Daily Archives: October 6, 2017

Speakers Call for Prioritizing Education, Health in Quest to Level Gender Playing Field, as Third Committee Holds Debate on Women’s Advancement

Delegates in the Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) debated the international response to violence against women today, opening a discussion on the advancement of women.

The Committee heard from special mandate holders and heads of specialized agencies before opening its general debate on the matter. Lakshmi Puri, Deputy Executive Director of the United Nations Entity on Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN-Women), said the representation of women in the wider United Nations system continued to be correlated negatively to seniority. In the world at large, priority should be accorded to improving access to education and health, investing in infrastructure and promoting property rights, she said, calling upon Member States to catalyse the strengthening of gender perspectives in discussions across the United Nations system.

Education was also a topic addressed by Dalia Leinarte, Chair of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, who noted work was continuing on its draft general recommendation on the rights of women and girls in that field. The elimination of gender-based violence against women was a principal area of the Committee’s broad agenda, and in 2016, the Committee had taken action on 11 individual complaints centred mostly around gender-based violence against women.

The international community’s response to violence against women was the topic of a report introduced by Dubravka Simonovic, Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences. At issue was the creation of a new treaty on violence against women, with some stakeholders favouring full implementation of existing treaties and instruments rather than a new, stand-alone convention.

When the general debate opened, delegations addressed a range of issues, including women’s economic empowerment, with Thailand’s delegate, speaking on behalf of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), noting that countries with greater female involvement in the labour force had witnessed greater economic growth.

Women’s exclusion from economic opportunities and legal impediments to land ownership and access to inheritance were among their most significant challenges, said Egypt’s delegate, speaking on behalf of the African Group. Rural women were extremely vulnerable as they were less able to access land, credit and agricultural inputs or such resources as electricity and water. Women’s exclusion from social, economic and political opportunities could put them at risk of violence, he said, calling for gender equality to extend to the workplace. Issues such as sexual harassment, the gender wage gap and gender-insensitive working conditions must be addressed.

Ecuador’s representative, speaking on behalf of the Group of 77 developing countries and China, agreed that violence against women was an obstacle to gender equality and their empowerment, underlining the need for concrete actions to mainstream a gender perspective into the design, implementation and evaluation of public policies.

Ensuring the well-being of women and girls called for men and boys to be engaged as agents and beneficiaries of gender equality, said the European Union’s speaker. In a point echoed by other speakers, men and boys played an important role as key agents of change for achieving gender equality, said El Salvador’s representative, speaking on behalf of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC). Another area of focus was in reaching vulnerable groups, with CELAC members recognizing the need to strengthen indigenous women’s economic activities to enhance their empowerment, autonomy and development.

The situation of rural women was addressed by Haiti’s delegate, who spoke on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM). Since they represented a large proportion of his region’s agricultural workforce, it was vital to respond to their development needs, he emphasized.

Also speaking today were representatives of South Africa (for the Southern African Development Community), Australia (for a group of States), Japan, Switzerland, Paraguay, Netherlands, Italy, Finland, Singapore, Mexico, Peru, Argentina, Sierra Leone, Philippines, Saudi Arabia, Brazil, Australia, Venezuela, Lithuania, Iraq, Russian Federation, Syria, Myanmar, Mongolia, Viet Nam, United States, Jamaica, Norway, Zambia, Iran, Colombia and Egypt.

The Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) will reconvene at 10 a.m. on Friday, 6 October, to continue its debate on the advancement of women.

Background

The Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) began its general discussion on the advancement of women today. Before it were reports of the Secretary-General on the status of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (document A/72/93); adequacy of the international legal framework on violence against women (document A/72/134); improvement of the situation of women and girls in rural areas (document A/72/207); violence against women migrant workers (document A/72/215); measures taken and progress achieved in the follow-up to and implementation of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action and the outcome of the twenty-third special session of the General Assembly (A/72/203); improvement of the status of women in the United Nations system (A/72/220); and the report of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women on its sixty-fourth, sixty-fifth and sixty-sixth sessions (document A/72/38).

Opening Remarks

LAKSHMI PURI, Deputy Executive Director of the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN-Women), said that efforts over the past year had provided clear opportunities to consolidate the implementation of global gender equality commitments. However, while economic integration lay at the centre of accelerated implementation efforts, women faced persistent challenges as they sought to enter the changing world of work. Emphasizing that women and girls could not wait until 2030 to realize equity, she said UN-Women had joined forces with the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) to promote equal pay for equal work and work of equal value in the public and private sectors. Targeted action in mainstreaming gender into all efforts must drive gender-responsive implementation, she emphasized.

However, mainstreaming remained inconsistent in intergovernmental bodies, and progress within the General Assembly and the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) had plateaued, she continued, pointing out that the representation of women in the wider United Nations continued to be correlated negatively to seniority. Migrant women as well as women and girls in rural communities remained particularly vulnerable, and the recommendations in the Secretary-General’s reports on that question would benefit those marginalized groups. Priority should be accorded to improving access to education and health, investing in infrastructure and promoting property rights, she said. To achieve forceful and vigorous implementation of those goals, institutional mechanisms required the authority and capacity to ensure accountability on the part of Governments and other relevant actors, she said, calling upon Member States to catalyse the strengthening of gender perspectives in discussions across the United Nations system. Funding for organizations working towards gender equality, including UN-Women, must increase at all levels, she stressed.

The representative of the United Kingdom said his delegation supported the pursuit of gender parity in the United Nations system, but emphasized the importance of making concrete progress.

The representative of Guyana said he looked forward to cooperation between UN-Women and countries of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), which had recently endured severe hurricane damage. Such events tended to affect budget allocations, he noted.

Ms. PURI said that beyond UN-Women, efforts were being made with other United Nations partners to ensure that drivers of gender mainstreaming were highlighted in policymaking, adding that the link with Sustainable Development Goal 5 must be made during implementation. Thanking Costa Rica for its sponsorship of the issue, she then turned to the question of gender parity. The Secretary-General had declared that reaching gender parity must be a game-changing effort that must break all resistance, she recalled, pointing out that that determination was reflected in his gender parity strategy. Citing several United Nations entities, she noted that many were very close to the goal of parity. However, it was not only a numbers issue, she cautioned, explaining that it was about transforming the United Nations into a model for Governments and the corporate sector. If the Organization could not demonstrate that, who would?

In response to the statement by the representative of Guyana, she said her office enjoyed close cooperation with CARICOM. Offering her sympathy to those affected by the hurricanes, she noted UN-Women’s support for resilience-building efforts.

DALIA LEINARTE, Chair of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, highlighted three issues upon which that body had focused in the past year: furthering the impact of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development; gender-based violence against women; and strengthening the human rights treaty process. She said the Committee had encouraged States parties to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women to provide updates on their efforts to meet the Sustainable Development Goals relating to gender equality and had raised the relevant Goals during dialogues held with State party delegations. It had also worked with UN-Women, the Food and Agricultural Organization and the OECD to develop methodologies for selected Sustainable Development Goals indicators used to assess gender equality efforts, she said, adding that the Committee had made substantive submissions to the High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development, including by identifying concrete steps that States must take to realize women’s rights and eradicate poverty.

Turning to gender-based violence against women, she said its elimination was a principal area of the Committee’s broad agenda. In addition to its dialogues with States parties, the issue was also under discussion in various other procedures of the Committee. Its new general recommendation extended the scope of violence against women to all forms gender-based violence against women, she said. That extension strengthens the understanding of this type of violence as a social rather than merely an individual phenomenon, she said, adding that it also highlighted the link between women’s exposure to violence and various forms of inequality, and was frequently a consequence of intersecting forms of discrimination. The Committee also continued to work on its draft general recommendation on the rights of women and girls to education, and was elaborating a draft general recommendation that would reinforce the resilience of women and communities in the aftermath of natural disasters caused by climate change. In 2016, the Committee had taken action on 11 individual complaints centred mostly around gender-based violence against women, she recalled.

Concerning the strengthening of human rights treaty bodies, she said the Committee had held an informational meeting with States parties to the Convention on November 2016, and had briefed them on implementation of the Convention and its Optional Protocol. The Committee had also implemented measures set out in the General Assembly resolution 68/268, such as simplifying the reporting process for States parties and formulating shorter and more concrete country-specific observations. She emphasized, however, that the human rights treaty body system had not received resources commensurate with its growth. Should we not receive the needed resources, we might no longer be able to cope with the increased workload, she noted.

The representative of Japan asked what measures the Committee had taken to build stronger partnerships, and how Member States could better serve it.

The representative of Switzerland asked what mechanisms were available to support and strengthen the role of civil society during Committee sessions.

The representative of Slovenia, noting that gender equality remained a top thematic priority, asked what impact current trends related to women’s advancement efforts were having on the Committee’s work.

The representative of the European Union delegation commended efforts to develop more focused approaches to the pursuit of gender equity, and asked what measures could be taken to increase the impact of the Committee’s work on violence against women.

The representative of the United Kingdom asked how the Committee could amplify gender equality in development efforts.

The representative of the Maldives sought additional information on the working methodology for reporting mechanisms proposed for the open-ended working group.

The representative of Ireland, associating himself with the European Union, asked for an assessment of simplified reporting procedures.

The representative of Spain asked how coordination between the Committee and other United Nations entities could facilitate the implementation of efforts under the greater development agenda.

The representative of Liechtenstein asked how reporting mechanisms could be made more efficient.

Ms. LEINARTE, responding to questions about reporting mechanisms, said they were characterized by a lack of diverse and reliable information because States parties did not prepare elaborate reports. As a result, the Committee relied on information from other United Nations entities and from civil society.

Turning to coordination with other United Nations entities, she called for closer collaboration with UN-Women to ensure better understanding of Member States’ priorities. Collaboration should be institutionalized, with possible strategies including the issuance of joint statements on gender and implementation.

Responding to the representative of the European Union delegation, she said talks had begun on a new convention on violence against women, emphasizing that speeding up implementation of existing mechanisms would advance the Committee’s work.

As for the Committee’s role in pursuing the 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development, she said the Committee ensured the fundamental freedoms of women in all fields. Strong standards in place for the protection of women were intrinsically linked to the 2030 Agenda, and indicators were being developed to ensure progress, she noted.

DUBRAVKA SIMONOVIC, Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences, noted that since 2015, she had conducted country visits to South Africa, Georgia, Israel, the Occupied Palestinian Territory/State of Palestine, Argentina and Australia. She added that she would next visit the Bahamas and Bulgaria, and also planned a visit to Nepal.

She went on to state that her latest thematic report recommended establishing a global database on shelters and protection orders, as well as the collection of data indicators on violence against women and femicide rates. The latter initiative had been supported by stakeholders, she said, citing preparations by the Ombudspersons of Georgia, Argentina and Croatia to publish data and analysis on that subject on the forthcoming International Day on the Elimination of Violence against Women.

Noting that her mandate’s second long-term initiative was to strengthen cooperation with independent global and regional mechanisms on violence against women, she said that it also sought closer cooperation with the United Nations Trust Fund on violence against women and with independent women’s rights mechanisms, especially the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women. At issue was the creation of a new treaty on violence against women, she said, presenting her report on the adequacy of the international framework in regard to that issue. Several stakeholders favoured full implementation of existing treaties and instruments rather than a new, stand-alone instrument, she said, citing the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the Commission on the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Women and Children.

However, 291 civil society organizations had also responded, which demonstrated their remarkable engagement on the issue, she continued. Those supporting a new stand-alone treaty cited the lack of, and need for, a legally binding definition of violence against women, among other factors. Those opposing a new treaty suggested, among other arguments, that although existing standards needed reinforcement, a new treaty was not necessary. A third grouping of responses supported the creation of a new optional protocol under the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, she said, describing other proposals calling for the creation of a femicide watch as innovative. It was now up to Member States to discuss the report’s contents, implement its recommendations and take positions on several of its other specific proposals.

The representative of Switzerland said the current legal framework had not been fully implemented, and that efforts should be concentrated on the implementation of existing international norms. States should be encouraged to ratify existing instruments and put them into practice.

The representative of the European Union delegation asked the Special Rapporteur to elaborate on the suggestion to consider a fifth United Nations World Conference on Women. Which added outcomes could that produce?

The representative of Australia said the architecture for protecting women and children must be less fragmented, and voiced support for the conclusion that violence against women could constitute discrimination and a violation of human rights.

The representative of Lithuania said only women free from violence could contribute to the development of modern societies, and welcomed the examination of violence against women within the broader context of inequality. Noting that the Special Rapporteur’s concern about the fragmentation of efforts, she asked her to elaborate on the practical difficulties, and on possible solutions.

The representative of Georgia underscored the importance of protecting women’s rights and fundamental freedoms, and noted Georgia’s recent ratification of several international instruments.

The representative of Cameroon asked the Special Rapporteur to clarify which recommendations she would make to the Trust Fund for Women Victims of Violence. She also sought clarity as to whether the Special Rapporteur would be consulting on the priorities for a potential fifth iteration of the World Conference on Women.

The representative of Estonia noted that the Internet and other technologies had created challenges like online harassment and cyberstalking, emphasizing that the Internet should studied be more closely when reviewing the adequacy of the international framework on violence against women. She asked the Special Rapporteur about the utility of investigating how the Internet could be used to combat violence against women.

The representative of Slovenia asked the Special Rapporteur to elaborate on further existing forms of synergy and good practices with relevant partners.

The representative of the United Kingdom asked what the Special Rapporteur was doing to engage men and boys in tackling gender inequality and ending the harmful practices that continued to hold women back while negatively affecting the pursuit of shared development goals.

The representative of Brazil said the current legal framework was complex and fragmented, suggesting that the option of an optional protocol to the Convention could be analysed further. The idea of establishing a femicide watch was also worth a closer look, she added, echoing the European Union’s question about the results expected from a fifth World Conference on Women.

The observer for the State of Palestine thanked the Special Representative for her visit, and informed her that 2017 had seen the launch of Palestine’s National Observatory on Violence against Women.

The representative of Denmark noted that the current legal framework on violence against women and girls still had not been implemented, and asked the Special Rapporteur to elaborate on best practices in addressing gender-based violence against women in order to bridge remaining implementation gaps. He asked which measures could help to eliminate child, early and forced marriage.

The representative of Canada, noting that his country had a standing invitation for special mandate holders, agreed that the volume of responses from civil society demonstrated great engagement on the issue.

The representative of Spain agreed that existing legislation must be implemented, noting that a task force to investigate violence against women was one of his country’s cornerstones on the issue.

The representative of the United States said a new international legal instrument on violence against women would divert resources from existing mechanisms. She sought further information about gaps in legal frameworks covering violence against women, as identified by the Committee.

The representative of Norway asked about the most important issues to consider in relation to violence against rural women and girls, and about online violence affecting women and girls.

The representative of the Czech Republic, noting the relevance of developing law-enforcement capacity to combat violence against women, asked for suggestions on how best to implement femicide watch efforts.

The representative of the Maldives sought additional information about the working methodology of the reporting mechanisms proposed for the open-ended working group.

Ms. SIMONOVIC, responding to questions about international cooperation, noted existing implementation gaps resulting from inadequate cooperation between regional and international bodies, emphasizing that meaningful cooperation could result in stronger responses to threats faced by women. Concerning the Spotlight Initiative, she expressed hope that it would include a women’s human rights perspective and pursue integrated approaches based on reliable data. The collection of data was helping the development of femicide watch efforts, she added.

In response to questions about expected outcomes from the proposed fifth World Conference on Women, she said there would be a review in 2020 to monitor progress. It was necessary to determine what implementation efforts were effective because there were gaps between implementation at the international and national levels. There was also a need to develop ways to translate progress at the United Nations to the national level, she added.

FABIAN GARCIA (Ecuador), speaking on behalf of the Group of 77 developing countries and China, said the Group was concerned that women and girls were disproportionately affected by natural disasters. Women must be active actors in mitigation and adaptation, he said, calling for their participation in decision-making processes relating to disaster risk reduction strategies. Violence against women was another issue of concern for the Group, and an obstacle to gender equality and women’s empowerment, he emphasized. He went on to underline the need for concrete actions to mainstream a gender perspective into the design, implementation and evaluation of public policies. The Group of 77 called for gender-responsive budget initiatives that would contribute to gender equality and women’s empowerment, and for the enhancement of political participation by women and their role in promoting peace and security, he said.

AMR ABDELLATIF ABOULATTA (Egypt), speaking on behalf of the African Group, said the continent had made significant strides on gender equality and women’s empowerment in the political sphere as well as the public and private sectors. However, women still faced gender-based violence, harmful traditional practices, exclusion from economic opportunities and legal impediments to land ownership and access to inheritance. Rural women were extremely vulnerable, he said, noting that, compared to men, they were less able to access land, credit and agricultural inputs or such resources as electricity and water. Women and girls also bore the burden of collecting solid fuels and cooking over open fires, he said they were more susceptible to air pollution as a result. The elimination of all forms of violence against women and girls must include putting a stop to trafficking, sexual violence and other forms of exploitation, he emphasized. The Group of 77 also recognized that exclusion from social, economic and political opportunities could put women at risk of violence, he said, calling for States to renew efforts to improve and expand girls’ education. Gender equality must extend to the workplace, and such issues as sexual harassment, the gender wage gap and gender-insensitive working conditions must be addressed. The Group of 77 and China had committed itself to creating and mainstreaming mechanisms to ensure women’s access to finance as well as technical and entrepreneurial skills.

DENIS RA�GIS (Haiti), speaking on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), associated himself with the Group of 77 and China and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC). He said the Caribbean had seen much improvement in the status of women, who now had greater access to secondary education than men. Despite significant progress, however, challenges remained, particularly affecting rural women. Since they represented a large proportion of the region’s agricultural workforce, it was vital to respond to their development needs, he emphasized. The Caribbean Community had undertaken a campaign to raise awareness alongside UN-Women with a view to highlighting issues facing the region’s women. Human trafficking was another particular issue confronting the region’s women.

Concerning migration, he said many migrant women were contributing to their countries of origin through remittances, and in that context, CARICOM member States would continue their cooperation with the International Organization for Migration (IOM). The movement of people should be viewed in a positive light, he said, commending States fighting violence against female migrant workers. Commitments by Member States to supporting migrant women and girls under the Sustainable Development Agenda were particularly relevant, he said. CARICOM envisaged continued investment in and mobilization of financial resources through official development assistance (ODA) for the promotion of women’s empowerment. The recent deadly hurricane season had showed the need for national budgets to be reallocated, he noted.

NONTAWAT CHANDRTRI (Thailand), speaking on behalf of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), said that since inception, that bloc had promoted community-focused economic integration and development. Identifying women as an essential element of sustainable growth, he noted that countries with greater female involvement in the labour force witnessed greater economic growth. However, with the regional gender pay gap at 42 per cent, ASEAN was committed to fostering joint efforts to ensure the full socioeconomic integration of women, he stressed, noting that the bloc was working closely with UN-Women and the World Bank to push for women’s empowerment that would integrate the Sustainable Development Goals.

He went on to state that the ASEAN Community Vision 2025 and 2030 Agenda formed the roadmap for the implementation of gender mainstreaming and the economic empowerment of women. Promoting women’s leadership across all pillars of ASEAN was seen as a key strategy for promoting inclusive, balanced sustainable development. Noting that ASEAN was working closely with United Nations agencies to establish partnerships with the private sector in order to further promote women’s empowerment, he said those efforts also sought ways to leverage information and communications technologies to empower women economically. ASEAN remained committed to addressing gender inequality in all its dimensions, he said, calling for deeper cooperation with relevant partners.

HECTOR ENRIQUE JAIME CALDERA�N (El Salvador), speaking on behalf of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), reaffirmed the importance of the full, accelerated and effective implementation of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, and compliance with the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women. The status of women was a matter of continued concern to member countries because of the feminization of poverty, prevailing gender-based violence and discrimination and structural inequalities. A priority should be given to the equal opportunities for leadership at the highest levels in all sectors, he said, noting that member States attached particular importance to the protection of female migrants and rural women and girls.

Men and boys also played an important role, he said, as key agents of change for achieving gender equality. Efforts were being made to address patriarchal cultural stereotypes through public campaigns and to implement policies promoting access to decent work. Initiatives were also reaching vulnerable groups, with CELAC members recognizing the need to strengthen indigenous women’s economic activities to enhance their empowerment, autonomy and development. Renewing Community members’ support for UN-Women, he asked for a more robust international dialogue and consensus in support of national gender equality and women empowerment initiatives in developing countries.

JERRY MATTHEWS MATJILA (South Africa), speaking on behalf of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), associated himself with the African Group and the Group of 77 and China, said policies and programmes that had mainstreamed gender perspectives had been implemented in the region. Having recognized that the economic empowerment of women and girls was key to achieving gender equality, the Community’s members had taken a number of steps, including introducing gender-sensitive legislation and targeted projects.

Despite the progress made, he said, obstacles to achieving gender equality persisted. Citing several examples, he said challenges included a lack of access and ownership of resources, social exclusion, gender-based violence and trafficking. In addition, inadequate social protection among women was a problem that needed to be addressed. Pointing out that women and adolescent girls were particularly vulnerable to HIV/AIDs, he said the Community’s member States had created a programme that included condom promotion, HIV testing, counselling and home-based care.

JOANNE ADAMSON, of the European Union, said one in three women on the planet had experienced physical or sexual violence, with those human rights violations hampering their access to quality education and employment. The problem had been worsened in countries where child marriage and female genital mutilation persisted. Violence and exploitation was one of the main reasons women and girls were forced to leave their home countries. Ensuring the well-being of women and girls called for men and boys to be engaged as agents and beneficiaries of gender equality. Strengthening networks and partnerships was more important than ever before, she noted, underscoring the importance of civil society organizations.

Noting that the European Union was the top investor in gender equality around the world, she said the Bloc had launched an initiative to end violence against women and girls, providing financial assistance and promoting multilateralism as a way to addressing the global threat of violence against women. The European Union had also strengthened its legal framework to combat violence against women by signing the Council of Europe’s Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence (Istanbul Convention), she said, adding that it had also assumed leadership in a global effort to address gender-based violence in conflict situations. Noting the relevant role played by UN-Women, she called for greater mainstreaming of gender equality within the United Nations.

PENELOPE MORTON (Australia), also speaking on behalf of Canada, Iceland, Liechtenstein, New Zealand, Norway and Switzerland, reiterated a commitment to Sustainable Development Goal 5 on achieving gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls. Noting that the 2030 Agenda had set a new baseline in sustainable development, she said that despite extensive efforts, women, girls and adolescents continued to be subjected to discrimination, violence and harmful practices and were denied the full realization of their human rights. Among other things, the targets under Goal 5 related to the elimination of such harmful practices, universal access to sexual and reproductive health and rights and reforms that would give women equal rights to economic resources and access to control and ownership of land.

YASUE NUNOSHIBA (Japan) said the Sustainable Development Goals would not be achieved without realizing gender equality and women’s empowerment. Citing a number of initiatives Japan supported, she said promoting gender equality in the international arena included providing more than $3 billion over the next three years to push for the advancement of women in developing countries. In addition, Japan, which had become the second largest donor to UN-Women in 2016, would contribute $50 million to the Women Entrepreneurs Finance Initiative.

LAETITIA KIRIANOFF CRIMMINS (Switzerland) said the 2030 Agenda represented an unprecedented opportunity to achieve gender equality. Women and girls played a critical role in rural communities, contributing to food security and resource management. Still, they faced major gender equity challenges and Governments must reduce the burden of domestic work. Switzerland was supporting projects to strengthen the role of women within agriculture and was raising awareness about their legal status and social protection. Access to sexual and reproductive health services would help them end cycles of poverty, she said, adding that Switzerland had incorporated those services into its health-care scheme. Women and girls with disabilities faced extra hurdles to completing their education and receiving health services, she said, calling for concrete measures to allow them to fully realize their rights.

JULIO CA�SAR ARRIOLA RAMA�REZ (Paraguay) said the national Constitution protected the rights of all men and women, however, gaps existed to realizing true gender equality. The Government was targeting gender equity initiatives in the most vulnerable groups, including marginalized rural and indigenous communities. Highlighting other projects, he said efforts were being made to protect women from all forms of violence, a draft law was being studied to seek gender parity in politics and female heads of household were being given priority financial assistance to promote access to health services and education. Further, a centre had been opened to provide violence prevention, economic and health assistance to women and girls. Women and girls must be direct beneficiaries of sustainable development and could not be excluded from fair, democratic societies, he concluded.

JAMILA AANZI (Netherlands), recounting her family’s story of immigrating from a village in Morocco to Amsterdam, emphasized that a lot can change in one generation and recalled that the children all now had college degrees and careers. In the Netherlands, where a family’s wealth was irrelevant to the achievement of a decent education, girls were doing great. Unfortunately, that did not translate to senior-level jobs and positions of power, as the country had yet to achieve wage parity between women and men and had even dropped three spots in the World Economic Forum’s global gender gap index. Solutions to those problems must be based on opportunity, support and commitment from politicians, Governments and employers. Support from men was also pivotal, she said, adding that within the private sector, strong dedication to gender equality was required from the top. For its part, the United Nations must pursue vigorous efforts, ambitious measures and quotas in order to accelerate progress.

INIGO LAMBERTINI (Italy), associating herself with the European Union, said unleashing the potential of girls and women would have a significant positive social impact. Countries must commit themselves to protecting the rights of women of girls and should focus their efforts on ending all forms of violence against women. For its part, Italy had made it a priority to help end female genital mutilation by funding programmes to eliminate the practice in Africa. Other initiatives included programmes aimed at ending sexual violence and at providing financial support to multilateral and bilateral projects promoting the health and safety of migrant and refugee women who were especially vulnerable to trafficking and violence.

KAI SAUER (Finland), voicing concerns about the scale and magnitude of the violation of women’s rights, drew attention to the intersecting and multiple forms of discrimination, especially against women and girls with disabilities. Calling for a paradigm shift in that regard, he said the individual autonomy of women and girls with disabilities must be guaranteed, adding that the matter lay at the very core of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Noting that Finland was an active supporter of UN-Women, he said many of the recommendations that his country had received in its universal periodic review in 2017 had been related to violence against women. For its part, Finland was actively involved in the Spotlight Initiative and the She Decides campaign, which was rolling out sexual and reproductive health services on a global scale.

GENIE SUGENE GAN (Singapore), associating herself with ASEAN and the Group of 77 and China, reaffirmed the centrality of gender equality to the achievement of sustainable development and the eradication of poverty. Singapore’s strong legal framework protected the rights of all people, including women, she said. Recognizing its people as its most valuable resource, Singapore was prioritizing inclusive education to ensure gender equality, she said, adding that 51.1 per cent of students in Singaporean universities were female. Those efforts were providing paths for women to enter traditionally male-dominated professions. Singapore was also promoting increased involvement of women in leadership positions and expected a 20 per cent increase in the number of women in corporate boards.

Ms. TREUNO (Mexico) asked why some delegations were opposed to granting females the same rights as males since human rights were universal. No country had achieved full gender equality and women were still victims of gender-based violence such as femicide. The situation was even more serious for female migrants and refugees. Achieving the 17 Sustainable Development Goals would require the full participation of women. To that end, Mexico had earmarked budgets to increase the political participation of women and access to social services. Better statistics and data were crucial to track progress on gender equality. Reminding Member States that there were 13 years left to achieve Sustainable Development Goal 5, she said we must pull down barriers to ensure that everyone can enjoy their full human rights.

Ms. KHIABET SALAZAR MUJICA, youth representative from Peru, reaffirmed the importance of international mechanisms that called for the elimination of all obstacles to women’s involvement in political life. Despite progress in some areas, gender equality still had to be incorporated across all Sustainable Development Goals. Peru was working to achieve inclusion across all policy sectors. Gender-based violence remained a clear obstacle to development, she said, noting that Peru was taking a preventative focus to counter hierarchical structures that promoted violence against women and launching programmes to strengthen their economic power. In addition, Peru remained committed to the monitoring of gender equality plans at all levels of policy-making.

MARTA�N GARCA�A MORITA�N (Argentina), associating himself with CELAC and the Group of 77 and China, said that guaranteeing gender equality was a national priority. In its first action plan to address violence against women, the Government made clear its commitment to achieving full empowerment for women and girls. Echoing a call to protect the rights of female migrant workers, he said there could be no sustainable development without empowered women. To that end, gender equity initiatives addressed specific needs of women and girls in rural communities. Gender policies were seeking parity for all women, particularly those facing discrimination.

Ms. KABIA (Sierra Leone), associating herself with the African Group and Group of 77 and China, said discrimination of women was still pervasive, undermining efforts to achieve gender equality. Pointing out that violence was an obstacle to the advancement of women, she said Sierra Leone would uphold protocols on gender equality and the prevention of violence against women. The Government had also mainstreamed a gender perspective in policies while introducing legislation to eliminate domestic violence, sexual offences and to protect the rights of children. Despite the challenges posed by the Ebola outbreak in 2014, the country had continued to implement a free health programme for women and children. There was a need to renew commitments to achieve economic and political empowerment among women while building structures to speed up industrialization and increase access to markets.

TEODORO LOPEZ LOCSIN, JR. (Philippines), associating himself with ASEAN, announced that his country, along with Indonesia, would submit a draft resolution on violence against women migrant workers. Promotion and protection of the more than five million women migrants from the Philippines was a top priority. Filipino workers overseas, 77 per cent of which are women, were being offered comprehensive repatriation assistance including access to capital and training programmes. The economic integration of women was crucial to breaking the poverty cycle, he said, adding that an empowerment project had been launched to improve female-led micro-enterprises. Agrarian reform laws had strengthened the property rights of rural and indigenous women. Infrastructure and technological developments were also identified as means to assist rural women, especially those in the agricultural and fisheries sectors. The full participation of women and girls in development strategies would help to ensure long-term sustainability.

