Ms. OCHIR ENKHTSETSEG, DIRECTOR-GENERAL
DEPARTMENT OF MULTILATERAL COOPERATION
MINISTRY OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS OF MONGOLIA
AT THE GENERAL DEBATE OF THE SECOND COMMITTEE
May I, at the outset, extend our warm felicitations to you, Mr. Chairman, on your well-deserved election and pledge my delegation’s full support in discharge of your important duties. I am confident that under your wise stewardship this committee will be able to come up with deliverable commitments made by our leaders last month. Our congratulations also go to the other members of the Bureau.
My delegation wishes to associate itself with the statement made yesterday by the distinguished Permanent Representative of Jamaica, speaking on behalf of the Group of 77 and China.
Five years into the new millennium the world finds itself at a crossroads. The progress on the implementation of MDGs has been registered as mixed and uneven. Today, the world has the financial, technological and human resources to make a decisive breakthrough in human development. Yet we live in a glaringly divided world impregnated with widening disparity and inequality. Business as usual attitude has to be abandoned when 2,5 billion people who live on a less than $2 a day and who constitute 40 percent of the world’s population – account for only 5 percent of global income. Thus, poverty remains largely undefeated. It has been the buzzword of some economists that economic growth per se would reduce poverty. However, it has become increasingly evident that effective mechanisms, including adequate public health and public education systems, social protection and safety nets ought to be in place so that benefits of economic growth could reach the most vulnerable and needy. To achieve that, are required.
International aid is, indeed, an effective weapon in the war against poverty. We feel encouraged that this war will be waged more aggressively with the commitment of the world leaders to increase ODA to all developing countries by around $50 billion a year by 2010. In order to make most effective use of aid it is imperative, first, to increase its quantity to a sufficient level to make multiple investments in health, education and economic infrastructure needed to break cycles of deprivation and ensure a sustained growth. Second, quality of aid has to be improved. In other words, the declared principles of the Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness of last March, particularly provision of stable and predictable multi-year financing, mutual accountability, increased ownership and untying aid, need to be materialized.
Albeit the importance of aid, trade and investment play a pivotal role for ensuring sustainable development. As the Human Development Report of 2005 identifies the trade barriers faced by developing countries exporting to rich countries are 3 to 4 times higher than those faced by rich countries when they trade with each other. And if a developing country is a small nation with additional handicaps, such as land-locked location, the situation turns even worse. Therefore, we expect the Doha Round to establish more favorable and fair terms of trade for developing countries, especially those with special needs, in the form of enhanced and predictable market access and assistance in building productive and trade capacities.
Mongolia appreciates the decision taken by members of the European Union to provide duty-free access to over 7200 goods from small and vulnerable economies under special GSP+ treatment, including Mongolia. More and better access means that more families will be able to leave destitution and poverty behind. We believe that our major trading partners will further provide enhanced market access to us so that to practically contribute to our efforts to fight poverty.
The Summit Outcome emphasized the high importance of a timely, effective, comprehensive and durable solution to the debt problems of developing countries. Indeed, heavy debt burden is a major impediment to sustainable growth. There is an urgent need to consider significant debt relief or restructuring for non-HIPC low–and-middle-income developing countries as recognized by the recent Summit
Mongolia is fully committed to achieving MDGs by 2015. This commitment was reaffirmed by the Parliament of Mongolia through its adoption last April of a specific resolution endorsing Mongolia’s national MDGs while entrusting the relevant state entities with its implementation and monitoring. We produced our first national MDGs implementation report in 2004 through an all-inclusive and participatory exercise.
Most of the Goals especially those related to education, health and gender are well on track and can be achieved by the target date. However, poverty still remains high and persistent and needs to be addressed more aggressively. We are encouraged that Mongolia was identified among the fast track countries by the Millennium Project, which promises sufficient support and assistance to effectively reduce poverty.
In 1990s, when we started the transition to a market economy, we faced enormous difficulties: inflation rate was over 300 percent, most industries had closed down leading to increased unemployment and poverty. Consistent policies of successive Governments, entrepreneurship by the people and support by our development partners allowed Mongolia over the time achieve a reasonable level of macroeconomic stability.
The private sector has significantly grown generating today around 80 percent of our GDP. Last year the economic growth was registered at 10.6 percent. Yet, for a small economy highly vulnerable to commodity market fluctuations, the current skyrocketing of oil prices is already having severe impact engulfing whatever gains we have been able to attain earlier. In this respect, we believe that the call made in the Summit Outcome on the need to address the impact of weak and volatile commodity prices and support the efforts of commodity-dependent countries to restructure, diversify and strengthen the competitiveness of their commodity sectors should receive a swift response from the international community. Here, I wish to draw the attention of this Committee to the important recommendations derived from Multi-Stakeholder Consultations organized by New Rules for Global Finance Coalition in preparation for the 2005 Summit. Recommendations include commodity price agreements or stabilization tools, and establishing a fast-responding, overarching, grant-financed shocks facility for low-income commodity dependent countries to be administered by a Bretton Woods Institution. In our considered view, immediate operationalization of such a facility would constitute a tangible contribution to our efforts in reducing poverty.
Under MDGs 8 on “global partnership for development”, we in Mongolia have introduced specific targets to address the special needs of our landlocked location. A study by UNCTAD revealed that landlocked developing countries (LLDCs) spend on transportation costs double an average developing country; and triple an average developed country. Thus, increased import costs and reduced export earning hamper the competitiveness of LLDCs further marginalizing them. Since 1998, Mongolia is negotiating with its two neighbors, Russia and China, a Framework Agreement to reduce transit transportation costs and related cumbersome procedures both in crossing the land border and in transshipment at ports. Six rounds of talks were mostly inconclusive but we do hope that with the renewed commitment of our leaders to the Almaty Plan of Action in the Summit Outcome, the agreement is well within our collective reach.
In conclusion, may I briefly touch upon an issue which could relate to the reform of the UN in economic and social areas, particularly the ECOSOC. We all agree that such a reform should result in improving effectiveness of UN developmental assistance to its member States. For small developing countries like Mongolia the most serious security threat is poverty and development handicaps. The overall UN assistance, be it in the form of expertise or funds, need to be focused, result-oriented and tailored to priority development needs of countries concerned. It has to be designed to bring tangible and speedy impact on the lives of ordinary people to help them escape the traps of poverty and live in dignity free from want.
In the framework of ECOSOC reform there is a need to redress an existing discrepancy related to coherence of UN development assistance. Developing countries receiving assistance from the UN engage themselves every 5 years in a joint exercise at the country level with relevant UN organizations in identifying the priority areas of assistance for the next cycle. As a result of this exercise UN Development Assistance Framework (UNDAF) and Common Country Assessment (CCA) documents are produced. This is an important initiative aimed at harmonizing and coordinating the overall assistance by all the organizations of the United Nations (including funds, programs, specialized agencies) to a given country. However, this important work at the country level, the comprehensiveness of the developmental assistance to be delivered by various UN entities in accordance with their comparative advantages, is left without due follow-up at headquarters level.
In other words, separate and individual country assistance programs go for approval to different Governing boards, say UNDP, UNICEF or WHO separately. And no institution at the headquarters level looks after if a larger picture of a comprehensive framework of assistance is being kept. I believe that is a true anomaly in coordinating the development package provided by UN system organizations to developing countries. Here, a reformed ECOSOC could play an important role in assuring that a holistic approach of UNDAF and CCA is secured and enforced in the final approval of a country assistance program.