Tuesday, May 31, 2011


(Miami Herald) -

OUR OPINION: Now comes the hard part — governing Haiti

Since his recent inauguration, Haitian President Michel Martelly has been a whirlwind of activity, traveling around the country in private helicopters to reassure Haiti’s exhausted people that his new government means well. The president’s visibility is a welcome change from the style of his predecessor, but it’s time for him to make the transition from campaigning to governing.

The overriding need is to put a functioning government in place. Former Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive resigned, as expected, when Mr. Martelly took office. Since then, the government has been on auto-pilot. Outgoing ministers don’t know who inherits their portfolios and are hesitant to make a deal, sign a legal document or make action involving the routine chores of government.

Meanwhile, the hurricane season starts next week and the international community is ready to move on various fronts as soon as it has a domestic governing partner that can inspire confidence. Haiti has no time to waste.

Then there is the not-so-small matter of new constitutional provisions passed with great fanfare by Haiti’s parliament. One provision bestowed dual nationality on Haitians living overseas. Haitians in South Florida and elsewhere have been clamoring for this for years. But a dispute over the parliamentary process cast the reforms into doubt. Mr. Martelly needs to resolve this issue.

Mr. Martelly has some good ideas. This week, he spoke again of imposing a small tax on remittances and using that money to send an additional 500,000 students to school by September. That’s an ambitious goal, probably impossible in the limited time frame, yet surely needed.

But taxing $1.8 billion in remittances, which could raise $50 million, won’t sit well with those who send money to their needy families in Haiti unless Mr. Martelly can show that the funds will be handled transparently. In Haiti, public funds have a habit of vanishing like yesterday’s promises.

Corruption and lack of transparency will be Mr. Martelly’s most pressing challenges even as he deals with the nation’s top priority: finding a permanent home for the hundreds of thousands of Haitians living in temporary camps. The donor community will rightly insist that Mr. Martelly establish public accountability as a guiding principle before it invests in Haiti’s future. Mr. Martelly must make it clear that he gets it.

So far, Mr. Martelly has been fortunate — he’s had a good honeymoon.

First, the Obama administration extended temporary protected status for undocumented Haitians living in the United States. That allows an estimated 58,000 of them to remain in this country for an additional 18 months. That relieves Haiti of the burden of caring for new arrivals at a time when it already faces monumental problems

This week, the political opposition that controls Parliament offered another gift. It promised not to block Mr. Martelly’s choice of prime minister if he meets constitutional requirements. Daniel Gérard Rouzier, a 51-year-old, U.S.-educated economist, is the designated prime minister. Like the president, he’s a political novice whose lack of a political base could have sunk his nomination.

Given Haiti’s turbulent domestic politics, Mr. Martelly must surely be aware that the honeymoon won’t last. He needs to move quickly to reassure Haiti’s people, the international community and Haiti’s diaspora that he’s capable of providing strong leadership. Otherwise, the honeymoon will end in buyer’s remorse before he knows it.


(CP) - By Trenton Daniel (AP)

PORT-AU-PRINCE — The new Haitian government said late Wednesday it wants to discuss ways to improve an earthquake reconstruction commission co-chaired by former U.S. President Bill Clinton, backing off an earlier statement from the businessman nominated to be prime minister that the much-criticized commission should be scrapped.

The office of newly elected President Michel Martelly issued a statement insisting he and the prime minister nominee, Daniel-Gerard Rouzier, are "very open and willing to begin discussions" with Clinton and the international community about the commission to "make it more efficient" as its members seek to rebuild Haiti from the devastating 2010 earthquake.

Earlier, Rouzier told The Associated Press that the 27-member commission was "dysfunctional" and should be replaced by a government reconstruction agency.

"What I can tell you is that the (commission) as it exists today will not continue," Rouzier said in a videotaped interview with the AP. "I don't mean to crucify the people who came up with the concept. But sometimes when something doesn't work you have to fix it."

Rouzier, who has never before held public office, was nominated by Martelly to be prime minister. But he must be confirmed by the Senate, which is controlled by the opposition and where there is deep resentment over the foreign-controlled commission.

International donors insisted on the creation of the commission to manage the multibillion-dollar reconstruction after the earthquake because they wanted assurances that the process would be orderly and free of the corruption that has long plagued Haiti. But it has been criticized for slow progress. It includes representatives of the U.S. government, France, Japan and other members of the international community that have contributed the most toward rebuilding Haiti.

In the AP interview, Rouzier did not provide details of his proposal for a new reconstruction agency. But he said it would be more responsive to the needs of the Haitian people and still accountable to international donors.

He said he hoped Clinton, a special U.N. envoy to Haiti who has made many trips to the country to preside over commission meetings, would remain active in reconstruction from the January 2010 earthquake, which the government says killed more than 300,000 people as it left much of the capital in ruins.

"When you have someone of Clinton's calibre — this is a man of tremendous vision ... we have to pick his brain and make sure that we have the right strategy," Rouzier said.

The former U.S. president did not respond to requests for comment.

Commission spokeswoman Florence St-Leger Liautaud defended the panel's record, issuing a statement saying it has approved 87 projects that are "already benefiting thousands of Haitian families." She said the commission will "continue to work, in close co-ordination with the Government of Haiti, donors, (aid groups) and the private sector ... until further decisions are made by the Haitian Government and Parliament."

Clinton has been co-chairman of the commission along with Jean-Max Bellerive, the outgoing Haitian prime minister. They have presided over long meetings to discuss the details of proposals to clear rubble, build housing and try to create jobs in a country that had severe problems long before the earthquake.

The commission has approved projects that would require $3.2 billion in funding but Haiti does not yet have all the money and many people have complained about the lack of apparent progress.

A recent report by the U.S. Government Accountability Office criticized the commission for delays in hiring staff and a lack of transparency and for not meeting reconstruction goals.

The commission's mandate is scheduled to end in October but it could be renewed by the Haitian government.

Rouzier, ran a family-owned car dealership in Haiti and was a power company executive before he was nominated to be prime minister by Martelly. His criticism of the commission plays into long-standing resentment of foreign influence in Haiti and could help in his confirmation vote.

Joseph Lambert, a senator and co-ordinator of the Unity political party, which has a majority in the Senate, predicted that Rouzier would likely be approved.


(UN) - www.un.org

16 May 2011 – Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today appointed Mariano Fernández, a former foreign minister from Chile, as his next Special Representative for Haiti and head of the United Nations peacekeeping mission in the Caribbean nation.

Mr. Fernández will succeed Edmond Mulet of Guatemala at the UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH), according to a statement released by Mr. Ban’s spokesperson.

In the statement Mr Ban expressed his deep appreciation to Mr. Mulet – who will complete his assignment on 31 May – for his contribution to UN efforts in Haiti in the wake of last year’s catastrophic earthquake.

Mr. Fernández was Chile’s foreign minister between 2009 and 2010. He also worked as his country’s Ambassador to the United States, United Kingdom, Spain and Italy and in the Chilean Mission to the European Union. Between 2003 and 2007, Mr. Fernández also acted as Chile’s Commissioner to the International Whaling Commission.

Between 1974 and 1982, during a period of military rule in Chile, Mr. Fernández was exiled in Germany where he worked as a magazine editor, among other jobs.

The new appointment was announced two days after Michel Martelly was sworn in as the new President of Haiti at a ceremony attended by UN officials in the capital, Port-au-Prince.


(UN) - www.un.org

The United Nations envoy for Haiti has handed over to the president of the country’s senate a prefabricated building that will temporarily house the Parliament until the one destroyed by the earthquake in January last year is rebuilt.

Edmond Mulet, the Special Representative of the Secretary General for Haiti, handed the keys to the building – an initiative of the UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) – to the President of the Senate, Kelly Bastien, in the capital, Port-au-Prince, yesterday. The new facility will enable the new session of Parliament to reopen on 27 April.

The temporary parliament offices are made up of five air-conditioned units, including chambers for both houses of Parliament, offices for Government officials, rooms for parliamentary committees and offices for presidents of both houses. MINUSTAH allocated nearly $700,000 for the construction of the block.

Mr. Mulet urged the newly-elected members of Parliament to use their session productively and show commitment to strengthening the rule of law. He encouraged them to “be creative” and find solutions to Haiti’s economic, social and political problems, while helping to revitalize and modernize existing laws.

He called upon them to “exercise self-denial [as] demanded by the difficult circumstances” and act with a “sense of reconciliation so that beyond the differences, the common good of this nation, proud and courageous triumphs.”

Mr. Bastien thanked MINUSTAH for the initiative and praised the “effective support that the mission has provided to the Parliament.” The gesture was an indication that the mission’s tasks are not limited to providing security. The mission is also playing a role in capacity-building, he added.

“I want to thank the mission and the Special Representative of the Secretary General in Haiti for their dynamism and their constant willingness to help find solutions,” said Mr. Bastien.

Since 2007, MINUSTAH’s Parliament Support Unit of the Civil Affairs Section has provided technical assistance to facilitate Haiti’s legislative agenda and helped with logistical support in organizing conferences and training.



The seating of a new legislature and the inauguration of a newly elected President signal that the legislative and presidential elections process has essentially come to an end. It is true, however, that there are still partial elections on 29 May 2011 in three constituencies and some remaining uncertainty concerning the formalization of the results of the 18 controversial legislative cases re-judged by the Special National Complaints and Challenges Bureau (BCEN).

The Joint OAS-CARICOM Electoral Observation Mission (JEOM), present in Haiti since 3 August 2010, is also coming to an end, its mandate and monitoring responsibilities completed with the coming into being of a newly elected executive and legislature.

Being a long-term mission present in the 11 electoral departments of Haiti permitted the JEOM to monitor not only the election days themselves but also the various preparatory phases leading up to the elections such as voter and candidate registration and campaigning, as well as the post election phases, in particular the vote counting and the complaints process. The methodology of the JEOM emphasized coordination, dialogue and problem resolution through a close interface with all the stakeholders. Taking advantage of early warning on key issues, the Mission was proactive, drawing attention and offering recommendations to the Provisional Electoral Council (CEP) to address the problems identified even as the process unfolded and not afterwards as is often the case. The JEOM also highlighted constantly the importance of respect for proper process and procedures provided by the Electoral Law for the success of the electoral process.

The JEOM holds the view that despite the disputes and crises that marred this protracted and challenging electoral process a number of positives need to be underlined. The technical and organizational improvements of the second round brought about by the technical staff of the CEP demonstrate that progress is possible. The efforts to resolve the crises that arose were based on technical and rule of law approaches and not political fixes. This approach has led to the reinforcement of the verification capacity of the Vote Tabulation Centre (CTV) and to greater understanding by the stakeholders of its functioning and the role it plays in the electoral process. That procedural approach has also led to greater appreciation and understanding of the workings of the BCEN. In fact, the link between the verification of the tabulation and the complaints process was proven critical in determining results that reflect the will of the people. As a consequence the electoral institutional and procedural capacity has been made more robust.

Carrying forward to future elections the lessons learned and the institutional and organizational improvements made during these presidential and legislative elections will reinforce the credibility, legitimacy and fairness of the next electoral processes and, therefore, contribute to the strengthening and deepening of democracy in Haiti.

It was an honour and a privilege for the Joint OAS-CARICOM Electoral Observation Mission to have been witness to what was certainly a difficult and contested electoral process but which in many ways was historic.

For more information, please visit the OAS Website at www.oas.org.


(Miami Herald) - By Trenton Daniel (AP)

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti -- The U.S. State Department has revoked visas for a number of Haitian citizens, an American diplomat in the Caribbean country announced Thursday.

Jon Piechowski, a spokesman for the U.S. Embassy in Port-au-Prince, declined to disclose the identities of the Haitians or to say if some or all were public officials, citing privacy rules for individual visa decisions. He also gave no specific number.

He would say only that the travel documents were lifted earlier this week because the holders "were no longer qualified to have those visas."

In January, the U.S. revoked the visas of about two dozen Haitian officials to step up international pressure that led Haiti's previous government to drop its favored candidate from a presidential runoff election.

There was widespread speculation on Haitian radio Thursday afternoon that Washington targeted Haitian electoral officials in the latest case because they refused to reverse the results in a handful of legislative races challenged by the U.S. and others for alleged election fraud.

Richardson Dumel, a spokesman for Haiti's electoral commission, declined to comment.

Under pressure from the international community, election officials last week reversed the results in 15 challenged legislative races but left four unchanged.

The U.S. Embassy said three of those seats were awarded to the political party of President Rene Preval, who handed over power Saturday, but should have gone to candidates of other parties.

Preval's Unity party has an absolute majority in the Senate and Unity members seem to be allying themselves with lesser known parties in a bid to expand their presence in the new government.

Musician Michel Martelly was sworn in as president before thousands Saturday. He said Wednesday that he would submit his pick for prime minister to parliament before the weekend.

A government official identified the nominee as Daniel-Gerard Rouzier, an auto dealership owner and president of a power company.