Ms. YANKSSAR (Saudi Arabia), associating herself with the Group of 77 and China, said women were crucial to national cohesion and the creation of an inclusive environment for them would lead to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals. For its part, Saudi Arabia had adopted initiatives to promote flexible employment opportunities for women and was working to end child marriage. The participation of women in the labour force, including in Government institutions, was increasing, she noted, adding that women were also becoming leaders in the private sector and a department of female police officers had been created. Gender equity laws were being complemented by the recent decision to give women the right to drive vehicles. Women across the world were facing clear challenges to equity, as was the case in Palestine, where women could not fulfil their rights due to continued Israeli occupation.

FREDERICO S. DUQUE ESTRADA MEYER (Brazil) recalled that the member States of the Community of Portuguese Speaking Countries (CPLP) had presented a draft resolution in the Human Rights Council on the full enjoyment of human rights by all women and girls and the systematic mainstreaming of a gender perspective in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development Goals, which had been adopted at the body’s thirty-sixth session. In March 2016, the Commission on the Status of Women, chaired by Brazil during its sixtieth and sixty second sessions, had adopted agreed conclusions on the crucial topic of promoting women’s economic empowerment. To implement its commitments in that area, Brazil had adopted such national strategies as the programme for gender and race equity, and had also recently established measures to extend paternity leave, provide support to nursing mothers and support the donation of breastmilk.

PENELOPE MORTON (Australia) said access to social services such as sexual and reproductive health programmes and education was crucial to ensure that women could fully participate in the economy. Australia had worked to boost female workforce participation through a range of initiatives, including increasing access to quality and affordable childcare, flexible work schemes and financial incentives to work. Those programmes also catered to women from different backgrounds and life stages such as those in rural areas. At the international level, Australia had contributed to efforts that encourage entrepreneurship among women in South-East Asia.

MARISELA EUGENIA GONZALEZ TOLOSA (Venezuela), associating herself with the Group of 77 and China, said national programmes aimed at protecting women and ensuring that constitutional and legal frameworks were inclusive and non-gender discriminatory. Venezuela had made progress in gender parity in areas such as university enrolment and including work and family care in the country’s social security system. Public policies had also been designed to prevent gender-based violence and centres had been established to provide legal and psychological assistance for women who were victims of violence.

AUDRA PLEPYTE (Lithuania), associating herself with the European Union, said achieving real gender parity and the advancement of women required wholehearted actions at a national level. Lithuania was determined to fully implement the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action and fulfil its obligations under the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women. Efforts included developing gender impact indicators and assessments of all Governmental programmes, policies and legal decisions. Turning to the issue of violence against women, she said it caused physical and psychological harm and impeded women’s economic independence, taking a toll on both victims and society. With a view to achieving zero tolerance towards domestic violence, Lithuania was focusing on result-oriented measures such as awareness-raising campaigns, competence building and training. Another priority for Lithuania was ensuring a life-work balance through equal sharing of childcare, parental leave and household responsibilities between men and women.

Ms. AL-NASAIRI (Iraq) said her country’s Constitution had always protected women, who also enjoyed participation in politics and national decision-making mechanisms. Legislation was enshrined to allow the participation of women in elections and to combat domestic violence. In addition, community policing was also being implemented to respond to any complaints of violence and social protections were being afforded to single and divorced women. However, the injustice and persecution of women in regions occupied by Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Daesh) was a major concern. Iraq, along with United Nations agencies, was providing assistance to women afflicted by gender-based violence.

Ms. LIKINA (Russian Federation) said UN-Women had to remain the key body within the United Nations system addressing issues of gender, adding that its work could only occur with the permission of Member States. As such, UN-Women had to play a secondary supporting role to national initiatives, she added. The Russian Federation’s recent adoption and implementation of a national strategy for women was based on the comprehensive work of Government and civil society leaders. The principal goals of the strategy were to promote access to health, economic integration, prevention of violence and broader political participation, she said, noting that despite concerted efforts by Member States, no country could declare that equality for women had been achieved.

AMJAD QASSEM AGHA (Syria), associating himself with the Group of 77 and China, said Syrian women had had the right vote since 1948 and his was the first Arab country to grant women participation in Parliament. Syrian women were among the first medical graduates in the country, currently making up about 60 per cent of dentistry and pharmacy graduates. Syrian women also filled leadership roles such as being ambassadors and judges and had also become award-winning authors. However, the rise of terrorism in Syria had also meant that women were being killed for acts such as having Facebook accounts and women have also committed suicide to escape forced marriages.

Mr. MYO (Myanmar), associating himself with ASEAN and the Group of 77 and China, said gender equality and women’s empowerment were at the heart of national development strategies. Myanmar’s 10-year national strategic plan for the advancement of women covered key areas such as violence against women and girls, women’s participation, gender mainstreaming and women, peace and security. Through advances in the fields of health care and education, Myanmar was also addressing issues including maternal and infant mortality rates and enhancing access to education. Regarding the trafficking of women and children, Myanmar paid particular attention to prevention, protection and prosecution, and had formed a central body against trafficking in persons to strengthen counter trafficking efforts.

SUKHBOLD SUKHEE (Mongolia), associating himself with the Group of 77 and China, said women’s full engagement and empowerment were prerequisites for inclusive and sustainable development. Mongolia’s strategy for the future pledged to promote those issues in a comprehensive manner, including through the recent passage of a law criminalizing domestic violence and other new laws addressing women’s equal participation and access to childcare service centres. Mongolia would in the coming days be submitting a draft resolution on women and girls in rural areas, he said, expressing hope that all Member States would support it.

Ms. NGUYEN LIEN (Viet Nam), aligning herself with ASEAN and the Group of 77 and China, said Member States’ strong commitments brought positive changes to the lives of women and girls. Their inclusion was pivotal to ensuring the success of national development strategies. For programmes to promote empowerment of women, communities and families had to be included in decision-making. Viet Nam was actively implementing a gender equity strategy to increase women’s participation in political and economic domains and increase their access to public services. Women held high-ranking Government positions and equality had been reached in secondary education, she said. Despite progress, rural women remained particularly vulnerable. Climate change disproportionately affected rural women and they should be identified as key stakeholders to unleash their potential and increase their resilience.

MORDICA SIMPSON (United States) highlighted several Government initiatives to promote women’s success in business, such as a $50 million provision to the Women Entrepreneurs Finance Initiative and the Alliance for Artisan Enterprise, which helped through financing mechanisms and coaching on efficient business practices. Business centres established by the United States and private sector partners had helped women business owners through training, mentoring, capacity building and technology support. Enabling women’s economic participation increased economic opportunities for all.

COURTENAY RATTRAY (Jamaica), associating himself with CARICOM, CELAC and the Group of 77 and China, said the advancement of women remained a national priority. Jamaica boasted the highest proportion of women managers � 59 per cent � in the region and the world. Citing recent research on the economic potential of achieving gender parity, he said if women’s participation in the economy matched men’s, it would total $28 trillion. Efforts should be redoubled to translate words into meaningful actions and attain the Sustainable Development Goals. Addressing the issue of trafficking in women and girls, he said the international community should provide a platform to give visibility to the voiceless victims. For its part, Jamaica was committed to eradicating gender-based violence, protecting informal workers, addressing the needs of women migrant workers and providing women and girls in rural areas with access to health and social services, skills development and training.

TORE HATTREM (Norway) said gender equality had played a key role in his country’s journey from poverty to prosperity. Women’s work contributed more to Norway’s prosperity than did the oil in the North Sea. As investing in education was the most effective way of promoting sustainable development, Norway worked hard to promote education globally, doubling its aid in that regard over the past four years to 3.4 billion Norwegian Kroner in 2017. Violence against women had enormous costs, he said, and the international community had to work to end all forms of violence against women and girls. Norway could never accept that religion and so-called traditional values were used as an excuse to deprive women and girls of their rights.

Mr. BUKOKA (Zambia), associating himself with African Group, Group of 77 and China and the South African Development Community, cited a number of national efforts, including establishing two courts to handle gender-based violence cases, launching projects reaching more than 14,000 girls from poor families to help them attend schools and providing business skills training and grants to 75,000 vulnerable women. Other targeted efforts had succeeded in lowering HIV prevalence among the adult population and significantly decreasing the prevalence of early and child marriages.

Ms. KHALVANDI (Iran) said national efforts were making strides in empowering women, including a new five-year plan that required all Government agencies to adopt a gender perspective when shaping policies and legislation had been introduced to protect women against violence. Boosting education among women was a centrepiece of the Government’s efforts and had led to a doubling of women studying medicine and science. Those and other initiatives were taking place against a backdrop of sanctions that had prevented women from enjoying their full human rights. Underscoring the role of civil society in the promotion of women’s rights, she said the number of women non-governmental organizations (NGOs) had increased threefold since 2013. Women and girls in regions such as the Middle East were bearing the brunt of ongoing armed conflicts, which had led to a regression in progress achieved towards women’s empowerment.

MARA�A EMMA MEJA�A VA�LEZ (Colombia), associating with herself with CELAC, said countries could not achieve their full potential if half of their population was denied from exercising their full human rights. Colombia was committed to improving the rights of women, especially in rural areas. Having recognized that women were protagonists in ensuring lasting peace, the Government had included them in peace talks with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC-EP). Efforts also included empowering women by ensuring that they could exercise their rights in areas such as politics and reproductive health.

FATMAALZAHRAA HASSAN ABDELAZIZ ABDELKAWY (Egypt), associating herself with the African Group and Group of 77 and China, said a national strategy to empower women had been recently launched, aimed at ensuring their socioeconomic and political inclusion. A national council leading the effort was implementing programmes that helped women secure jobs and awareness-raising campaigns had reached more than 1 million women in households across the country to address concerns about discrimination. Campaigns were also educating people on the threats posed by violence against women and the positive role women could play in conflict resolution and combating extremism.

Source: United Nations

Unilateral Sanctions Impede Sustainable Development, Speakers Say, as Second Committee Debates Macroeconomic Policy

A more equitable trading system and the cessation of unilateral sanctions would be critical to achieving sustainable development, speakers told the Second Committee (Economic and Financial) today during its debate on macroeconomic policy questions.

Namsuk Kim from the Development Policy Analysis Division of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs introduced the Secretary-General’s report on unilateral economic measures as a means of political and economic coercion against developing countries (document A/72/307).

He noted that many States had expressed their disagreement with imposition of unilateral economic measures, adding that they went against principles of the United Nations Charter, norms of international law or the rules-based multilateral trading system. Such measures hampered trade flows, negatively impacted socioeconomic development in affected countries and weakened their contributions to international sustainable development.

Iran had been experiencing economic coercive measures, and it remained opposed to the application of unilateral economic and trade measures against other countries, said that country’s representative. The use of such measures adversely affected developing countries, international economic cooperation, and the promotion of a non-discriminatory and open multilateral trading system. Despite such sanctions, Iran’s economy had demonstrated unparalleled potential for expansion and growth, he continued. Not only did economic measures fail to impede Iran, but they solidified collective resolve to enhance domestic production.

In a similar vein, Cuba’s delegate said his country had rejected unilateral coercive economic measures, including the economic, commercial and financial blockade imposed on it. The blockade caused deprivation to the Cuban people, constituted the main obstacle to the country’s development and macroeconomic policy objectives, and was the source of significant economic damage.

The representative from Syria said she had hoped the Secretary-General’s report on coercive measures would include an in-depth assessment of affected countries, but it only spoke briefly of unilateral measures, mainly their unintended consequences. She voiced opposition to unilateral economic measures, as they contravened globalization measures by the same Governments that imposed them.

The high level of uncertainty in the international policy environment and the overall outlook on external debt sustainability in developing countries continued to worsen, noted the representative from the Philippines. Expressing regret for the emerging mistrust in the trading system and the rising trend to resort to unilateralism and protectionism, she said such trends endangered trade as a main driver for inclusive growth.

Venezuela’s representative, while noting concern about the effects of the capitalism crisis, said the international community must redefine what was just and equitable. Development processes must be autonomous and respect the sovereign management of resources without intermediation of transnational corporations. Unilateral and coercive measures, she echoed, were incompatible with the United Nations Charter and hindered development efforts.

The delegate from Belarus echoed those sentiments, adding that current global conditions did not inspire optimism. Expressing concern over the decline in global trade particularly for middle-income countries, she called for coordinated assistance and the cessation of unilateral sanctions. She remarked that such measures also had an extraterritorial impact on regional economic cooperation.

Speakers also presented the report of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) Trade and Development Board (documents A/72/15 part I, II, III, IV and V), and the Secretary-General’s reports on international financial system and development (document A/72/306), external debt sustainability and development (document A/72/253), international trade and development (document A/72/274), and world commodity trends and prospects (document A/72/254).

Also speaking were representatives of Ecuador, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Jamaica, Maldives, El Salvador, India, China, Singapore, Russian Federation, Mexico, Guatemala, Qatar, Liechtenstein, Norway, Iraq, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Thailand, Malawi, Burkina Faso, Brazil, Nepal, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Zimbabwe, Morocco, Kenya, Algeria, Maldives, Cabo Verde, and Togo, as well as the Holy See and Common Fund for Commodities.

The Committee will meet again at 10 a.m. on Monday, 9 October, to discuss sustainable development.

Introduction of Reports

TUDOR ULIANOVSCHI, President of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) Trade and Development Board, introduced reports (documents A/72/15 part I, II, III, IV and V) highlighting the need for enhanced collective actions to implement the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Urging the international community to focus on collective actions, he called attention to the significant progress made by UNCTAD, as seen in the Nairobi Maafikiano document. That consensus document strengthened the role of the Conference as the primary focal point for trade and development, and supported the gainful integration of all countries into the international economy.

He said that UNCTAD had in 2016 launched the Intergovernmental Group of Experts on Financing for Development and the Intergovernmental Group of Experts on E-Commerce and Digital Economy. Recognizing the need for the Conference’s work to feed into the General Assembly, the Board elected to postpone its annual session to June 2018. He encouraged Member States to provide inputs on the work of the Board to Geneva. Continuing, he noted several high-level dialogues and deliberations which furthered efforts to enhance investment policies, and address trends in the financial markets and flows, among others. The Board also considered assistance to the Palestinian people, and he stated that many delegations expressed concern at the worsening socioeconomic conditions in the Palestinian territory. Other discussions highlighted economic development in Africa, among others.

