Delegates Conclude Debate on Globalization, Interdependence, Begin Discussing International Trade, Development
Fifty-Ninth General Assembly
22nd Meeting (AM & PM)
While Grenada had received enormous international humanitarian relief in the wake of Hurricane Ivan, the experience illustrated the need to respond faster to natural disasters and to balance emergency responses with longer-term structural and development programmes, Rosina Wiltshire, Resident System Coordinator and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Resident Representative in the Eastern Caribbean, told the Second Committee (Economic and Financial) this afternoon.
She said that the United Nations system must be flexible and willing to bend standard rules during times of crisis so that aid reached people in need as soon as possible. The international community must also be realistic about the time needed for effective recovery. Addressing the Committee's panel discussion on the 2004 Triennial Comprehensive Policy Review for Operational Activities for Development, held under the theme "United Nations development cooperation: Coordination, participation and effectiveness", she said the immediate response to disasters was usually very good, with relief teams active on the ground for two weeks, but assistance thinned out soon afterwards due to delays and bureaucratic wrangles. Recovery programmes should be a minimum of six months in length.
Grenada's experience underscored the extreme vulnerability of small island developing States, she said. An entire country and its leadership had been left with no response, and decades of development gains had been instantly reversed. The disaster highlighted their need for greater official development assistance (ODA), as well as the advantages of regional integration. The combined response of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) in ensuring regional security, including the management of Grenada's prisons and airports was laudable. Civil society had also played an important role, at one point raising $5 million in a five-hour telephone campaign, and assisting with the water and electricity crises.
Another panellist, Grenadian Foreign Minister Elvin Nimrod, echoed that concern, noting that when officials had tried to access $400,000 in emergency funds pledged for the restoration of the island's devastated agricultural sector following Hurricane Ivan, they had faced procedural hurdles. The hurricane had destroyed 90 per cent of Grenada's main export crop and 90 per cent of its building infrastructure. The disaster had also obliterated the nation's development efforts and its progress in achieving the Millennium Development Goals, he added, stressing that in such emergency cases, procedures that delayed humanitarian funding should be waived.
He said that the United Nations system as a whole had been very responsive to Grenada's needs, particularly the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), and the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF). The recent Flash Appeal Conference for assistance to hurricane-ravaged Haiti and Grenada had raised relief funds and a follow-up meeting was planned for 19 November in Grenada. Ivan's estimated damage to Grenada was double the nation's gross domestic product and expectations of United Nations support were very high, he said.
A third panellist, Judy Williams, Secretary-General of the Grenada Community Development Agency, said that civil society organizations on the island nation had brought substantial relief and information to its neediest communities. At the same time, they had attempted to avoid an overdependence on relief assistance among the target population so as not to thwart long-term sustainable development.
During its morning session, the Committee concluded its general debate on globalization and interdependence before taking up its agenda item on international trade and development. It heard the presentation of reports by Love Mtesa, Vice-President of the Trade and Development Board, and Carlos Fortin, Officer-in-Charge of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD).
Concluding its discussion on globalization and interdependence, the Committee heard many speakers underline the vital role of migrant remittances in development, noting that they generated jobs and provided education, better health and nutrition. With about 180 million people leaving their home countries to face such risks as racism, abuse and inequitable treatment, the international community urgently needed a cooperative framework to manage migration.
Speakers during this morning's discussion on globalization and interdependence included representatives of Armenia, El Salvador, the Philippines, Cape Verde, Ukraine, Sri Lanka, Egypt, Venezuela and Zimbabwe.
Officials of the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the Eurasian Economic Community also made statements.
During this afternoon's panel discussion, the Committee also heard from panellists Veta Brown, Programme Coordinator of the Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO)/World Health Organization (WTO); and Jean Gough, UNICEF Area Representative.
The Second Committee will meet again at 9:30 a.m. on Wednesday, 3 November, to continue its discussion of international trade and development.
The Second Committee (Economic and Financial) met this morning to conclude its discussion on globalization and interdependence. (For background information, see Press Release GA/EF/3086 of 29 October). It was also expected to begin its consideration of trade and development.
Before the Committee was a report of the Secretary-General on international trade and development (document A/59/305), which notes that developing countries are increasingly participating in trade with the North, that South-South trade is rising, and that states trade in services is growing worldwide. Moreover, commodity prices recovered slightly in nominal terms in 2003, while the combined commodity price index in current dollars increased by more than 19 per cent.
The report states that the June session of United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) provided concrete policy analysis and action for upholding and safeguarding an open, equitable, rule-based, predictable and non-discriminatory multilateral trading system. The session underscored the international community's interest in furthering multilateral trade negotiations under the Doha Work Programme and achieving the Millennium Development Goals. In coming months, the World Trade Organization (WTO) will develop concrete methods to conclude negotiations in five core areas: agriculture, market access on non-agricultural products, services, development issues and trade facilitation, the report continues.
The Committee also had before it a report of the Secretary-General on world commodity trends and prospects (document A/59/304), which states that commodity prices increased significantly in 2003 and the first half of 2004, particularly for minerals, due largely to a general economic recovery and escalating demand in Asia. Prices for agricultural products also rose, albeit more slowly.
The report also reviews the status of the WTO negotiations, particularly on agriculture, and their potential impact on developing-country commodity exports. Rapid growth in Asian developing countries, particularly China and India, will continue to spur growth in international commodity markets. A more level playing field for agricultural trade, coupled with dynamic markets, could create a window of opportunity for developing nations to boost commodity-export earnings. However, this can only occur if the Doha Work Programme is implemented. Increased demand and improved market access will not necessarily guarantee major increases in commodity exports or poverty reduction in developing countries, which must do their part to overcome supply-side constraints and market entry barrier.
Also before the Committee was a report of the Committee for Programme and Coordination on its forty-fourth session (document A/59/16), which outlines the proposed strategic framework for the 2006-2007 period. It notes that the Committee took note of the Secretary-General's report on improvements to current planning and budgeting processes, particularly his recommendation that the General Assembly approve a modified biennial programme performance review focusing more on results achieved than outputs produced. Further, the Committee recommended continuing the search for ways to streamline and modernize future performance reports and stressed the need to implement results-based management and budgeting, issue monitoring and evaluation guidelines, and base future reporting more closely on objectives and achievement indicators.
The proposed framework, which would replace the current four-year medium-term plan, would serve as the basis for programme planning, budgeting, monitoring and evaluation for 26 programmes, the report says. It would include a biennial programme plan covering two years. The framework is not fully balanced on issues relating to economic, social and cultural development, and the fight against international terrorism should not detract from the importance of development issues, particularly in light of the widening North-South gap. In addition, the framework's focus on the environment is inadequate and fails to make reference to the Middle East crisis.
Also before the Committee was a report on the proposed strategic framework for the period 2006-2007 (document A/59/6 (Prog. 10)), which outlines part two, or the biennial programme plan, of the framework with emphasis on Programme 10 on trade and development. The document states that the main objective of the programme, implemented by UNCTAD and the UNCTAD/WTO International Trade Centre, is to maximize trade and development opportunities in developing countries and help them integrate into the world economy.
The report outlines sub-programmes on globalization, interdependence and development; development of Africa; investment enterprise and technology; international trade; services infrastructure for development, trade efficiency and human resources development; least developed countries, landlocked developing countries and small island developing States; and operational aspects of trade promotion and export development.
Also before the Committee were reports of the Trade and Development Board on its thirty-third and thirty-fourth sessions (documents A/59/15 (Parts I and II); twenty-first special session (document A/59/15 (Part III); thirty-fifth session (Part IV), and fifty-first executive session (document A/59/15 (Part V); and a note of the Secretary-General on science and technology for development (document A/59/80-E/2004/61, and Corr.1).
NIKOLAY SAHAKOV (Armenia) said that liberalization and integration into the world economy was the cornerstone of his country's foreign trade policy. Market reforms had enabled Armenia to reach a phase of stable development and join the WTO in January 2003. Regional cooperation was necessary for a fully integrated world economy. Armenia was a founding member of and active participant in Black Sea Economic Cooperation (BSEC) and Transport Corridor Europe Caucasus Asia (TRACEA). Cooperation among Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) countries was important for integrating them into the world economy.
Noting that his country valued highly the role of transit transport in fostering trade and economic growth, as well as efforts to reduce high transit costs and promote fast and reliable access to world markets, he said Armenia attached great importance to the Almaty Plan of Action adopted at the 2003 International Ministerial Conference on Transit Transport Cooperation, which reaffirmed landlocked countries' right to access to and from the sea and freedom of transit through neighbouring territories.
