unctad.org | The fiftieth anniversary of UNCTAD: A briefing on the status of preparations
Statement by Mr. Petko Draganov, Deputy Secretary-General of UNCTAD
The fiftieth anniversary of UNCTAD: A briefing on the status of preparations
13 Feb 2014

Mr. President,
Ladies and gentlemen,

It is a great pleasure for me to say a few words about the status of preparations for UNCTAD's fiftieth anniversary.

I believe that the preparations are well on track.

As the programme currently stands, a special session of the Trade and Development Board will take place on the morning of 16 June. In keeping with the importance and solemnity of the occasion, as well as the limited time available, we are working on a scenario that would possibly include a parade of flags and an official opening.

The President of the Board would open the proceedings and the Secretary-General of UNCTAD would address the Board. This would be followed by a keynote address by the Secretary-General of the United Nations. The next speakers would be the President of the Conference and a high-level representative from Peru, the host of UNCTAD XIV. Subsequently, individuals who participated in the first Conference and who have maintained their links with UNCTAD would be invited to share recollections and thoughts. The regional coordinators would be invited to make statements. Due to time constraints, it may be difficult to allocate time for statements by individual delegations.

A Raúl Prebisch lecture would possibly take place in the afternoon. In keeping with tradition, the lecture would be delivered by an eminent personality who is familiar with UNCTAD. We are also considering the possibility of a round-table discussion following the lecture which would allow for an interactive debate on salient issues related to trade and development among leading academics, public intellectuals, high-level policymakers and practitioners. To this end, the UNCTAD secretariat has identified and approached prominent personalities, and we are awaiting their responses.

To mark the occasion, we hope to have the opportunity to showcase cultural performances from different parts of the world. To that end, member States' collaboration and support will be needed. I will speak with you in the coming days and weeks.

Ladies and gentlemen,

In response to your call to maximize the impact of the celebrations, and to make effective use of existing resources, we have decided to schedule the 2014 UNCTAD Public Symposium for 17-18 June 2014. We hope this will allow the Symposium to benefit from the presence of participants and discussants that are here for other Geneva sessions, and that it will give civil society organizations the opportunity to attend. As you may know, previous Symposiums attracted between 300 and 400 participants each.

The theme of this year's Public Symposium is: 'A better world economic order for justice and equality post-2015'. The Symposium will examine the macroeconomic dimensions of inequality, as well as how the problems of inequality are being addressed and what countries can learn from each other. The theme and sub-themes were selected in consultation with civil society, the United Nations Non-Governmental Liaison Service and the UNCTAD secretariat.

The Public Symposium will be an opportunity to reflect both on the fiftieth anniversary of UNCTAD and the key challenges to address within the post-2015 development agenda.

We are currently preparing a list of speakers and panellists from civil society, Governments, academia and business which we will be inviting to the Symposium to share their insights and views on the proposed themes. In this regard, your suggestions and contributions are very welcome.

The challenge is to engage a wider audience from different regions with knowledge and expertise of the selected issues, and this could only happen if we have funds available to support the participation of resource persons and civil society representatives from developing countries. We are reaching out to member States to explore funding opportunities. We hope that, as before, we can count on your support to the Public Symposium in this important year.

We are exploring the possibility of combining the Symposium with a third informal Geneva Dialogue (1). We could devote half a day of 18 June for this purpose. Of course we will keep you updated as the preparations progress. We are also open to any suggestions or innovative ideas.

With respect to the commemorative publication, as you may recall, the secretariat organized an informal briefing in November 2013 with Professor John Toye, the author of the book. He invited interested delegates to submit their suggestions to him and he received many useful inputs and feedback.

Tentatively entitled "UNCTAD at Fifty: A Short History", the publication focuses on UNCTAD's activities, achievements and transformations, as well as the UNCTAD ideas that have had an impact on the global debate and agenda with respect to development. It also has a chapter which focuses on current trends and issues, as well as their ramifications for development. The draft is being finalized as we speak.

With respect to the video documentary (2) which traces the evolution of UNCTAD and looks towards its future, we are looking for sponsors for production. We are also looking into the possibility of producing a series of 8 to10 mini-video clips showcasing UNCTAD's work in the field, to be produced by DevTV in partnership with Radio Télévision Suisse (RTS). We are calling for funding.

We have already designed a logo for UNCTAD's fiftieth anniversary, which will appear in all our public information materials.

We will shortly launch a dedicated section on the UNCTAD website to keep delegates and other stakeholders informed about all events and activities related to UNCTAD's fiftieth anniversary. It will include a calendar of events, news and updates as well as links to relevant documents, publications and multimedia materials. We are looking into using an electronic survey tool to gather inputs from people around the world on what UNCTAD has meant to them over the past 50 years and what they hope to see in the future.

