enforcement and security cooperation, we also need to address underlying causes that are contributing to today’s conflicts and insecurity in Africa: food and water security, poverty, economic integration and development, and other socio-economic areas that empower communities and nurture growth markets, investment frontiers, and resiliency.

With careful, targeted assistance, and smart diplomatic engagement, together we can advance our common objectives and strategic interests.

If we do not act decisively, the region will remain an exporter of terror and a provider of safe havens where terrorists from other conflicts all over the world find refuge, illicit trafficking will continue to expand, arms and weapons will dangerously proliferate, women, men, and children will be trafficked, and drugs and illicit enterprise will corrode the rule of law and the gains of globalization.

We can only tackle these threats effectively if we work together and jointly synchronize our full spectrum capabilities and capacities. We must stay connected and continue to harness our network of networks at every level – local, regional, and global to win our fight against convergence crime.

If we do this, we can create hope, stability, opportunity, and an enduring peace.

Thank you.

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Secretary's Remarks: Remarks on Community Building and Countering Violent Extremism

SECRETARY KERRY: Thank you so much. Thank you. Asalaam Alaikum. Thank you very much. Maryam, thank you very, very much. Good morning everybody. Good morning to all of you – your Excellency Governor Tambuwal; your Excellency Governor Yari; your Eminence, Sultan, who was very, very kind to host us here today and whose leadership I particularly appreciate with respect to all of the interfaith efforts, which are so important; Charge Brennan; leaders from Nigeria’s religious communities; teachers and students – thank you very, very much for being here. You honor me by being here and it’s my privilege to be the first secretary of state in history to come to Sokoto. I’m very honored to be here. (Applause.)

I want to thank Maryam for that very kind introduction, and for the good work that she is doing in her community to promote social entrepreneurship and youth education and women’s health.

This is my third visit to Nigeria in the past 20 months, and I’m delighted to be here. One of Nigeria’s strengths is its diversity, which grows out of the distinctive contributions and culture of the various regions. And Sokoto is the place with an extraordinary history of faith, of tolerance, and of scholarship in all of its forms. And I just came from a meeting a few minutes ago in which I heard from various religious leaders and from his Eminence of the work that they are doing to try to embrace tolerance and provide opportunity for people.

So this is a very special region. You don’t need me to tell you that, but I want to make sure the world hears how special this region is. And it is special because the teachings of religion and ethics are prioritized right alongside the virtues of reading, writing, math, and science. Many of your former leaders actually started out as school teachers, including, of course, the inspiring Ahmadu Bello.

In fact – (applause) – shortly after he graduated from a teaching college, and years before he founded the university that today bears his name, Ahmadu Bello returned to his birthplace – not far from here, in Rabah – in hopes of educating his community. And at the time, there was no school. So he built a thatched hut where he began instructing children in his own family how to read and write. Then he asked his young scribes to teach their friends what they had learned, and to keep expanding the circle so that the number of educated citizens would continue to grow.

That kind of commitment has made a huge difference in Nigeria. And I expect that Ahmadu Bello would be proud that, in the country today, school attendance, literacy, and graduation rates are higher than ever before. But he wouldn’t be satisfied, and you know that. Because even late in his career he declared a “war on ignorance,” and that is a war that much of the world is still fighting every single day well beyond Nigeria. The reason is that to some people in this world knowledge is not a goal to be pursued, but rather it is an enemy to be destroyed.

As everyone in this room well knows, in its quest to destroy knowledge, the terrorist group Boko Haram has killed more than 20,000 people, displaced more than 2 million, and flung some 7 million Nigerians into hunger, thirst, and desperate need. On Sunday, they descended into a small village near Chibok in the middle of the night, looting every home that they saw, and then they took food and livestock before burning those huts to the ground. They killed 10 people that night and abducted 13 others – women and children – adding to the thousands of other victims, including the hundreds of girls, of Chibok girls who were abducted more than two years ago.

Boko Haram boasts no agenda other than to murder teachers, burn books, kidnap students, rape women and girls, and slaughter innocent people, most of whom are Muslims. It has a complete and total disrespect for life, the opposite of every religion. It has a complete nihilistic view of the world. It fears knowledge. It fears education. It fears tolerance. In the past two years, it has used more than 100 women and girls to carry out suicide attacks. They actually teach girls how to hold a bomb under their armpits so that the explosives remain steady. They show teenagers how to use swords to decapitate. We might as well ask how anyone could be brainwashed into such atrocities, but because the children are so young and because the abuse that they suffer is so great, even brave souls can be broken. This then is what Boko Haram is all about – and you know this better than I do – not just murdering innocent people, but also transforming the most vulnerable people among us into killers of their neighbors – their own families – and even themselves.

Now certainly northeastern Nigeria is not the only region that is plagued by violent extremism. And sadly, Boko Haram isn’t the only terrorist group that we face in the world today. Earlier this year, an Islamist militant group linked to al-Qaida killed 30 people when they bombed a hotel in Burkina Faso. Over the first six months of 2016, the Lord’s Resistance Army abducted more than 500 people, mostly in the Central African Republic and the Democratic Republic of Congo. And just a few days ago, al-Shabaab militants killed 15 people and injured more than 80 when they detonated an attack near an open market in Galkaayo in Somalia. And terrorists from or inspired by Daesh have carried out vicious attacks in Europe, the Middle East, South Asia, and the United States of America.

So make no mistake: We do not have to be the prisoners of this violent extremism. It can be eliminated. No one anywhere has to live, or should have to live, among this evil. And it is evil. But it isn’t going to disappear on its own, and that is something that his Eminence the Sultan understands better than anybody as he preaches tolerance and brings interfaith groups together in order to do the hard work of pushing back against extremism. It takes work and it takes leadership. And it will require sustained effort from all of us – from regional, national, and sub-national leaders, from the United Nations and other multinational institutions. It’ll take great efforts by law enforcement and civil society. And I want you to know today that the United States is deeply committed to this effort, including by helping our partners to be able to build counterterrorism capacity. That is why at the State Department we introduced a countering violent extremism strategy earlier this year, and it is why we are working so hard to implement it – though I might add you all are already, under the leadership of the governor and the sultan, are already engaged in your own countering violent extremism efforts.

There’s no question in recent months that important progress has been made, and particularly here in Nigeria. Over the last six months, the Nigerian army has rescued thousands of civilian hostages. Hundreds of Boko Haram fighters surrendered to Nigerian forces. In July, Nigerian troops captured 16 of the group’s leaders who admitted that they were running out of food, that their fighters were living off roots and unripe fruit. And just last week, your army thwarted an attack in the northeast and took out more than a dozen militants in the process.

The fact is that through the Multinational Joint Task Force – with help from the United States, France, and the United Kingdom – Nigeria and its neighbors are steadily degrading Boko Haram’s capabilities. Your country has taken back most of the territory that the terrorists had once captured. And Cameroon, Niger, and Chad, and Benin have made important contributions and enormous sacrifices in areas along Nigeria’s borders.

But we also know that beating Boko Haram on the battlefield is only the beginning of what we need to do. As the American writer Henry David Thoreau wrote: “There are a thousand hacking at the branches of evil, to only one who is striking at the root.” So we have to strike at the root causes of violent extremism.

To win the struggle for the future, nations need to do more than just denounce bankrupt, dead-end ideologies that the terrorists support. They also have to offer their citizens an alternative that is better, that offers hope, that actually delivers on its promises.

Now we have learned a lot about extremism in the last years. We obviously have been consumed by the fight against it since 2001, when out of the blue the attacks in New York took place. People join violent extremist groups for a number of different reasons – and some, obviously, do so against their will. But there are far too many who join the ranks of these organizations because they have trouble finding meaning or opportunity in their daily lives – because they are deeply frustrated and alienated – and because they hope groups like Boko Haram will somehow give them a sense of identity, or purpose, or power.

We see this in every part of the world – whether we are talking about the Lake Chad Basin or the Sahel, or a village in the Middle East or a city in Western Europe, it’s the same. When people – and particularly young people – have no hope for the future and no faith in legitimate authority – when there are no outlets for people to express their concerns – then aggravation festers and those people become vulnerable to outside influence. And no one knows that better than the violent extremist groups, which regularly use humiliation and marginalization and inequality and poverty and corruption as recruitment tools.

So one of our tasks, one of our central tasks – and almost every single religious leader I just heard in the other room talked about this task – has to be to remove the vulnerabilities in our own position. To effectively counter violent extremism, we have to ensure that military action is coupled with a reinforced commitment to the values this region and all of Nigeria has a long legacy of supporting – values like integrity, good governance, education, compassion, security, and respect for human rights. Values that the terrorists don’t just ignore, my friends, but values that they desecrate and try to destroy at every turn that they can.

So to start with, it is essential to build and rebuild trust in government, trust in the military, trust in law enforcement community, wherever that trust has been diminished.

The fight against corruption has to be a global security priority of the first order. And we, all of us, particularly those nations like mine that have so much more than other countries, have an obligation to help those countries to avoid the downside of what happens when you are left on your own. Bribery, fraud, other forms of venality endanger everything that we hold dear, everything that you value. They feed organized crime. They gnaw away at nation-states. They take away the legitimacy of a nation-state. They contribute to human trafficking. They discourage honest and accountable investment, and they undermine entire communities.

And despite recent progress, as a global community, we are collectively not yet doing nearly enough to clean up and improve governance globally – and that needs to change. We all pay for corruption, folks. We all pay for corruption. Corruption costs the global economy an estimated $2.6 trillion a year. That’s $2.6 trillion that could be going towards infrastructure, towards health care, towards education, food security, other initiatives – any number of areas where we know we need money to be able to make the investments that give young people that sense of future.

But let’s be very clear: Corruption is not just a disgrace and a crime. It is also dangerous. There is nothing more demoralizing, more destructive, more disempowering to a citizen than the belief that the system is rigged against them, the belief that the system is designed to fail them, and that people in positions of power, to use a diplomatic term, are “crooks” – crooks who are embezzling the future of their own people.

Now this is something that your president, President Buhari, understands very, very well. President Buhari was elected – (applause) – President Buhari was elected on a platform of clean government and the United States strongly supports the steps that he is taking in order to clean government. (Applause.) Nigeria is already a regional leader in many ways – economically and culturally – but you can also become a model in fighting corruption and the organized crime that so often goes along with it. And you have made a terrific start, a strong start, at all levels of government.

Already, President Buhari is working with civil society to encourage official transparency and accountability. It is so important to restoring trust among the people. His administration has taken important steps to prevent the theft of public funds, and to recover stolen assets. Last May, I joined him at the Anti-Corruption Summit in London, where he announced that Nigeria would join the Open Government Partnership – a step that will further strengthen the country’s anti-crime efforts, and advance institutional integrity, economic development, and citizen engagement.

Now of course, building public trust in government also requires cooperation from law enforcement and the military. It is understandable that in the wake of terrorist activity, some people are tempted to crack down on everyone and anyone who could theoretically pose some sort of a threat. I caution against that today. Extremism cannot be defeated through repression or just creating fear. Fear instilled through repression invites not confidence; it invites contempt. It creates terrorists – trust creates citizens.

Progress in this fight against corruption is going to go a long way to bringing Nigerians closer together, and creating confidence in the integrity of government institutions. And it would also unleash the enormous potential that you have for economic growth, which exists in every single part of your country – and that would obviously be good for Nigeria, good for Africa, but be a good for everybody else in the world.

Any government’s most basic duty is to meet the needs of its people – and good, accountable government, just plain old good governance, is basically the key, but it’s not the end of the story. In this country, more than 60 percent of your population is under the age of 25 years old. So it matters to all of us whether or not these young people are able to gain access to education and jobs that will enable them to contribute to their communities in beneficial ways.

We also know that the economy in this country has been hurt by the fall in oil prices and by shortages of infrastructure, especially in energy. A modern economy must have access to power; it needs ample grid capacity, the grid has to be able to deliver electricity to all parts of the country in order to keep the lights on, in order to enable a company to work, in order to build a factory, in order to let a business thrive; and it has to be supported by enough roads and bridges and rail lines and port facilities to connect producers to consumers with as little delay and expense as possible. But a modern economy also requires investments in its people – that’s the key – in schools at all levels, and in programs that train and prepare graduates in order to be able to compete in the global marketplace.

That is why the United States is partnering with the Nigerian Government and international donors to open temporary schools and other non-formal learning centers – places where, in addition to traditional schooling, displaced children are given access to meals, counseling, and other social services that empower them to be able to learn and to be able to grow up and be full citizens. At the center of- (Applause.)

At the center of that effort is a goal that I know is shared by so many Nigerians, including President Buhari, and that is giving women and girls an equal chance to compete in the classroom and in the workplaces. I was really pleased to hear about the initiative that his Eminence the Sultan has launched to invest in girls’ education, including setting up a women’s college of medicine. When women are educated – (applause). When women are educated and empowered, societies are more productive, more democratic, more inclusive, and far more prosperous. And that is a fact, undeniable in country after country.

So my friends, improving governance and providing opportunities for all are two important pieces of the puzzle. The final piece that I want to mention today is the importance of building bridges through tolerance and acceptance – and that is another area in which Sokoto serves as a model for the region, for the country.

I mentioned Ahmadu Bello at the beginning of my remarks, and there’s an old story that I’m sure many of you have heard at one time or another. I heard his Eminence use the words a few minutes ago when we were in the meeting we were in. Shortly after Nigeria’s independence, the country’s first President, Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, who had met briefly with Mr. Bello to discuss Nigeria’s future and ways to overcome the deep-seated ethnic and religious divisions that existed then. And as legend has it, President Azikiwe proclaimed, “Let us now forget our differences.” And Bello countered: “No – let us understand our differences.” (Applause.) And that is what his Eminence said. He said: “It is by understanding our differences that we can build unity throughout Nigeria.”

Equality and tolerance; justice and mercy; compassion and humility – these are values that transcend religions, ethnicities, and all kinds of moral codes. They are certainly in keeping with the teachings of Islam that have enriched the world for centuries.

And those who would tear our communities apart – pitting one religion or one sect against another – they can only be defeated by citizens’ unyielding commitment to unity and mutual understanding. And here I underscore: Breaking the cycle of violence requires treating those who escape or defect from Boko Haram, and particularly those who were abducted against their will, with sensitivity as they try to return to their old communities. Welcoming these individuals – especially women and girls – back into society, safely, without the threat of continued violence or discrimination – and ensuring that the millions who have been displaced here in Nigeria and throughout the region, that they get the humanitarian and government support that they desperately need – that is the only way to move a community forward, beyond the turbulence of these times. That is something that the United States is working very, very hard to support, and we will continue to work with you as you engage in this extremely important work.

My friends, all of these efforts – fighting corruption, promoting good governance, promoting opportunity for men and women alike, showing compassion and understanding for fellow citizens, even when it’s difficult – all of these things will do an enormous amount to reduce the threat that is posed by violent extremism and to prevent it from re-emerging in the future. This is the way you invest in a future that is free from violence and provides you with the stability and the peace that you so desperately want. But they are also worthy efforts in their own right. It is amazing what can be accomplished when people are empowered to succeed.

Consider the difference that a young man named Saied – who is here today – has made in his community. Saied, thank you so much. (Applause.)

Saied grew up in an impoverished community in northeast Nigeria. Conflict was very common in his neighborhood, and Saied came to believe that poverty was largely to blame. So he wanted to turn that around. When he turned 18 years old, he began to volunteer with a nongovernmental organization that provided microloans to help women start their own businesses. Later, while studying for his undergraduate degree, he led a UNICEF team that educated youth about reproductive health and AIDS, and through his work, he developed a new understanding of the lack of trust in government, of the prevalence of corruption, and the need for transparency and accountability. He started working with the Federal Inland Revenue Service – the FIRS – leading public campaigns to empower taxpayers to check on spending activities of tax officials and monitor for fraud. He spent years with the FIRS here in Sokoto, and he was honored multiple times for the mechanisms that he introduced to improve fiscal transparency and openness in the tax process. And Saied’s work to address fraud and corruption continues to this very day. Not too long ago, he launched a website called “Follow Taxes” that helps Nigerians who cannot afford a tax consultant understand how to pay what they owe, and avoid being taxed under false premises.

Now certainly, Saied could have chosen a lot of other things to do. He could have pursued a very different path. Others who grew up in his situation have chosen a lot of worse ways to air their frustrations. Instead, Saied has dedicated his life to finding solutions, and his work has helped millions of fellow citizens.

He didn’t accomplish what he has done by accident; he did it with hard work, compassionate mentors, a solid education, and the help of government programs and initiatives like the Washington Mandela Fellowship, for which he was selected in 2015. (Applause.)

Still, Saied’s story, frankly, shows us what is possible when people are given the opportunity to explore their dreams and act on their ideas. It shows what is possible when people have a stake in the community and when they are able to have confidence in their future: A citizenry that is inspired, engaged, and empowered to take on whatever challenges society confronts. That’s the way it works. That’s what Ahmadu Bello, and many of Nigeria’s great leaders have worked to pursue, and the same goal should guide all the steps that we take today. That is how we will build strong, resilient communities. That is how we will pull up terrorism by its roots. That is how we bring about the future that Nigerians and people everywhere deserve. And working together, the United States, Nigeria, and our international partners can make this happen.

Thank you for your commitment. Thank you for your work. Thank you for the privilege of being here today. Thank you very, very much. (Applause.)

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Daily News 04 / 08 / 2016

The EU imposes definitive anti-dumping duties on steel product from China and Russia

The EU today imposed definitive anti-dumping measures a steel product from China and Russia. These duties will be in place for five years and for the first time they will also be levied retroactively on imports registered during the two months that preceded the adoption of provisional measures on 12 February 2016. The product at stake is “cold rolled steel”, an industrial input for the packaging, white goods, general industry, automotive industry and the construction industry. The investigation was initiated on 14 May 2015 following a complaint submitted by the industry. The duties range from 19.7% to 22.1% for Chinese and from 18.7% to 36.1% for Russian companies.In the wake of the global steel overcapacity crisis, the Commission is applying the trade defence instruments to re-establish a level-playing field between EU and foreign producers. The EU currently has over 100 trade defence measures in place, 37 of them targeting unfair imports of steel products, 15 of which from China. 12 more investigations concerning steel products are still ongoing. The full details of the decision can be found here. (For more information: Daniel Rosario – Tel.: + 32 229 56185; Clemence Robin – Tel.: +32 229 52509)

 

EU steps up aid for Nigeria, Niger and Cameroon as humanitarian crisis worsens

Today the European Commission has announced an additional €12.5 million in humanitarian aid to support people in Nigeria, Niger and Cameroon as they face a deteriorating humanitarian crisis. €9 million will be provided to support people in Nigeria, €2 million in Cameroon and €1.5 million in Niger. The new funding comes as violence by the terrorist group Boko Haram from northern Nigeria has severely destabilised the Lake Chad region, causing the displacement of millions of people.”When travelling to the region last month, I witnessed the plight of people in the Lake Chad Basin. Millions have been displaced and the number of those struggling to find food is increasingly alarming. The situation in Nigeria is especially dramatic. As always, children are hit the hardest and we must urgently intervene to stop their suffering. This additional EU funding will focus on emergency assistance, primarily in the areas of food and nutrition, water and sanitation, and health. All efforts should be made to ensure that humanitarian organisations can safely reach those who need urgent help.”said Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management Christos Stylianides. The EU aid announced today comes on top of the €58 million previously allocated to the Lake Chad Basin crisis, bringing overall EU humanitarian aid to over €70 million for the region in 2016. Read the full press release here (For more information: Nabila Massrali – Tel.: +32 229 69218; Daniel Puglisi – Tel.: +32 229 69140)

Commission publishes the first results of the “ePrivacy” public consultation

Today the European Commission has published the preliminary findings of the public consultation on the review of the ePrivacy Directive. This legislation applies to electronic communications services and needs to be adapted to the new General data protection regulation which will enable people to better control their personal data. A large number of responses came from citizens (38,5%) and more than a quarter of responses came from Germany, followed by the UK and Belgium. According to the preliminary findings, 83% of the individuals and civil society organisations who took part in the consultation agreed that there was a clear added value in having specific privacy rules for the electronic communications sector to ensure the confidentiality of electronic communications. In addition, 76% of individuals and civil society respondents believe that the scope of the rules should be broadened to cover the so-called over-the-top service providers (OTT) when they offer communications services such as VoIP or instant messaging. However, 76% of these groups also said that the ePrivacy Directive has not or has but to a limited extent achieved its objectives of ensuring full protection of privacy and confidentiality of communication. This was attributed to its scope being too limited, its rules leading to differences between Member States and too low compliance and enforcement. Industry and public authorities were more positive that the ePrivacy Directive has achieved its objectives; however 42% of industry respondents are against the scope of the rules being broadened to cover theOTT when they offer communications services such as VoIP or instant messaging. The review of the ePrivacy Directive is one of the key initiatives proposed under the EU Digital Single Market strategy. The Commission has committed to reviewing the EU’s privacy rules for electronic communications in order to reinforce trust and security in digital services, to ensure a high level of protection for people and a level playing field for all market players. The proposals are expected later this year, meanwhile the Commission will analyse the replies of the public consultation and publish its conclusions in the autumn. (For more information: Nathalie Vandystadt – Tel.: +32 229 67083; Joseph Waldstein – Tel.: +32 229 56184)

Mergers: Commission clears Vodafone/Liberty Global telecoms joint venture, subject to conditions; rejects referral request by Dutch competition authority

The European Commission has cleared under the EU Merger Regulation the proposed creation of a joint venture in the Netherlands by mobile telecom operator Vodafone and cable company Liberty Global. The decision is conditional on Vodafone divesting its consumer fixed line business in the Netherlands. Commissioner in charge of competition policy Margrethe Vestager said: “The telecoms market is of strategic importance for our digital society. I am pleased that we have been able to approve the creation of the joint venture between Vodafone and Liberty Global in the Netherlands. The commitments offered by Vodafone ensure that Dutch consumers will continue to enjoy competitive prices and good choice.” The Commission had concerns that the proposed transaction would have eliminated the benefits brought to the Dutch telecoms market by Vodafone’s recent entry. The divestment offered by Vodafone fully addresses these concerns, allowing the Commission to clear this telecoms merger in Phase I. In parallel, the Commission has also rejected a request to refer the assessment of the transaction to the Dutch competition authority. A full press release is available in EN, FR, DE and NL. (For more information: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel.: +32 229 80100; Giulia Komel – Tel.: +32 229 61175)