Rouzier could face a tough time being approved by parliament because Martelly's Peasant Response party has no senators and only three deputies.


(HaitiLibre) -

Rodolphe Joazile, President of the Senate at the request of the Parliamentary Investigation Commission on the electoral fraud, is in charge to examine among others; the allegations of corruption within the Provisional Electoral Council (CEP), has filed a complaint with the Prosecutor Port-au-Prince, to request the prohibition from leaving the territory against the members of the CEP.

This follows a letter sent to the Senate by Sen. Youri Latortue (who leads the Commission], on May 17th; a letter explaining that "because of testimony already gathered and in order to avoid flight abroad of members of the CEP, it would be useful that protective measures be taken against all members of the electoral body."

Mr. Harycidas Auguste, the head of the prosecution, decided to respond positively to this request and has asked the Director-General of the Department of Immigration and Emigration to make arrangements with the service of land borders, air and sea , so that the members of the CEP can not leave the territory.

This prohibition on leaving the territory concerns :
Gaillot Dorsinvil, President of CEP, ;
Jean Thélève Pierre Toussaint, Vice-President of the council
Pierre Louis Opont, Director General
Laurette Croyance, member of the council
Jacques Belzin, member of the council
Ginette Chérubin, member of the council
Ribel Pierre, member of the council
Leonel Raphael, member of the council
Anthénor Guerrier, member of the council

Note that this parliamentary commission of investigation, was created after the President Michel Martelly, demanded, that full light be shed on the allegations of corruption made by the parliamentarians and candidates against the CEP, following the surprising reversal of 15 candidates, at the time of the final results of the second round for the benefit of the ruling party INITE.


(HaitiLibre) -

According to Edmond Mulet, the Representative of the Secretary General of the UN in Haiti [until May 31 2011], the power cut during the swearing in of the 56th President of Haiti, Michel Martelly is a premeditated act. He revealed that the electric cables supplying the building where the ceremony took place were cut with a machete ! "It is not possible; It is an anti-democratic act", Mr. Mulet said. He was speaking without ambiguity, of an attempt of "destabilization", and he invited the judicial authorities to punish, without delay, the perpetrators of this act.

Yesterday Monday, Mr. Auguste Harrycidas, the Commissioner of the prosecution for the Government of Port-au-Prince, visited the Parliament to gather information about this incident. "We opened an investigation to establish "all the light" around this issue," he told journalists; After a visit he affirmed to have met various political personalities about this case.

In a note, Saurel Jacinthe, President of the House of Deputies, said that the Bureau of the Chamber had no responsibility in this incident, stating that the building where the swearing-in took place was built and supplied with electricity by a firm of engineers-architects, under the direct and exclusive control of the Organizing Committee of the ceremony. He asks the justice to act quickly in this investigation.

For his part, Fritz Jean-Louis, Coordinator of the Inauguration, said that for now, the committee had no comment to make.

As for Prague Fabien, Communications Director for Electricity of Haiti (EDH), he reiterated Monday that EDH had no responsibility in the incident, stating once again that the building had not been supplied with electricity by the Electricity of Haiti and that the joint committee which organized the various ceremonies of investiture, had assured to have made ​​arrangements to supply electricty to the building with a generator.


(Jamaica Observer) - By Winsome Trudy

Major happenings on the international scene in recent weeks have displaced Haiti from the headlines. But there are some interesting developments, some with far-reaching implications for the Caribbean Community (Caricom). This may change after Saturday, May 14, when Michel Martelly will be inaugurated as president. Hopefully, some of this may be in favour Caricom.

By the time this column appears there will undoubtedly be more news, but so far I have not heard of one Caricom leader, besides the president of Suriname, who has been officially invited to the inauguration. While it is entirely possible that the current Caricom chairman will be eventually invited, the delay suggests that the mindset of Martelly and/or his 'kitchen-cabinet' is arguably not quite in Caricom's favour.

There is an emerging suspicion that Martelly holds no real interest in forging links with the community. While it is still early days, the silence is deafening. Further, there are reports out of Suriname that he is to make an early visit to that country, accompanied by American-Haitian hip-hop singer Wyclef Jean.

That announcement further stated that the president of Suriname, Desi Bouterse, is to lead his country's delegation to the inauguration. Assuming this report to be true, it certainly leads one to question Martelly's motives, especially if no other invitation to Caricom leaders is forthcoming.

Bouterse was elected as president of Suriname on July 19, 2010 and installed on August 12, 2010. A convicted drug trafficker, he is currently facing trial for his alleged role in executing 15 political opponents in 1982 when he previously ruled the country. Although he was convicted in The Netherlands, he remains free in Suriname. If Martelly's earliest regional initiatives involve flirtations with Bouterse, then this could complicate his relations at home and abroad.

Given Suriname's reputed military preoccupations, the new Haitian leader could be seeking support from that corner of the region in re-establishing Haiti's army. After all, he did indicate that to be among his aims, while on the campaign trail.

Martelly did make an early start by visiting the US, considered to be Haiti's bastion of support. We have yet to see how he will continue warm relations with other countries such as Brazil, Mexico, Venezuela and Cuba, all of which have offered significant assistance since and before the earthquake.

Call it naivety on my part, but I expected that Caricom, if not openly courted like other more resource-rich countries and/or regions, would have been among the first invitees to his inauguration at least, given our linkages in the recent past. That being said, it is well known that his views of Caricom may be coloured by a misguided perception of a connection to former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide.

As is also well known, Mr Martelly is no fan of Aristide, and given that perception, may feel that Caricom is not a friend to be courted. That would be a mistake. It would be political naivety to view Caricom's intervention in the impasse involving the ouster of Aristide from leadership by US forces as the regional community 'watching the back' of a friend.

Any unbiased observer would have seen that for these feisty independent countries, it was a matter of respect for the sovereignty of a member of its own community with which it has formidable historic links. Hence any such unprovoked interference would, and could not have been condoned.

Radio Métropole made the other important disclosure that Martelly proposes to nominate Daniel Rouzier as prime minister. Clearly this would leave Jean Max Bellerive out in the cold. There were earlier indications that Bellerive, said to be a cousin of the president-elect, was Martelly's initial choice, given the outgoing prime minister's vast experience and familiarity with state affairs. But Martelly's supporters are much less tolerant, especially given the present climate of change.

This most likely means that Rouzier will replace Bellerive as co-chair (with Bill Clinton) of Haiti's Interim Recovery Commission. Such a decision must however be endorsed by Parliament where the Inite party (led by outgoing President Preval) has majority representation and where Martelly (who was not fielded by a political party) is not represented. But the new Parliament may cut him some slack if there is to be any progress for the country. Indeed, the appointment of Rouzier may be a masterstroke in more ways than one.

Said to be an economist, Rouzier is also a successful businessman, philanthropist and devout Christian. He should be favoured by the Americans; he heads the Haitian branch of Food For the Poor, a US-based charity that describes itself as Christian. More significantly from a Caricom perspective, he is Jamaica's honorary counsel general, having been thus appointed since June 2010.

Despite all sounds of support elsewhere on the global circuit, it is very unlikely that at this stage of its development, especially given its strong commitment to national sovereignty, that Haiti can make significant headway without Caricom's assistance. In fact, it is important to both sides that relations remain cordial, if not good. As the most populated country in Caricom, Haiti's market holds strong potential for the region and is presently being actively courted by private sector interests throughout the community.

Caricom, on the other hand, in addition to its offer of technical support, is committed to championing Haiti's campaign for sovereignty on the world stage. There is enough historical evidence of developing countries like Haiti being enticed to become a mere appendage of powerbrokers, donor countries and grant providers in the global community that hold out promises of assistance, that sometimes prove to be deceptive.

All things considered, we hope that Haiti's relations with Caricom will improve and move beyond good to excellent. But right now the ball is predominantly in Martelly's court. Caricom leaders have already given strong indications that they are prepared to dance. But obviously, while they can lead Haiti to the water, they certainly cannot force them to drink.

Hopefully, too, at the end of the day, whatever decision the new president makes will show that he is a worthy descendant of Toussaint-Louverture, exhibiting the makings of a true leader capable of sound choices in the interest of Haiti, including decisions that bring the country more fully in line with its Caricom family.


(AP) - Trenton Daniel

PORT-AU-PRINCE — Exiled former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide returned in March to a movie star's welcome, arriving by private jet to a crowd of adoring fans and fevered speculation about what the twice-ousted leader would do back home.

The mystery has only deepened since then.

In a surprise to supporters and opponents alike, Aristide has disappeared from the public eye, vanishing behind the high walls of his compound.

He has made no speeches and granted no interviews. He hasn't taken a tour of the devastation from last year's earthquake, at least not that anyone has seen.

Nor has he been spotted at any restaurants as has Jean-Claude "Baby Doc" Duvalier, the ousted former dictator who also made an abrupt return to Haiti this winter.

Aides rebuff questions and security guards at the compound have turned away journalists.

"It's rare that the president steps out of the house and says hello," said Jean-Max Maxime, a mason helping to increase the height of the towering concrete walls that surround the house near the Port-au-Prince airport. "He's always inside."

Such a low profile is hardly what anyone expected of Aristide, one of the most charismatic leaders in Haitian history. The former priest, who led opposition to the Duvalier regime and became the first democratically elected president, is a polarizing figure: beloved by many of the country's poor, loathed by the wealthy elite and distrusted by foreign governments, particularly France and the U.S.

Many Haitians expected Aristide would quickly return to politics, doubting the claims by aides that he only wanted to rebuild the university and foundation that withered after he was driven from power in a violent rebellion in 2004. The U.S. warned he could be a disruptive force and he seemed to signal his intentions upon his return by immediately denouncing the exclusion of his party, Lavalas, from the presidential election.

The day of his arrival, thousands of Haitians waited and rallied in the shade of mango trees outside his home. He waved to supporters before vanishing into a cocoon of security from which he has yet to emerge.

"He seems to have disappeared off the radar screen," said Robert Maguire, a longtime Haiti scholar who teaches at Trinity University in Washington, D.C. "I'm surprised we haven't heard from him. I don't know what to make of it."

Longtime supporters and aides provide few clues. The former president has been invited to attend Saturday's inauguration of President-elect Michel "Sweet Micky" Martelly, a popular musician who publicly sided with the right-wing elite who ousted Aristide in 2004.

Michelle Karshan, Aristide's foreign press liaison, said she didn't know if he would attend the swearing-in ceremony on the grounds of the collapsed National Palace and she declined a request to ask the former president. Maryse Narcisse, a Lavalas leader who frequently spoke for Aristide while he was in exile, now passes on questions to a secretary to the former president, who refers journalists to Karshan.

On most days, a stream of SUVs passes through the gates of the Aristide compound, but it's unclear with whom he meets. U.S. Ambassador Kenneth Merten hasn't spoken to the former president, nor has former U.S. President Bill Clinton, the U.N.'s special envoy to Haiti and co-chairman of the reconstruction effort. A spokesman for outgoing President Rene Preval, a former Aristide protege who reportedly became estranged from him in recent years, declined comment.

Aristide's U.S. lawyer, Ira Kurzban, said the former president is meeting with old friends, deciding his course of action.

"I think he's trying to listen to people and find out what's going on in education and in the country in general," Kurzban said. "I think it would be odd if he came back and started making statements, instead of listening to the people of Haiti about what's happened the past seven years."

Aristide made few public statement during his exile in South Africa, though he repeatedly said he wanted to come back to work as an educator through his foundation. After "Baby Doc" showed up in January, Aristide made his desire known again and he was issued a diplomatic passport that enabled his return.

So far, university students and foundation staff say he has not come by the complex, a short drive from the compound.

The school reopened in 2008. Its 200 enrolled students take computer courses and Spanish taught by Cuban instructors. On a recent afternoon, several students in their 20s hung out under a shade tree, seemingly unconcerned by Aristide's silence.

"He's home and doing personal things," said Butheler Elie, 24.

If Aristide, whom many know by his Creole diminutive "Titid," did emerge from his seclusion, Patrick Elie, a friend and former minister in his government, said he would do so quietly.

"He would have to be very discreet," Elie said. "The minute people spot him they're going to scream 'Titid,' and you're going to have a bona fide demonstration."


(Florida Courier) - By Jacqueline Charles

Nearly four months after his return from exile, Haiti’s former president-for-life says he’s home to stay.

THOMASSIN — They say he came home to die.

But almost four months after his shocking return, Jean-Claude “Baby Doc’’ Duvalier appears to be the epitome of life.

His once gaunt frame has filled out. His round-face, robust. And he is standing tall, moving about like a man with a purpose — not an accused criminal possibly facing prison.

A one-time despot driven from his homeland in disgrace, Duvalier, 59, has been acting like a president who left at the pinnacle of his popularity. He’s holding court at tony restaurants, hobnobbing with powerful players and greeting guests at his borrowed home high in the pleasant hills above the congested capital.

“The phone is ringing all of the time and I’m receiving a lot of visitors,’’ Duvalier told The Miami Herald, describing a typical day in the life of Haiti’s former president-for-life.