ALEXANDER TREPELKOV, Director of the Financing for Development Office, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, introduced the Secretary-General’s report on international financial system and development (document A/72/306). He said analyses of high frequency data on developing countries had shown that they were subject to periodic episodes of high volatility. Developed country central banks were introducing new measures, including the reduction of interest rates, which would increase the risk of volatility in developing States. Institutional investors, who were the main drivers of portfolio flows, could play a role in financing, but they currently had a short-term bias. Reallocation of investment to the long-term would require changes to incentives. International financial flows were important because they played specific roles in financing activities benefiting all of society. Official development assistance (ODA) to least developed countries fell by 3.9 per cent in 2016, with many individual contributions below the United Nations target of 0.7 per cent. Noting that there was no single solution in addressing developing country financial stress, he said the best was likely prevention. International and national systems should help countries return to financial stability, while not compromising the Sustainable Development Goals. Some reforms to the financial regulatory system were proceeding well, but others required more effort. Efforts to include all elements of the Goals into the financial system reform agenda were still in their infancy. International public financial institutions played a unique role, and new development banks were now contributing resources to many sustainable development projects.

STEPHANIE BLANKENBURG, Head of Debt and Development Finance Branch, United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), introduced the report of the Secretary-General on external debt sustainability and development (document A/72/253). Noting that the overall outlook on debt sustainability was worsening, she said current policy initiatives to bolster it and mobilize resources could prove too gradual to mitigate the growing risks. The report provided a comprehensive overview of debt indicators, debt sustainability and main directions in international policy initiatives to mitigate global challenges. Regarding trends and debt indicators, the post-financial crisis period demonstrated that the debt to gross domestic product (GDP) ratios in developing countries remained stable; however, those indicators concealed troubling increases in debt to export ratios and increases to debt service burdens. She called attention to the plight of small island developing States which registered among the worst debt indicators of any group. Given the increase in natural hazards because of climate change, she urged for greater creditor actions to reduce the debt burden for most disaster-affected countries. Least developed countries were also a growing concern. While welcoming the 0.32 per cent gross national income contributions to ODA, she however noted that the 0.7 per cent international target was missed. Problematic trends continued in large private sector debt and debt service ratios in the private sector and she expressed concern that countries remained ill-equipped to successfully manage the related challenges. The international community’s reliance on volatile markets and unstable domestic financial systems called for greater efforts to risk mitigation. To that end, she encouraged greater focus on State-contingent debt instruments, soft-low principles and the promotion of new financial instruments. She urged Governments to consider immediate policy coordination, enhanced debt relief or cancellation, and the improvement of data and analysis on debt sustainability.

NAMSUK KIM, Development Policy Analysis Division, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, introduced the Secretary-General’s report on unilateral economic measures as a means of political and economic coercion against developing countries (document A/72/307). He said the Secretariat had invited Governments, relevant international organizations, programmes and agencies, within and outside the United Nations system, to provide their views and any pertinent information on that matter. Twelve Member States and three regional commissions had replied. Member States expressed their disagreement with the imposition of unilateral economic measures as an instrument of political and economic coercion, stating that those actions were not in accordance with the principles of the United Nations Charter, the norms of international law or the rules-based multilateral trading system. They also expressed concern about the negative impact of unilateral economic measures on the socioeconomic development of affected countries. The regional commissions concurred, indicating that unilateral sanctions adversely impacted populations of affected countries, especially the most vulnerable groups. Such measures hampered trade flows and their potential contribution to development.

MARISA HENDERSON, Economic Affairs Officer, United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), introduced the report of the Secretary-General on international trade and development (document A/72/274).

The report demonstrated that the value of international trade increased from $5 trillion in 1994 to $24 trillion in 2014, she said. Twenty years ago, 60 per cent of world trade was between developed countries, 30 per cent between developed and developing countries, and only 10 per cent in South-South trade. Recent trends had pushed the expectation that trade would be split equally in three ways. In less than three decades, trade facilitated significant economic gains; however, the 2016 trade values declined for a second consecutive year despite growth in GDP. Similarly, the overall trade volume growth from 2008 to 2016 was weak at 1.3 per cent and reflected deeper structural challenges. Investment spending slumped in the United States, and China continued to rebalance its economic system away from investment and towards consumption. Thus, the ratio of trade in China over GDP declined from 65 per cent in 2005 to 35 per cent in 2015. Parallel declines were observed in many East Asian economies.

The benefits of innovation in information communications technology (ICT) were exhausted and trade regulatory harmonization had not progressed fast enough to match incentives, she continued. Additionally, least developed countries’ exports were on a downward trend since 2011 and many such countries struggled to compete in global economy. The Sustainable Development Goal targets called for the integration of poorer countries in the global economy; however, the current system lacked inclusiveness and remained unequal. Gains from openness and globalization have not been shared equitably or fairly, she stated. The international community must address that shortcoming with dialogue and action, including through technological assistance and capacity-building for least developed countries. Without action to address those gaps, the lack of trust in trade and trade policy could erode the legitimacy of international trade measures.

Ms. Henderson also presented the Secretary-General’s report on world commodity trends and prospects (document A/72/254), noting that 2016 marked an end of the five-year downward trend in commodity prices. However, the subsequent increase in 2016 prices met with a reversal during the first four months of 2017, as several commodity groups dropped again in price. She stressed that commodity-dependent developing countries must diversify to reduce their vulnerability to commodity price volatility in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.

In an ensuing discussion, the delegate from Iran requested greater clarity on the Conference’s work to promote regional integration and best practices. Mr. Ulianovschi responded that discussions during the recent high-level panel included a focus on the African region, with a view to establishing larger cooperation to facilitate trade. The discussion included efforts to reduce barriers, including through the promotion of a single-window system in national customs departments to ensure automatic data sharing and exchange.

Jamaica’s representative asked about the impact of regular trade changes and regulatory requirements on banks and financial institutions, to which Mr. Trepelkov said that data on the sustainable development impacts of all financial regulatory efforts was currently limited. Efforts to include all dimensions of sustainable development into the reform agenda are still in their infancy, he said. While it would be too premature to draw conclusions based on the regulatory reforms, preliminary data showed it would likely become more challenging.

Statements

MARIO A. ZAMBRANO ORTIZ (Ecuador), speaking on behalf of the Group of 77 developing countries and China, reaffirmed the importance of debt restructurings being timely, effective and fair. Sovereign debt matters should concern both developed and developing countries. It should be considered as a matter with the potential to adversely impact the global economy, he continued, stressing also the need to assist developing countries in attaining long-term debt sustainability. Debtors and creditors must work together to prevent and resolve unsustainable debt situations. Many commodity-dependent developing countries and economies in transition continued to be highly vulnerable to commodity price fluctuations. As such, it was essential to improve the regulation, efficiency, responsiveness and transparency of commodity markets to address excessive price volatility.

He noted with concern the steady increase in the illicit flows of funds, particularly from developing countries, and the negative impact it posed to sustainable development and rule of law. The Group reiterated its call for greater international cooperation to combat illicit financial flows. As the United Nations was the only universal forum where tax matter issues could be discussed in an open and inclusive manner, the Group reiterated the need to upgrade the Committee of Experts on International Cooperation in Tax Matters to an intergovernmental body and provide it with the resources to carry out its work. The Group also reaffirmed that coercive economic measures, including unilateral sanctions, did not contribute to economic and social development. Stressing the need to work towards a freer and fairer multilateral trading system, he stressed the need to implement the Addis Ababa Action Agenda.

INA HAGNININGTYAS KRISNAMURTHI (Indonesia), speaking on behalf of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), noted that the global economy had undergone a prolonged episode of relatively slow growth following the 2008 financial crisis. In 2016, the global economy experienced the slowest rate of growth since 2009, expanding by just 2.3 per cent. Real international trade growth fell below the world’s gross domestic product (GDP) during 2015-2016 for the first time in 15 years. The global economy also experienced protracted weak investment growth, falling commodity prices and growing vulnerabilities to increased external debt. Despite modest recovery in early 2017, economic growth in many regions remained below the level needed to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.

In addressing those issues, she stressed the need to enhance international cooperation to mobilize resources for development. Continuous capacity-building was also needed, especially to tackle illicit financial flows, asset return and tax matters. She urged developed countries to fulfil their commitments, as ODA remained the main source of development financing for many least developed nations and small island developing States and an additional $100,000 per year was needed for climate financing. In addition, there was a need for improved market access and enhanced investment inflows for sustainable development-related sectors. International trade was an engine for inclusive economic growth, especially in goods and services related to labour-intensive sectors and rural economic activities. As such, an open, rules-based, transparent, predictable, inclusive, non-discriminatory and equitable multilateral trading system was imperative.

MASUD BIN MOMEN (Bangladesh), speaking on behalf of the Group of Least Developed Countries and associating himself with the Group of 77, expressed concern that merchandise exports of least developed countries in 2015 contracted by 25 per cent. Calling upon members of the World Trade Organization (WTO) to address the marginalization of least developed countries in trade, he emphasized the need for developed and developing members to implement duty-free and quota-free market access on all products originating from the least developed countries. Looking ahead to the eleventh WTO ministerial conference to be held in Buenos Aires, he called for an outcome that produced tangible progress in the areas of relevance for least developed countries. Many of those countries still struggled with a heavy burden of external debt, which continued to present a major obstacle for economic growth and sustainable development.

He called on the international community to undertake measures to address the debt problems, especially through full cancellation of all multilateral and bilateral debt owned by least developed countries to creditors, both public and private. For their part, development partners must increase their ODA and other concessional lending to ensure debt sustainability. Corruption, tax evasion, transfer havens and money laundering had serious impacts on domestic resource mobilization. Increased international cooperation was essential to recover stolen assets and return them to their countries of origin. He also urged donor countries to fulfil their ODA commitment of 0.2 per cent of their gross national income.

COURTENAY RATTRAY (Jamaica), speaking on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and associating himself with the Group of 77, Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) and the Alliance of Small Island States, voiced concern about the persistent tendency by some nations to view international trade openness as a zero-sum game as well as a rise in protectionism. Strongly rejecting such policies and attitudes, which ultimately constrained aggregate demand and perpetuated the current low-global-growth environment, he voiced the Community’s commitment to the maintenance of an open, rules-based international trading system as embodied by the WTO.

As trade benefits accrued unevenly and increased competition had led to economic dislocation, he underscored the obligation of policymakers to develop and implement programmes to help workers be reskilled, educated and trained to compete for the technology-based jobs of tomorrow. Governments should also fully address the unique vulnerabilities of small island developing States as well as the persistent economic and social challenges of States in special situations, such as middle-income nations. With the unique challenges that Caribbean [small island developing States] face in the context of sustainable development, we insist that our specific needs and circumstances � especially as they relate to scale, capacity and local context � are also taken into consideration, he said.

Ms. ZAHIR (Maldives), speaking on behalf of the Alliance of Small Island States and associating herself with the Group of 77, noted that small island developing States continued to feel the impact of a slow recovery from the global economic and financial crisis. As commodity-dependent countries, those States were particularly concerned about declining commodity prices, especially in fishing and agriculture. Also contributing to a negative economic impact were the declining performance of their export sectors, reduction in tourism revenues due to the downturn and the impact of climate change on fish stocks and crop yields. Structural constraints faced by island States made diversifying their economies difficult, she observed. Turning to natural hazards, such as recent hurricanes, she said that they were not just one-off events. Instead, they signalled the beginning of an even more challenging recovery processes. Island States had to contend with many systemic factors making recovery and rebuilding more difficult. That process was made possible through additional borrowing, compounding existing debt problems. Though small island developing States were the most highly indebted countries in the world, concessional financing remained elusive because of their middle-income status. As such, the Alliance reiterated its call for a GDP plus criteria to gauge eligibility for concessionary financing to better reflect inherent and structural vulnerabilities faced. Turning to the Economic and Social Council Forum on Financing for Development process, she commended the interagency task force’s work but called for a depoliticizing of the Forum’s activities. She expressed disappointment at the lack of engagement on issues critically important to the bloc, such as climate change and trade.

PABLO JOSA� SORIANO MENA (El Salvador), speaking on behalf of CELAC, stressed the importance of reforming the international financial system, especially the International Monetary Fund (IMF), to enhance the voice and participation of developing countries in international decision-making and establishment of norms in economic matters and global economic governance. In addition, developing countries should scale up international tax cooperation and combat illicit financial flows to mobilize domestic resources for the Sustainable Development Goals. There was also a need to eliminate safe havens creating incentives for the transfer abroad of stolen assets and illicit financial flows. He emphasized the importance of disclosure and transparency in source and destination countries, including in financial transactions between Governments and companies for relevant tax authorities.

He recognized the positive contribution of migrants for inclusive growth and sustainable development in countries of origin, transit and destination. Remittances from migrant workers could be equated with other international financial flows, such as foreign direct investment (FDI) or ODA. He also stressed the importance of debt relief, including debt cancellation and restructuring. Debt restructuring should have as its core element a determination or real payment capacity so it would not compromise national growth. There was an urgent need for the international community to constructively cooperate with the United Nations and international financial institutions to enhance transparency, supervision, regulation and good governance of the international financial system to examine options for an effective, equitable, independent and development-oriented debt restructuring and international debt resolution.

ASHISH KUMAR SINHA (India) stressed that open trade was a means of creating employment and contributing to achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals through greater economic activity and revenues. Developing countries derived significant benefit from an open, fair, rule-based, predictable and non-discriminatory trading and financial system. Trade liberalization could contribute to increased growth by enhancing access to technology, intermediate and capital goods and increased competition, which in turn could reduce poverty through employment creation. He also emphasized the continuing relevance of ODA for several developing countries, especially the more vulnerable least developed countries and small island developing States, although Governments must also expand domestic revenue basis, stop leakages and corruptions and attract investment. The Addis Agenda recognized that the foremost driver of domestic resource mobilization was economic growth requiring Governments to strengthen tax administration and combat corruption.

ZHANG YU (China) said the international community must strengthen policy coordination to promote reforms for a more inclusive and equitable global economy. She called for States to avoid protectionism and promote the integration of developing countries into the international markets. China undertook numerous efforts to facilitate trade and strengthen macroeconomic policy growth on many fronts, including the provision of interest-free loans and assistance to States struggling to repay debts. China additionally promoted digital financial inclusion, as demonstrated in recent reforms for rural financial institutions. Corruption, the illicit exploitation of natural resources, and tax evasion remained significant challenges. In response, China participated in the Skynet operation which recovered 240.8 million Chinese yuan. She called on all States to fulfil their ODA commitments. To that end, China established and provided financial assistance to numerous regional and international development funds.

MARIA ANGELA PONCE (Philippines), associating herself with ASEAN and the Group of 77, said that while there had been a 2.7 per cent acceleration of the world gross product in 2017, many regions remained below the level needed to achieve sustainable development. There remained a high level of uncertainty in the international policy environment and the overall outlook on external debt sustainability in developing countries continued to worsen. She underscored the need for freer and fairer trade through a rules-based, transparent, equitable and inclusive multilateral trading system. She also expressed regret for the emerging mistrust in the trading system and the rising trend to resort to unilateralism and protectionism. This endangers trade as a main driver for inclusive growth, she stressed. As a middle-income country, the Philippines was highly dependent on primary commodities and was thus concerned with the volatility of prices. Noting that her country remained among the fastest growing economies in Asia, she said the Government was working to lower poverty and combat illicit financial flows.