Mergers: Commission clears acquisition of Voith Industrial Services by Triton

The European Commission has approved under the EU Merger Regulation the acquisition of Voith Industrial Servicesof Germany by Triton Fund IV of the United Kingdom.  Voith provides a wide range of technical services in the automotive, engineering and energy-petrochemicals sectors. Triton is a private equity investment firm, dedicated to investing in European-based businesses in a variety of sectors. The Commission concluded that the proposed acquisition would raise no competition concerns, because of its very limited impact on the market structure. In particular, there are limited overlaps between the activities of Voith and the companies in the portfolio of Triton. The transaction was examined under the simplified merger review procedure. More information is available on the Commission’s competition website, in the public case register under the case number M.8081. (For more information: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel.: +32 229 80100; Giulia Komel – Tel.: +32 229 61175)

Upcoming events of the European Commission (ex-Top News)

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Fresh Thinking, Better Coordination, Concrete Action Critical to Delivering on 2030 Agenda, Speakers Say, as Development Cooperation Forum Begins

Road Ahead ‘Undoubtedly Complex’, Keynote Speaker Cautions, as Deputy Secretary-General Applauds Strong Foundation Built on 2015 Accords

Effective development cooperation — marked by fresh thinking, better coordination and concrete action — would be critical to making good on the unprecedented opportunities presented by the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, speakers said today, as the Development Cooperation Forum opened its fifth biennial high-level meeting.

In the course of several interactive discussions held under the auspices of the Economic and Social Council, the Forum heard from a range of Government ministers, heads of United Nations agencies and civil society leaders.  Among other subjects, they considered the role of various types of development financing and the interlinkages between the 2030 Agenda and other international agreements signed in 2015.

“The road ahead is undoubtedly complex,” said Mary Robinson, President of the Mary Robinson Foundation-Climate Justice, former President of Ireland and former United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, as she delivered a keynote address.  She emphasized nevertheless that development cooperation providers must recognize the unprecedented chance they now had to shape a more equitable world.  Noting that not all current ways of working would prove effective in implementing the 2030 Agenda, and that many mechanisms would need to be reformed or refreshed, she stressed that human rights and gender equality must underpin implementation of both the 2030 Agenda and the recently signed Paris Agreement on climate change.  Indeed, climate change solutions offered opportunities to help eradicate poverty, she added.

Also addressing the Forum, Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson commended Member States for having built a strong foundation for future development cooperation through the host of international agreements signed in 2015.  In particular, the 2030 Agenda, the Paris Agreement — as well as the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction and the Addis Ababa Action Agenda for Development Financing — demanded new thinking and concrete actions that would permeate all levels of society.

Spotlighting the Forum’s critical role in reshaping global development cooperation, Oh Joon (Republic of Korea), President of the Economic and Social Council, said the body provided opportunities for partners to engage against the backdrop of an increasingly complex and volatile global landscape.  Among other things, the Forum would bring a distinct development cooperation perspective to such issues as South-South cooperation, blended finance and technology transfer, he said.

Wang Bingnan, China’s Assistant Minister for Commerce, agreed that the recent international agreements would chart the course for the future of development cooperation.  While some strides had been made, however, development remained a strenuous task for many countries still plagued by poverty, he said, noting that the 2030 Agenda provided a fresh opportunity to find a new path.

Thomas Silberhorn, Parliamentary State Secretary to Germany’s Federal Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development, said the 2030 Agenda marked a new culture of shared responsibility and partnership.  Concerning financing, he pointed out that official spending on development was just one contribution among many, adding that private finance must be encouraged.  Mobilizing domestic resources would be critical, he said, also emphasizing the necessity of fair consumption and production.  Tax evasion and money-laundering must be addressed, and environmental, labour and social standards implemented along the global supply chain.

Wu Hongbo, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, presented the Secretary-General’s report on trends and progress in international development cooperation (document E/2016/65).  He said one overarching theme emerging from it was the importance and potential of development cooperation as a lever for the effective implementation of the 2030 Agenda.  He listed a number of recommendations relating to the fulfilment of development cooperation commitments, including the building of partnerships and the importance of robust national monitoring and review mechanisms.

Throughout the day, the Forum held three interactive sessions, the first on “Supporting national efforts to achieve the full ambition of the 2030 Agenda, leaving no one behind”.  The theme for the second was “Aligning development cooperation to contribute to the different aspects of the 2030 Agenda”, and the third was titled “Southern partners advancing mutual learning and envisioning the contribution of South-South Cooperation for sustainable development”.  The Forum also held a panel discussion on “Infrastructure for sustainable development for all”.

The High-Level Political Forum will reconvene at 9 a.m. on Friday, 22 July, to conclude its high-level segment.

Panel I

Laura Chinchilla Miranda, former President of Costa Rica and a member of the Club de Madrid, was the keynote speaker in the day’s first panel discussion, on “Infrastructure for sustainable development for all”.  Homi Kharas, Senior Fellow and Deputy Director of the Global Economy and Development Program at the Brookings Institution, moderated the discussion, which featured the following panellists:  Thoriq Ibrahim, Minister for Environment and Energy, Maldives; John B. Ssekamatte-Ssebuliba, Head, Population and Social Sector Planning, National Planning Authority, Uganda; Geraldine Fraser-Moleketi, Special Envoy on Gender, African Development Bank and former Minister for Welfare and Population Development, South Africa; Laurence Carter, World Bank Lead for Infrastructure Forum, Senior Director, Public Private Partnerships; and Amar Bhattacharya, Senior Fellow, Global Economy and Development Program, Brookings Institution.  The lead discussant was Thomas Gass, Assistant Secretary-General, United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs.

Ms. CHINCHILLA said human beings were and would always be vulnerable, depending on other humans and other species, as well as the environment.  While lives and societies had become extremely complex amid persisting human vulnerability, advances in communications, transportation and other areas meant that people now lived better and longer than those of past generations.  However, infrastructure development should not be considered to be an end, in and of itself, she cautioned.  Scientific knowledge and progress gave hope that environmental protection could be more efficient, and science provided the only means to resolve current social and economic challenges.  Due to short-sightedness, not every infrastructure project respected or protected the environment.  The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development was a step in the right direction, particularly Sustainable Development Goal 9, on infrastructure and innovation, she said.

Emphasizing that leaders must work intensively to make States less corrupt, less bureaucratic and more efficient, she said today’s States had less capacity and fewer resources with which to build sustainable and modern infrastructure on their own.  The participation of citizens in the formulation of political solutions made such processes more participatory and strengthened elements of governance.  Societies were not owned by any one sector; rather they belonged to everyone, she pointed out.  Involving people in decision-making would result in better choices and outcomes, as well as support for the implementation of projects.  Costa Rica’s entire population was involved in setting the national carbon neutrality target, which encouraged their active engagement in meeting that goal.

She went on to warn that Sustainable Development Goal 9 could be put at risk by poor planning, although it could also be bolstered by activities taken under the other Goals, such as the one focused on building resilient societies.  Financial investment in small-scale farmers, particularly women, could help to achieve significant improvements in communities and environments, as could investment in public transportation.  Nevertheless, infrastructure projects continued to be delayed or pursued in an unsustainable manner, she said.

Mr. KHARAS said the funding of infrastructure remained a challenge, particularly the way in which risk was allocated across different elements of finance, which was more of a concern than the total amount of dollars.  The development of infrastructure from origination to actual delivery often took longer than a decade, which meant that infrastructure projects undertaken in the context of the Sustainable Development Goals must be started immediately, he stressed.

Mr. IBRAHIM said the need for quality, resilient infrastructure had been made clear through Goal 9.  The infrastructure gap between developed and developing countries was obvious, particularly when taking into account the needs of small island developing States, as elaborated in the Samoa Pathway.  Investment in new sustainable and resilient infrastructure must be a priority moving forward.  Connectivity and transportation challenges made infrastructure development particularly critical in small island developing States because it hinged on creating an enabling environment on both the national and international levels.  Private finance remained difficult to procure, as small island developing States were often identified as high-risk investment environments.

Mr. SSEKAMATTE-SSEBULIBA said Uganda’s first national development plan had ended in 2015, and the second would begin in 2016 under the theme “Strengthening Uganda’s competitiveness”.  The overarching national development paradigm entailed prioritizing the exploitation of the country’s natural resources, which required a special focus on infrastructure, since the entire country must be accessible in order to ensure that opportunities were maximized, he said.  Also of key importance to Uganda was human capital development and investment in transport, energy and information and communications technology.  Economic investment in Uganda required a balancing act that paid due consideration to environmental and social factors.

Ms. FRASER-MOLEKETI emphasized that infrastructure was critical to sustainable development, adding that the African Development Bank was focused on three main areas across Africa — energy, agriculture and industrialization.  Infrastructure was central to the delivery of each of those strategic goals.  However, there must be an awareness of the reality that infrastructure development did not uniformly meet the needs of all people, nor did it benefit all people in a consistent fashion.  Project development must be understood by the market as a distinct investment process, particularly given the lack of public resources, she said.  Development funding was considered one of the riskiest investments, which made limited finance a major restraint.

Mr. CARTER said there was still quite a lot of work to do to encourage greater private-sector involvement in infrastructure development.  Recalling the Global Infrastructure Forum’s first session, he said participants had expressed a clear commitment to making infrastructure development goals and targets operational.  Many of them had emphasized the importance of improving data, promoting capacity development, strengthening project preparation, expanding the availability of financing, and the need for greater involvement by regional and domestic financing institutions.

Mr. BHATTACHARYA said there was a vital focus on how to re-ignite global growth, how to deliver on the Sustainable Development Goals and how to take strong climate action.  Sustainable infrastructure would be at the heart of all three of those objectives, he said, adding that structural reform would be important, but took a great deal of time.  The next 20 years would be of crucial importance since the investments being made were both large and long-lasting.  It was clear that infrastructure would be developed, but the way in which it was constructed mattered a great deal and would make a huge difference in terms of efficiency and enduring impacts.

Mr. GASS said the need for infrastructure development had been clearly articulated by the panellists, particularly the need to ensure access to both services and to the rest of the world.  Mobilizing the multilateral world would be a turning point in that regard.  Questioning whether sustainable development had redefined the word “sustainability”, he recalled that the term had been used for quite some time, but whether there had been a shift in the understanding of what it meant now was questionable.  He asked the panellists to provide specific examples of high-quality infrastructure projects.

Mr. CARTER, responding in the ensuing discussion, said there was more work to be done in standardizing the processes for stakeholder assessments.  Public-private partnerships were only one tool and expectations for such partnerships should be moderated, he cautioned.

Mr. IBRAHIM said sustainable infrastructure was of critical importance for small island developing States, and funding for such projects was needed immediately due to the effects of climate change.  However, it was difficult to attract financing sources because the projects were generally quite small and not viewed as being profitable.

Mr. BHATTACHARYA agreed that although public-private partnerships were very important, they were not a panacea.  He noted that in emerging markets, the risks were very high during the construction phase, a fact that attached high importance to the management of risk throughout the project cycle.

The representative of Croatia said housing would be of great importance in the future given the expected population increases.  Billions of people were expected to move to urban areas in the coming decades, which could present an acute problem given the length of time it often took to complete infrastructure projects in the developing world.

The representative of Ghana said women and girls felt the lack of infrastructure particularly acutely.  Given Africa’s particular infrastructure needs, how could its countries position themselves so that their development aspirations could be realized?

Ms. FRASER-MOLEKETI agreed that inclusive infrastructure was, in fact, a gender issue that deserved due consideration.

The representative of China emphasized the need for countries to pursue their own independent development projects and to create their own strategies for infrastructure development based on their own particular circumstances.

Also speaking today were representatives of Sri Lanka, Maldives and Cameroon.

Development Cooperation Forum

The Council then opened the fifth biennial High-Level Meeting of its Development Cooperation Forum.

OH JOON (Republic of Korea), President of the Council, said in opening remarks that the Forum’s work was focused on the growing role of development cooperation, including its tremendous potential in implementing the 2030 Agenda.  In its current two-year cycle, the body had provided valuable input to that Agenda and the Addis Ababa Action Agenda for Financing for Development in their early implementation phases, and it would continue to play an instrumental role in their follow—up and review.  In an increasingly volatile and complex development cooperation landscape, the Forum provided a unique opportunity to engage and share best practices and lessons learned.  Noting that many Member States had participated in the Forum’s three preparatory sessions, he underscored the need to align development cooperation and its institutions with the 2030 Agenda.  Among other things, the Forum would take a distinct development cooperation perspective to such issues as South-South cooperation, blended finance and technology transfer.

JAN ELIASSON, Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations, stressed that the world was witnessing turbulent and uncertain times, with deep inequalities among and within countries and conflicts and terrorism threatening the entire international community.  Global economic growth was sluggish and global temperatures were rising.  Commending Member States for building a strong foundation for future development cooperation in 2015, he said there was now an obligation to live up to those high ambitions.  International development cooperation was based on the recognition that global challenges could not be survived or overcome in isolation.  “Collective support for the poorest and most vulnerable is in the interest of all of us,” he said, stressing that the recent historic agreements — including the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, the Addis Agenda, the 2030 Agenda and the Paris Climate Change Agreement — demanded new thinking and concrete action that permeated all levels of society.

In addition, that “action plan for people, planet, peace, prosperity and partnership” required better coordination and collaboration between countries and region, which he noted was a unique and critical contribution of the Forum.  Sources of development finance were more diverse than ever before, he said, spotlighting in particular the role of the private sector.  Official development assistance (ODA) also needed to be scaled up and targeted more effectively and should support those whose needs were greatest and who were least capable of mobilizing resources.

Development cooperation should promote coherence among different development agendas and activities, he went on.  For example, donor countries had spent record amounts in recent years on humanitarian aid supporting refugees, as the number of people displaced by conflict had risen to the highest level since the Second World War.  While there was a vital and unquestioned need for such aid, it should not come at the expense of long-term investment for sustainable development, which had an important role in building stable societies and preventing future conflict.

WANG BINGNAN, Assistant Minister for Commerce of China, said the recent international agreements highlighted today had charted the course for the future of development cooperation.  While strides had been made, development remained a strenuous task for many countries still plagued by poverty.  Noting that the 2030 Agenda was a forward-looking blueprint in that regard, he stressed that the worth of any plan was in its implementation.  All countries should work together, as the Agenda provided a fresh opportunity to find a new path.  Increased resources were the guarantee of achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, he said, emphasizing that developed countries should deliver on their ODA commitments on schedule.  “At the end of the day, one has to rely on oneself” to achieve development outcomes, he said, noting that all States must be respected in their own path to sustainable development.

As the world’s largest developing country, China still faced the daunting challenge of lifting some 55 million people out of poverty, he said.  The country was working to implement the 2030 Agenda in an integrated manner by aligning its national programmes and putting in place a domestic coordination mechanism.  China would also host the “Group of 20” (G20) Summit in September 2016, where it would focus discussions on the delivery of the 2030 Agenda.  For its part, China had provided development assistance across the world for more than 60 years, and it was constantly adopting new methods – such as South-South cooperation – in that regard.  Noting stark imbalances between the global South and North, he expressed concern that 800 million people around the world still went hungry.  China would continue to put justice before interests and live up to its development commitments to help countries around the world achieve the 2030 Agenda, he said.

THOMAS SILBERHORN, Parliamentary State Secretary to the Federal Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development of Germany, stressed that “development is about peace”, and that countries must shoulder their responsibilities to make development sustainable.  The 2030 Agenda marked a new culture of shared responsibility and partnership.  Calling for improved quality in global development cooperation, he said the Forum had demonstrated how willing the international community was to follow that path together.  Germany was contributing in a number of ways, including through its own national sustainable development strategy — which was currently being reviewed and brought in line with the 2030 Agenda — as well as in its support to development partners.  In addition, it was working to bring about sustainable development at the international level through policies for climate protection and by pushing for development-friendly rules.

Official spending on development was just one contribution among many, he said, stressing that “ODA will never be enough”.  Private finance must be encouraged and new financial instruments for channelling private finance for public good would be needed.  Noting that funding generated by taxes would be critical, he said Germany was supporting its partners in domestic resource mobilization.  Consumption and production must become fair, tax evasion and money-laundering must be addressed, and environmental, labour and social standards should be implemented along the entire length of the global supply chain.  Indeed, the 2030 Agenda was a major opportunity and had to become the daily narrative of the United Nations, he said.

Introduction of Report

WU HONGBO, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, then introduced the report of the Secretary-General on trends and progress in international development cooperation (document E/2016/65).  One overarching theme had emerged in the report, namely the importance and potential of development cooperation as a lever for the effective implementation of the 2030 Agenda.  Drawing attention to a number of recommendations, he said development cooperation today included a wide variety of international actions and actors, and should remained tightly focused on developing countries’ efforts to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals with a view to leaving no one behind.  That required a change of mindset for all actors, he said, calling on partners to break down silos and better tailor their actions to national contexts.

Development cooperation would facilitate cross-sector partnerships and provide support for policy coherence, he went on.  Noting that it would require an adjustment, he said global institutions should align their strategies, funding and approaches to the 2030 Agenda and that all ODA commitments should be met.  ODA to non-emergency situations had fallen in 2014 due in part to the increasing costs of humanitarian aid.  While that situation was stabilizing, the potential effects of such a trend should be monitored closely.  Noting that ODA could act as a catalyst to mobilize other resources, he said the Forum’s current cycle had focused largely on ODA as a possible leveraging tool in areas such as domestic resource mobilization and public-private partnerships.

Continuing, he said blended finance, in particular, should support national priorities and development impacts.  Development cooperation, including through South-South and triangular cooperation, should take a prominent role in unleashing the transformative power of science, technology and innovation.  Achieving general country ownership and alignment would require a significant shift in development cooperation frameworks.  Development cooperation should promote the use of programme-based approaches, and national plans should be owned by whole societies through institutionalized, participatory processes.  Calling for intensified knowledge-sharing and increased accountability of Governments to their people, he underscored the need for robust national-level monitoring and reviews of commitments, supported by global follow-up and review mechanisms.

Keynote Address

MARY ROBINSON, President of the Mary Robinson Foundation — Climate Justice, and former President of Ireland and United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, delivered a keynote address, saying there was a challenging road ahead to realize the 2030 Agenda.  Not all current ways of working would prove effective in the Agenda’s implementation, and many mechanisms would need to be reformed or refreshed.  In that regard, the high-level panel of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD)’s Development Assistance Committee — which she chaired — had been created to reshape the committee to become more “fit for purpose”.  Individually, the successful implementation of either the 2030 Agenda or the Paris Agreement would represent an unprecedented triumph for multilateralism; the international community had embarked on undertaking both simultaneously.  While uncontrolled climate change was incompatible with the eradication of poverty, the Sustainable Development Goals were critical to near-term climate action.

Addressing those issues required an integrated approach with the objective of enhancing the resilience of countries to withstand ever-greater threats, she said.  Noting that “the road ahead is undoubtedly complex”, she said that many complex global challenges had been successfully addressed before, as in the case of the HIV/AIDS response and in protecting the ozone layer through the Montreal Protocol.  Today, meeting Sustainable Development Goal 2 to end hunger would be closely related to the Goals on water, gender equality and sustainable consumption and production, among others.  Such an integrated approach was also central to climate justice, which was informed by science and recognized the need for equitable stewardship of the world’s resources.

Development cooperation providers must recognize the unprecedented opportunity to shape a more equitable world, she stressed, adding that “we require unprecedented multilateral cooperation”.  In addition, human rights and gender equality must underpin the implementation of both the 2030 Agenda and the Paris Agreement.  Underscoring the need to reach those left furthest behind first, she warned that by 2040 more than half a billion people in Africa would still lack access to electricity.  Developing climate change solutions held the opportunity to help eradicate poverty, she said in that regard.

Interactive Discussion

The Council then held a brief interactive discussion, moderated by economist Jomo Kwame Sundaram.

Mr. SUNDARAM noted that Ms. Robinson’s participation offered an opportunity to reconcile the United Nations approaches with those of the OECD, which had sometimes been at odds.  Her emphasis on climate justice was critical, he said, underscoring the importance of leaving no one behind.  Ms. Robinson had also stressed the need for an integrated approach.  Several years ago, the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs had issued a report advocating for a “global green new deal”, which had suggested that dealing with the aftermath of the financial crisis did not mean putting development on the back burner.  Indeed, he said, it was critical to come out of the global economic slowdown with a view to ensuring that development priorities were met.  Calling in particular for leapfrogging in the area of environmental technology, he said the world today was seeking a modern version of the Marshall Plan, which had been instrumental in reconstructing Europe after the Second World War.

In the ensuing dialogue, several speakers emphasized the important role of development cooperation in helping all States to achieve sustainable development.  They also pointed to particular areas in which the Forum could play an instrumental role.

The representative of Brazil, noting that the Economic and Social Council was working to balance the different concerns of development actors, stressed the need for the Forum to discuss such important issues as trade, technology and finance.  However, he warned that its analysis of the role of development cooperation in implementing the 2030 Agenda must go beyond the issue of financing, and underscored the need for transparent indicators on how private investments were recognizing core sustainable development principles.  The modernization of development cooperation must not serve as a pretext for a revision of sensitive issues for developing countries, he said.

The representative of the Dominican Republic, speaking on behalf of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), said developed countries could establish binding timelines for their development commitments.  Noting that South-South cooperation was an important way to achieve solidarity among countries, she cited several Latin American and Caribbean examples of South-South cooperation on issues such as energy, training, education, culture and the environment.  She also called on the Forum to address the particular needs of middle-income countries.

