Countries hail leadership of outgoing UNCTAD chief

04 February 2021

Member states from across the world fete Mukhisa Kituyi for his stellar service and staunch support for the aspirations of the global south.

UNCTAD Secretary-General Mukhisa Kituyi addresses the United Nations General Assembly in New York on 7 October 2013.

Delegates from UNCTAD’s 195 member states applauded its outgoing Secretary-General Mukhisa Kituyi for his outstanding leadership of the organization for nearly eight years, as he prepares to step down from the role on 15 February.

Dr. Kituyi received warm accolades for steering the organization to greater heights, as he presided over his last meeting of UNCTAD's governing body, the Trade and Development Board, on 3 February.

“We can appreciate the fruit of your work in many of the cornerstones that you leave behind for posterity,” said Nasir Andisha on behalf of member countries of the Group of 77 and China.

Champion of development

The group hailed Dr. Kituyi as a champion of development, a fighter against inequality and poverty and a staunch supporter of the aspirations of the global south.

“Your approach is in line with our group’s conviction that development thinking is a diverse and complex political issue that needs to be owned locally and not a technocratic, one-size-fits-all matter dictated from the north,” Mr. Andisha, the ambassador of Afghanistan in Geneva, said.

He said Dr. Kituyi’s engagement in cabinet briefings in several nations helped beneficiary countries to better understand the trade-offs and interdependence of various areas of development policy, thereby improving policymaking and people’s lives.

He also praised Dr. Kituyi’s tireless efforts that ensured the success of UNCTAD’s 14th quadrennial conference held in Kenya in 2016 and the solid foundation laid for the forthcoming 15th ministerial gathering to be held in Barbados in October.

Mr. Andisha also lauded the expansion of UNCTAD’s presence from Geneva and New York through the creation of an office for Africa in Addis Ababa, which under Dr. Kituyi’s leadership has contributed to many development initiatives in Africa.

Member countries of the Group of Latin America and the Caribbean (GRULAC) also thanked Dr. Kituyi for his active engagement in the region.

Speaking on behalf of the group, the ambassador of Guatemala, Eduardo Sperisen, said Dr. Kituyi had visited more than 11 countries in the region and met with heads of state, ministers and other authorities to get first-hand information about their development needs and projects.

He had also invited two GRULAC leaders – former president of Ecuador, Rafael Correa, in 2014 and prime minister of Barbados, Mia Amor Mottley, in 2019 – to deliver UNCTAD’s premier Raúl Prebisch Lecture and share their views on global issues such as development, technology and innovation and education.

Dynamic leadership

The Asia-Pacific Group said Dr. Kituyi’s dynamic and admirable leadership had set the global discourse on inclusive economic development, globalization and multilateralism in the last five years and would remain a blueprint for how the global society, economy and environment should look in 2030 and beyond.

“His passionate advocacy and untiring efforts in creating conditions, opportunities and support mechanisms for developing countries to leverage trade, finance and technology for sustainable development are well acknowledged by the members of the Asia Pacific Group,” said Tahir Andrabi, the Pakistani ambassador, on behalf of the group.

He said Dr. Kituyi would be remembered for helping bring the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) into fruition and for his contribution to the historic Nairobi Maafikiano outcome document of the UNCTAD14 conference.

The Africa Group echoed the sentiments, thanking Dr. Kituyi for his stellar service and exemplary leadership.

“Under your stewardship, UNCTAD has remained true to the execution of its mandate, and continues to assist developing countries to better access and benefit from global trade and investment,” the group’s coordinator, Athaliah Molokomme, said.

“This has been done by way of providing analysis and technical assistance, facilitating consensus-building to leverage on trade, investment, finance, and technology as instruments for attaining inclusive and sustainable development,” Ms. Molokomme, the ambassador of Botswana, added.

Delivering against all odds

The European Union (EU) also commended Dr. Kituyi for leading UNCTAD to continue supporting developing countries overcome enormous challenges, including the ongoing COVID-19 crisis.

“During these times, UNCTAD helped deliver on many important and shared objectives of the multilateral community, with concrete and highly visible value for developing countries,” Thomas Wagner said on behalf of the EU.

He added that UNCTAD’s numerous analyses on trade and investment, e-commerce, science and innovation, consumer protection and competition laws and policies, and gender, resulted in useful policy recommendations that were highly appreciated.

Member countries of the Eurasian Economic Union also hailed Dr. Kituyi’s leadership and UNCTAD’s support to developing nations as they battle the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Speaking on behalf of the group, Sergey Ivanov of Russia thanked Dr. Kituyi for his report to UNCTAD member states ahead of the forthcoming ministerial conference in Barbados, in which he set out a roadmap for inclusive recovery from the pandemic.

The report lays out the issues on which countries could find consensus and frames the discussion for the October conference, where the organization’s mandate will be updated and adapted.

Dr. Kituyi, UNCTAD’s seventh Secretary-General, thanked all the member states for their unrelenting support during his tenure and wished them the best for the future.