VANESSA EUGENIA INTERIANO (El Salvador) said international immigration had become a determining force of life in several developing nations, noting that about a third of El Salvador's population now lived abroad. The contribution of migrants should be considered seriously by the international community as their remittances were key in eradicating poverty and reaching the Millennium Development Goals. It was important that countries of origin protect remittances and reduce the costs of sending them.
While migrants made a positive contribution to their countries of origin, they did not constitute a sustainable form of obtaining foreign currency, she said. The international community should consider the consequences of migration in all its forms. The legalization of migrants should be accomplished with strict respect for their human rights, ensuring that they were not exploited. El Salvador had provided guarantees to its migrants, making migration a main axis of its foreign policy and setting up a department concerned with migrants' rights.
LAURO BAJA (Philippines) said a clear picture of migration would equip the United Nations and other international organizations with the appropriate policy mix in dealing with it more effectively. Like globalization, it must be carefully managed, with special attention to its effect on poverty, conflicts, refugee issues, HIV/AIDS and even security. Remittances, an offshoot of migration, helped keep developing-country economies afloat. They were also instrumental in bringing about development dividends by generating jobs through small-scale enterprises, as well as by providing education, better health and nutrition. Remittances to most developing nations, which were now twice as much as official development assistance (ODA), helped alleviate poverty and improve the overall quality of life in countries of origin.
Migrants had always played an important role in the sustainable development of developed countries, he said. The early tides of migration contributed to the economic development of many of today's advanced nations, and helped shape their political, social, cultural and economic landscapes. In countries of destination, migrants were often seen to contribute their knowledge and know-how to their host countries as educators, artisans, builders and artists. But the movement of about 180 million migrants and refugees from their home countries exposed them to many risks, including racism and xenophobia, abuse and inequitable treatment. Considering their valuable contribution to development, there was an urgent need for an international cooperative framework to manage migration.
MARIA DE FATIMA LIMA DA VEIGA (Cape Verde) said that more than half of her country's population were migrants living abroad and that migration was a major driving force behind its development. It had created a ministry to address migration issues and the rights of Cape Verde nationals living abroad. Next year, for the first time, the Ministry would hold a meeting in the United States, where most Cape Verde migrants lived, to discuss ways to improve their conditions. Migrants had the right to vote in Cape Verde elections, and six Cape Verde parliamentarians lived in Europe, Africa and the Americas. They took part in consultative councils that worked closely with migrants.
Migrant remittances were Cape Verde's second major source of national income, after ODA, accounting for 50 per cent of the gross domestic product (GDP). Cape Verde supported current international efforts to improve remittance data and transmission costs through effective, efficient systems, and lauded the initiative by the African Union and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) in that regard. Migration could be a win-win situation for origin, transit and destination countries. A better international migration framework was needed. Cape Verde supported the 2006 International Conference on Migration and Development.
OLEKSII HOLUBOV (Ukraine) said his country had made considerable progress in moving from a planned to a market economy. Economic and market-based reform had spurred economic growth and officials were strengthening its political, social and legal framework to ensure that financial sector reforms, price liberalization, privatization and development of the private-sector were permanent changes. Still, Ukraine continued to feel the effects of its deep economic recession of the 1990s, particularly concerning social programmes and living standards.
Stressing the importance of international financial resources to support national efforts, he said that United Nations specialized agencies, funds and programmes had done a good job of helping economies in transition to integrate into the world economic system. In particular, the Economic Commission for Europe had provided technical assistance and capacity-building in trade, transport, environment, energy, information and communications technologies (ICT) and norm-setting. Ukraine supported increased involvement by the European Union and its new neighbourhood policy. It also favoured greater access to European Union markets and to new programmes of financial and technical assistance.
VARUNI HEWAVITHARANA (Sri Lanka) said that the impact of the debt crisis, non-fulfilment of ODA targets and the question market access for agricultural products and services of special interest to developing countries should be viewed against the fact that globalization was generating unbalanced outcomes. In international trade, the challenge was to ensure an even distribution of development gains, while minimizing the negative effects that were bound to arise for developing countries. In the context of multilateral trade negotiations, Sri Lanka was particularly concerned about the agriculture sector reforms in the WTO and the phasing out of quotas under the multi-fibre agreement. Also, globalization could lead to rapid industrialization and urbanization, having an impact on environmental sustainability.
