2nd Hearing with Civil Society

The hearing with civil society and the private sector was held in Geneva on 29 September 2005 and chaired by the outgoing President of the Trade and Development Board (TDB) Ambassador Mary Whelan.

Economic growth and poverty reduction in the 1990s:

Participants expressed their concern that, for many countries, the situation had worsened in the 1990s rather than the contrary and that the period was characterized by stagnation and that many countries had experienced reversals in development terms. The gap between rich and poor had also increased, highlighting the need to re-examine the policies that had been pursued.

Poverty reduction was still a major challenge for many developing countries, despite the good progress that had been achieved in a number of other policy areas. Participants added that judging from past experience, the market would not solve the problem of the poorest segment of the population and that market forces and economic growth alone would not serve to alleviate poverty.

The EU initiative to increase the levels of ODA it would make available was to be welcomed. However, it was still not clear how these higher levels of ODA would be financed; ideally, ODA financing should come from general budgets rather than through additional taxes that could have detrimental effects.

Gender and trade:

Many participants expressed concern about the gender imbalances that still hamper the development prospects of many developing countries and LDCs, despite the contribution made by women in economic activities in many other countries. Concerns were also raised about the lack of recognition for women's activities. Participants called for a holistic approach to addressing issues of concern to women and also expressed the need for gender to be mainstreamed into economic development strategies. UNCTAD was called upon to play a role in strengthening gender in the trade agenda.

Interdependence and global economic issues from a trade and development perspective:

The debate focused on the need to look at alternatives to the development model of world financial capitalism. Participants drew attention to the asymmetry in international trade between countries. Rich countries tabled their own proposals, but had not been open to developing fair policies that would also benefit poorer countries.

Civil society participants raised the question of how to protect the informal economy which had been adversely affected by exclusive development. They argued that countries should take joint responsibility for this and that the problems of inequality and poverty should be approached by different sectors.

Participants pointed out the absence of legal support for illegal immigrants on remittances; this was important as immigrants were key players in their economies when they remitted money to their countries of origin, and also contributed to the economies of developed countries. This was a reality for all regions in the South. Participants argued that specific measures had to be developed to protect these workers and sustain remittances. A debate had take place in the WTO on related issues, but poor countries tended to remain marginalized. All countries should form part of the debate and their views should be respected.

Review of developments and issues in the post-Doha work programme of particular concern to developing countries:

Civil society participants stressed that the Doha work programme had been adopted as an agenda for development to address the concerns raised by developing countries. Development should therefore be at the heart of the commitment to help integrate developing countries into the multilateral trading system, in the absence of an alternative to a broad-based development strategy.

Intellectual property rights:

Civil society participants suggested that UNCTAD could focus on:

  • strengthening and mainstreaming a balanced holistic approach towards intellectual property and development into its work;

  • drawing attention to issues of concern to developing countries; and

  • promoting coherence between UNCTAD and the work of other UN organizations on intellectual property and development.

The outcome of the hearing with civil society and the private sector was summarized by the secretariat and submitted as an input to the Board discussions. A representative from Third World Network presented the report to the TDB on 11 October 2005.

Quick Links: | Summary of the 2nd Hearing with Civil Society |



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