LUM HUI ZHEN (Singapore), associating herself with the Group of 77, Alliance of Small Island States and ASEAN, underscored the need to strengthen the role of the United Nations in global economic governance. Emphasizing that global problems required global solutions, she noted that no one country could have all the answers in today’s interconnected world. In that context, the United Nations must play a key role in ensuring that multilateral institutions worked together in a complementary manner. Moreover, strengthening the relationship between the United Nations and G-20 must be part of efforts to enhance global economic governance. Respecting the mandates of relevant multilateral institutions was also critical. Economic and financial issues are inherently complex, she added. Of course, the current global financial architecture, established over several decades, has to evolve, she continued. In that regard, Bretton Woods Institutions and other international organizations must adapt to the new challenges and be more inclusive to give developing countries a greater say. Stressing the need for an open, rules-based, multilateral trading system, she said that WTO, for all its limitations, was the ultimate forum for all trading nations to work together.

GHOLAMALI KHOSHROO (Iran), noting that his nation had been experiencing economic coercive measures, said it remained opposed to the application of unilateral economic and trade measures against other countries. The use of such measures adversely affected sustainable development efforts of developing countries and generally had a negative impact on international economic cooperation as well as worldwide efforts to move towards a non-discriminatory and open multilateral trading system. Such actions constituted a flagrant violation of the principles of international law set forth in the United Nations Charter as well as basic principles of the multilateral trading system. Iran’s economy had demonstrated its unparalleled potential for expansion and growth. Not only did economic sanctions fail to impede Iran, but they solidified collective resolve to enhance domestic production. Achieving one of the highest global growth rates in 2016 had proven that Iran’s economy could become the most vibrant emerging economy within the next 20 years. Its strategic choice for achieving such sustainable and balanced growth was extensive global partnerships.

TAMARA KHARASHUN (Belarus) said current global conditions did not inspire optimism, and she expressed concern over the decline in global trade. The Secretary-General’s reports on macroeconomic policy painted a complex picture, which emphasized the importance of joint efforts by all States to promote global partnership. The international financial system required favourable conditions to eradicate poverty on a sustainable basis. She recognized the important role of UNCTAD, particularly in research on trade and investment policy. As a middle-income country, Belarus called for coordinated assistance and the cessation of unilateral sanctions. Sanctions, she remarked, had a significant extraterritorial impact on regional economic cooperation. Similarly, she called for enhanced regional integration, as well as the full inclusion of new members in the WTO. Belarus was the only member of the Eurasian Union of States without membership in the WTO. In closing, she urged for an agreement on technological mechanisms to help bridge digital divides.

Mr. GONZALEZ-PEA�A (Cuba) said the international environment was an obstacle for most countries in the South, and structural changes would be urgently required on the economic, commercial and international levels. He called for the mobilization of predictable and unconditional resources for developing countries to meet their development goals, as international public financial flows were insufficient to cover funding gaps. Cuba supported external debt relief, including the cancelation and restructuring of debt, and he urged for the implementation of a fair and development-oriented multilateral sovereign debt restructuring mechanism. His country rejected unilateral coercive economic measures, including the economic, commercial and financial blockade imposed on it. The blockade caused deprivation to the Cuban people, constituted the main obstacle to the country’s development and macroeconomic policy objectives, and caused significant economic damage.

Mr. MASLOV (Russian Federation) stressed that stimulating trade required regional integration. His country had strengthened integration with neighbouring countries through a regional economic union, which now had one service market. By 2025, it would have one oil, gas and energy market. One of the union’s priorities was to focus on sustainable development. By pooling efforts, other integration could establish one economic space from the Atlantic to Pacific. Partnership must be open to all countries and must be done so based on mutual interest and respect. The Russian Federation was broadening cooperation with multilateral financial institutions, including the World Bank and Asian Development Bank. It was committed to the implementation of the financing for development agenda.

Mr. PINEDA-GONZALEZ (Mexico) associated himself with the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) and called for the convergence of economic financial tools at all levels. Public policy required partnership and improved public-private investment. Reforms to the international financial system, he said, must be sequenced, phased and gradual and with respect to the structural gaps facing middle-income countries, including Mexico. To that end, all States must work collectively to defend world trade, promote greater financial inclusion, strengthen sustainable management, reduce debt and address illicit financial flows.

ROUA SHURBAJI (Syria) said one of the most important obstacles to development was unilateral economic measures as a means of political coercion against developing countries. She had hoped the Secretary-General’s report on that topic would include an in-depth assessment of affected countries, but it only spoke briefly of unilateral measures, mainly their unintended consequences. She voiced opposition to unilateral economic measures, as they contravened globalization measures by the same Governments that imposed them. The sustainable development agenda called on Member States to refrain from unilateral financial and trade measures, which impeded the achievement of development goals.

JORGE SKINNER-KLA�E (Guatemala), associating himself with CELAC, called for strengthened cooperation on tax matters and illicit asset recovery. He urged for increased attention to commodities, noting that his country’s GDP depended on agricultural commodities which were vulnerable to speculation and market manipulations. Additionally, the impact of climate change as well as other disasters threatened Guatemala’s food security and employment. To that end, he underscored the importance of regulation to mitigate risks and ensure an equitable trade system. He called for the international community to address illicit financial flows. In response, Guatemala promoted numerous domestic actions and policies to enhance asset recovery and international cooperation.

Ms. AL-SHAMMARI (Qatar) said economic crises, high unemployment and debt burdens were all challenges affecting the common global vision of promoting economic growth, especially in developing countries. She stressed the importance of the multilateral trading system, which would contribute to sustainable development and employment creation. It was vital to push forward the Doha Development Round in strengthening the multilateral trading system to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. Her country supported a United Nations system that would step up efforts to create a favourable economic environment, but opposed the use of unilateral coercive measures that negatively affected the multilateral trading system and economic cooperation.

Ms. OEHRI (Liechtenstein) said her country’s policies and regulations to combat illicit financial flows and criminal activities were internationally recognized, and set in international standards. She emphasized the importance of asset recovery through international cooperation and with trusted legal instruments. Liechtenstein’s financial intelligence unit led the fight against illicit financial flows, and highlighted the linkages with human trafficking, slavery and terrorism. She urged for the strengthening of rule of law and hoped that such national initiatives would be included in the Committee’s work on the sustainable development agenda.

MARIANNE LOE (Norway) said her country allocated 1 per cent of its GDP to ODA, the greater part of which was spent in developing countries. She urged States to utilize ODA in catalytic ways to leverage additional resources of finances, and noted new measures by multilateral banks. Domestic resource mobilization should be decisive and entail more effective tax collection and a broadening of the tax base. Low-income countries should be protected from tax erosion and corruption, she said. Curbing massive illicit flows remained a key priority. Trade was crucial for development and growth, and to that end, she expressed concern that protectionism and isolation would reverse common development. She encouraged a strong sharing system and the use of trade as a development policy instrument, particularly in integrating developing countries into the global financial system and through responsible borrowing and lending. She called attention to signs of new debt distress in some countries and urged States not to repeat expensive lessons from recent history.

CRISTIANE ENGELBRECHT SCHADTLER (Venezuela), associating herself with the Group of 77 and CELAC, expressed concern about the effects of the capitalism crisis. The international community must redefine what was just and equitable. Development processes must be autonomous and respect the sovereign management of natural resources without intermediation of transnational corporations. States must work together to combat plundering of those natural resources and the resulting loss of proceeds from them. Unilateral and coercive measures, she continued, were incompatible with the United Nations Charter and hindered development efforts. Venezuela also called attention to the responsibility of developed countries in financing development and urged them to fulfil their pledge of 0.7 per cent GDP to ODA. Turning to debt, she called for an enhanced analysis to resolve distortions from the neoliberal capitalism model. Similarly, she encouraged the international community to drop prices of commodities, stop the contagion of financial crises and address the negative impact of debt. To that end, she called for the establishment of an international mechanism for restructuring debt.

Mr. ALI (Iraq) noted that developing countries had lower rates of foreign debt to GDP, but the international community must make further efforts to lesson debt burdens. He also called for an increase in humanitarian and cultural support for his country in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. Such help would allow it to overcome challenges, achieve development and boost prosperity in the entire region. It was essential that Iraq overcame the effects of terrorism and regained its natural resources in achieving development. His State had managed to reduce its budgetary deficit and increase non-oil revenues. Supporting slow-growing economies would help them move towards sustainable development, create conducive working environments and reduce the brain drain of their populations.

KHIANE PHANSOURIVONG (Lao People’s Democratic Republic) said recovery in global trade and strengthened investment would translate into increased resources available for the Sustainable Development Goals. His country had exerted its utmost to mobilize more domestic resources by creating an enabling environment and adopting necessary policies and measures to promote economic growth as well as improve revenue administration through improved tax policy and more efficient tax collection. It had also invested significant resources to improve infrastructure and connectivity and actively participated in regional integration so that trade could thrive. However, as a least developed country and landlocked with a small economy, it needed continued external support such as ODA.

Ms. SRISAWANG (Thailand) stressed the need for better global economic governance as well as strengthened developing country voices in global economic and financial decisions. The developing world also needed free and fairer trade, the elimination of trade barriers and a universal, rules-based, open, transparent, inclusive, non-discriminatory and equitable multilateral trading system. The WTO played a crucial role in dispute settlement and regional as well as bilateral trade were also vital. Adding that efforts were also needed to better finance sustainable development, she stressed the importance of ODA as well as domestic resource mobilization through good governance and domestic and international public-private partnership.

NECTON D. MHURA (Malawi) associated himself with the Group of 77 and the Group of Least Developed Countries. His State strived to respond, adapt and engage in cooperation at all levels, however he noted numerous risks associated with shaky policy and the unequal global economic architecture. Each country had a primary responsibility for its development; however, he said national efforts should be complemented by supportive global programmes, measures and policies to expand opportunities for development. Each country existed under specific circumstances, and all were impacted differently by external shocks. Therefore, national contexts remained the primary detectors on how States respond and implement sustainable development. He welcomed reforms to the development system and stated his country’s intention to seek greater international partnerships.

YEMDAOGO ERIC TIARE (Burkina Faso), associating himself with the Group of 77 and the Group of Least Developed Countries, said his nation had made significant macroeconomic progress characterized by an average annual growth rate of 5.5 per cent. However, despite progress, numerous challenges remained, including a high poverty rate of 40.1 per cent. The Government endeavoured to maintain fiscal viability, including through a robust macroeconomic framework which was the bedrock of the national development plan. He called for an end to protectionism, which distorted trade and was contrary to agreements in the WTO. To that end, he invited developed countries to lift non-tariff barriers. He encouraged the development of a more fair and equitable international trade system, wherein the global trade market would form major economic blocks to work collectively, particularly in Africa. Burkina Faso said there was a need to bolster international economic and South-South cooperation, and combat illicit financial flows. Middle-income countries were particularly affected, and faced additional challenges in servicing debt. In response, he called upon donor countries to provide greater support to mitigate the risk of new debt crises and tackle infrastructure deficits.

PHILIP FOX-DRUMMOND GOUGH (Brazil), associating himself with the Group of 77, said one of the key aspects in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals was growth. Establishment of a recent forum on financing for development was a notable achievement but the outcome could have been more ambitious, as it did not provide enough guidance or lead to the needed results. Trade was needed to promote structural change and sustained economic growth, but developing countries needed an inclusive, fair and transparent system. There was also an urgent need to work further to curb illicit financial flows. That must be a common endeavour as it would never be met without the participation of source, transit and destination countries.

LOK BAHADUR POUDEL CHHETRI (Nepal), associating himself with the Group of 77 and the Group of Least Developed Countries, said the global outlook was still uncertain after the economic recession. Sluggish economic growth, declining ODA and decreasing commodity prices were affecting the health of many developing countries. In least developed countries, the trade balance was worsening, with widening deficits and low preferential market access in key sectors. Such conditions were worse in landlocked countries, where trade access was more difficult and integration was needed to gain a market edge. Stressing the importance of trade as a key economic enabler, he said implementing the Doha Round was in the interest of all WTO members.

GEBEYEHU GANGA GAYITO (Ethiopia) associated himself with the Group of 77 and the Group of Least Developed Countries. He said the commodity sector remained critical, however economic stability of commodity-dependent countries, including Ethiopia, was affected by the global price slump. In that regard, he highlighted the importance of sustainable and productive economic diversification. Achieving structural transformation remained one of the country’s development pillars. Towards that objective, Ethiopia promoted economic diversification by adding value to its primary products, and called for relevant entities to intensify capacity-building programmes in line with national priorities. Ethiopia implemented a national financial inclusiveness strategy and continued endeavours to expand financial services through an inclusion council. He urged all States to measure and track illicit financial flows, as Africa lost billions of dollars’ worth of its resources that could have been used to finance its anti-poverty projects. Ethiopia established necessary legal and institutional frameworks to combat money laundering and financing of terrorism, however those remained global challenges that required enhanced international cooperation and coordination, he said.

TIJJANI MUHAMMAD-BANDE (Nigeria), associating himself with Group of 77 and the Africa Group, said the relevance of ODA could not be overemphasized. Nigeria, like most developing countries, was concerned that the total amount of ODA from developed countries was far below the target of 0.7 per cent of GDP. As such, he reiterated the call on developed countries to meet the target. As a founding member of the WTO, Nigeria was committed to the principle of the multilateral trading system and would continue to comply with its market access commitments. Nigeria called for other countries to grant market access and support a non-discriminatory and equitable multilateral trading system. In that regard, his country would stand ready to support any effort to achieve a single package on trade facilitation, services, agriculture, development and least developing countries issues. The Government established a presidential enabling business environment council, and issued three executive orders to promote business transparency and efficiency. Nigeria also remained committed to the recovery and repatriation of illicit funds to countries of origin, and invited the private sector to participate more in international public funding.

VUSUMUZI NTONGA (Zimbabwe) said trade was needed to promote economic growth, human development and prosperity in reducing poverty and inequalities. It was important for the WTO to have rules that created flexibilities for developing countries to enact policies promoting domestic manufacturing capabilities, stimulate technology transfer and promote access to affordable medicine. Governments across the world derived their wealth and economic power mainly through trade, manufacturing and agriculture. They should also be able to tax, borrow and regulate financial markets, but the current international financial system threatened those abilities owing to its several fundamental weaknesses. He also noted that the problem of illicit financial flows continued to stifle efforts of many developing countries to achieve sustainable development and eradicate poverty, as it undermined the tax bases of those countries. Funds lost through illicit flows should be used to finance development programmes and infrastructure projects. Several studies had indicated that without the problem of illicit financial flows, most developing countries could have achieved their domestic and internationally agreed development programmes.