But as an aging Duvalier enjoys the perks of his new-found celebrity status in this earthquake-ravaged nation, he is igniting outrage and conflicted emotions. Former prisoners recalling his repressive regime demand justice, while others longing for the days of order insist on reconciliation. A former Haiti justice minister advising the government worries that Duvalier may never have his day in court to answer charges of corruption and crimes against humanity during his 15-year rule that ended in 1986. The judge tasked with investigating the charges has yet to issue his report and the longest imprisoned complainant, Claude Rosier, recently died of a heart attack.

Some find the timing of Duvalier’s return to Haiti peculiar. Last week the Swiss government announced it had begun procedures to return $6.7 million in frozen assets claimed by him to the Haitian government, a move some close to Duvalier said he plans to fight in European courts. And in just days, Haiti will inaugurate a new president with strong ties to supporters of his authoritarian regime.

“I did not send them and they are not there as Duvalieriests,’’ Duvalier said about President-elect Michel Martelly’s supporters who include Daniel Supplice, a childhood friend and former Duvalier minister heading Martelly’s presidential transition teams.

Martelly has suggested amnesty for Duvalier and Jean-Bertrand Aristide, another president recently returned from exile. Victims and human rights observers, who view prosecution of Duvalier as Haiti’s chance to break with impunity, call the suggestion disturbing.

The son of an often brutal dictator, Duvalier shrugs off reactions about his high-profile status and appetite for Haiti’s finest fare: “I’ve always participated in the social life of the country,’’ he said.

For those with tortured memories of the nearly three-decade venal Duvalier dynasty, however, the new reality is difficult to accept.

“People disappeared,’’ said Michele Montas, among scores of Haitian journalists and intellectuals jailed, some severely beaten and exiled by the regime’s boogeymen after their arrest on Nov. 28, 1980 under a 1969 anti-communist law that considered government criticism “crimes against the state.’’

Today, she’s among a growing group of Haitians who have filed formal complaints, accusing Duvalier of failing to prevent or punish crimes under his command, ordering arrests and prolonged detention, and in some cases of being an “accomplice’’ to crimes committed by his subordinates.

“The victims are constantly on the defensive, taunted every time they testify in front of the instructing judge by his (Duvalier’s) very aggressive lawyers, outside of the judge’s chambers, and the stress of seeing Duvalier freely moving about is difficult… for all of us,’’ Montas said.

While Montas has managed to avoid public run-ins with the deposed leader, fellow accuser and cellmate Dr. Nicole Magloire has twice lost her battle. The first run-in was in February during an after midnight visit to a popular Petionville restaurant. She stormed out in disgust, she said, after walking up on a laughing Duvalier listening to jazz while sipping red wine as patrons stopped to shake his hand.

The most recent was at the funeral for her uncle Jean Magloire’s widow. Jean Magloire was a staunch backer and former interior minister of Duvalier’s father, Francois “Papa Doc’’ Duvalier.

Like a number of politically involved middle-class Haitian families, Mangalore’s was divided on the question of Duvalier’s rule.

Duvalier’s re-emergence and her suit, to a degree, has reignited “the animosity between family members.’’

A student activist during Francois Duvalier’s rule in the 1960s, she vowed to stay out of politics when she returned to Haiti from medical school. Then on Nov. 28, 1980, she was arrested.

“You can’t have all of those people who died, who went to jail, and then just sit and say, ‘So what?’” she said. “I’m angry. But I am no longer afraid. I don’t ever want to be afraid again. At least today, we can say what we want and not be afraid again.’’

President René Préval has been credited with ending state-sponsored violence, political repression and silence in the country. He had successfully avoided running into Duvalier until the day of the funeral. Lise was the mother of one of his closest friends and advisers, Robert Magloire.

The first of the two handshakes happened in the middle of the funeral mass when Duvalier walked up to Préval and outstretched his hand in an offering of peace.

“It was not a meeting. We were at a funeral, our paths crossed,’’ Préval told The Herald a day later. “Justice will take care of the rest.’’

The funeral put into clear view Haiti’s troubled political history — and the challenges of Haitian justice. Sitting across from Duvalier was ex-wife Michele Bennett, a frequent visitor to Haiti despite being among the 38 other defendants named in the state’s corruption case against her former husband. Also in the audience was Prosper Avril, another controversial former president who escaped from prison in 2004 amid chaos after Aristide’s flight into exile.

Carves Jean, the judge investigating the case, said Duvalier is under house arrest. Duvalier and his attorney Fritzo Canto say no such thing exists under Haitian law. They punch holes in the government’s 25-year-old legal case, challenging it on procedural grounds and argue the statue of limitations has run out. Duvalier himself laughs at the state’s claims that he and his supporters pillaged the national treasury, and he spirited away $120 million in public money when he fled to France on Feb. 7, 1986.

In an hour-long interview, Duvalier said Haiti cannot have a fresh start without national reconciliation. He questioned the current government’s commitment to helping victims of the devastating earthquake and the role of non-governmental organizations. And he spoke of Foundation Duvalier, an organization he’s forming to prioritize education, health and environment in his mother’s hometown of Leogane.

“We are having meetings to evaluate the social and economic conditions of the country to see how we can help the people,’’ he said.

His heart aches for the peasants, whom he said, have been forgotten and says his failure to sell a schools’ Creole-language program, successfully used by Aristide and Préval, is the only do-over for his otherwise “progressive” government. He takes no responsibility for the weaken institutions and wrecked economy that characterized his last years in office, all of which, critics say, have made Haiti incapable of steering its own post-quake recovery.

“We realized progress in several domains….We were in a real fight,’’ he said.

As for the human rights abuses against him, Duvalier said, he released hundreds from his jails, and those arrested were done so because “they were a risk.’’

“You can’t ask the president to be behind every individual,’’ he said. “When I was made aware of an undisciplined act against someone, I took sanctions.’’

Bernard Diederich, a retired correspondent for Time magazine who has covered Haiti since 1949, isn’t surprised Duvalier and his supporters are revising history.

“Nobody has a memory of what happened including him,’’ said Diederich, who recently published the French-language book — L’Heritier, (The Heir) — about Duvalier. “He had the opportunity to be somebody, but he didn’t have it in him. He’s always been micromanaged by everyone. That is the sad thing. The guy could have done a lot. The people were ready, the people wanted it.’’

Monday, May 30, 2011


(Samaritan Mag) - By Karen Bliss

Singer-songwriter Corey Hart first met Project Medishare for Haiti co-founder Dr. Barth Green when he underwent cervical disk fusion surgery by the world renowned Miami neurosurgeon. At the time, Hart had just signed Montreal singer Marie-Christine Depestre to his record label, Siena, whose parents are both from Haiti.

Now, she has aligned herself with the non-profit organization which shares “its human and technical resources with its Haitian partners in the quest to achieve quality healthcare and development services for all,” according to its mandate. The liner notes of her debut album, Walk In Beauty, includes the line “Marie-Christine and Siena Records support the people of Haiti with Project Medishare,www.projectmedishare.org.”

“First of all, I consider myself to be super lucky to have a roof over my head, water, food,” Marie-Christine tells Samaritanmag (she doesn’t use her last name professionally). “So when something like that [earthquake] happens to a country like Haiti, a third world country, it’s unreal. You can’t imagine people fighting for survival everyday. It’s almost a duty to help people that don’t have what we do. And, of course, my heritage — I’ve never been to Haiti so it’s the perfect time to go visit.”

Hart says Marie-Christine will likely go to Haiti in November or December of this year, the same time as Dr. Green and his team. On January 10, 2010, a 7.0 magnitude earthquake struck Haiti, killing an estimated 300,000 people and devastating the capital city, Port-au-Prince. More than 300,000 were injured and one million rendered homeless, according to government figures.

“We haven’t outlined exactly what she’s going to do,” Hart tells Samaritanmag. “I’m sure there’s going to be manual labour where she’s just helping and visiting sick children and stuff like that, and also doing some musical performances because she’s an artist.”

Marie-Christine’s parents are in the medical field. Her dad is the lab chief of pathology at Jewish General Hospital and her mom, now retired, worked in the microbiology labs at Centre Hospitalier Côtes des neiges. Marie-Christine also worked at Jewish General as a clerk, medical secretary and then lab technician in cytology. “I don’t know what [Dr. Green] is going to ask me to do [in Haiti], but I’ve worked at Jewish General [Hospital] for five years, so I’m not freaked out by medical stuff,” she says.

While many debut artists choose a charity after their first album is out and their career is underway, when Hart heard about Medishare it made sense for Marie-Christine to become involved given her family background.

Among its work in Haiti, Project Medishare has a continuing commitment to rural communities by establishing and funding sustainable programs; trains Haitian physicians, nurses and allied health professionals; and provides technology, supplies and equipment to its clinic in Thomonde and other affiliated programs throughout Haiti.

“[Corey’s] the one that referred me to the web site and I went and looked at it and read everything. It’s a perfect charity [for me],” says Marie-Christine.

“You don’t want a government one where you don’t know if money is going to the wrong place. A lot of these charities they’re not transparent,” adds Hart.

“Barth Green is one of the top neurosurgeons in the world and he devotes completely out of the goodness of his heart and wanting to help. He’s been doing it for 10, 15 years. He goes down to Haiti and spends two weeks in all the villages, and all the impoverished areas of Haiti, treating people that have paralysis or that have spinal diseases and he treats them free of charge.

“I sent him Marie-Christine’s work and he reached out to me and said, ‘We have a lot of famous basketball players and celebrities that lend their time to this, she’s got Haitian roots it would be a great match. I respect the guy and Marie-Christine ultimately decided that it would be a good charity.”

photos - scanner celebrities - part 7

President Martelly was given a tour of the hospital. First to see was the emergency and surgery rooms.

Supporters were cheering at the gates.

"Tet Kale" walked up to the gates and climbed to the top of a pillar to greet the crowds. The people got even more louder.

He climbed back down and headed to the emergency room.

While in the emergency department he greeted medical personnel and visited patient's beds.

photos - scanner celebrities - part 8

While the president was inside the emergency building I took a photo of the supporters at the gates. It was not your average day at the hospital that day.

Security kept a watch from above.

After visiting the emergency room he visited the cat scan trailer and an explanation was given as to how it works and what the machine is used for.

Only a few people were allowed to accompany him.

It is amazing what can be accomplished when people work together.

photos - scanner celebrities - part 9

It sure was a difficult day to take pictures with all the people holding cameras .

Finally I got a close-up of the President with his wife. The man with the silver hair is Dr. Barth Green, director and founder of Project Medishare.

After visiting the cat scan the ribbon cutting ceremony was held. Two members of Project Medishare held the ribbon.

Security was handled by Haitian police. It is good to see the development of the Haitian police force moving in a positive direction.

A floral bouquet was given as a presentation to the guest of honor.

photos - scanner celebrities - part 10

I was able to get another close-up of the president. It is fun playing paparazzi.

All the dignitaries gathered around the ribbon.

Michel Martelly and Wyclef Jean had a short chat.

It looks like Michel Martelly was asking for a pair of scissors to cut the ribbon.

A huddle was held to discuss who was going to cut the ribbon (just kidding)

photos - scanner celebrities - part 11

Wyclef Jean took the first cut.

Then Michel Martelly cut the rest of the ribbon.

The ribbon cut and applause was made.

Everyone headed to the reception tent for a press conference.

The tent provided some shade from the heat of the day. You wouldn't know it was a hot day by all the suits around.

photos - scanner celebrities - part 12

The president gave a speech about the new cat scan machine and what it means for Haiti.

He spoke well. Dr. Barth Green, standing to the right of Wyclef Jean is an excellent neurosurgeon. He operated on Corey Hart, who is a Canadian singer. Corey Hart will be doing fundraising for Project Medishare. He is planning on visiting Haiti. I want to make sure I am at the hospital the day he visits, to try and get a photo with him.

Tet Kale looks very animated in this photo.

He is determined to see the country improve.

And acknowledged the work of all the foreigners who come to the hospital to help it run 24 hours a day. In this photo Michel Martelly is addressing and thanking Dr. Barth Green and Proect Medishare for their contributions to Haiti.




(Red Deer Avocate) - CP

ANTIGONISH, N.S. — Bill Clinton says it will take strong leadership and good ideas to help rebuild Haiti, which has struggled to lift itself out of the rubble from last year’s devastating earthquake.

The former U.S. president, who is the United Nations special envoy to Haiti, was in Nova Scotia on Wednesday to officially open the Frank McKenna Centre for Leadership at St. Francis Xavier University.

The centre, named after Clinton’s friend and former New Brunswick premier Frank McKenna, will offer direction on leadership in areas such as public policy, business and health.

Speaking to a well-heeled audience of more than 600 business leaders, academics and alumni, Clinton said there needs to be more institutions that tackle the inequality and instability in the world — especially so in fragile economies like Haiti.

“All of it begins with someone with an idea, the ability to inspire, the ability to organize, putting other people together and working for a common goal,” Clinton said in a 20-minute speech that also touched on climate change and the need for co-operation between governments and business.