The representative of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) spotlighted the issue of fossil fuel subsidies, which he said had regrettably not been covered by the Paris Agreement.  Cutting those subsidies would amount to a “double win”, he said, asking Ms. Robinson why there was such slow progress in that important area.

Ms. ROBINSON responded to those questions and comments, agreeing with the speakers on the importance of South-South cooperation.  Fossil fuel subsidies needed to be removed, she said, noting for example that small island developing States had recently called for the phase out of coal.

Panel II

The second panel discussion of the day was titled, “Supporting national efforts to achieve the full ambition of the 2030 Agenda, leaving no one behind”.  Moderated by Jomo Kwame Sundaram, Economist and former Assistant Secretary-General for Economic Development in the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, it featured a keynote address by Vandi C. Minah, Permanent Representative of Sierra Leone to the United Nations.

Panellists included:  Jaime Miranda, Deputy Minister of Development Cooperation of El Salvador; Mark Van de Vreken, Deputy Chief of Staff of the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Development Cooperation, Digital Agenda, Telecom and Post of Belgium; Anita Nayar, Director of Regions Refocus; Babatunde Osotimehim, Executive Director of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA); José Antonia Alonso Rodríguez, Professor of Applied Economics at Complutense University and Member of the United Nations Committee on Development Policy; and Minh-Thu Pham, Director for Policy of the United Nations Foundation.

Mr. MINAH noted that this year had been dedicated to developing comprehensive national plans as to how the 2030 Agenda would be implemented.  Fighting poverty was not new in the history of the United Nations, although unique narratives and approaches would be needed to end poverty and ensure the delivery of needs for both current and future generations.  There was renewed excitement and hope around the Sustainable Development Goals, although it would take commitment to translate that optimism into results.  While development cooperation had become all the more important, new cooperation activities would be needed to achieve the desired results.

Additional financing would be needed to build national, resilient systems able to withstand domestic and external shocks, he said.  Stronger domestic institutions to ensure sustainable financing and blended financing instruments to encourage innovative solutions were also needed.  Institutions in the least developed countries must be strengthened and to ensure domestic financing, illicit financial flows must be curbed.  An estimated $50 billion was lost annually across Africa due to illicit financial flows, including through commercial activities, drugs and terrorist activities and corruption.  The international community should remain committed to the principles guiding development in fragile States.

Mr. MIRANDA highlighted that in his country, all Government leaders, the legislative Assembly and local authorities had worked to help familiarize the population with the Goals.  A national council had been formulated with a wide range of parties, which would allow for the monitoring of how the Goals were being implemented.  The country’s statistical system would help to determine the starting point for the development Goals, and also gauge how much progress was made.  Marginalized populations had been actively involved and some 4,500 consultations took place with leaders across the public sector.

Mr. VAN DE VREKEN said that ODA, which had a comparative advantage in that it was the only tool specifically focused on ending poverty, must be used efficiently.  The world needed to rethink the use of ODA, in-line with international trends.  Domestic resource mobilization was still insufficient in many developing countries.  Studies indicated that to eradicate extreme poverty, all countries other than least developed countries would need to dedicate 0.3 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP) towards that effort.  It would be important to reach out to those farthest behind through a rights-based approach, he said, adding that peaceful societies were a pre-requisite to development.

Ms. NAYAR said that her organization, Regions Refocused, had been designed to change policies in conjunction with progressive policymakers and regional institutions.  The principle of solidarity must be recovered in the context of development cooperation.  ODA must be used for its original purpose instead of for influencing trade or macroeconomic policies.  Governments must be held accountable to their own citizens.  The Goals would not be realized if policy formulation was not autonomous and if citizen participation lacked integrity.  Development cooperation must support nationally and regionally defined imperatives.

Mr. OSOTIMEHIM emphasized that the Goals were indivisible and had been constructed in a way that made them complementary.  A whole-of-society approach was needed.  Governments must open up to civil society and the private sector must be able to play a role.  The Goals could cost trillions of dollars, which meant that partnerships, particularly with the private sector, would be essential, with the United Nations working to ensure national Governments built such partnerships in the most accountable and transparent way possible.  A country’s most valuable resource was its people.  The challenge was to make people as productive as possible through education and access to skills training.

Mr. RODRÍGUEZ said that ODA could play an important role in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda, although it was clear that the requirements of the Agenda went well beyond those resources.  There needed to be a shift from ODA to the broader concept of development cooperation.  Also needed were clearer rules for allocating international support.  Development cooperation must be pursued in line with the multidimensional nature of the 2030 Agenda.  The main contribution of development cooperation should not be measured in what it directly financed, but rather the kinds of social and economic changes it inspired.

Ms. PHAM said that as the world focused on the implementation of the Goals, it was important to recall the financing for development promises that had been made in the Addis Ababa Action Agenda.  The 2030 Agenda was universal, which should create shifts in thinking about development cooperation.  The targets and goals were related to each other, while the climate agenda must also be integrated.  Investment should be focused on basic services, data and statistical architecture, infrastructure, institutions and supporting fragile and conflict-affected States.  Whole-of-Government approaches were also needed, which would require engaging parliaments, subnational and local governments.

The representative of Honduras spoke in the ensuing discussion, noting that accomplishing the objectives outlined in the 2030 Agenda would require not only political will, but also clear strategies based on political intelligence.

The representative of South Africa questioned how countries could commit to curbing illicit financial flows.

A representative of the European Union stressed the important role of development cooperation as a lever for effective implementation of the 2030 Agenda. 

Also speaking were the representatives of Ghana and Haiti.

Panel III

Danny Sriskandarajah, Secretary-General of CIVICUS-World Alliance for Citizen Participation, moderated the third panel discussion, on “Aligning development cooperation to contribute to the different aspects of the 2030 Agenda”.  The discussion featured the following panellists:  Palouki Massina, Secretary General, Government of Togo and member, United Nations Committee of Experts on Public Administration; Admasu Nebebe, Director, United Nations Agencies and Regional Economic Cooperation Directorate, Ministry of Finance and Economic Development, Ethiopia; Riikka Laatu, Deputy Director General for Development Cooperation, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Finland; Martin Shearman, Permanent Mission of the United Kingdom to the United Nations, and former High Commissioner to Uganda; and Adriano Campolina, Chief Executive Officer, Action Aid.

Delivering the keynote address was Choi Jong-moon, Deputy Minister for Multilateral and Global Affairs, Republic of Korea.

Mr. CHOI noted that the 2030 Agenda was different from, and more ambitious than, the Sustainable Development Goals, saying it included relevant stakeholders in the implementation process and placed a strong emphasis on economy, environment and society.  It was important to promote partnerships, and the private sector, non-governmental organizations and academia had a key role to play in that regard.  It was also necessary to ensure effective mobilization of resources and the creation of relevant policies and programmes.  Due to the diversity of interests, it was challenging to ensure internal coordination and countries must take national ownership, he stressed.

Mr. SRISKANDARAJAH expressed hope that the panellists would talk about their national and international efforts to implement the Sustainable Development Goals.

Mr. NEBEBE said Ethiopia had adopted a five-year plan that mainstreamed the Goals into the national agenda.  Concerning the environment, the Government had identified climate change adaptation-related indicators and created a number of institutions.  There was a need to adopt a systematic approach to cooperation, he said, adding that international development actors must focus on resource allocation.  To ensure that no one was left behind, it was necessary to ensure long-term support and a programme-based approach, he said.

Mr. MASSINA called attention to Togo’s economic stagnation and debt, saying the amount of ODA it received had decreased.  The Government planned to create a national plan with a view to meeting needs arising from the Sustainable Development Goals, he said, adding that, with the help of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, Togo had begun restoring its economy.  He emphasized the need to inspire confidence and ensure economic development.

Ms. LAATU said that Finland’s development policy, directly related to 11 Sustainable Development Goals, had four priorities, including the rights of women and girls, job creation, democratic and well-functioning societies, and food security and the sustainable use of natural resources.  Expressing support for the efforts of civil society organizations, she said they must adopt a human rights approach in order to win the Government’s support.

Mr. SHEARMAN said it was necessary to win public and political support when delivering on the Sustainable Development Goals.  Recalling that the United Kingdom’s Treasury and Department for International Development had announced a new aid strategy outlining a new cross-Government approach in November 2015, he said it sought to address a range of global challenges, including global poverty, threats to peace and security, and climate change.

Mr. CAMPOLINA said the 2030 Agenda had “changed the game”, and Member States must move from rhetoric to action.  If the world wished to address inequality, it would be important to redistribute resources, ensure policy coherence, and provide better quality services.  However, that would require systematic change.  South-South cooperation and stopping tax avoidance were two other effective ways to address inequality.

The representative of Papua New Guinea said his country had created a development cooperation policy that set out national priorities.  He emphasized that development partners must respect national processes.

Also speaking were representatives of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU).

Panel IV

Rathin Roy, Director of the National Institute for Public Finance Policy, Ministry of Finance of India, was the keynote speaker in the day’s final panel, titled, “Southern partners advancing mutual learning and envisioning the contribution of South-South cooperation for sustainable development”.  Moderated by María Eugenia Casar, Executive Director of the Agency for International Development Cooperation of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Mexico, it featured presentations by:  Abdirahman Yusuf A. Ayante, Minister of Planning and International Cooperation of Somalia; Joao Almino, Director of the Brazilian Agency for Cooperation; and Jorge Chediek, Director of the United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation.

Mr. ROY said highly unequal access to financing, technology and quality institutions and capacities were three areas that were as restrictive today for countries of the global South as in the past.  South-South cooperation had become relevant in that States were required to work politically to overcome those challenges.  Concessional financing was still important, but the real challenge was in accessing non-concessional financing in areas, such as infrastructure, that were of interest to developing countries.  However, investing in infrastructure required long-term financing, which was often not undertaken due to regulatory risk — or perceptions regarding a country’s political economy.

Discussing renewable energy, for example, he said that when the intellectual property allowing the world to create more efficient solar systems was owned by 5 of the 10 richest countries, and 25 per cent of the revenues reverted to them, Governments were forced to think about such issues as political ones.  That was what South-South cooperation was about.  Another barrier to access was capacity, which for developing countries meant the ability to take charge of their own affairs.  His country had been addressing the issue of capacity by establishing a community within the South to deliver solutions, as seen in the Kofi Annan Centre for Technology.  In sum, South-South cooperation was not a technocratic effort, but a political one, as the institutions that mediated access were governed by a political mandate that was 50 years old.  If taken politically and as an attempt to address access, South-South cooperation could deliver the Sustainable Development Goals.

Mr. AYANTE discussed important factors for advancing South-South cooperation in the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals, describing horizontal cooperation among national institutions, civil societies and private sectors, as well as in the commissioning of more robust research and in offering solutions to the challenges identified.  Vertical cooperation among Governments, by creating policy linkages, was also important, as was streamlining policies and actions.  There was a need to reorient objectives within the new Goals in ways that responded to local demands, he said, noting that countries in the global South recognized the importance of localizing the Goals in ways that responded to a unique context.

