Mr. Rubens Ricupero yesterday received the unanimous endorsement of the UN General Assembly for a second term as Secretary-General of UNCTAD. Acting on the recommendation of Mr. Kofi Annan, Secretary-General of the United Nations, the Assembly approved the renewal of Mr. Ricupero’s mandate for a further period of four years, expiring on 14 September 2003.
"I am deeply honoured by the trust placed in me by the Secretary-General and by member States," Mr. Ricupero said today, "and look forward to working closely with all countries and groups in furtherance of our common objective of promoting equitable, and sustainable, economic development, particularly in least developed countries."
After the Assembly confirmed Mr. Ricupero’s renewal yesterday, major groups and individual countries representing all regions took the floor to welcome Mr. Annan’s decision to renominate the UNCTAD head, and to express their confidence in his leadership.
The Group of 77 and China said there had been a major transformation in UNCTAD since Mr. Ricupero assumed office in September 1995. "His intellectual leadership, vision and commitment to development have been critical to the re-emergence of UNCTAD as a serious, competent and responsible organisation in providing a balanced treatment of a wide range of interrelated issues of development in an increasingly interdependent and globalising world," said Ambassador Samuel Insanally of Guyana, Chairman of the G77.
Against the backdrop of UNCTAD X preparations, the European Union stressed the importance of having an experienced Secretary-General, and noted that Mr. Ricupero’s qualifications "fully justify" the extention of his mandate. The delegations of Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Cyprus, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway associated themselves with the European Union statement made by Ambassador Gerhard Walter Henze of Germany. The Russian Federation said that since UNCTAD IX (South Africa, April/May 1996) the organisation had made "significant progress" in strengthening its role as a major coordinating body within the UN on trade and development. It praised UNCTAD’s help to countries with economies-in-transition in such areas as debt, trade negotiations and trade facilitation.
China referred in particular to UNCTAD’s analytical work and its contribution to the development of least developed countries (LDCs); while the JUSCANZ grouping (Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand and the United States) referred to the "new spirit of cooperation" among member States that had followed the last Conference. On behalf of the group, Ambassador Michael Powles of New Zealand highlighted three points: the organisation’s emphasis on LDCs; the role of UNCTAD’s Trade Division in helping developing countries prepare for the next WTO Ministerial Conference (Seattle, USA, 29 November - 3 December 1999); and UNCTAD’s work with civil society and the private sector.
In Mr. Ricupero’s second term, the immediate challenge ahead for UNCTAD will be its next quadriennial ministerial Conference, UNCTAD X, scheduled to take place in Bangkok (Thailand) from 12-20 February, 2000. At this global gathering on development, the international community will look at how to ensure the successful integration of developing countries and economies-in-transition into the world economy and to avoid the risk of further marginalization. Drawing lessons from past experience, the Conference is expected to agree on strategies to make globalization an effective instrument for the development of all countries and all people.
Another major event in Mr. Ricupero’s second term will be the Third UN Conference on the Least Developed Countries, to be held in the first half of 2001, under the auspices of the European Union. Preparations for UNCTAD X and the Third LDC Conference, are already underway, and will advance side-by-side. In what will be a crowded agenda over the next two years, for UNCTAD and the international community concerned with trade and development issues, another major landmark will be the Third WTO Ministerial Conference, expected to launch a new round of trade negotiations the following year.
The first term of Mr. Ricupero as UNCTAD Secretary-General was marked by UNCTAD IX. This resulted in a thorough restructuring of the intergovernmental machinery and secretariat of the United Nations’ main body for development, and a refocusing of its work priorities. In November 1998, Mr. Ricupero convened the Partners for Development Summit in Lyon (France), a pioneering UN event to involve the private sector and civil society in concrete projects for development, conceived by UNCTAD.