Ms. HAMDOUNI (Morocco), associating herself with Group of 77, encouraged Member States to adopt a compromise approach to implement development programmes. Her country adopted numerous rigorous macroeconomic policies and reforms to strengthen financial globalization and trade openness. Her Government put together a trade development strategy for 2016 to 2020, and presented its voluntary national report. Morocco continued to promote strong regional South-South cooperation with an emphasis on African partnerships. Illicit financial flows were a major challenge to the region, thus Morocco favoured strengthening measures to combat money laundering and abusive use of financial system

ARTHUR AMAYA ANDAMBI (Kenya), associating himself with the Group of 77, said his country had a high fiscal deficit because of macroeconomic-related development challenges including a low export base and falling commodity prices. Low export earnings had exacerbated the situation of the rising current account deficit, which had further depleted scarce foreign exchange reserves from the high import bill. However, the economy had recorded a growth of 5.9 per cent in 2016, up from 5.6 in 2015. Moreover, Kenya’s public debt remained sustainable. A recent Debt Sustainability Analysis showed that the risk of distress for the current debt level was still low. The recorded rise in debt level was directly attributed to the increase in development spending on infrastructure. That spending was expected to alleviate binding constraints to the productive capacity of the economy, ultimately leading to a decline in debt ratios.

MEHDI REMAOUN (Algeria), associating himself with the Group of 77 and the African Group, said unilateral coercive economic measures should be eliminated. Algeria wished that the Secretary-General’s report, in pointing out studies on unemployment in developed countries due to trade liberalization, also paid attention to similar effects in developing countries, including those where manufacturing and industrial sectors were in nascent stages. While ODA remained crucial, best practices � including those aimed at transforming long-term commitments in immediate liquidities, guaranteed by international institutions � were likely to be an instrumental solution, he said.

Ms. ZAHIR (Maldives), associating herself with the Group of 77 and the Alliance of Small Island States, said international financial institutions must align their policies and lending decisions more closely to efforts in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. In the case of Maldives, investment in infrastructure was crucial for achieving the Goals � building adequate hospitals, roads, harbours, airports, seaports and houses. Infrastructure projects in the Maldives were directly linked to almost all the Goals. Yet the narrow financial sector in the country did not have the capacity to provide adequate financing for those investment programmes. Moreover, the country needed investments in such programmes in external hard currency, as it had to import almost every material used and the impact on its balance of payments tended to be high. The only option was to go to external financing.

JOSA� LUIS FIALHO ROCHA (Cabo Verde), associating himself with the Group of 77 and the Alliance of Small Island States, said much remained to be done to mobilize adequate and predictable financing to implement the Sustainable Development Goals. The time had come to focus on each State’s specificities and needs, and to adapt responses on a country-by-country basis, he said, adding that a national financial framework could be an important tool to mobilize resources. Emphasizing the real threat of climate change, he said financing and development finance were critical for small island developing States, yet several obstacles persisted regarding preparing viable projects, eligibility and access to finance.

Mr. DONKO (Togo), associating himself with the Group of 77, noted that the major challenge to development was funding and urged Governments to honour financing commitments. However, although ODA had remained vitally important, especially for poorer countries, it was insufficient in meeting all needs in achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Financing for development was also dependent on public policies that brought in a more favourable business environment. In addition to measures to collect public resources, Togo had improved its ability to collect revenues, increasing its tax base and leveraging resources for development. It had also optimized financing of infrastructure by taking advantage of public-private partnerships and had improved the business environment in attracting foreign investment in infrastructure.

BERNARDITO CLEOPAS AUZA, Permanent Observer of the Holy See, noting with concern the steady decline in international trade in 2015 and 2016, agreed with the Secretary-General’s report that the solution should not be less trade, but better trade. That should be guided by the principles of inclusivity and equity for all and consistent with Pope Francis’s call for an inclusive economy focused on the common good. Underscoring the need to give special attention to least developed countries, he said that even a modest lowering of protective tariffs on some agricultural products could significantly benefit small farmers in those countries. Large external debt variations among developing countries would require careful monitoring and additional capacity-building, as well as possible recourse to further debt relief mechanisms.

The representative of the Common Fund for Commodities said new European Union regulations entering force in January 2018 would hopefully enhance the transparency and efficiency of commodity price discovery, directly affecting the investment climate in commodity-dependent developing countries. Less volatility in commodity markets could improve investments in those countries at the grassroots level of commodity value chains. He expressed hope that the flow of commodities, including South-South trade, could greatly benefit from technological development.

Source: United Nations

President Donald J. Trump Announces Key Additions to his Administration

President Donald J. Trump today announced his intent to nominate the following individuals to key positions in his Administration:

Bruce D. Jette of Virginia to be an Assistant Secretary of the Army, Acquisition, Technology and Logistics. Dr. Jette most recently served as president and chief executive officer of Synovision Solutions LLC, an innovative company providing management and technical consulting, engineering services, and project management in support of military and governmental agencies including DARPA, the U.S. Army, and the Office of the Secretary of Defense as well as commercial industry, particularly the energy sector. Previously, Dr. Jette founded and served as director of the U.S. Army Rapid Equipping Force establishing the Army’s rapid acquisition path. Dr. Jette also served as strategic science advisor to the Chief of Staff of the Army, senior research officer in the Army Research Laboratory, and brigade and battalion operations officer in numerous U.S. Army units in the U.S. and Germany. Among many service awards, Dr. Jette is the recipient of the Distinguished Service Medal, Legion of Merit, and the Bronze Star Medal. He is a graduate of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the United States Military Academy.

Lisa A. Johnson of Washington to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Namibia.Ms. Johnson, a career member of the Senior Foreign Service, class of Counselor, has served as an American diplomat since 1992. She is currently Charge d’ Affaires at U.S. Embassy Nassau. As a senior official at the State Department, National Security Council, and Vice President’s Office, Ms. Johnson demonstrated leadership of interagency teams, crisis management expertise, and a breadth of experience. She has served at six U.S. Missions overseas, including two in Africa. Ms. Johnson earned a M.S. from the National War College, a M.I.A. from Columbia University, and an A.B. from Stanford University. Her languages are French and Portuguese.

Andrew Wheeler of Virginia to be Deputy Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency. Mr. Wheeler is a principal and the head of the energy & environment team at Faegre Baker Daniels Consulting and co-chairs the energy and natural resources industry team within the law firm. Prior to joining Faegre Baker Daniels, Mr. Wheeler worked at the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee for fourteen years serving in various roles including as the majority and minority staff director and chief counsel. He started his career at the Environmental Protection Agency as a special assistant in the toxics office where he received three bronze medals. He has a B.A. from Case Western Reserve University, a J.D. from Washington University in St. Louis, and an M.B.A. from George Mason University. Mr. Wheeler is a member of the District of Columbia bar and an Eagle Scout.

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President Donald J. Trump Announces Intent to Appoint Laura Rogers to the Department of Justice

President Donald J. Trump today announced his intent to appoint Laura L. Rogers of Virginia to be the Director of the Office of Sex Offenders, Sentencing, Monitoring, Apprehending, Registering, and Tracking, Department of Justice. Ms. Rogers was a prosecutor for over ten years in the San Diego County District Attorney’s Office, specializing in child homicide and sexual abuse. In 1999, she moved to the National Center for the Prosecution of Child Abuse, where she trained child abuse professionals on prosecuting child abuse cases. In 2006, President George W. Bush appointed Rogers as the first director of the DOJ’s SMART office, where she implemented the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act. In 2009, she served as deputy director of the criminal law division of the Navy’s Office of the Judge Advocate General, director of the Navy’s Litigation Track and legal advisor of the Navy’s Sexual Assault Prevention Training Program. She founded the National Institute for Training Child Abuse Professionals; served on the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops National Review Board, and is on the Philadelphia Archdiocese Review Board on sexual abuse and pastoral conduct.

Source: White House

Sixth Committee Speakers Highlight Country Specific Initiatives Illustrating Best Rule of Law Practices in Local, National Settings, as Debate Continues

As the Sixth Committee (Legal) continued its consideration of the report of the Secretary General on strengthening and coordinating United Nations rule of law activities, speakers spotlighted country specific initiatives that put that principle into practice and made its application more effective. (For background, see Press Release GA/L/3543.)

A new era was emerging in his country, the representative of Colombia said. Together with the United Nations team, his Government had spear headed new initiatives aimed at judicial reform. That reform included its Special Jurisdiction for Peace, as well as the passage of a law that permitted the reintegration of former Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) members into society.

Senegal’s delegate described the houses of justice in his country, which were provided free of charge to make justice available to all. Those establishments were able to settle minor conflicts using alternative means for dispute settlement. They not only used local languages, thus dispelling any language barrier, but were also in physical proximity to the people they served.

On an international platform, the rule of law was also being made more effective on the ground by Slovenia too, according to that country’s representative. With women’s empowerment a priority in her country, her Government was providing workshops for 900 refugee women in Lebanon.

Ghana’s representative noted that the rule of law was at work in her country’s legal institutions through access to legal representatives and legal aid. All citizens were ensured equal access to the legal system and legal representation. On top of that, the Justice for All Programme gave prisoners on remand their own access to proper legal representation.

However, offering a note of caution, the representative of Indonesia recalled violations of international humanitarian law in the State of Palestine. The rule of law at the international level would always be a fiction if the international community did not minimize its politicization.

Zimbabwe’s delegate also weighed in, stating that the rule of law should not be an abstract concept in academic discourse. The issue could not exist in a vacuum, independent of the realities on the ground. As a small State, his country depended on the rule of law for protection from the aggressions of the rich and powerful. The Organization should continue to be guided by respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity of all States.

In that regard, the representative of Sri Lanka stressed that the rule of law should always be context specific. It was not a concept that would conform to an external prescription that ignored domestic realities. More so, all States, especially developing ones, should have an equal opportunity to be a part of the development of international law, she said.

Also speaking today were representatives of Singapore, Peru, India, Syria, Brunei, Libya, Guatemala, Burkina Faso, Russian Federation, Afghanistan, Iraq, Nicaragua, Cuba, South Africa, Mauritius, Republic of Korea, Rwanda, Lebanon, Costa Rica, Tonga, United States, Mongolia, Thailand, Ethiopia, Uruguay, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Viet Nam, China, Ukraine, Eritrea, Zambia, Brazil, Argentina, Togo, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Gambia, Serbia, Morocco, United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Venezuela and Iran.

Speaking in exercise of the right of reply were representatives of Qatar, Russian Federation and Syria.

The Sixth Committee will next meet at 10 a.m. on Friday, 6 October, to continue consideration of the rule of law and take up the subject of criminal accountability.

Statements

LUKE TANG (Singapore), associating himself with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the Non Aligned Movement, affirmed the importance of the rule of law at both national and international levels. Small States such as his depended on a rules based multilateral system for survival and success. In regard to strengthening rule of law, he cited programmes of both the Office of Legal Affairs and his Government’s that focused on disseminating information and building necessary capacity. Singapore also supported the United Nations online Audiovisual Library of International Law. Reaffirming the importance of registration of treaties, as noted in the Secretary General’s report, he voiced support for efforts to make United Nations rule of law assistance more coherent and accessible in a way that better recognized local actors and conditions. Citing the importance of peaceful settlement of disputes, he also welcomed the establishment of the new office of the Permanent Court of Arbitration in his country.

GUSTAVO MEZA-CUADRA VELA�SQUEZ (Peru), associating himself with the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) and the Non Aligned Movement, highlighted the contribution by the United Nations in advancing an international system based on multilateralism. Noting that his country had recently signed the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, he also expressed support for the General Assembly resolution establishing the International, Impartial and Independent Mechanism for the Syrian Arab Republic. Stating his country’s firm commitment to the work of the International Criminal Court, he added that, at the national level, his Government was establishing mechanisms to fight corruption.

YEDLA UMASANKAR (India), associating himself with the Non Aligned Movement, said that rule of law defined modern societies and nation States. As globalization picked up pace, it was imperative that countries continued to come together to define rules of cooperation in order to prevent chaos. Regrettably, there were areas where the international community had not been able to develop international rule of law. In that regard, the rise of terrorism was alarming, as well as other emerging challenges, such as artificial intelligence, cyber security or maritime piracy. In his country, the independence of judiciary, legislature and executive branches, a free media and a vibrant civil society, and a strong tradition of electoral democracy were the basis of rule of law.

AMMAR AL ARSAN (Syria), associating himself with the Non Aligned Movement, said that rule of law was an indivisible whole and it was not permissible to focus on some of its principles while ignoring others. The main challenge to rule of law was not the inadequacy of international instruments, but the double standards and a selective approach by some influential countries. The crisis experienced by his country was an example of flagrant interference in the internal affairs of a country, with some Governments supporting, funding, and arming radical terrorist elements. Turning to the International, Impartial and Independent Mechanism, he urged colleagues to read document A/71/799, a letter sent by his delegation to the Secretary General showing the legal violations involved in the General Assembly resolution that had led to the adoption of the Mechanism. There were dangerous political intentions underlying the Mechanism, he said, and Syria could not acknowledge its legality.

ADI FAISAL OMAR (Brunei), associating himself with ASEAN and the Non Aligned Movement, affirmed the importance of rule of law and the leading role of the United Nations in coordinating efforts to strengthen it at the global level. In that context, he cited the usefulness of the Programme of Assistance, particularly for small States such as his own. The elucidation of international commercial law through the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) was also extremely useful; the country had based several pieces of domestic legislation on that Commission’s models. Participating in meetings on rule of law at the regional and international levels as well, the country remained committed to working closely with all partners to abide by the international framework, especially in the maintenance of international peace and security.

MAMADOU RACINE LY (Senegal), associating himself with the African Group and the Non Aligned Movement, said that the new dynamic approach of the Secretary General’s report showed the resolve of the Organization to strengthen and coordinate United Nations activities in the area of the rule of law. However, a culture of lawfulness must be created, and marginalized groups must have access to justice. Senegal had inscribed those as important elements in its own judiciary, working to make justice available to all by establishing houses of justice. Those houses settled minor conflicts using alternative means for dispute settlements, and provided guidance for citizens involved in the legal system. They were physically close to the people they serve, free of charge and were not very formal. Local languages were used in those houses as well, thus removing any language barrier, he said.

ESSA A. E. ESSA (Libya), associating himself with the Non Aligned Movement and the African Group, said that the promotion of the rule of law was an essential element for peaceful coexistence. Strengthening the rule of law was a keystone of the efforts to respond to violent crimes and terrorism. Building the rule of law on an international basis called for respect for the United Nations Charter and the courts and mechanisms established under that Charter. However, it was important to note the principle of non interference in domestic affairs and the right to self determination. The rule of law was a preventive measure and it was essential to promote the concept in all its aspects, he said.

DARJA BAVDAZ KURET (Slovenia), associating herself with the European Union, said she was pleased that the Secretary General’s report attested to the instrumental contribution made by the United Nations to strengthening the rule of law at the national level. Much of that work aligned with Slovenia’s priorities, she said, noting that women’s empowerment was a priority in her country’s development cooperation. In that regard, her Government was currently providing workshops for 900 refugee women in Lebanon, and was engaged in a project in Jordan that focused on empowerment through the education and vocational rehabilitation of Syrian refugee families.

