The Lufti Kirdar Convention and Exhibition Center at Istanbul, Turkey,looked like a festival venue throughout the fourth United Nations Conference on the Least Developed Countries (UN LDC IV).
Some eight thousand delegates from most of the 192 member states of the UN were busy highlighting the plight of the poor. But, there seemed little consensus on how to move ahead.
Secretary General of the United Nations Ban Ki-moon insisted that instead of looking at the LDCs as poor and weak, they should be seen as the vast reservoir of untapped potential. “Investment in LDCs is not a charity. It is an opportunity for all,” said Ban Ki-moon
addressing the opening ceremony of the five-day conference (9-13 May,2011),
The Nepalese Prime Minister, Jhala Nath Khanal, who is also chairing the bureau of LDCs, called upon both LDCs and developed countries to seize the opportunity and work in a concerted way to help at least half of the LDCs graduate from the LDC status over the next decade.It is easier said than done.
“Business as usual is not going to resolve the problems being faced by the people of the LDCs,” warned Dr Arjun Karki, spokesperson and chair of the LDC IV Civil Society Forum. “There is a need for urgent and radical shift from the current development paradigm to genuine pro-people development.”
Civil Society leaders stressed that a world without LDCs needs more than a small increase in ODA, or settling for commitments which extend no further than the MDGs.
While LDCs represent about 12 per cent of the global population, their share of global merchandise trade and global GDP remains around 1 percent.
In 1971, the UN identified 24 of the world’s poorest countries as LDCs and called upon the world community to help raise socio-economic status of their people. Four decades down the lane, only three countries—Botswana, Cape Verde and Maldives—have been able to graduate from the LDC status. 48 countries of the world—with a combined population of over 850 million—now fall under this category.
Thirty-three LDCs are in the African continent while 14 are in Asia and the Pacific and only one — Haiti — in Latin America and the Caribbean.