STATEMENT BY H.E. MR. TSEND MUNH-ORGIL, MP
MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS OF MONGOLIA
AT THE GENERAL DEBATE OF THE 60TH SESSION OF THE UNITED NATIONS GENERAL ASSEMBLY
"FOR A STRONGER AND MORE EFFECTIVE UN: THE FOLLOW-UP TO AND IMPLEMENTATION OF THE HIGH-LEVEL PLENARY MEETING"
New York, 21 September 2005
Let me begin by congratulating the President of the 59 th session of the UN General Assembly, H.E. Mr. Jean Ping for his tireless efforts in the lead-up to the Summit Meeting and his contribution to the elaboration and adoption of the Outcome Document. Mongolia considers the Outcome Document, with all its omissions, as another important milestone in forging global consensus on development, and pledges to contribute its modest share to the successful implementation of the commitments contained therein. In this connection, I would also like to commend our Secretary-General Kofi Annan for his leadership and vision, and wish him well in his bold reform efforts.
I also warmly congratulate you, Mr. President, on your well-deserved election and express our confidence that your skill, experience and intimate knowledge of the matters on hand will enable us to successfully follow through on the commitments made by our leaders last week in this august Assembly.
Mongolia is poised, Mr. President, to achieve the most of its MDGs on education, gender, child and maternal health, and combating various diseases by 2015. Capitalizing on its pre-1990s system of public health and education, and traditional culture of gender equality, Mongolia is well on track to achieve by 2015 universal primary education and literacy, eliminate gender disparity in all levels of education, and reduce child mortality rate by 2/3 and maternal mortality rate by 3/4.
However, the most important goal of halving the poverty by 2015 looks highly elusive if not unachievable at the moment. Aware of its own responsibility for development, Mongolia, by and large, effectively managed public finances and maintained macroeconomic stability, and it did its utmost to adopt and implement sound national policies and development strategies, and to introduce good governance and the rule of law.
Yet like many other small, vulnerable and commodity dependant economies, Mongolias economic and social development is severely handicapped by many factors well beyond its control. Skyrocketing oil prices, for once, are taking serious toll in damaging economic growth engulfing whatever gains we have made earlier, and exposing already vulnerable societies to increased hardships and uncertainty. Many frustrated oil-importing developing countries articulated a number of interesting ideas during this general debate and we urge the international financial institutions and the oil producers to heed to our appeals.
Last week the world leaders have once again reaffirmed their commitment to address the special needs of the land-locked countries and their special difficulties in integrating into multilateral trading systems. Full, timely and effective implementation of the Almaty Programme of Action and the Sao Paulo Consensus adopted at the eleventh session of the UNCTAD will provide a significant boost to the development and poverty reduction efforts of the land-locked countries, including Mongolia. Mongolia spends 7-8% of its GDP on transit transpo rtation and insurance costs through its neighbors, Russia and China, double of the transportation costs of other developing countries and triple of the developed countries.
Since 1998, Mongolia is negotiating with its two neighbors, Russia and China, to agree on a Framework Agreement on Transit Transport 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 hope that with the renewed commitment of our leaders to the Almaty Declaration, the agreement is well within our collective reach.
Mongolia is a small economy highly vulnerable to commodity market fluctuations, and weather and climatic conditions. The call made in the Summit Outcome on the need to 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. In this regard, I wish to draw the attention of this august body to the important recommendations derived from Multi-Stakeholder Consultations organized by New Rules for Global Finance Coalition in preparation for the 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. Immediate operationalization of such a facility would constitute a tangible contribution to our efforts in reducing poverty.
Mongolia is highly susceptible to natural disasters, which cause loss of human life and extensive damage to its economy. In addition, desertification, deforestation, soil erosion and land degradation hamper our development effort. We urge the international community to redouble its efforts to effectively address these transboundary threats. On its part, the Government of Mongolia will continue to take specific measures in combating desertification, proper use of land resources and protection of forests by introducing and implementing special protection strategies.
Despite an encouraging shift in the increase of ODA over the recent couple of years after a decade of steady decline, the world is still well short of achieving the long-standing target of 0.7 percent. We feel encouraged that the war against poverty will be waged more aggressively with the commitment of the world leaders to increase ODA to all developing countries by $50 billion a year by 2010. However, it is imperative, in our view, first, to increase the aid 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 as per the principles of the Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness of March 2005, with a particular emphasis on providing stable and predictable multi-year financing with a focus on development results, mutual accountability, building institutional capacities, untying aid, reducing transaction costs and bureaucratic procedures and increased recipients ownership of aid.