It’s particularly important for the United States and Canada to act, he said, given the large Haitian populations in both countries.

He applauded a recent move by the parliament in Haiti to grant dual citizenship to the Haitian diaspora. He said it will allow Haitians living in Canada, for example, to vote in an election in their native country.

What’s more, he said, Haitians will be able to buy land, start businesses and conduct economic affairs as if they were living in the island nation.

“What will happen is, it will lead to an enormous investment in Haiti and more people, I think, will go home and they will begin to build the kind of systematic opportunities that are important,” said Clinton, who is expected to lead the official U.S. delegation to the inauguration this weekend of Haiti’s president-elect Michel Martelly.

Clinton also gave examples of leadership he’s seen throughout the world. In Rwanda, he noted, every adult is required to help clean city streets one day a month to dispel the notion that poverty leads to uncleanliness.

“If you go to Rwanda, it’s shocking what it looks like . . . because of leadership and vision,” Clinton told the crowd gathered at the $150-per-plate gala.

Clinton said he’s plagued by the thought of those who are denied the chance to explore their leadership potential.

He said the new centre at St. Francis Xavier will help overcome that.

University president Sean Riley said the leadership centre will work alongside the Coady International Institute, which is also located on campus, to train leaders as they help develop more than 100 countries worldwide.

The centre’s namesake told reporters that the university has a long history of building leaders, including corporate executives and politicians.

“This campus has been a crucible for leadership formation,” said McKenna, a graduate of the school and a one-time Canadian ambassador to the U.S.

McKenna, who is on the school’s board of governors, donated $1 million toward the $10-million cost of the centre.


(Daily Journal) - By Larry Margasak (AP)

WASHINGTON — House Republicans told the top U.S. foreign aid official on Wednesday that his agency's earthquake relief efforts in Haiti have been a failure.

Citing inspector general reports, Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, said only 5 percent of the rubble has been removed and 22 percent of the needed transitional shelters have been built.

The administrator of the Agency for International Development, Rajiv Shah, told a House hearing that major progress has been made in providing safe drinking water and medical care. He said a new industrial park will create 5,000 jobs.

Shah said the Haitian government, not the United States, is in charge of the recovery from the January 12, 2010 earthquake that killed some 230,000 people.

"The initial response was tremendous," Shah said. "We would have had more success with rubble removal and housing if we had more specific support from our partners and the government of Haiti. We're not in charge of Haiti. We're in a bilateral partnership with Government of Haiti."

"You would be fired" if the recovery efforts showed the same results in the United States, said Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

Rep. John Tierney, D-Mass., said USAID has suffered from budget cuts. But he added: "There is a responsibility to show this committee improvements are being made. I don't think the patience is going to last forever."

Chaffetz, who chaired the subcommittee hearing, said USAID's record wasn't much better in Iraq and Afghanistan. He pointed to a memorandum to Shah from the agency inspector general that concluded wildly inaccurate claims were made about operations in Iraq. Among them:

—262,482 individuals reportedly benefited from medical supplies purchased to treat only 100 victims of a specific attack.

—22 individuals attended a five-day mental health course, yet 1.5 million were reported as beneficiaries.

—123,000 were reported as benefiting from water and well projects that did not produce potable water.

—280,000 were reported as benefiting from $14,246 spent to rehabilitate a morgue.

"This is blatant fraud," Chaffetz said.

Shah presented a different overall picture. He testified that he brought major reforms to an agency that once had such onerous internal reporting requirements that officers were stuck behind their desks.

"This year alone, we made tough calls to eliminate bilateral development assistance to 11 countries, either because we deemed that corruption would undermine the effectiveness of our assistance or because rapid growth had made it unnecessary," he said.

Most of the hearing focused on Haiti. Shah said newer figures show that between 10 and 20 percent of the rubble has been removed.

"That's not cleaned up. You scooted it over," said Chaffetz. He introduced a picture of himself in Haiti last March, standing on rubble next to a sign saying the site had been cleared "with funding from the American people."

Shah, who said rubble removal is only part of the effort, told Chaffetz that more than a million Haitians had access to vaccines, more Haitians had safe drinking water than before the earthquake, and some crop yields have doubled.

"You can't judge the effort in Haiti in one or two years," he said. "Haiti has been a very poor country for a long time."

The House on Tuesday asked the Obama administration to come up with an accounting of how humanitarian and reconstruction aid is being spent in Haiti.


(Brandon Sun) - By Christopher Torchia - AP

ISTANBUL - Speakers at a United Nations forum on Monday urged the world's poorest nations to help their vulnerable citizens by pursuing good governance, while some leaders said rich countries had not done enough to help developing regions.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon was among some 8,000 delegates who converged on Istanbul for the conference on "least-developed countries," which lists 48 members in its ranks. Thirty-three are in Africa, 14 are in Asia and one — Haiti — is in the Americas.

The five-day conference opened with dire warnings about the threat of rising food and fuel prices, and climate change, to the poor, but there were also calls to seize investment opportunities in developing countries.

Turkey's role as host allowed it to highlight its growing economic and diplomatic clout, though Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan took the opportunity to warn that "the rage to consume, the growing gap between rich and poor" would foment global insecurity.

"We observe with great sadness that developed, rich countries have not shown sufficient interest in this important summit," said Erdogan, whose government has sought to balance its traditional Western alliances with stronger ties in the Middle East and elsewhere.

Turkey's warm relationship with Iran has troubled Western governments who suspect the Islamic Republic of seeking to develop nuclear weapons, though Tehran says its program is peaceful. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, whose oil-rich country is not in the U.N. list of poorest countries, travelled to Istanbul for the conference.

In a speech, Ahmadinejad said "weaknesses and shortcomings" of some developing nations could be attributed to the legacy of colonial powers that he said exploited natural resources and engaged in devastating wars in a bid to retain control. Even today, he said, the "same global powers" were seeking to "plunder" the wealth of vulnerable nations.

He proposed that 10 per cent of the military budget of powerful countries be allocated to the poorest nations, and that Iran was ready to join such a development effort.

"They should not be treated like homeless people," Ahmadinejad said.

According to conference organizers, the group of least-developed countries accounts for nearly 13 per cent of the global population, but just 1 per cent of world trade. They noted, however, that some of those countries, known as LDCs, have enjoyed relatively high growth rates in recent years.

"Investing in LDCs is not charity. It's an opportunity for all," said Ban, the U.N. chief. "Investing in LDCs can provide the stimulus that can help to propel and sustain global economic recovery."

The last such conference was hosted by the European Union in Brussels in 2001, and Ban said it was vital to ensure the long-term monitoring of any promises of assistance from developed and emerging economies.

"We have received a lot of very generous pledges in the past, but not all of them have been delivered," he said.

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, managing director of the World Bank, said that in order to complement help from the international community, poor countries must "look within" to create favourable conditions for growth. She said accountable institutions and citizen involvement in decision-making would help contain conflict and manage crises, including natural disasters.

Former World Bank President James D. Wolfensohn said governance in poor countries was critical to the good use of funds aimed at reducing poverty, and that "civil society" groups were often full of goodwill but failed to co-ordinate.

He said that during his 10 years at the helm of the World Bank, he usually anticipated that corruption would reduce the efficiency of bank projects by between five and 30 per cent. Graft, Wolfensohn said, was still a taboo topic.

"It exists and it gnaws at the effectiveness of what we do," he said in a speech. "It has not been mentioned this morning for reasons that I don't understand."

Turkey is paying for up to 11 delegates from each of the 48 poor nations to travel to Istanbul for the conference, which has also attracted aid organizations, parliamentarians, academics and business executives.

The group of poor nations includes Afghanistan, where a U.S-led coalition is fighting Taliban insurgents, and Yemen, where the government has cracked down on protests aimed at ousting the president.

Since the United Nations introduced the category of least-developed countries decades ago, only Botswana, Cape Verde and Maldives have developed enough to be removed from the list.

Qualification includes a per-capita annual income of less than $905, and assessments of malnutrition, child mortality and education levels, as well as an "economic vulnerability" rating based on population size, remoteness and instability in exports and production.


(Jamaica Observer) - By CMC

UNITED NATIONS — Haiti is expected to benefit from a new 10-year programme for the world's poorest nations.

Talks have started in Turkey bringing together heads of state, lawmakers, civil society organisations, the private sector and chiefs of international agencies as the least developed countries (LDCs) seek to implement measures for building infrastructure to attain economic self-sufficiency, decrease poverty and create decent jobs.

A UN statement said that Haiti is among the 48 nations — 33 in Africa and 14 in Asia — that will benefit from the initiative.

Among the features of the May 9-13 UN conference will be an LDC trade fair as well as a private sector forum and CEO summit on international business opportunities in these countries.

"But the LDCs average a 50 per cent rate of extreme poverty, are victimised by deadly disease and climate change and remain highly vulnerable to political or external economic shocks.," the UN said.

A report released in late March by an expert panel appointed by the UN secretary general warned of continued marginalisation of these countries.

"Rising food prices pose a severe challenge and an opportunity. Most LDCs are net food importers and one third of their populations are chronically malnourished.

"But if modern infrastructure is in place and local farmers have access to necessary support, they might benefit from firm prices and launch a turnaround in low-productivity agriculture, the UN statement said.


(ABC Live) - By Dinesh Singh Rawat

Istanbul - Broad agreement emerged today during the Fourth United Nations Conference on the Least Developed Countries concerning the responsibility of the world’s poorest countries for their own development and the need for those recipient Governments to optimize international assistance, as the meeting continued into its third day.

Discussion focused on a new 10-year plan for the advancement of the 48 poorest countries, to succeed the 2001 Brussels Programme of Action. High-level delegations from least developed nations sought to loosen the constraints on the development prospects of their economies that had long oppressed their poverty-stricken populations. Pushing back poverty, creating decent jobs, building infrastructure and attaining economic self-sufficiency topped their wish list.

Speakers today also acknowledged that the number of poorest countries had nearly doubled since the United Nations first identified a group of 48 in 1971 — two thirds of which were in Africa, with only three in all having “graduated” from the United Nations-identified list. They said it was critical for all development partners to fully meet their commitments to arrest the agonizing threat to those countries of continued marginalization.

The Conference was an opportunity to set the target of having many more countries graduate in the coming decade, said Ireland’s Minister of State for Trade and Development. Her country’s approach to development was based on partnership with the world’s poorest countries. Aid was not tied to political or strategic interests, but rather should reflect a vision of a fair global society, she said.

The Minister for Foreign Affairs of Maldives, noting that his country had been one of three to have “graduated” from least developed status — along with Botswana and Cape Verde — agreed that the strength of democratic institutions and sustained economic growth through wise use of resources and human capital, and not development aid alone, were the linchpin to progress in poor countries.

Appealing to those delegations, he said: “Do not continue to be crybabies. There is no one in love with us; we have to fend for ourselves.” His country’s removal from the list was not the result of international programmes, he said, asserting that the Brussels Programme had not in fact succeeded.

At the same time, he made it clear that vulnerable countries, including those who had graduated from the least developed countries category — particularly small island States — should receive appropriate consideration to offset the effects of external shocks, such as adverse weather conditions and fluctuation in the prices of their exports, to which they were prey.

The Minister for Foreign Affairs of Hungary, noting that his country was a former aid recipient that had become a donor, said that the Conference should seek to narrow the huge differences in economic development among countries. In order to use available aid resources effectively, Hungary, early on, had had to create an institutional architecture specifically for that purpose.

“We must act and the action must be now!” proclaimed Liberia’s Foreign Minister. Success lay both in the hands of the poor countries and their political partners. Development partners must deliver what they promised and the least developed countries had to responsibly utilize what had been given them along with transparently mobilizing their own resources. “This would translate into effective partnership that could translate into graduation certificates for the weakest and poorest of our global community,” he said.

Similarly, China’s Vice Minister of Commerce advocated a joint responsibility: least developed countries should increase their efforts and the international community should better appreciate the practical difficulties of the countries concerned, fully respect their independent choices, listen attentively to their aspirations and meet their urgent needs with concrete action.

Other donors also pledged to maintain and even increase their aid levels, even with difficult financial circumstances, but stressed the need for accountability on the part of all partners.

The Minister for International Development of the United Kingdom, for example, said that accountability was a hallmark of all success stories, with Governments that created a “climate of confidence” and invested in public services and infrastructure. The international community had to be equally accountable in its provision of aid that delivered concrete change and create a rule-based system, including trade rules that favored development.

Also represented at the ministerial and other senior levels of government today were: Denmark, Somalia, Timor-Leste, Mali, Burkina Faso, Eritrea, Sierra Leone, Egypt, Rwanda, Liberia, Bhutan, Central African Republic, Sri Lanka (on behalf of the Group of 15), Austria, Togo, Russian Federation, Portugal, Gabon, Myanmar, Ukraine, Australia, Liechtenstein, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Lithuania, Poland, Cyprus, Mexico, and Chile (on behalf of the Rio Group).

The representatives of Sudan, Niger, Kyrgyzstan, Switzerland and Peru also spoke.

Additional statements were made by representatives of the International Organization of Francophonie and the World Meteorological Association.

The plenary of the Fourth United Nations Conference for Least Developed Countries will resume at 10 a.m. tomorrow, 12 May.

Background The Fourth United Nations Conference on the Least Developed Countries this morning continued its week-long meeting in Istanbul, Turkey. (For background, see Press Release DEV/2877 of 5 May).

Statements IB PETERSEN, State Secretary for Development Policy of Denmark, speaking also on behalf of Sweden, and aligning with the European Union, said the last 10 years had been more prosperous for least developed countries than the three previous decades.

Credit for such achievements belonged to those countries themselves, as Governments had engaged with civil society and promoted the private sector. But the challenges remained complex and mutually exacerbating, and more results were needed on the ground.

Noting that the Istanbul programme of action would provide 27 priority actions, he said: “We need to engage in a new paradigm of cooperation,” adding that aid could only be one element in the efforts to promote growth. It was clear that gender equality, freedom, democracy and human rights were essential to that end, as was a business environment that fostered entrepreneurship. That, in turn, would allow for investing in health and infrastructure, and lifting countries out of poverty.

New and more positive prospects also called for more innovative collaboration, he said, underlining that, with unprecedented high numbers of young people entering job market, it was essential to ensure good market conditions. The new rules of origin adopted by the European Union would help least developed countries in that regard. Also, developing economies had become important in the areas of trade, foreign investment and knowledge transfer, with some having already joined the ranks of donors. “We welcome this,” he said, encouraging those countries to increase their contributions in tandem with their improved economic standing.

Greater coherence was needed in policies across sectors that affected least developed countries — including agriculture, trade, investment and migration — which impacted growth potential, he continued. More coherence should ensure that Government actions supported policy goals.

The Group of 20 (G-20) must follow up and provide duty- and quota-free access to least developed country products. Also, the High-level Forum on Aid Effectiveness, to be held in Busan, Republic of Korea, must see a renewed political commitment to effective aid. His delegation supported a “back to basics” approach in that regard. Transparency at all levels was needed, as was real accountability. People should be able to hold their Governments responsible for results in the short- and long-term.

ABDIWELI MOHAMED ALI GAAS, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Planning and International Cooperation of Somalia, said good governance was of crucial importance because the quality of institutions could make a real difference in the quality of economic growth.

The quality of institutions varied among least developed countries, but irrespective of the political regime, it was the governance that shaped the incentive structure for increasing economic activity.

Least developed countries suffered from bad governance, he said, noting that while many, including his own, were rich in natural resources, they had done poorly with economic growth. In the absence of intellectual property rights, natural resources could be exploited by political groups. The lack of security over such rights also prevented poor countries from acquiring badly needed technology from developed countries. On the other hand, good institutions governed the enforcement of contracts, which were necessary for investments, and facilitated transactions between individuals and firms.

Another element was the relationship between growth and the stability of a regime, he said, noting that a regime’s success depended on established institutions and policies. The guarantee of freedom and stable policies and the setting up of accountable institutions determined a country’s political future. Least developed countries could make great strides, or “we could remain an economic basket case. The choice is ours.”

He said that institutional imperatives also included the rule of law, which, in any country, reflected the degree to which citizens believed in Government. Citizens often faced a poor quality of Government bureaucracy, where employees were recruited and promoted on political loyalty, rather than on merit. The quality of bureaucracy could be measured by the strength of how it conducted its policy. Perhaps the worst damage done by the military regime in Somalia was undermining State institutions. Without proper systems, no country would succeed politically or economically. It was imperative, therefore, that least developed countries establish institutions that discouraged banditry and encouraged rule of law.

The definition of freedom must answer questions about the extent to which citizens enjoyed individual liberties, he said. Was there freedom of association or political organization? Were citizens equal under the law, and did they have access to an independent, non-discriminatory judiciary? Was there freedom of professional organization and equality of opportunity? The Somali citizen should be given a voice in the public discourse.

Regarding economic policy, he said fiscal, monetary and trade policy would affect the environment in which economic activity took place. It was necessary to have small but effective Governments. “A Government big enough to give you what you need would be big enough to take everything you have,” he warned. The size of bureaucracy should not be a reflection of power. Openness was imperative for economic growth, and least developed countries should be more integrated into the trading system. In his country, the Somali shilling had depreciated, which had caused chaos, currency collapse and the eventual fall of the Somali Government. Indeed, speculation had been the root cause of its financial crisis.

He went on to say that least developed country Governments should be credible and transparent, by enforcing — and being bound by — their rules. They should be frugal with their discretionary powers, which would allow them to sustain their political future. Further, the State should not be concentrated in the hands of one person. Rather, the idea was to distribute State power in a way that created mutual dependence, which, in turn, would reduce the “pressure to deliver” and allow a Government to deflect criticism. His vision for the Istanbul Conference was one of peace and posterity, where engagement between the State and its citizens, as well as its partners, was mutually beneficial. With that, he encouraged constructive engagement over the next 10 years.

ZACARIAS ALBANO DA COSTA, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Timor-Leste, said that to achieve the goal of graduation of half the least developed countries, development must be accelerated at all levels, with the overriding purpose being to build capacity and reduce poverty and economic vulnerabilities. Financial resources and policies must be specifically targeted to those ends. As a young, post-conflict country, Timor-Leste had weak institutions, and, thus, efforts had focused on creating strong democratic institutions and a culture of good governance and respect for human rights.

Despite the overall negative picture presented in the World Development Report, he said, the country had made some progress, reducing poverty and infant mortality rates and increasing school enrolment. Like many least developed countries, his was dependent on the export of natural resources, in its case, oil and gas. The economy thus needed to be diversified for sustainable growth and increased employment. At present, the private and public sectors in the country employed less than 20 per cent of the labour force, with the vast majority having no choice but subsistence agriculture. Key focuses included more educational opportunities, particularly for girls.

He said his country was taking ownership of its development agenda, through reforms in governance and legislation to foster transparency in its extractive industries. In working towards “graduation” from the United Nations category of least developed countries, Timor-Leste was looking for enhanced cooperation with development partners from both the North and South. There was much work to be done in the coming years, and he urged all partners to look beyond 2015.

M. SOUMEYLOU BOUBEYE MAIGA, Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of Mali, said that his country had established a stable democracy in order to achieve development, allowing it to implement the Brussels Programme of Action, to improve road infrastructure, to develop energy production and social solidarity, and to allow it to grow despite difficult conditions. The Government intended to accelerate growth. “Being an LDC (least developed country) should not be inevitable. We all have the potential to develop.” For that to happen, planning was essential, as was the mobilization of resources and investment in post-secondary education.

He said he had come to Istanbul with optimism. The Istanbul programme of action must be forged in harmony with the specific needs of all countries and must correct gaps in the Brussels Programme. “The decade before us needs to be a true decade of development,” he concluded.

LUCIEN MARIE NOEL BEMBAMBA, Vice-Minister for Regional Cooperation of Burkina Faso, said his country’s President had not been able to attend the Istanbul Conference due to the social crisis that had unfolded over the last three months. After 40 years of efforts to promote economic and social progress for least developed countries, their situation was still a concern, especially as the gap between rich and poor nations was increasing. The Brussels Programme of Action, which had generated hope for the future, had not fulfilled its promises. Aside from being a least developed country, Burkina Faso was also a landlocked country, dealing with drought and desertification, which restricted its efforts to create conditions for sustainable development.

He went on to say that Burkina Faso had made progress in implementing the Brussels action plan, including in the area of education, where free schooling for children aged 5 to 16 had been established. To improve the quality of health services, health infrastructure had been built and accessibility to services, especially for women, had improved. The fight against malaria, tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS had intensified, and today, there was better access to drinking water. Moreover, the national development policy outlined an accelerated growth strategy, which aimed to ensure new prospects for achieving sustainable development.

Despite such efforts, however, Burkina Faso was still a poor and vulnerable country subjected to external shocks, like climate change, which seriously threatened its stability, he explained. During February, March and April, it had faced an unprecedented social crisis marked by violent protests over the need for better living conditions. While least developed countries were the owners of their own destiny, it was difficult for them to surmount the complex challenges without the international community. Urging creation of a new partnership with donors, he said true development conditions must be established by streamlining official development aid (ODA), strengthening productive capacity, establishing a fair and equitable trading system and both regional and South-South cooperation. “In no way is this simply a question of charity or arms,” he said.

OSMAN MOHAMMED SALEH, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Eritrea, said the Istanbul Conference must bring a glimpse of hope to the poor. Its success was indeed a “teamwork venture” — a partnership between rich and poor countries, on the one hand, and the United Nations system on the other. Noting that crises of food, finance and climate had negatively impacted least developed country growth, he said there was no success with the Millennium Development Goals without the least developed countries and their 850 million people.

Despite the implementation of successive programmes of action, only three countries had escaped poverty and hunger, he continued. Forty-six years after the campaign to eradicate hunger had been launched, some 24,000 people still died from hunger each day, three quarters of whom were children under the age of five. The question to be asked was why. He wondered why more countries had not graduated from least developed country status and why there were more poor today than in the 1990s. The answer was “broken” multilateral cooperation.

“We cannot expect different results by doing the same thing year-in and year-out,” he stressed, calling for a paradigm shift in the way development work was undertaken. It was essential to create favourable market access for all least developed country markets, including through dismantling unjustified non-tariff barriers and other distortive trade measures. The Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) was an example of how to create opportunities for exchanging goods among countries in the global South.

Cooperation geared more towards trade and investment would be more effective in addressing the root causes of poverty than ODA, he said, which over the years had failed to help achieve sustainable development. The draft Istanbul text outlined that the ownership and leadership for development should be in the domain of the least developed countries, which would define their own national priorities. It was important for them to have the necessary policy space in identifying and executing their priorities.

Concluding, he said Eritrea had invested hundreds of millions of dollars and enormous human capital on food security. Domestic resource mobilization had been the real driver of its success.

AHMED NASEEM, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Maldives, noting that his country was one of the few countries to graduate from the category of least developed countries, said that domestic economic growth and strength of democratic institutions were the critical issues for progress in poor countries rather than development aid. Growth and human development were mutually reinforcing. Maldives had experienced growth in its fishery sector through the determination of young entrepreneurs who seized the opportunities of a globalized market. Eight of the Millennium Development Goals had thus been achieved ahead of deadline.

He said that although economic growth was important, it was only sustainable through good governance, which must be transparent and ensure that economic benefits were equitable. People-centric policies, expanded choices and freedoms and the engagement of the private sector also were crucial. Public/private partnerships were particularly important in building infrastructure.

He said Small island States were among the least likely to graduate from the poorest status, however, noting that there was still much poverty in Maldives. Shocks had been experienced, from the Indian Ocean tsunami to the food, fuel and financial crises, which had contracted the tourism and fisheries industries. It was integral to seriously consider the permanent vulnerabilities of small island States when contemplating their graduation, in order to ensure that their progress was not reversed. His country had graduated, not because of international plans, but because of its hard work.

“Do not continue to be crybabies,” he stressed. “There is no one in love with us; we have to fend for ourselves,” he added, urging poor countries to get to work on reforms and facilitating economic growth. Indeed, the Brussels Programme had not been a success. In the next plan, concrete goals must be set and all partnerships and other tools must be utilized to the maximum extent possible. In addition, in the next action plan, graduation must not mean losing all benefits, which could cause countries to backslide.

JÁNOS MARTONYI, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Hungary, said that many countries were facing dire economic and environmental conditions. His country was a former aid recipient that was now a member of the donor community, aiming to narrow the huge differences in economic development among countries. Hungary’s path had not been easy, however, as it had had to create an architecture for effective aid use.

His country was willing to share its experiences with others, he offered. In its aid programmes, Hungary was focused on helping countries to adapt to climate change, even in times of financial austerity. It was also intent on raising awareness of the importance of access to clean water and sanitation in sustainable development. Agriculture and rural development were also critical. He reconfirmed his country’s commitments in those areas and affirmed that lifting the prospects of least developed countries was a challenge that must be faced by the entire global community.

JOSEPH BANDABLA DAUDA, Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of Sierra Leone, said while the implementation period of the Brussels action plan had yielded mixed results across all 48 of the world’s least developed countries, it was also no secret that the developed countries had failed to meet their commitments to provide 0.7 per cent of their gross national income in the form of ODA. As a result, new donors had stepped forward from among the emerging economies by participation in South-South or triangular cooperation initiatives.

Yet, he said least developed countries, already suffering because of high food and fuel prices, had also been impacted by a decline in the remittances that were so crucial to their weak economies. “The uncertainties in production, volatility in international prices and exchange rates, vulnerability in climate change and unfavourable terms of trade often make the debt burden of the LDCs unsustainable,” he added.

Against that backdrop, as delegations gathered in Istanbul to adopt a new programme of action with the objective of graduating at least half of the 48 least developed countries from the list by the end of the decade, he called on development partners to contribute to those efforts by “making a significant breakthrough” towards increased ODA and foreign direct investment, and in addressing trade distortions.

He said the tough lessons of the past decade should not be lost and should influence the efforts to craft — and implement — a new action plan in Istanbul. That plan, among other things, should pull the least developed countries towards middle-income status. “This is possible if we, as LDCs, show resolve and stand up to our responsibilities, and you, our development partners, honour the commitments that are contained in the outcome document of this Conference,” he said. The text must also contain the right mix of domestic policies and global support measures that would help ensure that the countries achieved the Millennium Development Goals by 2015 and successfully met development challenges beyond that deadline.

SAMIR YOUSSEF ALI EL-SAYYAD, Minister of Trade and Industry of Egypt, aligning with the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, said the goal of the 25 January revolution was a comprehensive development project to build a “new Egypt”, that included protection of community through “rule of order”, which would guarantee economic and social justice. Its most important goal was to regain Egypt’s role in Africa and the Arab region, based on common interest for all. As Egypt supported cooperation with African countries, its membership in African organizations, such as the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD), was important and the regime would push for cooperation in all fields.

Indeed, Africa again would be a main priority of Egyptian external policy, he said, adding that his country’s internal difficulties were only temporary. Once the economy recovered, Egypt would reach the economic status it deserved. As for discussions today, they should consider both the scarcity of production capacity and the agricultural sector in least developed countries. Egypt would continue to urge developed nations to honour their commitments, not only for assistance, but for participation in a real development partnership. The Istanbul action plan should add value and achieve what Brussels failed to do.

Egypt understood the importance of achieving sustainable growth, he explained, stressing that the serious issue of surging food prices could lead to an international food crisis. As such, advanced countries must stop practices that led to higher prices. Initiatives undertaken by Egypt aimed at realizing food security for least developed countries, which should receive preferential treatment in the face of regulations that banned food exports. He also appealed to international financial institutions, among others, to assist in technology transfer to least developed countries, and to the international community to write off debts.

Supporting good governance, he underlined the importance of South-South and triangular cooperation, explaining that Egypt would provide technological assistance and send experts to African least developed countries. In other areas, he said investments had been directed towards natural resource extraction, which had not enhanced the relationship between foreign and local companies or facilitated the spread of technology. Poor countries should be supported in order to diversify and develop their export bases. The construction of roads and ports, for example, was an area in which foreign direct investment would allow for transferring technology and knowledge.

On trade, he noted a “backwardness” in the Doha Round of World Trade Organization negotiations on the issue of market access, saying that least developed countries were worried that their development ambitions would not be realized. He called for entering into “sub-subjects” required for redefining the development structure. All efforts should be made to maximize the benefit of what had been agreed at previous international summits. Least developed countries must also have increased representation in economic and financial governance institutions.

LOUISE MUSHIKIWABO, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation of Rwanda, said her country had advanced its development agenda, and while it had a long way to go, she was confident of the people’s determination to improve their lives. The Istanbul outcome should focus on four areas, the first of which was country ownership, the foundation principle for sustainable development, for which the Government was not the sole actor in that regard. It was only through socio-economic inclusiveness and the active involvement of citizens, the private sector, civil society and others that national development plans would be realized.

Indeed, she said, those plans would not achieve their desired results if they were not underpinned by effective and accountable national leadership, which was a challenge for many least developed countries. That leadership must enable the creation of a vibrant private sector as an engine for growth, by conducting ambitious legal, administrative and tax reforms. On that note, in 2009 and 2010, the World Bank had named Rwanda one of the “world’s best reformers”.

Next, in the area of enhanced productive capacity, she said more investment was needed in energy and information and communications technology projects, which would diversify economies, increase production and export capacities. In addition, increased investment in the “enablers” of growth was needed. For its part, Rwanda had worked hard to provide universal health-care coverage and free primary education for all, which, in turn, had increased productivity and allowed for re-investment in those areas.

Moreover, “we can no longer pay lip services to inclusion,” she said, asserting that it was only common sense to include women in national development strategies. Rwanda’s progress to date was due, in part, to its strong belief in gender equality. Such efforts must be underpinned by real partnerships among countries, especially between least developed countries and emerging markets. Least developed countries required a “mindset change” that strove for self-sufficiency, and not dependence.

Finally, there could be no development without peace and security, she stressed, encouraging regional and subregional organizations to take the lead in conflict resolution on the continent to ensure that settlements were in line with peoples’ genuine aspirations. For countries emerging from conflict to consolidate peace, the Istanbul action plan should note the need for actions between the Peacebuilding Commission and the office handling least developed countries.

TOGA GAYEWEA MCINTOSH, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Liberia, said it was difficult to be hopeful when faced with the current tapestry of daunting difficulties that challenged the stability of the whole world, and not just the poorest countries. “We must act and the action must be now!” he said. Success lay both in the hands of the poor countries and their political partners. A shared, harmonized political will was critical to organize and mobilize requisite resources to move the development process forward on a sustained basis. “It is now imperative for both LDCs and partners to think outside the box and seek and embark upon unconventional measures.”

Most important in the Istanbul programme of action, he said, was targeting the use of the limited available resources. Development partners must deliver what had been promised and the least developed countries themselves must optimally utilize what had been given. That was the only way to build effective partnerships that could translate into “graduation certificates to the poorest and weakest segments” of the global community.

KHANDU WANGCHUK, Minister for Economic Affairs of Bhutan, said that the world’s resources must be shared for mutual peace and prosperity. No nation was insulated from the problems of others, and all nations must work together on global problems. He urged the Conference to strengthen cooperation on inclusive, equitable and sustainable development. Peace and justice were prerequisites for such development, and for that purpose, the support of richer nations was required. It was inconceivable that, in a time of the production of immense riches, so many continued to suffer abject poverty.

His country had been following a balanced approach to development under the policy of “gross national happiness”, which emphasized governance, environment, and economic progress, but placed the well-being of people as priority. It had succeeded in reaching its goals. He had proposed making poverty the ninth voluntary Millennium Development Goal, as the other goals were completely in conformity with the gross national happiness programme. His country was extremely vulnerable to climate change and had committed to being carbon neutral, but regional and global support was critical in the context of equitable sustainable development.

The Istanbul programme of action should aim for halving the number of least developed countries, with all nations playing their part. Bhutan’s mountainous and landlocked situations presented extreme challenges, but with the help of development partners, the country had been able to make much progress. The substantial development gains it had achieved were dependent on the commitment of those partners. He expressed concern that the traditional donors had signalled a phase-out of their support, coming at a time when the country was at a critical phase of its democracy. He, thus, appealed for continued support so that its democratization would continue and a prosperous and happy world would be created for the future.

ANTOINE GAMBI, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Central African Republic, noted that crises in finance, energy, food and real estate had impacted implementation of the Brussels Programme, and his country, which was landlocked, was among the poorest of the least developed. Its socio-economic structure had been destroyed by political and military crises over the last decade, a stark contrast to the potential offered by its rich mining, energy and forestry resources.

Against that backdrop, he said his Government had decided to reduce the poverty rate by 10 points in 2010 by increasing the economic growth rate from 8.5 per cent to 11.4 per cent. Unfortunately, the 2001-2010 strategy had led only to a 2 per cent average annual growth. The investment rate — set at 11 per cent — also was insufficient for meeting the 25 per cent target set for least developed countries. Nonetheless, thanks to development partners, such as China and the European Union, obstacles to service provision had been surmounted.

Discussing other actions taken, he said his Government had implemented an economic reform programme. Efforts to implement the poverty reduction strategy had been designed to enhance institutional procedures in health and education. Since 2003, the Government had promoted good governance, enhanced the rule of law and made progress in implementing priority actions to achieve Heavily Indebted Poor Countries Debt Initiative conditions.

Other priorities were political, judicial and economic in nature, he said. In the fight against corruption, the Government had improved its classification by Transparency International, started reforms called for by United Nations instruments and, in 2008, established a committee to combat corruption. A national strategy also was being finalized. “Mitigated” results would be achieved by 2015 in terms of health, especially as related to malaria, the main cause of infant and child mortality. A plan had been devised that aimed at improving the health of mothers and the elderly.

In the area of technology, the Government was designing a plan to build an information and communications society and ensure full telecommunications coverage, he said, noting that in the area of trade, the Central African Republic had a policy of community tariff-setting and, with others, was negotiating a partnership agreement with the European Union. It also had harmonized its trade code, in line with international commitments. The forestry sector, the main source of export revenue, was threatened by poaching and deforestation, and, thus, the Government was creating a deforestation strategy. A regulatory structure for rural areas and a development fund for rural electrification were also being formulated.

NEOMAL PERERA, Deputy Minister of External Affairs of Sri Lanka, speaking first on behalf of the Group of 15 (G-15), a summit-level group of developing countries for South-South and North-South consultations and cooperation, said his delegation had consistently recognized the vulnerability of least developed countries. At its last summit in May 2010, in Tehran, Iran, it had urged donors to achieve the target of allocating 0.7 per cent of their gross national incomes for ODA by 2015.

Expressing deep concern that growth in many developing countries continued to fall, he urged that a more workable road map for achieving internationally agreed development goals, including the Millennium Development Goals, be devised and include targeted assistance to least developed countries.

Emphasizing the need for a timely conclusion of the stalled Doha Round of international trade negotiations, he said it was imperative to achieve a balanced outcome in all areas of negotiations and recognized the need for more efficiency in the Aid for Trade initiative to improve trade competitiveness.

Speaking next in his national capacity, he recalled that Sri Lanka had “graduated from the status of a least developed country to a middle-income economy several years ago”. Much work remained to enable least developed countries to place themselves on track with the rest of the world, but their national priorities and unique challenges must be taken into account.

In his country, people were enjoying peace, stability and high economic growth following a nearly three-decade struggle against terrorism, he said, noting that the Government had started reconstruction and rehabilitation of the war-torn north and east, among other areas. It also was working to promote justice and reconciliation among its people. In such work, Sri Lanka valued a home-grown solution that fit into its own socio-cultural parameters. Given that, he was pleased that several key principles, like national ownership and leadership, had been reflected in the Istanbul action plan. Sri Lanka also had secured enhanced market access and better trading opportunities. Its 8 per cent growth rate was the second-highest in its post-independence history.

WOLFGANG WALDNER, State Secretary for Foreign Affairs of Austria, aligning himself with the statement of the European Union, said that, given the mixed results of development assistance in the past decades, and declining resources, donors now needed to focus even more on attaining goals in regions where progress lagged. There was a priority to better include the most vulnerable in the development process, particularly women and girls. Austria’s prioritization of the gender dimension in development was illustrated by its co-organization at this Conference of an event on “Promoting Women’s Economic Empowerment through Financial Inclusion and Agricultural Development”.

His country, he said, had also been advocating for a greater recognition of energy in the context of sustainable development and it was a key focus in its development cooperation in Western Africa, Central America, Bhutan and the Balkans. Strongly supporting universal access to energy by 2030, he informed participants that Austria would co-host the Vienna Energy Forum 2011 in June on the overall theme “Energy for All — Time for Action”. He was convinced that a collective effort on a global scale by all actors — partner and donor countries, organizations of the United Nations system and other international stakeholders — would contribute to bring all the least developed countries into the path of sustainable economic and social development and out of poverty.

JAN O’SULLIVAN, Minister of State for Trade and Development of Ireland, said her country’s approach to development was based on partnership with the world’s poorest countries. Aid was not tied to political or strategic interests, but rather reflected Ireland’s vision of a fair global society. The Conference was an opportunity to set the target of having many more countries graduate in the coming decade. For its part, Ireland had allocated the highest percentage of overall ODA to least developed countries among individual international donors.

But there was cause to re-examine more effective action, she said, noting that the issues involved would be central to the High-level Forum on Aid Effectiveness in Busan later this year. Nationally, a review had been launched of Ireland’s development cooperation policy, which would involve consultations with partner countries and ensure that the least developed remained at the heart of the programme.

She went on to say that a number of areas required a more effective international approach, including the hunger crisis, which was not just about food prices; it carried serious implications for poor countries that were net food importers and constituted a systemic development crisis. The new action plan must feature increased investment in agriculture. Ireland also strongly supported working with small-scale farmers to increase food production.

In addition, women’s role in development must be addressed with greater urgency, she said, commending partner countries for taking the lead in adopting legislation to combat gender-based violence. Trade and investment also were “absolutely vital” for economic development and poverty reduction. Ireland strongly supported efforts that prioritized least developed country needs, including the “Everything but Arms” initiative.

The important role to be played by the full range of actors and funding sources must be recognized, she said, citing foreign direct investment, trade between developing countries and regional trade, domestic resources and the private sector. They were not substitutes for aid, but rather essential to an effective strategy to end poverty and generate sustainable economic development.

DEDE AHOEFA EKOUE, Minister of Planning and Development of Togo, said her country had invested much energy in implementing the Brussels Programme, especially through its poverty reduction strategy paper. Togo had a broad governance structure, which included the largest opposition party and the diaspora. Recent elections, a major step forward, had fostered a peaceful climate, which was a precondition for development.

At the social level, she noted, Togo had registered tremendous progress. It was among the 20 countries that had made greatest efforts in absolute terms vis-à-vis two Millennium Development Goals: primary school education and the combat of major diseases, like HIV/AIDS and malaria. Nonetheless, “we need to go further and faster,” she said, which required stronger growth and intensified international cooperation. Jointly with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Togo had devised a framework to speed achievement of the Goals, and in June would organize a partners’ round table on water, sanitation and the environment.

Togo, she continued, had intensified investments in agriculture, which constituted more than 40 per cent of its GDP and it had implemented major reforms enabling it to reach the “completion point” of the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries Debt Initiative. Additionally, it had improved its business environment to attract foreign direct investment. Overall budget support provided by partners like the European Union and the World Bank also had played an important role in Togo’s success.

Urging that such support continue, she said resources must be increased and geared towards growth that was inclusive, environmentally friendly and job-creating. With that in mind, she called for an international programme for youth employability in sub-Saharan Africa that would mobilize African Governments, private sector, civil society, and the education and financial sectors, as well as development partners. To address climate change, existing mechanisms must be used — such as climate investment funds — which must be disbursed to countries most in need. “Together we can do more, and better,” she said. “Long live international cooperation.”

ANDREY DENISOV, First Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, anticipated with welcome the approval of the Istanbul programme of action, which singled out priority activities that would help both poor countries and their development partners to build sustainable productive capacity and withstand financial shocks. As an emerging donor, the Russian Federation was focused on bringing together the private sector and civil society for the purpose of poverty alleviation. In order to achieve the Millennium Development Goals, anti-crisis efforts must be fully integrated into all United Nations programmes. His country had continually increased food assistance, in particular, to mitigate crises in food security.

The Russian Federation, he said, also supported traditional crafts and food and agricultural production, as well as the efforts of the world financial institutions, along with transportation programmes in the Eurasian areas. He stressed that the world must come together to allow nascent economies to weather crises and continue to progress sustainably, in the interest of world stability. He pledged his country’s continued collaborative engagement with all partners towards those objectives.

FU ZIYING, Vice Minister of Commerce of China, said due to the need for much more progress in the next decade, least developed countries should increase their efforts and the international community should give more support. “The international community should better appreciate the practical difficulties of the countries concerned, fully respect their independent choices, listen attentively to their aspirations and meet their urgent needs with concrete action,” he said. That had been the guiding principle of China’s policy, particularly in the past 10 years, in providing assistance without preconditions to 46 of the countries in the category, with nearly 1,000 projects in sectors in infrastructure, social services and industrial capacity, along with debt relief and trade facilitation. Central to that effort was training, to boost local capabilities.

In regard to the private sector, he said his Government had supported Chinese companies in investing in poor countries and developing overseas trade and economic zones, which had provided jobs, tax revenue and other benefits. As a developing country, China still faced many challenges, but he pledged that it would never lose sight of its international responsibilities. In the years to come, it would engage in South-South cooperation in a more substantial way, tilting foreign aid even more towards the poorest countries, strengthening cooperation in food security and other areas vital to people’s livelihoods, boosting training to reach 80,000 people and expediting tariff reductions, debt relief, trade facilitation and the setting up of trade zones.

STEPHEN O’BRIEN, Minister for International Development of the United Kingdom, noting that great progress had been made globally in reducing poverty, said: “We should learn from these successes,” by pressing for clear accountability in reaching the Millennium Development Goals and ensuring that promises made at the review of those targets in New York were honoured. The Istanbul Conference was a chance to agree on how to speed progress in the run-up to 2015.

Among the lessons learned, he said, was that no country had achieved sustainable poverty reductions in the absence of clear Government leadership. The best thing a Government could do was to create a “climate of confidence” that would free the private sector to create jobs and incomes. Free trade and open markets were other catalysts for growth. Successful countries had invested in education, health and infrastructure. They had focused especially on opportunities for women and girls and laid the foundations for improving governance, including by building systems to manage public resources.

“This is a framework, not a plan,” he said, adding that the focus should be on growth and using the proceeds to invest in social progress. The other vital agreement was the international community’s role in offering aid and creating a rule-based system to ensure it was effective. Without the opportunity to export, countries could not reach their potential to grow. Given that, he urged a successful conclusion to the Doha round of trade negotiations, adding that the ongoing Conference must signal that the opportunity to advance that agenda could not be missed. The United Kingdom would do its utmost to press for a trade settlement that placed development at its core.

He went on to say that his country would honour its G-20 commitment to ensure that support delivered concrete change. It would help poor countries prepare and negotiate trade agreements that reflected their interests and shaped global trade rules. At the same time, successful developing countries must recognize their duty to those nations that had yet to benefit, and he called for all G-20 members to extend 100 per cent duty- and quota-free access to least developed countries. That would equal a 44 per cent rise in those nations’ exports and lift at least 33 million people out of poverty, at very low cost to the G-20.

On climate change, he supported the liberalization of climate-friendly goods and encouraged donors to meet aid commitments. His Government, despite its economic difficulties, refused to “balance the books on the backs of the poor” and would meet the target of allocating 0.7 per cent of its gross national income to ODA by 2013, and as pledged, enshrine that commitment in law. The United Kingdom was among the nine Development Assistance Committee (DAC) countries to have met the 0.15 per cent of gross national income requirement, but the caveat was that accountability for the impact of aid must be enhanced through scrutiny.

Finally, poverty would not be eradicated until conflict was more effectively addressed, he said, noting that 30 per cent of the United Kingdom’s aid through 2014 would focus on fragile and conflict-affected countries. There was a tendency to work around conflict and fragility, but events in the Middle East showed why it was critical to help Governments build responsible systems and empower citizens to hold their Governments to account.

JOÃO GOMES CRAVINHO, Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation of Portugal, fully aligning with the European Union, said “we must all play our part in responding to the needs of LDCs.” It was in that spirit of renewed partnership that his Government had organized a ministerial meeting in Lisbon on mobilizing financial resources for those nations. A turning point for real change had been reached; now a new paradigm for development cooperation must be sought.

The central lesson to be learned was that the quality of the aid architecture must be improved, he said, urging that marginalization of such an important part of humanity come to an end. Lessons about “what went wrong” must be examined in order to respond early to major challenges in the next decade. Portugal had joined those countries wishing to incorporate in the Istanbul programme of action a wider notion of global partnership to include all relevant stakeholders. Emerging economies were playing a major and increasing role and it made little sense to continue shaping multilateral arrangements as though nothing had changed. He called for thinking creatively and exploring new avenues of action, especially those that included the voice of poorer countries.

Moreover, new multilateral mechanisms geared towards meeting global problems in a global manner were needed, he said. Only in that way would “virtuous cycles” be created in the global development architecture. Finding the right avenues for responding to least developed country needs required new thinking about development cooperation as a whole. A rejuvenated model for international cooperation must be based on the principles of national ownership and leadership, and multi-stakeholder consultation, among other things.

RAPHAEL NGAZOUZE, Minister Delegate for Foreign Affairs of Gabon, said that this Conference showed the renewed intention of the international community to end extreme poverty and integrate the least developed countries into the world economy. The Brussels Programme was a major milestone, resulting in a growth in aid over the past decade. Significant progress in governance and education access also had been made, but great obstacles persisted.

He said his country wanted a total review of methods of poverty alleviation and a harnessing of the synergies of all partners and all resources for the next decade. The application of better technologies and good governance by poor countries was important, but it was clear that those countries could not emerge out of poverty alone; true partnerships were needed to make that happen. Development partners must be fully involved to reach the goals set by the Istanbul programme.

KAN ZAW, Deputy Minister of Economic Planning and Economic Development of Myanmar, describing national development plans in the areas of agriculture, democratization, education, health, development zones, water, social protection, productive capacity, energy, communications and a broad range of other sectors, said that his country was endeavoring to fight poverty, relying mainly on its own resources. However, it was also participating in regional and subregional initiatives, and had been cooperating with United Nations agencies and other partners to support the basic needs of its people.

He added that the country had adopted market-oriented reforms to encourage investment in the private sector and had passed legislation to encourage foreign investment, which had totaled more than $16 billion in 2010. Development partners, international organizations and the private sector must work hand-in-hand with the least developed countries to implement the Istanbul programme of action over the next decade.

KOSTYANTYN GRYSHCHENKO, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Ukraine, expressed his Government’s strong willingness to increase its participation in the United Nations work to respond to emergency situations. It had assisted in Haiti and, in 2009, despite its own problems, had become a donor with the World Food Programme (WFP). New opportunities for involvement in the United Nations work were under consideration. The next task was to devise a practical plan for implementing the outcome of the Millennium Development Goals Summit.

He said that the Istanbul action plan would be an indispensable tool for such work. Access to food supply was the key goal of poverty reduction strategies. Least developed countries’ capacity must be enhanced in that regard through training in the agricultural sector and, with that in mind, his Government had allocated 300 scholarships in that field to African States for 2010-2012.

Conflict settlement in least developed countries also was exceptionally important and he welcomed the appropriate reflection on that issue in the Istanbul outcome. For their part, Ukrainian police and military were involved in seven United Nations peacekeeping operations, notably in Sierra Leone, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Côte d’Ivoire.

BOB MCMULLAN, Minister and Special Envoy of the Prime Minister of Australia, said the vulnerability faced by least developed countries must be redefined to include the concept of climate vulnerability. A renewed commitment was crucial to meet the needs of the most poor. In that regard, South-South cooperation and effective coordination among all development actors was key and, with that in mind, Australia was increasingly working in partnership with poor countries. “We do what we say,” he asserted, noting that Australia, as pledged, had doubled its ODA between 2005 and 2010 and was on track to double it again between 2010 and 2015.

He said the average growth rate of Australian public spending was around 1 per cent. As promised at the 2010 Millennium Development Goals Summit to focus on least developed countries, Australian funding would increase by 20 per cent and account for one third of its ODA. In December 2010, the Government had increased its contribution to debt relief, pledging $830 million, 20 per cent higher than its previous contribution. It also had substantially increased its engagement with United Nations funds and programmes.

Most important, however, was Australia’s partnership with individual countries, he said, citing climate change and food insecurity as priorities. Climate change had the potential to affect food and water supplies, and existentially impact societies. Australia had committed $600 million to “fast start” financing in the 2010-2012 period, not less than half of which would go towards adaption. With food insecurity impacting low-income, food deficit countries, Australia had committed $100 million to an African food initiative and would look to expand that work on a bilateral basis.

Finally, he said there was no path out of poverty without trade, noting that Australia had been among the first to give unilateral non-reciprocal access to least developed country exports. His Government felt the Istanbul action plan should have an accountability mechanism. In sum, he looked forward to the day when there was no longer a need for action plans.

AURELIA FRICK, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Liechtenstein, said that the least developed countries must be at the centre of international attention in order for the world to reach the Millennium Development Goals, particularly in the context of multiple crises. A strengthened global partnership must help the poorest countries become more resilient in the face of such crises and to achieve sustained growth. Aid commitments must be fulfilled and aid effectiveness must be increased. Good governance and the rule of law were essential, and corruption and organized crime must be addressed. Her country’s international development agency strongly supported initiatives to recover assets stolen by such crime.

She advocated for a holistic approach to development that integrated all pillars of the United Nations Charter, including peace and security and respect for human rights. Armed violence and crimes against humanity were a major impediment to sustainable development. Gender equality and an active civil society were necessary. She also supported social protection schemes and youth development. An increased focus on the needs of the young was particularly important as youth under 25 made up a majority of the population in most least developed countries. Hers respected the goal of 0.7 per cent for ODA, with a particular focus on the poorest countries. She pledged that her country would maintain that focus.

SVEN ALKALAJ, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Bosnia and Herzegovina, said that the international community should not rest until the number of countries in the least developed category was greatly reduced. For that to happen, methods must be improved to match the challenges. In that regard, development partners should increase their aid to the poorest countries and forge an active partnership. His country was fully devoted to the fulfillment of the Brussels Programme.

As a country that recently managed to rebuild from the devastation of war, with the generous help of the international community, Bosnia and Herzegovina’s aim was sustainability and economic growth through the coordination and support of the entire international community, he said. In that context, the current meeting was an opportunity for new ideas and valuable exchange of experiences to come up with global solutions and lend globalization “a sense of solidarity and a more human face”.

NICKOLAY MLADENOV, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Bulgaria, aligning with the European Union, welcomed the progress made by some countries in improving certain health indicators, which showed what was possible with genuine will and international cooperation. That only three countries had graduated, however, showed that efforts were far from satisfactory. Least developed countries were vulnerable to global crises in food, finance and fuel, which, taken together, had impeded achievement of the Millennium Development Goals.

