THE LDCs Mission Istanbul

Senior officials of some of the world’s poorest countries meet in Delhi to prepare for a big dash in Istanbul later this year<br><STRONG>ABIJIT SHARMA</STRONG> in DELHI

Feb. 28, 2011, 5:45 p.m. Published in Magazine Issue: Vol. : 04 No .-17 Feb.25-2011 (Falgun 13,2067)

The meeting did not break new grounds. It was not expected to, either. But the two-day ministerial meeting of the world’s most backward countries made a move forward.

Foreign Ministers, ministers and top envoys to the UN from 40 countries put their heads together to produce a document that will lay the grounds for the summit meeting to be held in Istanbul in May.

In what has been described as the Delhi Declaration the group of 48 least developed countries (LDCs) called on international community to provide full financial, technological and political support in tackling their problems.

It underlined that global peace, security and stability cannot be achieved without resolving the issues faced by the poverty-stricken LDCs.

"The issues raised in Delhi are highly beneficial to the group of the LDCs of which Nepal is a member,” said Nepal’s permanent representative to the United Nations, Gyan Chandra Acharya.

The major issues that the Delhi meeting took up included attracting foreign investments, overcoming the trade barriers and coping with the effect of climate change.

“India’s decision to allot 5 additional scholarship slots annually under the Indian Economic and Technical Cooperation (ITEC) Program to each LDC and its announcement of 5 million dollar over the next five years for follow-up activities of the Istanbul Program of Action also carries a lot importance for countries like us," said Nepal’s top envoy to the UN.

As the present chair of the group of 48 LDCs, Nepal has reasons to be happy over these announcements. 

Understandably, perhaps, the New York-based diplomat is upbeat about the upcoming Istanbul summit.

"We need more co-operations from developed nations in areas like economy, trade and food crisis. The forthcoming conference in Turkey is a global platform where we can put forward all of these issues," Acharya said.

The past had however been not that rosy.  Since the group came into being in forty years ago, the member LDCs has almost doubled from 25 to 48.

Indeed, the pace of progress has been very slow with just three countries -- Maldives, Botswana and Cape Verde – graduating to the upper class.  

The LDCs account for just 1 percent share of the global trade. Their growth rates have also been not consistent.

The external affairs minister of the host country, S.M. Krishna did not mince words in admitting as much, "We have seen significant growth in a few Least Developed Countries, attributed mainly to concerted national efforts and some international support. But the overall progress continues to be halting, uneven and fragile.”

The Delhi meeting has set a target of getting at least half of the LDCs at the threshold of graduation by 2020.

An ambitious target, no doubt.  But the international delegates in the Indian capital hope to meet it through an Istanbul Program of Action, when the head of states and governments of the Group gather in the Turkish capital in three months’ time.

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