In introducing this item, the Secretary-General called upon the Board to focus on how the United Nations system could best follow up on the outcome of the midterm review of the Brussels Programme of Action for the Least Developed Countries for the Decade 2001-2010 in the General Assembly. The Secretary-General noted that, despite significant progress by some least developed countries, their gains as a group had been insufficient to meet the goals agreed upon in Brussels.
He invited the High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States to outline the steps that he would recommend that CEB take in that regard. The High Representative thanked CEB members for their contributions to the midterm review. The review established that the overall socio-economic situation of the least developed countries continued to be very precarious. Member States recommitted themselves to meeting the special needs of the least developed countries and to accelerating their progress towards poverty eradication and development.
Against this background, the High Representative proposed a three-pronged approach to the response by the system to the outcome of the review: (a) United Nations system organizations will need to redouble their efforts in order to accelerate the implementation of the Brussels Programme of Action in their respective fields of competence and areas of mandate (the annex to the Cotonou Strategy for the Further Implementation of the Programme of Action (A/61/117, annex I) contains information on the lead institutions and agencies in respect of the implementation of each of the seven commitments of the Brussels Programme of Action); (b) Twenty United Nations system entities and agencies have adopted decisions in their respective governing bodies mainstreaming the implementation of the Brussels Programme of Action in their work programmes. Other relevant entities will be assisted in their efforts by the Office of the High Representative. Mainstreaming the Brussels Programme of Action entails regular reporting by the entities on their activities and achievements in that regard; (c) On the basis of the valuable experience gained from the inter-agency consultations organized in preparation for the review, which demonstrated the keen interest of the United Nations system in issues related to the least developed countries and illustrated the need for information-sharing and synergy-building, it is proposed that the consultations be transformed into an inter-agency consultative group for the accelerated implementation of the Brussels Programme of Action during the remainder of the Decade.
Members of CEB referred to their ongoing work in support of the least developed countries, such as with regard to air transport, the improvement of urban habitats and the mainstreaming of the least developed countries in the areas of education, culture, science and communication. They also highlighted some of the areas that were impeding progress in the least developed countries. These included tariff and non-tariff barriers to trade that were having a negative impact on the least developed countries and the fact that few such countries had been able to take advantage of duty-free/quota-free concessions for their goods owing to the lack of capacity and/or the conditions attached to those concessions. As far as inter-agency initiatives were concerned, the Integrated Framework for Trade-Related Technical Assistance was working well. Its expansion to cover all of the least developed countries should be actively and positively considered.
CEB endorsed the proposals put forward by the High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries.