Negotiators at UNCTAD14 reach consensus, strengthen UNCTAD work programme

22 July 2016

Negotiators applauded on Friday after reaching agreement on the Nairobi consensus, the Maafikiano, setting UNCTAD's work programme for the next four years after long discussions including two sleepless nights.

Final agreement came at 10:20 following long days of negotiations in which negotiators had used caffeine pills, candies, and soft drinks to keep themselves alert while scrutinizing the draft documents being projected onto screens in an underground room. "I'm delighted that our 194 member states have been able to reach this consensus, giving a central role to UNCTAD in delivering the sustainable development goals," UNCTAD Secretary-General, Mukhisa Kituyi, said.

"With this document, we can get on with the business of cutting edge analysis, building political consensus, and providing the necessary technical assistance that will make globalization and trade work for billions of people in the global south," he said. UNCTAD14 President, Amina Mohamed, expressed delight while negotiators laughed when the agreement was finally reached.

"As the President of this conference, I cannot begin to tell you how I feel right now," she told negotiators sitting in the tightly packed room at rows of tables, littered with empty water bottles and cups of takeaway coffee.

"It's a good day for Kenya, a good day for UNCTAD, and a big win for multilateralism," she said.

Prepared under the responsibility of the Kenyan government, the first document agreed by negotiators, the political declaration, known by its Swahili translation, the Azimio, represents a broad expression of the social and economic state of the world.

Negotiators had been negotiating the second document, the Nairobi Consensus document, to be known as the Maafikiano.

The conference was opened on Sunday by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in the presence of Kenya's President Uhuru Kenyatta and the vice-President of Uganda, Edward Kiwanuka Ssekandi, before running for five days in Nairobi from 17 to 22 July. More than 5,000 delegates from 149 countries also attended.

The conference took place as analysts remain gloomy about the outlook for the world economy. In the global north, many people have grown skeptical about the benefits of globalization, while poverty and inequality remain pervasive in the south.

For many at UNCTAD, their work remains more important than ever, supporting populations to seize the opportunities of globalization and protecting the same people from the downsides, by working on the inter-connected issues of trade, investment, technology, and finance.

The conference saw concrete progress including the launch of a new e-trade initiative, the first UN statistical report on the SDG indicators, the launch of a multi-donor trust fund on trade and productive capacity, and the commitment of more than 90 countries for a roadmap on fisheries subsidies.

The conference also saw a fashion show, highlighting the creative and commercial potential of Kenya's fashion industry, the launch of this year's Economic Development in Africa Report, and the highlighting of issues around non-tariff measures, debt, and illicit financial flows.