JORGE SKINNER-KLA�E (Guatemala), associating himself with CELAC and the Non Aligned Movement, said that while the United Nations had supported many Member States in establishing and maintaining rule of law, it must do more. The principle had a clear impact on poverty eradication and fostering gender equality, in addition to fighting corruption and impunity. In order for people to have access to justice they must be aware of the rights they held and the mechanisms available to ensure those rights. Furthermore, access to justice must be measured not only in quantitative terms, but also in qualitative terms. Guatemala was strengthening its investigation of violations of human rights, he said, lauding the work of the International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala, a novel institution established with help from the United Nations at the request of his Government. That Commission was a daring attempt to overcome structural obstacles and strengthen the Government’s ability to fight impunity.

DIE MILLOGO (Burkina Faso), associating himself with the African Group and the Non Aligned Movement, called for increased access to justice, especially for vulnerable groups such as women and children. Any action to strengthen rule of law must be based on internal solutions adapted to the specific context of each country. Highlighting how citizens had an important role in influencing national Governments, he noted that the people of his country had chosen to build a State that respected individual rights. The Constitutional Commission with multiple stakeholders had been established, and after broad consultations, had given the President a draft constitution that would soon be subject to a referendum. Burkina Faso was also resolutely implementing international treaties that it was party to.

LARISA CHERNYSHEVA (Russian Federation), noting the section in the Secretary General’s report on enhancing the effectiveness and coherence of United Nations efforts in improving rule of law, said that her delegation was not sure that the Sixth Committee was the right place for discussing matters relating to peacekeeping operations. Those should be considered within the competent bodies, specifically the Third Committee. The international dimension of rule of law should be the focus of the work of the Sixth Committee, she stressed, calling for more detailed information about the international mechanisms which were enjoying universal support. Voicing regret that the International Court of Justice, one of the six principal organs of the Organization, was mentioned only in passing, she added that the focus of the report had shifted to non United Nations institutions such as the International Criminal Court. Furthermore, it was not fully clear why the report also focused on a non legitimate mechanism to deal with crimes in Syria. That was a mechanism established by the General Assembly which, in violation of the Charter, had exceeded its powers. She urged delegates to not support it.

MOHAMMAD YOUSSOF GHAFOORZAI (Afghanistan), associating himself with the Non Aligned Movement, said that the rule of law was fundamentally imperative for a secure international landscape. A strong foundation was in place to transform Afghanistan into a country of peace and stability. It was conducting a major overhaul of its judicial and other institutions to enhance transparency within those bodies. Its anti corruption justice centre was taking bold measures to investigate and prosecute officials, holding them to account; some 21 cases had already been completed in that area. A culture of meritocracy was also in place for the recruitment of officials, as well as to ensure transparency in the issuing of Government contracts. Those actions demonstrated the seriousness with which Afghanistan was pursuing good governance. A reform agenda was an important initiative that demanded the full support of all Member States, he said.

INTISAR TALIL AL-JUBOORI (Iraq), associating herself with the Non Aligned Movement, said her country had always been committed to the rule of law. That was confirmed in the 2005 Constitution of Iraq, which contained the principle of respect for State sovereignty and non interference. The Iraqi Anti Corruption Academy had been established to fight corruption nationally and internationally. The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) had supported her Government to build more accountable institutions in order to deal with crises and enhance the rule of law. In 2015, the Iraqi National Security Service and UNDP created a strategy to build civil society capacity. UNDP also provided legal assistance to refugees and those displaced by assisting with documentation, for example by providing birth certificates to children who had been born to Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh) fighters and the women who had forced to bear those children.

ALINA JULIA ARGAELLO GONZA�LEZ (Nicaragua), associating herself with the Non Aligned Movement, said that her country respected the rule of law, and that every State had the responsibility to preserve democracy, transparency and fairness. She stressed in particular the importance Nicaragua attached to the protection of human rights of women and children who were sometimes very vulnerable, as well as to the restoration of rights in the areas of health, education, access to land and access to justice. Strengthening the rule of law meant that the international community should respect the judicial systems of all States, as well as the right to self determination.

MIRTA GRANDA AVERHOFF (Cuba), associating herself with the Non Aligned Movement, affirmed that a true rule of law, as stated in the Secretary General’s report, began with a reformed United Nations. It was also important to note that the high level Declaration clearly stated in paragraph 36 that a true rule of law implied democratizing international economic, monetary and financial organizations, so that they served the development of the people rather than the permanent enrichment of the few. Her country was also committed to working towards a broad and profound reform of the Security Council in order for it to become an inclusive, transparent and democratic organ reflecting the genuine interests of the international community.

SABONGA MPONGOSHA (South Africa), associating himself with the Non Aligned Movement and the African Group, noted that his country’s Constitution contained a unique founding provision that entrenched the supremacy of the Constitution and the rule of law. Citing section 232, he stated that when interpreting any legislation, every court must prefer any reasonable interpretation of the legislation that was consistent with international law over any alternative interpretation. However, he pointed out that the content of international law must in and of itself be fair if it were to promote the rule of law. Fairness had both substantive and procedural dimensions, he said, encouraging delegates to pause and ask themselves if the rules being made were truly fair.

RISHY BUKOREE (Mauritius), associating himself with the Non Aligned Movement and the African Group, said that equality before the law, accountability to the law, and separation of powers were some of the important components of the rule of law. They guarded people against despotism and the Government against anarchy. Rule of law had enabled his country to attract investments and benefit from economic opportunities. The Constitution implied legal processes and substantive norms that were consistent with human rights. Every international treaty Mauritius adhered to was codified in national legislation. Customary international law must also be respected; the statute of the International Court of Justice acknowledged its existence. When it came to rule of law, the United Nations Charter was the most important document. It had helped create a better world as well as an Organization where all States, whether big or small, were entitled to one vote. Unfortunately, some States advanced exceptionalism, he said, expressing the hope that the notion of might is right would soon give way to rule of law.

YANG JAIHO (Republic of Korea) said that the dissemination of international law was vital, and would not only address various global and regional challenges but would also promote and advance the rule of law in a deeper and wider way. However, when it came to the dissemination of international law, it was a stark fact that many States were facing a scarcity of resources. He commended the activities of the Programme of Assistance, and took note that the Codification Division of the Office of Legal Affairs continued to share legal publications and information online. While laudable, those could never be sufficient. The Republic of Korea had played its part to increase the dissemination of international law, with various institutions and organizations focused on those specific issues. The Center for International Law had launched the Seoul Academy of International Law in 2016 with a view to training and educating those working in that field.

VALENTINE RUGWABIZA (Rwanda), associating herself with the African Group and the Non Aligned Movement, said that laws were only as good as their implementation. Calling for mechanisms that enforced the just application of agreed upon laws, in particular the principles enshrined in the Charter, she stressed that rule of law was a common denominator of peace, security and development. International justice systems must avoid political manipulation, and at the national level, partnerships between stakeholders were essential. National context should be at the centre of rule of law, she said, adding that Rwanda’s recent tragic past and real life experience of what it took to remove discrimination and violations of rights, including the most basic human rights to life, was the context of her country’s application to rule of law.

SONALI SAMARASINGHE (Sri Lanka), recalling how her country had suffered under the yoke of terrorism and an accompanying culture of impunity, said Sri Lanka was therefore acutely aware of the value of a nation built on the principles of democracy and the rule of law. Achieving justice in times of transition from conflict � through accountability, redress to victims and the recognition of their rights � promoted civic trust and strengthened the rule of law. In that regard, States had a duty to guarantee that violations would not reoccur and to reform institutions which, in the past, had proven incapable of preventing abuses. Another important principle underpinning the rule of law was that of sovereign equality and non interference, as well as the prohibition on the threat or use of force and the obligation to settle international disputes peacefully. It was therefore vital that all States, including developing countries, had an equal opportunity to participate in the process of developing international law. The rule of law was not a concept that could be externally forced, nor could it conform to an external prescription that ignored domestic realities.

MARTHA AMA AKYAA POBEE (Ghana), associating herself with the African Group and the Non Aligned Movement, said that the Secretary General’s report gave Member States the opportunity to explore implementing the rule of law on national and international platforms. Access to legal representatives and legal aid was provided for under the Constitution of Ghana. Its legal aid, together with civil society organizations, had developed a robust mechanism for ensuring that all citizens of Ghana had fair access to the legal system. In addition, its Justice for All Programme afforded prisoners on remand access to legal representation, she said.

The representative of Lebanon said that while there was no agreed upon common definition of the rule of law, it was based on principles such as equality before the law and ensuring fundamental rights. Strengthening the rule of law meant greater respect for existing international treaties, including the Charter. The basic role of international law to advance the rule of law was important to small States, which were often decisive in the preparation of landmark conventions. Lebanon was a part of the drafting of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, for example. Disseminating the rules of international law was crucial. On a national platform, the Lebanese National International Humanitarian Law Committee, established in 2010, had laid out a plan on how to incorporate relevant laws into the country’s domestic legislation.

JUAN CARLOS MENDOZA-GARCA�A (Costa Rica), associating himself with CELAC and the Non Aligned Movement, said that despite extraordinary progress in social indicators, the international community was confronting a plethora of new problems such as climate change, mass migration and terrorism. Calling for a robust international order based on the rule of law, he said that national experience and international evidence showed that countries where the principle was enforced had better living conditions for their citizens. Costa Rica was committed to the legal mechanisms provided by international law, and he called on all States to comply fully with the decisions of the International Court of Justice. It was not possible to live in peace without the confidence provided by rule of law, he stressed.

MAHE’ULI’ULI SANDHURST TUPOUNIUA (Tonga), emphasizing the importance of capacity building initiatives, said that the ability to understand sophisticated and cooperative responses set under international law was necessary for all key players, including small island developing States such as his country. Rule of law at the national and international levels played a critical role in ensuring an enabling environment for the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals. Acknowledging that there were existing gaps in international law, he added that dissemination of international law must also include information on those gaps, and guidance on actions to address those gaps.

MARK A. SIMONOFF (United States) said that when delegates in the Sixth Committee debated on the important work of the International Law Commission and other items, we breathe life into the words of the Charter which set out the progressive development of international law as one of the functions of the General Assembly. Rule of law demanded that all people, in all corners of the world, whether stateless or not, received the benefits conferred by the Charter. Domestically, rule of law functioned best with an independent and impartial judiciary, he stressed, also commending the work of the private legal associations in their efforts to disseminate international law.

SUKHBOLD SUKHEE (Mongolia), associating himself with the Non Aligned Movement, outlined various steps his Government had taken to maintain the rule of law as an integral part of the national development agenda. Mongolia had improved the conformity of domestic law and regulations with international human rights treaties and conventions. As Party to the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the country had abolished the death penalty, and had adopted laws concerning the rights of the child. Mongolia was also paying particular attention to combating corruption in the public sector, he said.

VIRACHAI PLASAI (Thailand), associating himself with the Non Aligned Movement and ASEAN, said that his country, in support of efforts by the United Nations to disseminate international law, had been co hosting relevant regional courses. Noting that many diplomatic conferences had been successfully convened under the auspices of the United Nations, enabling the Organization to codify international law, he recalled the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, which Thailand had signed and ratified in September. The international community must intensify the effort to ensure the rule of law for those were marginalized, including women and children, older persons, persons with disabilities and persons under custody.

ELIAB TSEGAYE TAYE (Ethiopia), associating himself with the African Group and the Non Aligned Movement, cited the Secretary General, who said in his report that there was no single model for the development of the rule of law at the national level. He expressed gratitude for the support his country had received from United Nations entities in its national efforts to strengthen the rule of law. However, much more needed to be done to ensure the universalization of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, as well as to ensure the full implementation of various international agreements that would enable the international community to effectively address the challenge of climate change.

MARINA SANDE (Uruguay) recalled that the United Nations had been created to sow the seeds of peace through a system that would enable Member States to solve disputes peacefully. The coexistence of countries was only possible if norms were established. Treaties between States obligated those States to behave in a certain way. There should be common will in international law to support countries, so that, in their domestic legislation, there were rules fostering the full respect of human rights, an independent judiciary and a regulatory framework. States had a responsibility to comply with their commitments and to apply international treaties, while aligning national legislation with those standards.

VUSUMUZI NTONGA (Zimbabwe), associating himself with the Non Aligned Movement and the African Group, stressed that rule of law should not be an abstract concept in academic discourse. The Organization should continue to be guided by respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity of all States, he said, adding that small States such as ours depend on rule of law for protection from the aggressions of the rich and powerful. Though his country supported international efforts to end impunity, the international criminal justice system operated in a selective manner, thus undermining confidence in it.

TAREQ MD ARIFUL ISLAM (Bangladesh), associating himself with the Non Aligned Movement, said that it was critical that the Organization’s rule of law assistance was duly factored into the ongoing reform initiative in the peace and security pillar. Calling on the General Assembly and the Economic and Social Council to facilitate in depth discussion regarding the impact of rule of law on eliminating poverty and reducing inequalities, he added that it would be particularly interesting to learn from Member States’ experiences and innovations in that area. It was also necessary to address the financial concerns of the International Criminal Court for conducting investigations and prosecutions into cases referred to it by the Security Council.

KYYAW MOE TUN (Myanmar), associating himself with the Non Aligned Movement and ASEAN, said that to strengthen the rule of law, his country had launched a strategic plan to protect the legal rights of individuals and the national interest, as well as to inspire public trust and confidence in the justice system. He noted that Myanmar’s State Counsellor had championed the promotion of the rule of law before she came into office. Rule of law centres had been established in 2015 under the guidance of the Pyithu Hluttaw Rule of Law and Tranquillity Committee. Four centres had been opened so far, providing training with a substantive focus on local justice issues linked to international rule of law principles. As well, with the democratic transition in Myanmar, a series of reforms on the practice of policing had also been introduced.

NGUYEN PHUONG NGA (Viet Nam), associating herself with ASEAN and the Non Aligned Movement, said that her country was continuing a legal harmonization process to align its legislation with international treaties to which it was a signatory. Together with other members of ASEAN, it was striving to build South East Asia into a zone of peace, stability and prosperity. In the context of complex developments in the East Sea, also known as the South China Sea, she called upon all concerned parties to exercise self restraint and settle disputes by peaceful means in accordance with international law, including the 1982 Convention on the Law of the Sea. Furthermore, all parties should fully respect diplomatic and legal processes, implement the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea and expedite the completion of a legally binding code of conduct.

ZHANG PENG (China) said that the United Nations and other international organizations, along with all Member States, had a greater role to play in advancing communication in the area of international law. Voicing his appreciation for the efforts of the United Nations Office of Legal Affairs and other relevant entities, he also hailed the positive contribution of the United Nations Programme of Assistance in the Teaching, Study, Dissemination and Wider Appreciation of International Law. Because teaching and promoting a wider knowledge of international law at institutions of higher learning was high on his Government’s agenda, it had contributed expertise and wisdom to the capacity building efforts of developing countries in international law, he said.