She said the pattern of international migration was clearly linked to globalization. Remittances from migrant workers were a significant source of foreign exchange to many developing countries and recipient countries had to see to it that those remittances were not used only for consumption, but were also invested for the future. The welfare of migrants and the protection of their rights were of paramount importance. The International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families had been ratified by only 26 States, mainly labour-exporting countries. The Convention was, among other things, important in the context of the increasing feminization of international migration.
TAREK ADEL (Egypt) said globalization offered the opportunity to forge ahead with achieving internationally agreed development goals. Developing countries remained more vulnerable than more developed nations in their response to the management of globalization and international regulations increasingly contained procedures and norms limiting their policy options. International reforms were needed on a wide front, especially in the world economic order. Reverse social and economic effects experienced by many developing countries underlined the importance of policy space for developing countries, so that they could develop according to their own needs. It was also necessary for developing countries to benefit fully from the technology revolution in their efforts to bridge the digital and developmental divides.
Regarding international migration, he stressed the need to pay specially attention to economic and developmental issues, as well as migrants' rights. Egypt welcomed the high-level dialogue on international migration, to be convened by the General Assembly in 2006, which would attempt to find the optimum means of dealing with the phenomenon. In the meantime, it was possible to begin drawing up an international framework to incorporate ideas emerging from international discussions on migration.
CARLOS ARMANDO LAZO-GARCIA (Venezuela) expressed concern over the developed countries' and multinational firms' monopoly of the globalization process, saying that rather than bringing benefits to all, globalization had widened the disparity between developed and developing countries. Foreign trade policies were selective and unfair. The recent report of the World Commission on the Social Dimensions of Globalization attempted to suggest that there were good and bad forms of globalization and to persuade developing countries of its goodness rather than of the need to dismantle colonial structures.
The current trend of globalization must be reversed, he said, adding that developing countries must be freed of the burden of external debt and given adequate resources for development, as well as access to developed countries' markets. Only after that could the international community talk about global interdependence. Venezuela was setting up a modern economy through agricultural diversification, as well as expanding and strengthening its military service, oil industry and science and technology for development and education. It was also focusing on regional integration.
BONIFACE CHIDYAUSIKU (Zimbabwe) said that understanding the important relationship between migration and environment, poverty and development would help maximize migration's benefits for both origin and receiving countries, and have a direct effect on achieving the Millennium Development Goals. It was important to note that the flows of financial, technological, social and human capital back to origin countries contributed to development in migrants' home countries. With total remittances in some regions higher than ODA and sometimes even comparable to foreign direct investment (FDI), remittances could constitute a vital source of foreign exchange.
He said the migration of skilled personnel was growing in importance because both developed and newly-industrializing economies were attempting to attract workers with needed skills. Policy measures were required to ensure that origin countries did not suffer unduly from the loss of skilled personnel, and that benefits to receiving countries and skilled migrants themselves were maximized through the recognition of their qualifications and their employment in appropriate positions. The best framework to ensure protection for migrant workers was a partnership between origin and receiving countries. Standards already existed in international human rights instruments, as well as in International Labour Organization (ILO) conventions, on the rights and treatment of migrant workers.
LUCA DALL'OGLIO, Permanent Observer for the International Organization for Migration (IOM), said that the collective capacity to govern migration could be addressed in a more holistic, coherent and productive manner and that international organizations could add value to and facilitate the shaping of a more comprehensive policy framework. The high-level dialogue to be held in 2006 could build upon a number of governmental and intergovernmental initiatives supported and promoted by the United Nations, the IOM and other institutions. It could provide an ideal opportunity for the international community to identify issues of common interest, as well as impetus for more effective coordination at the national level.
He said the IOM's overall goal with regard to migration and development was to contribute to the harnessing of the development potential of international migration for individual migrants and societies, including the promotion of the role of the diaspora in home-country development. The IOM had been encouraging and supporting the development of networks and programmes among expatriate communities for development purposes. Greater international cooperation was needed to build more effective regimes to protect the human rights of migrants, with special attention to those affected by trafficking and smuggling. Action on the latter two phenomena was urgently needed as they had not shown signs of abating.
Migration was also linked to policy in the economic, labour, trade, health, cultural and security domains and effective migration management could not be planned without reference to important adjoining policy fields, he said. There was therefore a need to avoid duplication between agencies. In that context, the IOM had initiated the Geneva Migration Group, bringing together the heads of six agencies dealing with migration.
GRIGORY RAPOTA, Secretary-General of the Eurasian Economic Community (EURASEC) said that the body had made the creation of a unified energy and transport space a top priority. It was setting up joint financing mechanisms to create hydropower plants in Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan and had created an electric power flow network capable of transferring 900 million kilowatts of power per hour from Tajikistan and Uzbekistan to Kazakhstan and Russia. The EURASEC was hammering out a regional fuel and energy agreement, harmonizing tariff structures and simplifying customs procedures for energy exports among EURASEC member States and to third countries. The 1998 transportation union regulated interstate transit and further efforts were underway to remove barriers to motor transit transport.
The EURASEC was eager to cooperate actively with the United Nations on seeking joint solutions to regional problems, particularly those concerning energy, transportation, agriculture, ecology and social welfare, he said. The body welcomed the participation of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in projects in those areas, such as sustainable management of natural resources, including areas exposed to radioactive contamination during the Chernobyl power plant accident and regions with uranium processing waste deposits. The EURASEC was poised to present appropriate proposals to interested United Nations agencies. It was not only interested in humanitarian assistance, but also in long-term assistance for sustainable development, particularly in agriculture.
The Committee then took up its agenda item on trade and development.
Introduction of Reports
LOVE MTESA, Vice-President of the Trade and Development Board, introduced that body's reports (documents A/59/15 (Parts I-V)), noting that the Board's fifty-first session in October 2004 had included a high-level segment on new developments in international economic relations. The segment identified three determinants of the new trade geography -- - the increasing role of developing countries in driving trade and growth; South-South trade and economic cooperation; and the changing context of North-South interdependence. Several key policy elements on South-South trade were also highlighted, including the need for measures to reduce border protection, and providing trade preferences specifically for least developed countries (LDCs).
Under its various agenda items, he said the Board had examined current trends in the world economy and analysed how exchange-rate policies and capital flows could affect companies' international competitiveness and investment in developing countries. It noted that economic recovery had benefited developing countries, but that per capita income growth was still weak in many low-income countries, fuelling doubt about their ability to attain development goals. The Board also reviewed progress in implementing the Programme of Action for LDCs for 2001-2010, reporting modest improvement in LDC economic performance during 2000-2002, with an average gross domestic product growth of 4.9 per cent. However, only seven LDCs achieved the 7 per cent growth rate needed to effectively reduce poverty, and trade expansion had helped reduce poverty in only a few LDCs. If current trends continued, the number of people living on less than a dollar a day would increase from 334 million in 2000 to 471 million in 2015.
In addition, he continued, the Board had discussed debt sustainability, stressing that it should incorporate a wide range of variables, including country-specific factors and vulnerabilities, which must be addressed by the international community. The report highlighted the principle of shared responsibility between debtors and creditors, as well as the need to ensure additionality and to retain ODA flows in the face of debt relief. As for the recent Doha round, the Board emphasized that addressing developing countries' concerns would require concerted efforts by all parties to incorporate special and differential treatment across the board. Regarding agriculture, it noted that genuine agricultural reform and liberalization would provide a level playing field, bringing gains for agricultural exporting developing countries.
CARLOS FORTIN, Officer-in-Charge of UNCTAD, introduced the reports of the Secretary-General on international trade and development (document A/59/305) and on world commodity trends and prospects (document A/59/304). The UNCTAD XI and the framework agreements adopted on 1 August 2004 by the General Council of the WTO, known as the July package, had substantively helped to build consensus on major themes of the Doha round and to put the Doha negotiations back on track.
That positive momentum must be safeguarded and consolidated in the coming months, he said. The agreed frameworks should be made into concrete and specific methods in favour of development and reflecting developing countries' interests and concerns in such areas as agriculture and commodities. Manufacturers accounted for 75 per cent of developing countries' exports, and further negotiations concerning non-agricultural market access were important. Trade liberalization in services and modes of supply would also be crucial. Initial offers tended to focus on ways to regulate commercial presence with little mention of improving market access.
Regarding commodities, he stressed the need to improve policy design and implementation; capacity- and institution-building; the management and use of commodity revenues; the management of price risk and supply capacities; and activities aimed at South-South cooperation in the field of commodities, best-practice sharing and addressing oversupply situations. International work on commodities must emphasize the link between commodity production, commodity exports and poverty reduction.
Questions and Answers
Responding to a question on how the UNCTAD would deal with increased commodity supplies, Mr. FORTIN said it would pursue transparency in commodity markets, ensure that rational decisions were made, and encourage diversification. Increased demand applied not only to raw materials, but also to the entire range of commodities. Some developing-country economies, such as China's, were growing faster than others and would need more industrial raw materials, whereas less developed nations would focus more on food commodities. But the commodity window of opportunity would remain open for a while and, hopefully, the international community would assist with cooperative work and discussion.
Other speakers said that inadequate trade and information infrastructures in Southern countries hindered South -- South trade and noted that LDCs were mainly agricultural. What should be done to avoid economic collapse in those countries? Other delegates queried how policy space in developing countries could be increased in the future and emphasized that the increased focus on South-South trade should not divert attention from the need for developing country access in Northern markets.
Mr. MTESA replied that South-South trade had great potential, but was fraught with various obstacles, such as financing. Diversification was possible in South-South trade, but better mutual understanding was needed before trade could take off. There was an urgent need for two approaches in dealing with commodity problems. One was to smooth out markets and ensure that producing countries received revenue, while the second was to institute some kind of intermediary policy of assistance.
Mr. FORTIN added that Southern trade not only concerned the South-South level, but also the extent to which it was becoming an economic actor in the world. Southern trade was now becoming more important for developed countries, especially for the United States and the European Union. The UNCTAD was aware that access and entry into developed-country markets was needed for progress in developing countries as well as that of the global economic system. However, some sort of equilibrium must be found between South-South and South-North trade.
When the meeting resumed this afternoon, the Committee held a panel discussion on the 2004 Triennial Comprehensive Policy Review for Operational Activities for Development, on the theme "United Nations development cooperation: Coordination, participation and effectiveness".
Statements by Panellists
ROSINA WILTSHIRE, Resident System Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative in the Eastern Caribbean, said that six agencies had been sharing common premises since the opening of the United Nations House in Barbados in 1972, which had made coordination much easier. The local heads of agencies held a retreat in a different country each year to review activities and set programmes for the next year. The country team developed multi-country and multi-agency processes around a common subregional assessment and the United Nations Development Assistance Framework (UNDAF), and prepared a joint Millennium Development Goals report. It also coordinated with focal points in national sectoral ministries. The team had worked on a joint programming basis in such areas as HIV/AIDS; poverty reduction and the Millennium Development Goals; and ICTs for development. It had also worked over the past year to strengthen capacities in security, HIV/AIDS, leadership enhancement, and gender mainstreaming.
In the case of Grenada's recent natural disaster, she continued, the Eastern Caribbean donor group, comprising of United Nations bodies, multilateral and bilateral organizations, and disaster-related agencies, had been activated and a rapid assessment team sent to Grenada. That team had supported the assessment of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) on what was needed for reconstruction and recovery. The United Nations flash appeal had been launched in Barbados and New York, and the World Bank notified of the assessment. The UNDP had contracted engineers to add a supplementary housing assessment, and the FAO had sent an expert on agriculture to supplement the agricultural dimension.
She said the hurricane had affected the country's leadership, as well as its population, leaving all emergency units damaged, and making the team's role in ground coordination vital. The team had assisted with daily health monitoring and surveillance, and had put in place the UNDP outpost staff, who had taken over regular meetings of disaster-relief partners after the UNDP's departure, in conjunction with national emergency unit briefings, which had helped enhance transparency in relief efforts. It had also supported efforts to rebuild communications that had all been knocked out. The emergency phase of operations in Grenada had been completed with the help of broad donor support, and recovery and reconstruction were now under way.
Grenada's experience underscored the extreme vulnerability of small island developing States, she said. An entire country and its leadership had been left with no response, and decades of development gains had been instantly reversed. The disaster had also highlighted the need to revisit the necessity for ODA, as well as the advantages of regional integration. The CARICOM's partners should be particularly congratulated on their combined response to regional security, including the management of Grenada's prisons and airports. Civil society had also played an important role, at one point raising $5 million in a five-hour telephone campaign, and assisting with the water and electricity crises.
