Pacific Islands Forum Ministers and other high-level representatives participated in the 13th United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD XIII) held last month in Doha, Qatar.
The theme of the conference was ‘Development–Centred Globalisation: Towards Inclusive and Sustainable Growth and Development’.
UNCTAD XIII was attended by 5000 participants from the organisation’s 194 members, including heads of state and ministers responsible for trade and development.
Pacific participants at UNCTAD XIII included the Honourable Fonotoe Nuafesili Pierre Lauofo, Deputy Prime Minister of Samoa; the Honourable Clay Forau Soaloi, Minister of Foreign Affairs and External Trade for the Solomon Islands; and the Honourable Apisai Ielemia, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Trade, Tourism, Environment and Labour for Tuvalu. The delegations of Vanuatu and Papua New Guinea were headed by their Brussels-based Ambassadors.
The Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat is an observer organisation to UNCTAD. The Permanent Delegation of the Pacific Islands Forum to the World Trade Organization (WTO), based in Geneva, assisted with advancing Pacific interests at the pre-Conference negotiations in Geneva and then provided on the ground support for Pacific delegations in Doha.
Established in 1964, UNCTAD is a platform for countries to promote their integration into the world economy. It undertakes research, policy analysis and data collection, and has a work programme on the challenges facing Small Island Developing States (SIDS), including Forum Island Countries.
Members of UNCTAD meet every four years to renew the mandate of the organisation through an outcome document that is negotiated by member delegates.
UNCTAD XIII’s outcome document, “The Doha Mandate”, specifically recognises the trade and development challenges of SIDS on issues of climate change, attracting investment and transport and trade logistics. The Doha Mandate importantly reaffirmed UNCTAD’s role in the implementation of the Barbados Programme of Action and the Mauritius Strategy for the Sustainable Development of SIDS.
In the General Debate, Minister Forau outlined the steps that the Solomon Islands Government has put in place through the National Development Strategy (2011-2020) to improve the livelihoods of all Solomon Islanders. He highlighted UNCTAD’s critical role in giving a voice to small countries like the Solomon Islands. Minister Forau also called for reform to the international financial and economic systems so that developing countries can contribute more fully to the debate.
In his statement at the General Debate, the Deputy Prime Minister of Samoa expressed his appreciation for the work and support offered by UNCTAD to date and encouraged further future engagement:
“Samoa has also been vigilant in advancing critical mandates identified and agreed upon within UNCTAD and deemed critical for integration of economies into the global economy. Our recent accession to the WTO in December 2011 demonstrates that, Samoa has delivered on UNCTAD’s overarching mandate.”
At a special high-level forum, Vanuatu’s Ambassador to the European Union, His Excellency Roy Mickey Joy outlined Vanuatu’s experience with respect to the issue of graduation from Least Developed Country (LDC) status. He re-iterated that it was very important that graduating countries receive adequate support from development partners to make their transition a smooth one.
Australia’s Parliamentary Secretary for Pacific Island Affairs, Richard Marles, highlighted the special needs of SIDS in his address to the General Debate.
”The challenges of affordable power where it is derived from diesel generators and imported fuel, the need for greater regionalism to overcome small and isolated populations in areas as diverse as universities or fishing, … all of these are shared experiences of all SIDS,” said Mr Marles.
Several other events were held in conjunction with UNCTAD XIII including the World Investment Forum, a Women in Development Forum and a Civil Society Forum.