Mr. ALMINO said developing countries should set an example of assertiveness in respecting each country’s policy space in the formulation of national development policies.  The conceptual framework of South-South cooperation was set up 50 years ago.  Conceptual divisions on what constituted South-South cooperation could prevent countries from understanding its dynamics and vitality.  Developing countries had seen other actors’ attempts to quantify South-South cooperation, based on criteria conceived for other realities.  South-South partnerships included knowledge exchange, technology transfer, resilience-building and the development of human capital.  “Let’s pay attention to quality, structuring elements, sustainability and to outputs and outcomes,” he said.  “This is what matters most.”

Mr. CHEDIEK said the new Agenda revived a comprehensive definition of development.  For years, the focus had been on the consequences of a lack of development:  poverty and exclusion.  The discourse, however, had neglected to address economic growth, a critical element.  South-South cooperation was important because countries of the global South had shown that sustainable development could be achieved.  “We can learn from each other in the South,” he said, noting that stronger regional integration also had allowed countries that had once turned their backs on each other to exchange information, as had been seen in Latin America.  Overcoming the political and institutional challenges to South-South cooperation required generating the proper metrics.  The institutional set-up for South-South cooperation must be reworked, as the international system – embodied in the international financial institutions and the United Nations – had been established in order to channel North-South cooperation.

The representative of Germany spoke in the ensuing discussion noting that South-South cooperation allowed peers to exchange best practices, particularly in overcoming barriers.  He asked what constituted South-South cooperation in the context of the new Goals, whether criteria would be established, and which countries constituted the global South.

The representative of Colombia called South-South cooperation a powerful development instrument, noting that his agency was charged with measuring its qualitative and quantitative terms.  The qualitative dimensions included the know-how being shared, the visibility being generated and the quantity of networks that aligned with the new Goals.

The representative Venezuela said the Petro-Caribe agreement facilitated energy resources on an equitable basis, expressing hope that the United Nations Office for South-South cooperation be strengthened.  He asked how to reduce costs of financial transactions among countries.

The representative of Thailand, noting that South-South cooperation could be a development multiplier, advocated greater use of research and development centres.  Cohesion between New York and the regions should be improved in order to foster better policy planning, with regional commissions disseminating best practices.

The representative of the European Union said his delegation was committed to dedicating 0.7 per cent of gross national income for ODA within the 2030 Agenda time frame.  He was intrigued by Mr. Roy’s comments about political responses that were necessary for political problems.  He asked what political response could be offered to such problems.

Mr. ROY, responding to those questions and comments, said the distinction was not about levels of per capita income, but rather, access.  South-South cooperation was one of myriad attempts to respond to the political challenge of asymmetric access.  The political challenges the South faced were immense.  If reform of the multilateral institutions could not be achieved, then a country was politically stuck, which in turn, bred the rise of alternative financial institutions.

The representative of Algeria, sharing his country’s experience in South-South cooperation, described new partnerships to promote commercial and economic interactions.  He asked about the best way to learn lessons from others.

Also speaking were representatives of the International Labour Organization (ILO) and International Trade Union Confederation, as well as a non-governmental organization.

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Bolstering Support to ‘Silence the Guns’ in Africa, General Assembly Adopts Resolution Targeting Root Causes of Conflict, Promoting Peace, Development

Concluding Debate on Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy, Member States Share National Plans for Countering, Preventing Scourge

The General Assembly unanimously adopted a resolution that welcomed progress in Africa in conflict prevention and peacebuilding while pointing to ways to address the root causes of conflict and promote durable peace and sustainable development.

By the terms of the resolution on “causes of conflict and the promotion of durable peace and sustainable development in Africa” (document A/70/L.50/Rev.1), the Assembly took note of the Secretary-General’s 2015 report, which had taken stock of major peace and security developments in Africa during the past year, highlighted the growing links between political, social and economic exclusion and violent conflict and reviewed progress in implementing the recommendations set forth in the Secretary-General’s 1998 report on the subject.

Welcoming progress in Africa in peacemaking and development and the adoption of the first 10-year implementation plan (2014-2023) of the African Union Agenda 2063, the Assembly called for intensified, coordinated efforts among national Governments, the African Union, subregional organizations, the United Nations system and relevant partners to address challenges and support the goal of a conflict-free Africa.  It also called on Member States and the United Nations system to bolster support for the African Union’s goal to “silence the guns” by 2020.

The Assembly called upon the United Nations system and Member States to support peace consolidation mechanisms and processes, such as the African Peace and Security Architecture, the African Governance Architecture, the Panel of the Wise, the African Union Post-Conflict Reconstruction and Development Framework and the continental early warning system.  It also called for support of African countries’ efforts to promote political, social and economic inclusion.

Expressing grave concern over the growing threat posed by terrorism to Africa’s peace, security and social and economic development, the Assembly encouraged the United Nations to support the development and implementation of regional and national counter-terrorism action plans and called on Member States to provide assistance and capacity-building towards Africa’s efforts to counter violent extremism and terrorism.

Expressing deep concern over violence against children, including sexual violence, during conflict and post-conflict, and their recruitment and use by parties to armed conflicts, the Assembly urged further progress in implementing protection policies and guidelines, including more systematic monitoring and reporting, and stressed the need for post-conflict counselling, reintegration, rehabilitation and education.  The Assembly also welcomed the decision of the African Union to declare 2016 as the African Year of Human Rights with Particular Focus on the Rights of Women.  Further, the Assembly called for the safeguarding of the principle of refugee protection in Africa and the resolution of the plight of refugees, calling for concrete action to meet their protection and assistance needs.

Noting the completion of the review of the implementation of the recommendations in the Secretary-General’s 1998 report, the Assembly asked the Secretary-General to develop, in consultation with relevant partners, policy proposals on issues identified in that document, including enhancing cooperation among the United Nations, the African Union and subregional organizations, particularly in conflict prevention and resolution, peacekeeping, post-conflict peacebuilding and recovery and promoting socioeconomic development, good governance, the rule of law and human rights.  The Secretary-General was also asked to continue to monitor and report to the General Assembly annually on persistent and emerging challenges to the promotion of durable peace and sustainable development in Africa and on the approach and support of the United Nations system.

Also today, the General Assembly concluded its debate on the United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy.  Several speakers outlined national action plans to combat terrorism aligned with the Global Strategy.  They also expressed condolences to the victims and their families of the recent terrorist attacks in Bangladesh, Turkey and Iraq. 

Speaking during the debate were the representatives of Armenia, Lebanon, Philippines, Albania, Sri Lanka, Kenya, Iran, Morocco, Kazakhstan, Jordan, Tunisia, Somalia, Pakistan, Qatar, Cameroon and Algeria.  A representative of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) also spoke.

The General Assembly also took note of an addendum to the report of its Second Committee (Economic and Financial) on the revitalization of the world body’s work (document A/70/518/Add.1). 

The General Assembly will meet again on Tuesday, 12 July, to convene a high-level thematic debate on the theme “UN@70 — Human Rights at the centre of the global agenda”.

Statements

TIGRAN SAMVELIAN (Armenia) expressed regret that the resolution reflected the principles of international law in a selective manner, failing to embrace the spirit and letter of the United Nations Charter, including self-determination.  He supported the Secretary-General’s call for more concerted efforts to mainstream human rights and the rule of law into counter-terrorism policies, especially welcoming Security Council resolutions 2133 (2014), 2170 (2014) and 2178 (2014).  The international community should stand united to strengthen the United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy.  Foreign terrorist fighters threatened States to which they travelled in addition to their countries of origin and transit.  Further, he said, those who encouraged intolerance should recall that such behaviour might constitute incitement to extreme violence and breed terrorist ideologies.  He supported the call to contribute to security sector reform, noting that Armenia had engaged in initiatives of the Collective Security Treaty Organization, North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), European Union and others.

NAWAF SALAM (Lebanon) condemned terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, welcoming the adoption of the resolution, which reaffirmed the Assembly’s central role in combating the scourge and underscored the importance of an integrated, comprehensive and balanced approach in implementing its four pillars.  “This is critical”, he said, stressing that Lebanon was mourning the loss of families and friends after two attacks in Qaa last week.  Party to most existing counter-terrorism conventions, Lebanon was at the front line of efforts to defeat the phenomenon.  Welcoming the resolution’s reference to youth empowerment, he highlighted the positive contributions women made to stable, peaceful societies, also underscoring the importance of protecting cultural heritage.  In closing, he denounced attempts to label the right to resist foreign occupation as terrorism.

IGOR GARLIT BAILEN (Philippines) condemned in the strongest terms all acts of terrorism, pledging to bring to justice members of Abu Sayyef responsible for recent murders and expressing condolences to the families and friends of the victims.  The Philippines had prepared a framework for countering violent extremism through a “whole of nation” approach, engaging various actors in implementing community awareness campaigns, among other initiatives.  Intercultural and interfaith dialogue was at its core.  It continued to develop its capacity to win hearts and minds by training local communities to recognize and respond to such acts.  An anti-money laundering council trained policymakers, law enforcement officials and intelligence authorities to counter the financing of terrorism.  Further, the Philippines had adopted a national action plan, hosting in August an Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) regional workshop to promote cooperation in managing the risks of chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear weapons.  It also had finalized a national counter-terrorism strategy, which aimed to prevent, protect, prepare and respond through a “whole of nation” and rule of law approach.

ARBEN IDRIZI (Albania), associating himself with the European Union, said all Member States must commit to tackling international terrorism, adding that international cooperation was required to implement all four pillars of the Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy.  Regional cooperation was essential to ending terrorism and to properly assessing and reintegrating, where possible, returning terrorist fighters.  Albania had adopted the Global Strategy and was working to improve regional cooperation in that regard, he said.  Inter-agency efforts were under way to draft a national strategy for 2016-2020 that would harmonize the energy of the Government, civil society and religious communities to make the fight against terrorism more efficient, he said, emphasizing his country’s commitment to efforts aimed at removing the root causes of terrorism.

AMRITH ROHAN PERERA (Sri Lanka) expressed solidarity with Bangladesh, Turkey and Iraq, saying the recent heinous terrorist attacks in those countries were a rallying call to action in the scourge of terrorism.  Voicing deep concern over the growing threat posed by foreign terrorist fighters, he emphasized that all Member States must pool resources and share intelligence to defeat international terrorist networks.  As violent terrorism in many parts of the world targeted vulnerable and marginalized communities, it was vital to proactively include and engage United Nations entities dealing with children, minorities, women and girls, he said, adding that the large number of children victimized in the Baghdad attack underscored the urgent need for engagement.  All Member States must demonstrate the political will to conclude a comprehensive convention on international terrorism, he stressed, declaring:  “The search for an ideal and a perfect instrument must not become the enemy of the good and result in a collective failure of this Organization and its Member States.”

JAMES NDIRANGU WAWERU (Kenya) said a national counter-terrorism strategy and action plan was enhancing preventive efforts, particularly through local and grassroots early warning systems, as that was a highly effective way to snuff out the terrorist supply chain of new recruits.  Prevention would also delegitimize the violent extremist narrative before it gained ground.  The international community must fully unite to address terrorism.  For its part, Kenya had set up a National Counter-Terrorism Centre, an inter-agency organization that coordinated the implementation of the national strategy and action plans.  Noting that those efforts had been inspired by the Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy, he said enhanced national coordination had already resulted in a dramatic reduction in the number and intensity of terrorist attacks in Kenya.  Through increased public engagement, he said, the war against terrorism was being executed by law enforcement agencies, citizens and local communities.

