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General Assembly Debate Considers Global Development at Crossroads, as Least Developed Countries Buckle under Strain of Meeting Most Basic Needs

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Sixty-sixth General Assembly
25th, 26th & 27th Meetings (AM, PM & Night)

Reeling from Economic Downturn, Poorest Nations Pin Hopes on Global Strategies,
Cooperation; Ways Outlined to Ease Horn of Africa Crisis, Enhance Food Security

With some 64 million people living in absolute poverty and the gap between rich and poor nations as wide as ever, global development was at a critical juncture, making it imperative to assist least developed countries meet their most basic needs, whether by opening markets, closing protracted trade agreements or scaling up badly needed humanitarian assistance, senior Government officials said today as the General Assembly continued its general debate.

In a host of areas, there was a need for more international cooperation, said several of the day’s close to 40 speakers. The economic forces that had hampered global growth had created serious ripple effects for African countries, which were buckling under heavy external debt, deteriorating terms of trade and declining investment and capital flows. Some voiced hope that the Istanbul Action Programme — a 10-year strategy agreed in May to spur economic growth in the poorest nations — would bring about real change. Others urged that the long-stalled Doha Round of World Trade Organization negotiations be swiftly concluded.

Nowhere was the need more pressing than in the Horn of Africa, where the most severe drought in 60 years had left 13 million people desperate for food. Several speakers outlined the ways their Governments were working to alleviate the burden. Eamon Gilmore, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade of Ireland, said his country was providing more than $67 million to the area in 2011 and 2012 for humanitarian assistance and measures to enhance food security.