U.S. Statement for the UNCTAD Trade and Development Board

delivered by USAID Senior Development Counselor Elizabeth Hogan
September 14, 2009

I would like to first, to congratulate Ambassador Feyder (Luxembourg) on his election as President of the Trade and Development Board and to thank Ambassador Djani of Indonesia for his exceptional service in the same capacity. I also wish to congratulate the Vice Presidents on their election to the Board. We look forward to working together to ensure a faithful and full implementation of the Accra Accord.

The United States welcomes the statement made by the European Union and expresses our support for the main points in that statement. We agree that we need to work together to solve global problems and that effective collaboration among national governments, international organizations, and civil society are key to that success. We agree that we need to modernize and adapt our institutions and approaches to address challenges; we support and welcome efforts to do so based on lessons learned, thoughtful reflection, and effective, inclusive consultations. We believe developing countries must be a central part of any strategy.

The United States also believes that open markets and open investment regimes will be essential to global economic recovery. In this regard we welcome the work of the G-20 to ensure that the international community responds to the financial crisis with open markets and investment regimes, coupled with regulation in the public interest and responsible business conduct. We applaud UNCTAD’s contribution to monitoring the impact of the financial crisis on investment, in collaboration with the OECD. UNCTAD can further assist some of the countries most hurt by the crisis through technical assistance to ensure they benefit fully from international investment, particularly by building their capacity to effectively manage investor-state dispute resolution.

We would also like to draw attention to UNCTAD’s work on food security and in that regard highlight five key principles to achieving food security identified in the “L’Aquila” Joint Statement on Global Food Security. These principles are first, address the underlying causes of hunger by advancing agriculture, reducing under-nutrition and increasing the impact of humanitarian assistance. Second, invest in country-led plans to ensure impact and sustainability. Third, improve coordination to increase efficiency and greater leverage resources. Fourth, leverage the strengths of multilateral institutions to expand our collective outreach. Finally, have a sustained and accountable commitment by development partners with demonstrable results. We believe these principles provide useful guidance for all work on food security and encourage UNCTAD to apply them in its work.

Now the key question for us today is how can UNCTAD contribute more effectively to supporting international efforts to recover from the financial crisis and address food security? We would like to hear from the Secretariat which of its technical assistance programs has been most effective in helping countries respond to the financial crisis. We also would like to hear from developing countries which UNCTAD technical assistance programs and research has been most helpful to them in responding to the crisis.

Along with hearing from the Secretariat and development partners about what UNCTAD research and technical assistance has and hasn’t worked, we would like to highlight two areas where we believe UNCTAD can continue to improve: communications, and focusing of UNCTAD’s research and technical assistance on areas where UNCTAD has a comparative advantage.

We welcome UNCTAD’s new communications strategy and website portal on technical assistance. We encourage UNCTAD to devote sufficient and defined resources to implement that strategy. We also ask UNCTAD to ensure that its Communications staff has the qualifications and expertise to most effectively represent UNCTAD and utilize new technologies that make it ever easier for UNCTAD to reach and learn from its primary clients in developing countries. UNCTAD needs a core group of communications professionals who can train all UNCTAD staff to participate in, and contribute to, UNCTAD’s communications outreach.

Second, we would like to reiterate some suggestions we made at the Executive session of the TDB but which we did not have time to discuss in detail. We believe UNCTAD has a unique role in the development community through its mandate to be the focal point for the UN system on trade and development and through the possibility of synergies among its three pillars of work: research and analysis; consensus building; and technical assistance. In order to more effectively perform its mandate and help partners better understand the scope of UNCTAD’s projects, we encourage UNCTAD to evaluate its technical assistance programs, and if appropriate, to explain how each project, based on its utility, might be scaled up or spun off to another organization.

UNCTAD should consider organizing its projects into those that are well established and well known UNCTAD products, such as ASYCUDA, DMFAS, EMPRETEC and Investment Policy Reviews, and those that are new projects growing out of UNCTAD’s research and consensus building. The latter group could then be monitored by UNCTAD and member states to determine whether they merit either being scaled up and added to UNCTAD’s menu of proven technical assistance products, spun off to a partner development organization or NGO, or discontinued.

In this way the synergies between UNCTAD’s research and analysis, consensus building and technical assistance could be strengthened. Research should be the trigger that initiates a project. Then analysis of the project should lead to finite findings and either discontinuation of the project, or validation of its impact and a strategy for expansion either through UNCTAD or a partner. The consensus building function could be used not only to publicize research findings and share experiences, but also to attract additional funding for successful projects, to refine and improve ongoing projects, and as a source for new research ideas.

Finally, we would like to conclude our statement by emphasizing that we believe UNCTAD can play an important role in strengthening international cooperation. UNCTAD has a large and important mandate in the Accra Accord. We encourage UNCTAD to faithfully and fully implement that mandate and to refrain from conflict-creating efforts to expand that mandate. In this regard, we remind UNCTAD that its mandate on Climate Change as written in paragraph 100 of the Accra Accord is to “consider “ climate change. UNCTAD does not have a mandate to do independent work focused on climate change; any such work is an inappropriate expansion of what was agreed in Accra. Further, UNCTAD should not duplicate the work ongoing in other bodies, particularly the UNFCCC, which is the internationally recognized forum for negotiating climate change issues and setting the climate change policy agenda. We must be sure that neither UNCTAD’s work nor its reports encroach on those important deliberations. We look forward to working with UNCTAD in the important areas that fall within its mandate and continue to applaud the vital work being done in those areas.

Thank you.