Mongolia fully endorses the recommendation of the Secretary-General that starting in 2005 developing countries that put forward sound, transparent and accountable national strategies should receive a sufficient increase in aid, of sufficient quality and arriving with sufficient speed to enable them achieve their MDGs. In addition, new and innovative sources of financing, including an International Finance Facility, quick-impact initiatives, debt-conversion for MDGsimplementation-projects should be urgently put into effect. Mongolia, for one, is resolved to introduce a free-school-lunches starting with primary school childrenas a quick-impact initiative in cooperation with UNICEF.
Albeit the importance of aid for developing countries, trade and investmentplay a pivotal role for ensuring sustainable development. However, according to2005 Human Development Report trade barriers faced by developing countriesexporting to developed countries are 3 to 4 times higher than those faced bydeveloped countries when they trade with each other. The current multilateraltrade negotiations have not produced a tangible outcome that would meet ourexpectations from the Doha Development Agenda. The Doha Round, to besuccessful, should result in establishing more favorable and fair terms of trade fordeveloping countries, especially those with special needs, in the form of enhancedand predictable market access and assistance in building productive and tradecapacities.
Mongolia appreciates the decision of the European Union to provide duty-free access to over 7200 goods from small and vulnerable economies underspecial GSP+ treatment, including Mongolia. More and better access means thatmore families will be able to leave destitution and poverty behind.
The Summit Outcome emphasized once again the importance of a timely,effective, comprehensive and durable solution to the debt problems of developingcountries. In assessing the eligibility of countries for debt relief, we urge the donorcommunity not to limit themselves to mere statistics or rigid categorization likeLDCs. Debt relief should be considered in a comprehensive manner taking intoaccount the history and impact of the debt on development of the recipient countryand its actual capacity to repay.
Many of these factors were taken into account when Mongolia negotiatedits debt repayment to Russia. Taking this opportunity, I would like to express fromthis high podium the sincere gratitude of my Government to the Government of theRussian Federation for display of solidarity and political and economic pragmatismin resolving this issue.
We believe that education is an engine for development, a guarantee for the respect of human rights and a pillar of democracy. Mongolia has made substantial efforts in the second half of the last century to develop its education system. As a result, adult literacy rate reached 97.8 percent. Nonetheless, taking stock of our recent past we have drawn lessons to further improve the deliverables of the education system. Stronger emphasis is now placed on vocational and technical training, quality of education, addressing functional illiteracy against the backdrop of the rapid advance of ICT and universal usage of English. These policy measures are taken in implementation of the Dakar Framework and Plan of Action of the UN Literacy Decade.
Mongolia welcomes the strong focus on human rights, rule of law and democracy in the Summit Outcome. Democracy and rule of law are not a state of affairs that can be arranged or introduced overnight. We believe that fostering democracy and rule of law is a continuous process and we hope that this long-term, sustained approach should prevail in the activities of UN institutions.
We support the efforts of the UN to make democracy a universal environment for global governance. We believe that the United Nations Democracy Fund is a worthy product of the overall reform process, as it would highlight the importance of democracy and the role of the Organization in its promotion.
Mongolia believes that the Fund should serve as a vital instrument to assist Member States in consolidation of democracy and implementation of their commitments, including the Ulaanbaatar Declaration and Plan of Action adopted at 5th the ICNRD in 2003 and approved by the General Assembly in its resolution 58/13.
We all agree that the United Nations must be strengthened to meet the challenges of the new Millennium. This will be an all-encompassing task that would involve a system-wide reform of the Organization to bring it in line with the realities of this era, including, where necessary, changes in composition, mandates, procedures and working methods of its principal and subsidiary organs, different programs and funds, as well as establishment of new or reinvention of the existing bodies. The overall UN assistance 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.
It is reported that priority areas of assistance jointly agreed at the country level are often left without due follow-up at headquarters level. We believe that a reformed ECOSOC should play a major role in this respect, assuring that a holistic approach is enforced in the final approval of a country assistance program.
Accountability and oversight, management performance and transparency of the UN Secretariat must be brought to a new level of efficiency, professionalism and ethical conduct on par with best corporate governance practices.
Mongolia supports the idea of empowering the Secretary-General with greater authority and flexibility in administering the work of the Organization in line with the Charter provisions as its chief administrative officer. All too often, sound management reforms proposed by the Secretary-General have been stalled by us, the Member States.
In conclusion, Mr. President, let me voice Mongolias confidence that we collectively will succeed in reforming our world Organization, and the renewed and reinvigorated United Nations will be better equipped to effectively address the manifold challenges that lay ahead. Let us grasp this opportunity together.