Indeed, the need for better partnership was stronger than ever, he said, citing the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities, among others. Least developed countries, for their part, should redouble their efforts to fight corruption, and advance good governance, inclusive growth, gender equality and women’s empowerment. On the other side, development partners — traditional and emerging donors, civil society and the private sector included — should better target their assistance pledges.

He went on to say that Bulgaria, for more than 20 years, had neglected its partnerships, having given priority to full membership in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the European Union. It wished to return to its partnerships, notably with the least developed countries, which it hoped to consider its “new friends”. It would rejoin the donor community and had created opportunities to do so.

His country aimed to shoulder its duty to assist them in achieving the Millennium Development Goals and tackling humanitarian crises, he said, noting Bulgaria’s recent provision of transport for Sudanese nationals fleeing fighting in Libya. Bulgaria was building its capacity as a development aid donor and was finalizing a programme to provide both bilateral and multilateral funding. It would add value to the understanding of development issues, especially in communications between donors and recipients, with a focus on democratizing that process.

EVALDAS IGNATAVICIUS, Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs of Lithuania, noting that his country had transformed quickly from recipient to donor country since obtaining its independence 20 years ago, said that, being a comparatively small donor, its bilateral assistance focused on a few priority countries, from Eastern Europe to the Middle East, in which Lithuania had a comparative advantage arising from its own State-building experience. Describing in particular, the country’s efforts in Afghanistan, he affirmed the importance of women’s empowerment in efforts to end extreme poverty.

He said that mutual accountability, aid effectiveness, a targeted, results-oriented investment of development money, as well as mobilization of domestic policies and resources were the key to overcoming the problems facing the least developed countries. The Conference should be an important step towards a renewed and strengthened global partnership to achieve internationally agreed development goals, including the Millennium Development Goals.

KRZYSZTOF STANOWSKI, Under Secretary of State at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Poland, aligning with the European Union, said the outcome of the Istanbul Conference would strengthen the global partnership for all stakeholders. Solidarity should remain the main focus, as a broad consensus was key to bringing equality to common endeavours. International efforts should create a favourable internal and external environment for inclusive economic growth.

He said that the fragility of least developed countries must be addressed and it was essential to underline that the responsibility for development lay with each country. The principles of national ownership and leadership were of prime importance for the implementation of development strategies, as were those of freedom, democracy and good governance. Human rights and rule of law must be respected. Such aims would be fulfilled only when coupled with gender equality and women’s empowerment.

The successful implementation of development strategies also depended on civil society and the private sector, he said, urging authorities to create partnerships with those actors. Civil society had helped to build a sense of social community, while entrepreneurship was needed for enhancing productive capacities. The international community had the tools to support maintenance of peace and security, which must be integrated with development goals aimed at national reconstruction.

For its part, Poland was promoting global cooperation for development, he said, and since 2004, had committed to providing assistance in line with European Union regulations. Its multilateral and bilateral aid reached least developed countries in Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. The country also had contributed 40 million euros to the European Development Fund and had provided its fair share of climate change support to least developed countries for the 2010-2012 period, as “fast start” financing could encourage countries to move towards a low-emission development path.

FRANCES-GALATIA LANITOU WILLIAMS, Director of Development Cooperation, Humanitarian Assistance and International Financial Organizations at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Cyprus, also aligning with the European Union, said progress in reaching human and social goals had been visible, but also varied and slow, with large imbalances persisting among least developed countries. Structural transformation had been very limited and kept countries vulnerable to external shocks.

She said that national development cooperation for Cyprus, as a new European Union member and donor, was evolving. A substantial amount of its bilateral aid was dedicated to least developed countries. Its “fast start” contribution would be made through the Union’s Climate Change Alliance. The new development partnership should focus on traditional as well as new and emerging challenges that increased countries’ vulnerability, and redefine priorities to address them.

While ODA was still the principal source of development financing, she said a rebalancing was required. What was needed was not just a scaling up of development aid, but also a qualitative increase, and with that in mind, private financial flows should be explored. As new players had emerged on the international scene, she also underscored the importance of harnessing the benefits of South-South and triangular cooperation, with graduation the ultimate aim.

DAFFA-ALLA ELHAG ALI OSMAN of Sudan said that current economic conditions presented a major problem for least developed countries, due to crises, scarce aid resources and slowed trade. In that urgent situation, review and assessment mechanisms were needed to monitor implementation of the new action programme. Reduction of debt was important, particularly for those countries emerging from crisis. Assistance in creating an agricultural renaissance also could help overall development in each country.

Sudan, he said, was also interested in South-South and regional cooperation, and was attempting to implement common programmes in those relationships. The international community should help provide resources, technology and other tools to advance that goal. His country was engaged in establishing peace and an equitable distribution of resources, but continued to face many difficulties in stabilizing the economy, owing to such global challenges as climate change, for which a national mitigation programme had been established.

He said his Government was endeavoring to honour all of its commitments in establishing peace and transparency, but it had not obtained debt relief, improved trade status or other benefits. He called for an end to all discrimination in regard to foreign debt. Commitments to eradicating poverty through sustainable development must be maintained, without political discrimination. He stressed the importance of the international community’s responsibility for inclusive development and the need to deepen international cooperation for that purpose.

ABOUBACAR IBRAHIM ABANI ( Niger) said that the Conference was an optimal opportunity to strengthen international partnership in improving the situation for the least developed countries. In that context, he welcomed the excellent results obtained in negotiating the outcome document. He looked for greater commitment from donors, both traditional and new. He also recognized the responsibilities of the countries themselves to improve governance and mobilize domestic resources.

The Government and people of his country, he said, would work together to overcome the problems of his drought-plagued, landlocked country, which was currently focused on achieving food self-sufficiency. That required water projects, along with considerable financial resources. Other projects envisioned included an agricultural development bank and food processing infrastructure. He described efforts in Government and financial reform also being undertaken by his country, along with women’s empowerment. All those endeavours required considerable support, and he hoped that the Conference would result in strengthened international solidarity.

LUIS ALFONSO DE ALBA, Special Envoy for Climate Change of Mexico, aligning with the forthcoming statement to be made on behalf of the Rio Group, said solidarity and cooperation with least developed countries was an economic and political obligation of the international community. The draft Istanbul action plan was well-oriented to achieve the goal of seeing half of the least developed countries graduate by 2020. Indeed, its relevance should be measured by the graduation rate, and with that in mind, he called for donors to fulfil their obligations to increase ODA.

It was also important that the least developed countries include in the Istanbul plan their own national development programmes, he said, lamenting that the Brussels action plan had not been achieved. The populations most affected by the food crisis and rising food prices were in least developed countries and the same applied to climate change. The Cancún agreement, adopted last December, had been a unique opportunity to strengthen actions to improve their conditions, and he called for its full and immediate implementation.

Mexico, for its part, had contributed to least developed country development through South-South and triangular cooperation, he asserted. In Haiti, for example, Mexico had set up a transport system for delivering humanitarian assistance for 1,300 people, while Mexican doctors had provided help to many others. It also had provided $800 million to Haiti for both institutional strengthening and social programmes. The use of South-South cooperation, however, did not mean that donors could postpone their obligation to allocate 0.7 per cent of their GDP to ODA.

JORGE DÍAZ, Vice Minister of Health of Chile, on behalf of the Rio Group, said he supported the goal of seeing half the least developed countries graduate in the next decade. For that to happen, strong political will was needed, especially by developed countries and international organizations. Expressing concern that ODA had been affected by a lack of resources in developed countries, he called on traditional donors to increase or at least maintain ODA levels.

Reiterating the need to avoid protectionism, he stressed that developing countries must reap the most benefit from the Doha Round of global trade talks, and in that context, called for flexibility towards the least developed countries, which must be integrated into the global trade system. Foreign debt also required attention. Cancelling that debt would help least developed countries integrate into the global economic system.

He went on to say that South-South cooperation was an expression of solidarity among developing countries, and the Group, which was composed of middle-income countries, had made tremendous efforts to drive initiatives for the least developed. In no case should it replace North-South cooperation or be understood as a way for donors to dilute or postpone pledges to provide 0.7 per cent of their GDP to development assistance. The right to development was a priority. There were shared but differentiated responsibilities, but also a common objective to create a more just world.

Speaking next in his national capacity, he said Chile prioritized cooperation with least developed countries, citing among its efforts its South-South cooperation programme with countries of equal or lesser development and involvement in triangular cooperation. Moreover, in 2004, Chile had sponsored the initiative against hunger and poverty, and participated in the fight against HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis.

Continuing, he recalled that, in 2006, Chile had become the first country to apply an airport tax, contributing those funds to UNITAID (the International Drug Purchase Facility), to which it had contributed more than $20 million. Reaffirming its solidarity with Haiti, Chile had undertaken several cooperation programmes with small- and medium-sized enterprises and supported United Nations activities in that country. His Government was convinced that the Istanbul action plan would be a significant step forward for least developed countries and he expressed hope that it be implemented as soon as possible.

RUSLAN KAZAKBAEV, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Kyrgyzstan, maintained that a primary reason for the failure of least developed countries to advance significantly in the past decade was their weak participation in international affairs. To help better represent them before “the giants of world politics” and to promote international peace and security, his country had put forth its candidacy for membership in the Security Council for the period 2012-2013. The country strongly supported expanding international cooperation for solving global problems and was ready to make its contributions towards that end.

He described reform initiatives undertaken by his country in conformity with the Brussels Programme of Action — in governance, economic facilitation, the financial sector and provision of social services — and he called for international support in the form of debt relief, which he said was the main obstacle to his country’s rapid development. Despite political and economic problems, his country was working persistently to achieve the Millennium Development Goals. He urged the international community to take special account of problems faced by a mountainous, landlocked country such as his own. Offering to share best practices in development, he called for open discussion of the best international support measures for the least developed countries.

PAUL SEGER ( Switzerland) said that, in order to achieve better results in the next 10 years than the past 10, least developed countries must be made more resilient and significant changes must be made in development strategies. All partners must assume their responsibilities and seriously address the specific problems facing poor countries, including armed conflict. His country was committed to partnerships between traditional donors and their counterparts, but he acknowledged that countries such as Turkey were establishing new partnerships that could prove very effective.

The role of the private sector also was becoming increasingly important, he said, as represented by the growth in the Global Compact programme of the United Nations. Civil society as well was playing a more transformative role, as shown by recent developments in North Africa and the Middle East. In regard to conflict-plagued countries, he said that classical development strategies did not work there, and measures specifically adapted to them must be applied, which prioritized re-establishment of security and rule of law, and prevention of a relapse into conflict. In conclusion, he said his country was ready to face all the specific difficulties of poor countries and to support an approved Istanbul programme of action.

JORGE ENRIQUE ABARCA DEL CARPIO ( Peru) said the structural transformation of least developed countries required the renewed commitment of all. International assistance was an important part of that work for those nations to overcome structural vulnerabilities. Financial support must come in the form of trade liberalization and the development of science and technology capacities. Least developed countries must obtain the greatest possible benefits from world trade, and protectionism must be avoided. The successful outcome of the Doha Round should take into account the existing asymmetries.

He said that South-South and triangular cooperation were signs of solidarity, and such efforts must be encouraged. North-South cooperation also must be strengthened. The General Assembly, in December 2010, had adopted a resolution on culture and development, which was particularly relevant. It contained a call for promoting “cultural tourism”, among other sectors, at a time when employment opportunities could be strengthened through such activities.

Also, there had been recognition of the links between cultural and biological diversity, notably seen in indigenous practices, which were a vehicle for cultural sustainability. With that, he voiced hope that the results of the Conference would lead to the provision of resources needed to achieve least developed country objectives, which aligned with those desired by the entire world.

ETIENNE ALINGUE, Director of Sustainable Development and Solidarity, International Organization of Francophonie, said lack of public investments, poor infrastructure — especially in trade and transportation — inefficient labour markets, poor diversification and competitiveness, as well as low savings rates, all limited least developed countries’ potential. Those factors also directly impacted their ability to achieve good governance, the rule of law and democracy. “We must break this vicious cycle of inefficiency,” he said, urging that least developed countries be given human and other resources to ensure their regional and international integration.

Providing background, he said the Brussels plan had been adopted at a time when the problems to emerge in the new century were as yet unknown and, therefore, could not be measured. The Istanbul Conference now could not ignore those challenges. The proposals contained in the next 10-year programme would directly impact whether country transformations would succeed and bring about a “new civilization”, based on universal principles and values. It was essential to ensure that the new programme was implemented. In that way, new levels of equality, liberty and wealth-sharing would be created.

KALIBA KONARE, Director of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), said the least developed countries still had a long road ahead towards sustainable development. That road was becoming even more difficult as new challenges, such as climate change, were emerging. The international community must leave its old ideas behind and pursue new avenues and tools, chiefly through implementation of the proposed Istanbul action plan.

He said that the plan should emphasize the need for increased investment in upgrading the meteorological and astrological equipment of those countries to aid in climate change adaptation, disaster management and early warning. “We have to invest in this area and the WMO will be a real partner for the least developed countries to this end,” he said.