IGOR BONDUIK (Ukraine), aligning himself with the European Union, said that the many emerging threats confronting the international community required responses grounded in international law. In addition to judicial and economic reforms, Ukraine was making progress against corruption and conducting banking sector reforms. Rule of law at the international level should be strong and effective in the promotion of human rights and State sovereignty. Recalling the report of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), he condemned the human rights violations conducted by the Russian Federation in Crimea.

AMANUEL GIORGIO (Eritrea), associating himself with the Non Aligned Movement and the African Group, said that lack of compliance with international law was the root cause of many international conflicts. Emphasizing the principles of sovereignty and territorial integrity, he added that Eritrea had been taking measures to achieve a peaceful and inclusive society, including by establishing community courts and ensuring the participation of women in those courts. Advancing rule of law was an evolutionary process that involved all stakeholders and it was vital to recognize the importance of national ownership in the matter.

CARLOS ARTURO MORALES LA�PEZ (Colombia), noting that his country had been recognized in the Secretary General’s report for many of its recent efforts towards national reconciliation, said the document had drawn special attention to the creation of its Special Jurisdiction for Peace and for its work to ensure the peaceful co existence of its citizens and the protection of women and girls. While Colombia had enjoyed a strong legal tradition, it had also been beleaguered by violence for many years. Today, a new era was emerging, where a united Colombia was recommitted to the rule of law. Together with the United Nations team, the Government was spear heading initiatives aimed at judicial reform, including by passing a law allowing for the reintegration of former Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) members into society. The peace agreement with that group underscored Colombia’s ownership over its own transition process, he emphasized, calling for the United Nations to employ a cooperative approach with States in all its work related to the rule of law and the maintenance of international peace and security.

INA HAGNININGTYAS KRISNAMURTHI (Indonesia), associating herself with the Non Aligned Movement and ASEAN, recalled the violations of international human rights and humanitarian laws in Palestine and said that rule of law at the international level would always be a fiction if the international community did not minimize its politicization. At the national level, domesticating international law did not mean much unless there was improved knowledge on the part of people, including Government officials, practitioners, academicians and students. Her country had enacted a law concerning public information, obliging all Government institutions and courts to publicize legislations, court rulings and jurisprudence.

MUKI M. BENAS PHIRI (Zambia), associating himself with the Non Aligned Movement and the African Group, said that rule of law hinged on independent, efficient and effective judicial systems. Unless it was held together by a functional judiciary, rule of law dissipated and the nation was ruled by the whims and vagaries of fellow human beings. For that reason, judicial independence was recognized in many international and regional human rights instruments, he said, adding that Zambia’s vision of becoming a prosperous middle income country by 2030 had led to fundamental policy shifts. The Legal and Justice Sector Reforms Commission was ensuring that all provisions of the country’s amended Constitution were operationalized systematically in order to translate them into an accessible and accountable justice system.

PATRICK LUNA (Brazil) said that abiding by the rule of law at the international level meant that no single country, no matter how powerful, was exempt from rigorous compliance with its legal obligations or beyond reproach for circumventing international law. Either the Charter must remain at the centre of the international order, or there would be no order, he warned. Debates on the rule of law might be complicated due to the difficulty in identifying, in different languages and legal traditions, expressions that encompassed all dimensions of the concept, he said, adding that something gets lost in the translation. Access to justice challenged the root causes of poverty, exclusion and vulnerability, given that such access enabled the full enjoyment of rights and public services. It was crucial to ensure that migrants, refugees and asylum seekers had a legal identity. States should be encouraged to provide free and effective legal aid to vulnerable populations.

MARTA�N GARCA�A MORITA�N (Argentina), welcoming the reform processes spear headed by the Secretary General, noted that the Organization’s capacity building activities were pivotal in establishing rule of law, especially in situations of conflict. Justice and peace were complementary to each other, he stressed, calling on the international community to continue the fight against impunity. Turning to the impact of the rule of law on the Sustainable Development Goals, he said that an international network of legal assistance providers could be helpful in buttressing rule of law. Finally, he highlighted the work of the Treaty Section whose databases were crucial to all working in the field of international law.

DEKALEGA FINTAKPA LAMEGA (Togo), associating himself with the African Group and the Non Aligned Movement, said that his country was party to 222 multilateral treaties, covering all aspects of international law. Those treaties, as well as various regional and bilateral agreements, had been incorporated into the national legislation. The Government had also adopted a plan of action to modernize the legal system and make the judicial system accessible to all. Included in that plan were programmes to improve the legal framework, strengthen prison administration and modernize equipment and logistics. Lauding the crucial role played by the Office of Legal Affairs in facilitating and promoting an international framework of legally binding mechanisms to settle disputes, he encouraged the Treaty Section to continue organizing workshops on the matter.

MOHAMMED AL AJMI (Kuwait), associating himself with the Non Aligned Movement, stressed the importance of respecting the Charter and international law, two crucial pillars when dealing with the threats the international community was facing. His country had adopted a democratic constitutional system that highlighted respect for the rule of law through the separation of powers while still maintaining cooperation between those sectors. At the international level, his Government remained committed to international conventions, principles and laws. However, ongoing violations of human rights weakened resolve to respect the law, he said. That was demonstrated by the violations being committed by Israel, which was continuing to build illegal settlements and defy all resolutions and international legal norms. More must be done and all possible measures should be taken to ensure respect for the rule of law at the international level.

ABDULLAH ALSHARIF (Saudi Arabia) said the law should be applicable to everyone, whether the ruler or the ruled. His country was currently studying all international treaties; that emanated from Saudi Arabia’s desire to accede to the appropriate treaties that were consistent with the values of the country. Those treaties should have no contradiction between international law and sharia, as both upheld human rights. On a national level, men and women had both voted in municipal elections, and women were currently assuming high level Governmental posts. In addition, there was a prohibition against inequalities in salaries between men and women.

AMADOU JAITEH (Gambia) associating himself with the African Group, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) and the Non-Aligned Movement, said that to preserve the dignity of its people, in line with international practice, his country had devised a three step approach in its National Development Plan, focusing on human rights, peace and security, and development. The Government relied heavily on the rule of law as the vehicle to promote, protect and respect the values of human rights. The Gambia had prioritized security sector reform, emphasizing inclusivity, respect for human rights and rule of law. His Government also attached great importance to economic growth and development; that was why the connection between rule of law and development was highly appreciated and at the centre of the country’s development agenda.

SANDRA PEJIC (Serbia) said that at the national level, rule of law was the key prerequisite for political stability, without which there was no economic growth or social development. At the global level, the rule of law was a precondition for international peace and stability, and played a critical role in the achievement of the 2030 Agenda. Recalling that his country had participated in the establishment of the International Criminal Court, he voiced strong support for further strengthening of the Court’s institutional capacity. The Rome Statute’s acceptance should be universal and impunity should never be allowed, he stressed, also emphasizing his country’s long standing commitment to the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia. Indeed, it had cooperated with the Tribunal substantially and without exception on all matters related to serious international criminal crimes, while also trying crimes in its own courts.

MOHAMMED BENTAJA (Morocco), associating himself with the African Group and the Non Aligned Movement, called for the adoption of an integrated approach to the United Nations work, based on the primacy of international law and one that fostered the peaceful settlement of differences in line with the principles of sovereignty, territorial integrity and non interference in States’ domestic affairs. In the world’s current complex environment � when international relations had seen major changes and nations were confronted with emerging challenges including climate change, migration and large refugee flows � he described the rule of law as an essential lever possessed by the United Nations to pursue all aspects of its work. Through Morocco’s long standing commitment to peacekeeping operations, it had helped many countries rebuild their national institutions and re establish the rule of law. The Programme of Assistance was another critical tool to build the capacity of developing countries, he said, calling for meetings held for those purposes to be funded from the regular United Nations budget.

HUMAID ABDALLA ALNAQBI (United Arab Emirates), noting that his country’s foreign policy was based on partnerships and good neighbourliness, said that his region continued to suffer from crises due to the expansionist policies of some countries. Rule of law was critical to safeguarding regional stability and promoting human rights. By creating development oriented legislation and providing opportunities for industry, his country was guaranteeing economic progress. Since its birth, the Emirates had been at the forefront of rule of law in the region. The flexible national legislation contributed to the maintenance of peace and security, as well as the total absence of governmental corruption and low crime rates. Condemning those States that provided safe havens to terrorists, he said they were responsible for the increase in terrorism lately.

The representative of Egypt, associating himself with the Non Aligned Movement and the African Group, said that international security and stability depended on rule of law, which was the best foundation for peaceful settlement of disputes. Calling on the international community to resolve conflicts without politicizing them, he said that it was necessary to put an end to foreign occupation. Reiterating the role played by the United Nations and international bodies, he added that the Organization must provide support to Member States while also respecting their territorial integrity and sovereignty. A more flexible approach that took into account the unique features of each Member State was essential, he concluded.

FA�TIMA YESENIA FERNA�NDES JASAREZ (Venezuela), associating herself with the Non Aligned Movement, noted that the rule of law helped all States stand on an equal footing. It further helped underpin and bolster Government responsibilities to protect all people under their jurisdictions. States should refrain from applying or enacting unilateral sanctions and other measures that violated international law and hindered the development of other nations, she stressed, also calling for the revitalization of the General Assembly and reform of the Security Council. The latter, in particular, was linked to achieving the rule of law at the international level, and the Council must avoid going beyond its mandate or taking an overly security based focus to its work. Among other things, she said the web compendium of international treaties was a useful tool which should be made available in all the United Nations official languages, a task which should not be hindered by a lack of resources.

ABBAS BAGHERPOUR ARDEKANI (Iran), while underscoring that the principle of State immunity was one of the cornerstones of the international legal order, said that a handful of countries seemed to believe that they could breach the fundamental principle of State immunity by unilaterally waiving it under an unsubstantiated legal doctrine not recognized by the international community. Each nation had the sovereign right to shape its model of the rule of law and administration of justice based on its specific traditions, needs and requirements. Domestic legislation must not violate the basic principles of international law, the international obligations of the State or the sovereign rights of other States, nor must it be applied unilaterally to extraterritorial matters involving other countries. Warning against norm-setting through flawed processes that undermined multilateral legal frameworks, he said threats to the rule of law at the international level were not due to a lack of proper norms or insufficiency of rules, but instead were deeply rooted in unilateralism, disregard for international law and disrespect for the international community’s common interest.

Right of Reply

The representative of Qatar, speaking in exercise of the right of reply, said that Syria’s delegate had made many false claims. Qatar had played a pioneering role, in collaboration with partners, to bring the Syrian regime to accountability by establishing the Mechanism to investigate the crimes conducted by that regime. When it came to anti terrorism, Qatar had a good record as opposed to the Syrian regime whose oppressive practices had led to the prevalence of ISIL.

The representative of the Russian Federation said that Kiev had been raising anti Russian provocations in various Committees of the General Assembly. The tragedy in the east of Ukraine was the consequence of the significant military operation unfurled by Ukraine’s Government against their own people in 2014. The International Criminal Court had not been effective or impartial; however, since Ukraine had contacted the structure, the Russian Federation hoped the Court would demonstrate objectivity.

The representative of Syria, expressing regret that some representatives were politicizing issues and deviating beyond the topics assigned to the Committee, said that Qatar’s delegate probably does not know the United Nations Charter very well. Condemning the terrorists financed by that Government he added that on 15 August, two charities working as a front for Qatari intelligence had transferred $15 million to Al Nusrah Front for the People of the Levant.

The representative of Qatar said Syria often used the United Nations as a forum to make baseless allegations against other States. Qatar’s history in the fight against terrorism was clear, but the Syrian regime took any chance to hide its own oppressive policies. Indeed, the resolution creating the Mechanism had been a milestone in achieving justice and fighting impunity. It had proved that the international community wished to see those perpetrating violations in Syria � especially the regime, which even used chemical weapons against its own people � was held to justice. We cannot take any steps backwards where that is concerned, he stressed, adding that his delegation reserved the right to respond in writing to all allegations made by the representative of Syria.

The representative of Syria advised the representative of Qatar not to speak about legitimacy, as his country remained totally removed from that concept when it came to terrorism. Recalling a recent statement by the Head of State of Qatar to the effect that his country may have a different vision regarding the roots of terrorism or about who ought to be defined as a terrorist, he stressed that was exactly the case when it came to Al Nusrah. Regarding the so called International, Impartial and Independent Mechanism, he recalled that he had made a very definitive statement yesterday, including by drawing attention to a letter contained in document A/71/799 in which his delegation had alerted the Secretary General to the grave violations to its sovereignty resulting from the Mechanism’s establishment. Qatar wished to continue its support for terrorism, while at the same time working to sabotage and subvert the Syrian political process in Geneva, he said.

Source: United Nations

44 BEACHES IN SOUTH AFRICA AWARDED BLUE FLAG STATUS – INTERNATIONAL SYMBOL OF QUALITY

EASTERN CAPE (SOUTH AFRICA), South Africa’s Tourism Minister Tokozile Xasa has applauded the 44 beaches that have obtained full Blue Flag status at a beach certification programme held at Dolphin Beach, Jeffreys Bay, in the Eastern Cape.

We are re-awarding Blue Flag status to some of the beaches that lost their blue flag status in the 2016/17 season.

I would like to attribute this achievement to the Department’s Blue Flag Beach Steward project, which places young people on these beaches to maintain their Blue Flag standards, said Xasa.

The Blue Flag programme has been in operation since 1987 and according to the United Nations World Tourism Organisation, is the most well-known eco-label of its kind. It is an international annual award which focuses on the environmental management of coastline and coastal waters to help tourism growth and development.

Although it is a voluntary eco-label, the Blue Flag has become an international symbol of quality for beaches, boats and marinas that meet a standard of excellence in the areas of safety, amenities, cleanliness, environmental information and environmental management.

The Department of Tourism, in partnership with Wildlife and Environment Society of South Africa (WESSA), launched the Blue Flag Beach Steward project in October 2016. It is a 28-month long initiative aimed at training 200 youth from low-income, coastal households in a National Certificate in Environmental Education Training and Development Practices NQF 5, specialising in Tourism.

The beach stewards provide local member municipalities with adequate infrastructural support to maintain the required high standards of safety, environmental management, water quality and environmental education at Blue Flag sites, as well as assist other beaches to attain this prestigious status.

The Blue Flag Beach Steward programme is part of the Coastal and Marine Tourism Implementation Plan, which is a focus area of Operation Phakisa’s Oceans Economy.

The plan envisions to grow a world class and sustainable coastal and marine tourism destination that leverages South Africa’s competitive advantage in nature, culture and heritage.

The coastal and marine tourism sector will contribute about R21.4 billion to the GDP and create about 116 000 direct jobs by 2026, thus reducing poverty, inequality and unemployment, while contributing to sustainable livelihoods and development.

These estimates are conservative as they are growing from a low 2015 base of R 11.9 billion direct contribution to GDP and 64 400 direct jobs, Xasa said.

Source: NAM NEWS NETWORK