Ladies and gentlemen,

The secretariat will seek to publicize UNCTAD's fiftieth anniversary in events throughout the year, for example, during the annual sessions of the General Assembly and the Economic and Social Council, as well as at regional events such as the African Development Forums of the Economic Commission for Africa and the African Union Summit.

In this context, you may recall that member States also encouraged the organization of national and regional events. For example, during the Astana Economic Forum which will take place in May, the Government of Kazakhstan will dedicate a special segment to the fiftieth anniversary of UNCTAD. The secretariat is working closely with the Government of Kazakhstan on the preparation of the segment.

In addition to these activities, the secretariat is planning to mark UNCTAD's fiftieth anniversary in all thematic areas. Allow me to highlight them briefly.

UNCTAD's Special Unit on Commodities, in partnership with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and the Common Fund for Commodities, will organize a special event entitled "Fifty Years of Research and Policy Advice on Commodities and Development: The Role of UNCTAD" to be held on 11 April 2014, during the week of the Global Commodities Forum (7-8 April) and the Multi-year Expert Meeting on Commodities and Development (9-10 April).

The event will examine UNCTAD's contribution to the global debate on commodities and development over the past 50 years and look to generate ideas that will further enhance UNCTAD's role in assisting commodity-dependent developing countries to address the perennial and new challenges facing commodity-based economies.

During the sixth session of the Investment, Enterprise and Development Commission, the secretariat's presentation on foreign direct investment flows and policies will focus on the evolution over the past 50 years as well as on UNCTAD's specific contributions with regard to foreign direct investment for development. Similarly, during the high-level session organized on the opening day of the Commission, high-level panellists are expected to reflect on the progress accomplished over the last 50 years with regard to enterprise development. High-level participation is expected, with a presentation at the ministerial level of the three Investment Policy Reviews for Bangladesh, Mongolia and the Republic of Moldova.

This year's World Investment Forum (3) will be held from 13 to 16 October 2014 in Geneva. It will focus on investing in sustainable development and will aim at devising strategies to mobilize investment and channel its contribution to the achievement of sustainable development goals. The Forum will consist of over 20 events, including the World Investment Leaders Summit, ministerial round tables, a high-level forum on investment in landlocked developing countries and other high-profile events. It is expected to gather over 2,000 high-level participants from the global investment community, including Heads of State and of Government, ministers, executives of global companies and stock exchanges, sovereign wealth fund managers, investment treaty negotiators, experts, leaders of international organizations, civil society, scholars and the media.

The Division on Technology and Logistics, in cooperation with the Division on International Trade in Goods and Services, and Commodities and the Division for Africa, Least Developed Countries and Special Programmes, intends to organize a high-level event on mobile money remittances during the week of 16 June 2014. Remittances are an important source of external financing for developing countries and are expected to reach US$414 billion in 2013 - almost two thirds of the foreign direct investment inflows to the developing world in 2012. In this context, finding ways to bring down costs for sending remittances is crucial to foster inclusive development. The event will bring together experts to discuss how to make international remittance flows more affordable, including by leveraging the scope for mobile money and online transfer mechanisms.

The Division for Africa, Least Developed Countries and Special Programmes and the Division on International Trade in Goods and Services, and Commodities will organize two round-table events focusing on the African creative economy and the African diaspora. These will be organized in the context of an exhibition of contemporary African art (4) which will be mounted between 8 May and 14 July in the Château de Penthes.

In addition, subject to availability of funding, UNCTAD proposes to hold an African film festival in the Palais des Nations and in town at around the same time.

Last but not least, it has also been decided that each of our major publications in 2014 will include a commemorative chapter on UNCTAD's contributions to the themes over the past 50 years.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Before closing, I wish to mention that all activities related to the UNCTAD fiftieth anniversary are being carried out with no dedicated or additional budget. Several prominent speakers we have approached have expressed an interest in coming, but have also demanded fees for their appearances. In this connection, any contribution in kind or in cash would be appreciated.

I thank you very much for your attention. I am happy to take your questions now.

(1) The second Geneva Dialogue will take place on 4 April 2014.
(2) The cost of 10 videos is estimated at US$58,000-US$72,500.
(3) This is the fourth World Investment Forum, following its inaugural meeting in Accra (2008) and the subsequent meetings in Xiamen, China (2010), and Doha (2012).
(4) "Ici l'Afrique/Here Africa" to be mounted by the non-governmental organization, Art for the World.


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