[Dateline: New York | Author: DESA]
Following intense negotiations, Member States adopted by consensus the outcome Doha Declaration on Financing for Development at the closing of the Follow-up International Conference to Review the Implementation of the Monterrey Consensus.
Officials from more than 160 countries, including nearly 40 Heads of State or Government, attended the four-day conference (29 November – 2 December) in Doha, Qatar.
Secretary-General BAN Ki-moon, recalling that the Monterrey Consensus marked "a new era of cooperation, bridging the old North-South divide", stated at the Conference that "the Monterrey vision could yet deliver all that, and more. Faithfully implemented, it is a path out of our current predicament." (full statement).
Welcoming "the remarkable" Doha Declaration, General Assembly President Miguel d'Escoto Brockmann said it "highlighted a new sense of solidarity and goodwill among nations at a time when we can be tempted to withdraw into our narrowly defined self-interests".
He added, "our declaration is clear that we must seize this opportunity to make our global financial system more equitable, sustainable and stable". The Declaration called for the convening, at the highest level, of a conference on the world financial and economic crisis and its impact on development (full statement).
On behalf of the Secretary-General, who could not attend the closing, Mr. SHA Zukang, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, who steered UN substantive support to the Conference, called the Declaration "an important milestone in the struggle for development" that adds significant value to what was achieved in Monterrey in 2002. "On every aspect of the financing for development agenda, we can identify areas in which there has been progress" (full statement).
Affirming in its entirety the Monterrey Consensus on aid, investment, debt relief and other catalysts to poverty relief in poor countries, the Declaration recognizes that the economic slowdown and all other obstacles must not slow down efforts to achieve "people-centred development" in developing countries, particularly those in Africa.
The outcome made a strong statement on gender equality, noted Ms. Wieczorek-Zeul, Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for the Conference, who emphasized that the world is lagging behind in reducing maternal and child mortality, as well as the empowerment of women.
On official development assistance (ODA), countries made a strong call to meet existing commitments despite the global financial crisis, and stressed the need for an increase in the quality of aid.
Countries renewed their call to improve their national enabling environment and governance so as to foster domestic savings and investment and prevent capital flight. They further agreed to strengthen the fight against corruption at all levels and international cooperation in tax matters, and called for the Doha round of multilateral trade negotiations to be brought to a successful conclusion as soon as possible, emphasizing development concerns.
Injecting renewed energy into a global partnership for development, the host of the Conference, the Emir of Qatar His Highness, Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al-Thani, together with the President of the General Assembly, delivered a joint statement in which they called on countries to respond to the complexity of the global crisis by reaffirming the commitment to the global partnership as the underlying principle of the financing for development process, and the basic means for achieving the international development goals as outline in the 2005 World Summit outcome.
The Conference called for the engagement of all stakeholders in follow-up and implementation of commitments, as well as the need to make the follow-up process more effective and inclusive. While the Conference was conceived as a follow-up event, it in fact launched a new beginning for the financing for development agenda, by considering the need to hold a follow-up conference by 2013.
Generously hosted by the Emir and the Government of Qatar, the Conference was ably facilitated by the Secretariat of the Conference, under the direction of Oscar de Rojas, and supported by a strong UN team, including the Department for General Assembly and Conference Management, the Department of Public Information and the Department of Safety and Security.
Throughout the Conference, roundtables on the six chapters of the Monterrey Consensus attracted large attendance. In addition to the main Conference, the Second International Business Forum on Financing for Development was held on 28 November.
And, more than 250 NGO delegations attended the Global Civil Society Forum held just prior to the Conference, on 26-27 November. They adopted a Declaration which affirmed that systemic and global governance issues must be decided at the United Nations.
More than 60 side events took place throughout the Conference, ranging from the economics of gender, reinvigorating multilateralism to innovating financing for health services. The Department of Economic and Social Affairs launched the "Global Outlook" chapter of World Economic Situation and Prospects 2009, asserting that coordinated, massive and swift economic stimulus is required to counteract a synchronized global downturn.
The complete UN report, including regional overviews and detailed trends in global trade and finance, is due out in early January 2009.
The World Bank also launched a Debt Management Facility to assist low-income countries through technical assistance and other tools to manage debt and achieve sustainable growth.