GHOLAMALI KHOSHROO (Iran) said terrorism could only be defeated with a comprehensive plan that was implemented in a coordinated manner with cooperation among all actors at the regional level.  Violent extremism was the most critical challenge and the Takfiri ideology, which had nothing to do with Islam, was at its core.  He urged a focus on that concern because Al-Qaida and the Taliban were the first so-called “achievements” of that extremist ideology, while Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh) and Al-Nusra were the latest.  Thousands of people from more than 100 countries had joined those groups, mainly in Syria and Iraq.  “We could have avoided the current situation,” he said, urging a focus on prevention.  States must also devise national plans to deal with the drivers of violent extremism, he said, citing the unlawful use of force against States, foreign aggression and foreign interference in internal affairs among the root causes of terrorism.  He opposed attempts to equate the legitimate struggles of people under colonial or alien domination with terrorism and rejected the unilateral preparation of lists accusing States of so-called “sponsoring terrorism”.

OMAR HILALE (Morocco) condemned terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, stressing that it could not be associated with any religion, nationality or ethnic group.  Associating himself with the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), he said the Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy had marked a turning point.  Since 2014, however, a new reality had emerged, with Da’esh taking control of swaths of Iraq and Syria.  That group had no Islamic legitimacy, only an ideology of death, recruiting more than 30,000 foreign terrorist fighters and funding itself through illicit oil trafficking and exploitation of common means of communication.  He welcomed the resolution as a compromise text, citing its focus on foreign terrorist fighters, stemming financing, countering terrorist ideologies and reaffirming the principles of sovereignty, territorial integrity and the unity of States in that regard.  Touching on national efforts, he cited a 2006 initiative to develop human potential, training programmes for preachers in the authentic teachings of Islam and an initiative aimed at the deradicalization and reintegration of foreign terrorist fighters.

KAIRAT ABDRAKHMANOV (Kazakhstan) said that, being party to all major international conventions to root out terrorism, national efforts had aimed at strengthening capabilities and were being guided by the Global Strategy and other relevant universal instruments.  Kazakhstan was enhancing cooperation, including with the Counter-Terrorism Implementation Task Force and the Security Council Counter-Terrorism Committee, and had adopted a joint action plan to implement the Global Strategy in Central Asia.  A State programme to counter religious extremism and terrorism from 2013 to 2017 was closely aligned with the Global Strategy and the President had led an initiative to set up a United Nations-led counter-terrorism coalition and a common mechanism for tracing, detaining and extraditing perpetrators of violent extremism and terrorism.  Efforts also included establishing a unified list of terrorist organizations.  The Assembly’s adoption of the resolution was as step forward towards that end, he concluded.

MOH’D KAIS MUFLEH ALBATAYNEH (Jordan) regretted that terrorism was on the rise.  Noting the dastardly acts that had been committed last month against Jordan and its soldiers, he said Member States should develop their own plans to combat terrorism, the threat of foreign terrorist fighters and the exploitation of mass media by terrorist networks.  It was essential to pay attention to youth, give them a proper role in combatting violent extremism and protect them from terrorist networks that aimed at destroying them.  All Member States must take proper steps before granting asylum to people seeking it.  Combatting terrorism required collective efforts and support to countries leading the fight against the scourge, such as Jordan.

NOUR ZARROUK BOUMIZA (Tunisia) said the Assembly must take a central role in actions to counter terrorism and violent extremism, underscoring the importance of dialogue, including by civil society, in that regard.  Tunisia had adopted a new constitution, held presidential elections in 2014 and won a Nobel Peace Prize in 2015.  It was resolved to fight terrorism based on the primacy of law, she said, noting that a 2015 law to fight terrorism and money laundering had been harmonized with international instruments and Security Council resolution 2178 (2014).  Further, a judicial body and a national commission had been created, the latter of which aimed at following up on commitments to fight terrorism.  Tunisia’s national strategy, which was based on the United Nations approach, focused on prevention, protection, follow up and response.  The Government was working to counter terrorist doctrines and promote dialogue, peace and tolerance.  More broadly, global efforts required common actions at all levels, she said, welcoming that the resolution had prioritized capacity-building and the need for resources.

MOHAMED RABI YUSUF (Somalia) said the vast majority of citizens had rejected violent extremism, welcoming the United Nations efforts to raise global awareness of preventing and countering such behaviour.  Working across Government, with the involvement of regional administrations and civil society, the Federal Government of Somalia, with support from the European Union and the “blueprint Somalia project”, had developed a Somali-owned, Somali-led national strategy and action plan for preventing and countering violent extremism.  With efforts showing the importance of working with international partners, the strategy and plan of action had included all of the Secretary-General’s recommendations, laying out a vision for Somalia and initiatives to better understand and then prevent and counter extremist influences.  That initiative had complemented efforts to address national security threats within a framework of good governance, human rights and the rule of law, he said.

NABEEL MUNIR (Pakistan), condemning terrorism in all its forms, said huge national sacrifices had been made in the battle against that scourge.  Yet, Pakistan had persevered.  Since the Global Strategy’s adoption 10 years ago, Pakistan had accorded high importance to its implementation.  Few countries could match its efforts for counter-terrorism or its sacrifices.  The law enforcement operation, Zarb-e-Azab, one of the largest national counter-terrorism operations in the world, had resulted in significant successes.  He pointed to the creation of special courts for terrorist offenders, arms control measures and the strengthening of the National Counter Terrorism Authority and the Financial Monitoring Unit.  Last year, the United Nations Financial Action Task Force had acknowledged that Pakistan’s counter-terrorism financing steps were in line with United Nations recommendations.

Pakistan’s 20-point national action plan to counter terrorism, he said, had focused on prevention and included measures to end hate speech and sectarian violence, protect minorities, prevent exploitation of the media and Internet by terrorists and violent extremists, develop an effective counter-narrative campaign against terrorist propaganda, reform the education system and register and regularize madrasas, he said.  The plan also included political reconciliation and economic revitalization programmes for targeted areas, criminal justice sector reform and the registration of refugees.  In line with a “whole of society” approach, the Government had taken steps to promote and protect women rights, enhance the capacity of law enforcement agencies and harness youth’s potential.  Pakistan was also working with the Counter-Terrorism Implementation Task Force on youth skills development and the Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate to enhance the criminal justice sector’s capacity.

TALAL RASHID S. A. AL-HAJRI (Qatar), aligning himself with the OIC, condemned all terrorist attacks, which were contrary to all Islamic teachings.  Terrorism had no religious or national identity and must be fought at all levels in a manner that respected the right to self-determination, international humanitarian law and human rights law.  Youth affected by violent extremism must be supported and reintegrated into society.  In addition, security responses should complement efforts to address the root causes of terrorism, with national and international mechanisms to both combat the scourge and address its causes.  Among various efforts, Qatar had set up a national counter-terrorism institution to stamp out money laundering and terrorism financing.  The Syrian regime had labelled as terrorists Syrians that were demanding their legitimate rights, he said, noting that it was ironic that the representative of a regime that was practicing State-sponsored terrorism was labelling as terrorists countries known within the United Nations for their active contribution to solve disputes peacefully.

MICHEL TOMMO MONTHE (Cameroon) said Boko Haram had staged attacks in the Lake Chad region.  On 29 June, in the north of Cameroon, the terrorist group had attacked Jakana, killing 11 people and wounding 4.  Noting that defence and security forces had confronted the group, he said Cameroon was working with a multinational joint force in combat areas and creating local self-defence committees.  Soldiers respected human rights and international humanitarian law and, in the eastern region, Cameroon had hosted refugees and displaced persons.  On the diplomatic front, the African Union and the Security Council had mobilized on several occasions, with support that had enhanced related efforts in the Lake Chad region.  Cameroon’s emergency plan included development projects in the region to ensure that poverty was not used to catalyse conflicts, while religious leaders in Cameroon had organized sermons on peace, equity, tolerance, charity and moderation — the true values of Islam.  He urged the international community to stand against Boko Haram and the Security Council to use all means possible to counter terrorist movements that abused Islam.

MOHAMMED BESSEDIK (Algeria) aligning himself with the OIC, said terrorism understood no religion, homeland or borders and in no way should be associated with any culture, religion, civilization or community.  He urged preserving the biennial review process of the Global Strategy, noting that the resolution had reflected that need.  He also underlined the importance of consolidating efforts by enhancing cooperation at bilateral, regional and international levels, strengthening capabilities and exchanging best practices.  Algeria had always urged respect for the sovereignty, territorial integrity, independence and unity of all States, he said, rejecting any selective approach towards those principles.  Citing national efforts, he said the Charter for Peace and National Reconciliation had been adopted by an overwhelming majority of Algerians.  The battle against terrorism must be waged in all areas of political, institutional, economic, cultural, religious, education and social activities.  Algeria’s strategy aimed to protect society from any influence by advocates of violent extremism and terrorism and was based on democracy, the rule of law and social justice.

ANNA-KATHARINA DEININGER, of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), said several key steps had been taken since 2014 to prevent and combat terrorism and to address the movement of foreign terrorist fighters.  Among those steps, OSCE had adopted a declaration and action plan, convened conferences and strengthened engagement with the United Nations and regional organizations.  OSCE was helping several States develop and implement national anti-terrorism strategies and had set up the “Leaders against Intolerance and Violent Extremism” initiative to build grassroots capacity by empowering local civil society leaders to speak up and mobilize their communities.  It had also developed social media training for youth and was developing a training programme for police officers on the role of community policing to prevent and counter terrorism.

Further, she said, OSCE had organized training on border controls to detect foreign terrorist fighters and it was a partner in a global project led by the United Nations Counter-Terrorism Centre to raise awareness about the use of advance passenger information.  She called for more political will to establish automated data cross-checking against the International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL) databases and noted that OSCE activities required a mechanism that allowed funding to be shared among organizational structures.  The aim over the next two years should be to increase confidence and efficiency in transforming words into action as a way to match development goals with sustainable counter-terrorism action.

Action

The representative of Thailand, on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, introduced the resolution on “causes of conflict and the promotion of durable peace and sustainable development in Africa” (document A/70/L.50/Rev.1), saying the text recognized notable progress in attaining peace on the continent, and called for enhancing both national and regional initiatives to address the root causes of conflict and resolve conflicts a peaceful manner.

The Assembly then adopted resolution A/70/L.50/Rev.1 without a vote.