ELVIN NIMROD, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Grenada, said that in addition to the usual challenges facing small island developing States, Grenada was excessively dependent on international trade and susceptible to external developments and shocks. The Government had put in place mechanisms to achieve the Millennium Development Goals, some by 2005. It now had the monumental task of rebuilding the country. Hurricane Ivan had destroyed 90 per cent of Grenada's building infrastructure, 91 per cent of its tourism areas and 90 per cent of its main export crop. Officials were in the process of revisiting all development projects.
Based on Caribbean Development Bank data, which revealed that 30 per cent of the population was living in poverty, he said. Grenada had launched a series of poverty eradication programmes, including the Rural Enterprise Project and Agro-processing Fund. The Ministry of Education had implemented the Special Programme for Education Enhancement and Development. However, those projects were no longer feasible since Hurricane Ivan had completely destroyed the country's economic base.
Grenada and other small island developing States required financial and technical support from the development community, he said. United Nations agencies had been very responsive to Grenada's needs thus far, particularly the UNDP, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) and the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF). The recent Flash Appeal Conference for assistance to hurricane-ravaged Haiti and Grenada had raised relief funds and a follow-up meeting was planned for 19 November in Grenada. Hurricane Ivan's estimated damage to Grenada was double the nation's gross domestic product, and expectations of United Nations support were very high. Hopefully, appeals for greater and continued assistance had not fallen on deaf ears.
JUDY WILLIAMS, Secretary-General of the Grenada Community Development Agency, said it focused on four main programmes: community mobilization, organization and services; education and training; small enterprise development; and institutions building and capacity development. It was actively engaged with 30 rural communities, helping them develop activities to improve their lives. The agency also had a legal aid and counselling clinic, which assisted people with social difficulties of a legal nature. Its programme on education helped low-income students, who lacked access to secondary education due to insufficient financial means. The local private sector had been supporting the educational programme over the years.
She said the agency also supported small businesses and cooperatives in the agricultural sector, so that people could gain a livelihood from such activities. The UNICEF had helped women in various programmes, including better parenting and youth development. Civil society organizations in Grenada were well-known for their contributions to human and social development, which had come to the fore with Hurricane Ivan. Non-governmental organizations had brought substantial relief and information to the neediest communities and, at the same time, had attempted to avoid an overdependence on relief assistance among their target population. The aim was to strike a delicate balance between relief and efforts to shift the focus to long-term sustainable development.
Questions and Answers
Responding to a question about ensuring that structural and rebuilding assistance programmes were not pushed aside or put on the back burner in favour of humanitarian assistance, as when Hurricane Ivan had struck, VETA BROWNE, Programme Coordinator, Pan-American Health Organization/WHO, said the challenge was to balance humanitarian assistance and development, as well as interaction in that regard among all agencies. In the health sector, for example, the productive capacity of individuals did not rely solely on access to medicine, but also on the well-being of other sectors. It would be difficult to sustain good public health in a poor socio-economic environment.
JEAN GOUGH, UNICEF Area Representative, added that education was never considered as part of an emergency humanitarian response when it should be. Water, food and shelter were core to an emergency response, but it was also necessary to ensure that children and young people returned to school as soon as possible.
Concerning the need for the United Nations to ensure faster responses on the ground, as the tragedy in Grenada had illustrated, Mr. NIMROD said Grenada had received enormous support to date, coordinated mainly by the United Nations. The problem was that not many individual donors had made good on their pledges of humanitarian assistance. The Appeal was directed more to those donors individually than to the United Nations as a whole. For example, a certain agency had pledged $400,000 to revitalize Grenada's battered agricultural sector, but when officials had tried to access funds, they had been told that the process would take a few months due to such bureaucratic procedures as hiring a consultant to assess needs. In emergency situations, such procedures should be waived.
Ms. WILTSHIRE agreed, stressing the need for greater flexibility, and an assessment of which standard rules for development assistance could be bent and modified in emergency cases in order to free up much-needed assistance in a timely fashion. It was also necessary to assess the issue of reimbursing or reprogramming existing agency funds in order to respond to crises.
Another lesson learned from the Grenada disaster was that no crisis ended in two weeks, she said. However, that was the current trajectory for crisis response, with teams staying on the ground for just two weeks. Funding mechanisms were also quite limited. It was important to be realistic about the length of effective recovery. Recovery systems should operate for at least six months. At present, the response in the first two weeks after a disaster occurred was usually very good. But afterwards it was business as usual. A review of the implications of the humanitarian and development nexus was necessary.