October 13, 2010
By Thalif Deen
UNITED NATIONS, Oct 13, 2010 (IPS) – The United Nations, which is planning to hold a major international conference on Least Developed Countries (LDCs) next year, has been put on notice: if the mounting social and economic problems of poorer nations are not resolved, “There will be no peace and stability in the world.”
The warning came from the co-chairman of a “panel of eminent persons”, who are expected to raise awareness of the urgent needs of the 49 LDCs, described as “the poorest of the world’s poor”, struggling for survival against severe economic odds.
Alpha Oumar Konare, a former president of Mali, told reporters Wednesday that pledges to provide assistance to LDCs should be honoured.
“We need a political message of commitment,” said Konare, who co-chairs, along with former World Bank President James Wolfensohn, the nine-member panel mandated to prepare a report “that will be used as an advocacy tool to drum up support” for the development of LDCs.
“I don’t like reports,” Konare told reporters. “Think of all the thousands of reports gathering dust.” What is needed, he said, is the commitment of the international community to meet the promises and pledges made so far.
The 49 LDCs – consisting of 33 in Africa, 15 in Asia and one in the Caribbean – comprise over 800 million people and are described as “the poorest and the most vulnerable segment of humanity at the very epicentre of the developmental emergency”.
The United Nations has held three major global conferences on LDCs: the first and second in Paris in 1981 and 1991, and the third in Brussels in 2001 – all of them aimed at mobilising global support for the upliftment of LDCs.
The General Assembly last year decided to convene a fourth U.N. conference (LDC IV) scheduled to take place May 30-Jun. 3 next year in Istanbul, Turkey.
Asked what gains LDCs made at the anti-poverty Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) summit last month, Under-Secretary- General Cheick Sidi Diarra told IPS the 27-member European Union (EU) offered funding amounting to one billion euros (about 1.4 billion dollars) to “the most committed and needy countries to make progress on the goals they are furthest from achieving”.
“Undoubtedly,” he said, “the LDC agenda gained greater visibility at this year’s summit and throughout many of the sessions it became clear that delegates were of the opinion that there would be no MDGs without LDCs.”
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