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Motion for a resolution on the displacement of children in Northern Nigeria as a result of Boko Haram attacks – B8-2015-1031

The European Parliament,

–       having regard to its previous resolutions on Nigeria, last one on April 29th 2015,

– having regard the plenary debate on the matter on Wednesday, 14 January 2015,

–       having regard to the statements by the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Federica Mogherini, including the statements of 8 January, 19 January, 31 March, 14 and 15 April 2015,

– having regard to the Council Conclusions of 9 February 2015,

–       having regard to the Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council on the prevention of the use of the financial system for the purpose of money laundering and terrorist financing(1),

–       having regard to the Resolution of the European Parliament on tax avoidance and tax evasion as challenges for governance, social protection and development in developing countries of July 2015,

–       having regard to the fifth Nigeria-EU ministerial dialogue held in Abuja on 27 November 2014,

–       having regard to the preliminary conclusions of the EU and EP Election Observation Missions,

– having regard to the regional conference on security held in Niamey on 20 January 2015;

–       having regard to the statements made by the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-moon,

–       having regard to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals of September 2015,

–       having regard to the statements by the High Commissioner of the United Nations for Human Rights on the possibility that members of Boko Haram could be accused of war crimes,

–       having regard to the UN Declaration of 1981 on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and of Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief,

–       having regard to the African Charter on Human Rights and Peoples of 1981, ratified by Nigeria on 22 June 1983,

–       having regard to the International Covenant on Civil Rights of 1966, ratified by Nigeria on 29 October 1993,

–       having regard to the Convention on the Rights of the Child ratified by Nigeria on 16th April 1991,

–       having regard to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948,

–       having regard to Rule 123(2) of its Rules of Procedure,

–       having regard to Article 208 TFEU, which establishes taking into the principle of policy coherence for development in all European Union external policies,

–       having regard to the Geneva Conventions,

–       having regard to the convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) and its Optional Protocol,

–       having regard to the UN Security Council resolution 2122 and 1325 on Women, Peace, and Security,

A.     whereas Nigeria is the most populous, ethnically diverse country in Africa marked by and a North-South division with severe economic and social disparities,

B. whereas Nigeria is the biggest economy in the African continent but despite its vast resources, Nigeria ranks among the most unequal countries in the world; Whereas the majority of the 148 million people in Nigeria live below the poverty line, while the country is the eighth largest oil producer;

C.     whereas there are endemic problems in Nigeria from an economic point of view, due to the monopolization of resources by a minority and major responsibilities of the former colonial powers in the plunder of Nigeria; whereas this situation has led to decades of social and cultural divisions between indigenous groups for control of fertile farmlands and with migrants and settlers from the north of the country; whereas oil revenues have been steadily decreasing and an economic crisis is looming.

D. whereas fair and progressive tax regimes with welfare and social justice criteria provide vital finance to governments to cover citizens’ rights to basic public services, such as healthcare and education for all, and whereas effective redistributive fiscal policies are essential in decreasing the effect of growing inequalities by shaping the redistribution of wealth from higher income citizens to those most in need in a country;

E. whereas illicit financial flows (IFFs), i.e. all unrecorded private financial outflows involving capital that is illegally earned, transferred or utilised, typically originate from tax evasion activities, trade missinvoicing and abusive transfer pricing, against the principle that taxes should be paid where profits have been generated;

F.     whereas social equality, education, literacy, women’s rights, social justice and a fair distribution of state revenues in society, reducing inequality and the fight against corruption are key for good governance and to fighting fundamentalism, violence and intolerance.

G. whereas throughout North East Nigeria and across the border regions in Cameroon, Chad and Niger, children are in critical danger. Insecurity caused by the conflict between the armed group ‘Islamic State’s in West Africa’, commonly known as ‘Boko Haram’, military forces and civilian self-defence groups in North East Nigeria has escalated into a worsening humanitarian crisis, with over 3.500 registered deaths as from January 2015.

H. whereas over 1.4 million children were forced to flee conflict and violence. In the past months, the total number of children on the run has increased by a further 500,000 across the region. In northern Nigeria alone, nearly 1.2 million children – over half of them under 5 years old – have had to leave their homes. An additional 265,000 children have been uprooted in Cameroon, Chad and Niger after their villages were attacked or threatened; whereas these children are at risk of being trapped in a cycle of violence being separated from their families, exposed to exploitation and recruited by armed groups. Many of among them have been killed, maimed and subjected to unimaginable atrocities.

I.     whereas the humanitarian situation continues to deteriorate with worsening food insecurity combined with poor access to education, safe drinking water and health services. In the most affected areas health centres have been destroyed. Many health workers have fled while others are not able to access those in need, leaving many families without health services, such as routine immunization, maternal and child care. Children are at risk of dying from diarrhoea, malaria or malnutrition.

J. whereas specifically young women and girls have been abducted by Boko Haram -at least 2,000 since the start of 2014, as reported recently by Amnesty International-, forced into sexual slavery, subjected to forced marriage, physical and psychological abuse, forced labour and rape.

K. whereas since the beginning of 2015 there has been an increase in the frequency and intensity of bombings in Northeast Nigeria. Women and girls are involved in approximately three-quarters of the attacks. Children are often used without knowing, to carry bombs that were strapped to their bodies and detonated remotely in public places, not only in Nigeria but also in neighbouring countries, in Chad and Cameroon.

L.     whereas fear of attacks by Boko Haram has uprooted a half-million children in the past five months -as reported recently by UNICEF- raising a total number of children who have fled from Boko Haram militants in Nigeria and neighbouring countries to 1.4 million as reported by UNICEF, the United Nations Children’s Fund.

M.    whereas the spill over of Boko Haram insurgency in the neighbouring countries reveal the importance of greater regional cooperation; whereas Nigeria plays a key role in regional and African politics and is a driving force of the regional integration through ECOWAS.

N.     whereas gender equality and women´s empowerment reminds a pending issue in Nigeria; further to last electoral processes in Nigeria, fewer women were elected than in the previous ones in 2011, which marked already a negative trend;

1.      Strongly condemns the ongoing and increasing violence in Nigeria which has led to thousands of deaths and injuries and displaced hundreds of thousands of people and specifically hundreds of thousands of children. More than 17000 deaths and 2 million of displaced people over the last six years;

2.   Deplores the massacre of innocent women, men and children, the rapes, the use of torture, the recruitment of child soldiers, and stands with the people of Nigeria in their determination to fight all forms of violence in their country;

3. Insists on the paramount importance of duly protecting children’s rights in a country with over a 40% of the total population between the ages 0 to 14.

4.      Asks the President, Mr. Buhari to ensure respect for human rights for all its citizens; asks the government to protect its population and to address the root causes of violence aiming to ensure equal rights to all citizens and by addressing problems related to inequality, the control of fertile farmland, unemployment and poverty; asks the government to fight against corruption, poverty and inequality and promote social, political and economic reforms in order to create a free, democratic, fair, stable and secure State;

5. Reiterates its concern about the death penalty in Nigeria, further to confirming that in 2014 over 659 death sentences were reported by Amnesty International and urges for the abolition of the death penalty;

6. Calls the Nigerian government to adopt measures to starve Boko Haram of their sources of illegal income, through cooperation with neighbouring countries, in particular with regard to smuggling and trafficking while reminding actions undertaken against Boko Haram should not lead to further fuelling of the violence; in this regard, condemns the Nigerian military for using disproportionate force in its pursuit of Boko Haram; calls for a reform of the Nigerian state security forces, including police, ensuring their proper equipment and effective democratic oversight and conducting investigations against those who are responsible for any human rights violations including extrajudicial killings, torture, rapes, children abuses, arbitrary arrests, and extortion-related abuses;  

7. Calls for an independent investigation to shed light on the different acts perpetrated by Boko Haram, and specify whether war crimes and crimes against humanity were committed;

8.      Points out that increasing impoverishment of citizens, declining economic opportunities, increasing inequalities and limited educational opportunities have swelled the ranks of the unemployed, which in turn offers the socio-economic basis for Boko Haram’s development; notes also with concern that in many regions, the state offers no crucial public services for people such as water, sanitation, health or education; urges, under these circumstances, the Nigerian authorities to address the socio-economic basis for Boko Haram’s development and to fight against deteriorating living standards to reach social justice; asks the EU to use all its tools to promote these measures;

9.      Believes that the peaceful resolution of disputes is only possible through respect for human rights, including the inalienable right of the people to dispose of itself and of its resources;

10.    Emphasises the importance of an independent, impartial, accessible judiciary system for all citizens, to put an end to impunity, to enhance respect for rule of law and fundamental rights of the population; accordingly, calls for improving efficiency and independence of Nigeria’s judiciary system as a mean of effective use of criminal justice to combat terrorism;

11.    Demands an international investigation under the auspices of the UN to determine the third country responsibilities in the organization and financing of terrorist groups in the region, and responsibility of multinationals and governments in the hoarding of wealth and deepening economic, social and cultural tensions;

12.    Urges the international community to do more to help the Nigerian Government, in particular to secure the release of the Chibok girls abducted in April 2014;

13.    Calls on the international community to also help the Nigerian forced migrants in neighbouring countries, calls the EU and it´s Member States to facilitate their access to European asylum and ensure human rights to all migrants;

14.    Calls on the European Union and its Member States to fulfil their commitment to providing a comprehensive range of political, development and humanitarian effective support to Nigeria and its people. Urges that the provision of humanitarian aid by the EU and the Member States should not be subject to restrictions imposed by other stakeholders regarding necessary medical treatment, including access to safe abortion for women and girls who are victims of rape in armed conflicts, and should instead follow international humanitarian law;

15.    Calls for a fair and redistributive tax system able to address the problematic of inequalities in the country, especially regarding natural resources revenues;

16. Urges the Commission to take concrete and effective measures to support tax administration frameworks in the fight against tax dodging, in developing fairer and progressive tax policies, in promoting administrative reforms and in order to increase the share, in terms of aid and development, of financial and technical assistance to the Nigeria national tax administrations;

17. Recalls the European Union and its Member States when negotiating tax treaties, shall comply with the principle of policy coherence for development established in Article 208 TFEU; The European Union shall take account of the objectives of development cooperation in the policies that it implements which are likely to affect developing countries such Nigeria.

18.    Calls on the European Union and its Member States to take concrete measures to efficiently curve illicit financial flows, tax evasion and avoidance, and boost democratic international cooperation in tax matters by promoting an intergovernmental body on tax matters, to ensure a forum where all countries could participate on equal footing;

19.    Reproves the Same-Sex Marriage (Prohibition) Law, criminalizing LGTBI people; strongly condemns the severe criminalization of homosexuality in Nigeria, punishable with 7 years’ imprisonment (or death penalty in 12 states where Sharia law applies); Thus, calls for the abolition of this law as well as sections 214 and 217 of the Nigerian Penal Code. Calls the Nigerian Government to promote gender equality and women’s empowerment through boosting women and women rights organisations participation in public and political life; calls for a comprehensive EU approach on violence against women and girls with increased efforts and resources to prevent and eliminate all discriminatory practices against women as well as to combat and prosecute all forms of violence including trafficking in human beings, female genital mutilation, forced sterilisation, forced pregnancy, gendercide, domestic violence and marital rape, child, early and forced marriage and gender-based violence in conflict and post-conflict situations; calls for the development of specific EU actions to strengthen the rights of different groups of women, with a special attention to youth, migrants, women living with HIV, LGBTI persons and persons with disabilities;

20.    Strongly calls for the Nigerian Government to protect the children and youth rights in line with the UN 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda;

21.    Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the Vice-President of the Commission/High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, the governments and parliaments of the Member States, the government and parliament of Nigeria, the Representatives of ECOWAS and the African Union;

(1)

OJ L 309, 25.11.2005, p. 15.

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