Seventy-fifth Session of the United Nations General Assembly
Second Committee Agenda Item 23 on
"Groups of Countries in Special Situations"
United Nations, New York, October 8, 2020
Attention to groups of countries in special situations must remain high on the agenda of the Second Committee. My Delegation would welcome discussions on how to expand this focus in the years to come.
Least Developed Countries (LDCs)
The Programme of Action for the Least Developed Countries for the Decade 2011–2020 (“Istanbul Programme of Action”) is now in its final year. Significant efforts have advanced its implementation and noteworthy progress has been made, including steady advancement in some LDCs towards eventual graduation.
At the same time, the expiration of the Programme of Action is not – and should not be – the end of the road. The Secretary-General points out in his report that important goal indicators, such as those on poverty eradication, hunger, education, ecosystems and protected areas, have seen little development. Furthermore, the negative impact of the pandemic on LDCs – from severe drops in remittances, international trade and travel, and the potential loss in development aid – remains to be fully charted and tailored measures for recovery will need to be designed and implemented.
The Holy See looks forward to the Fifth United Nations Conference of the Least Developed Countries, postponed due to the pandemic to 2022. Based on the most recent data and indicators, the conference should undertake a comprehensive appraisal of the implementation of the Programme of Action and set out a course based on the concrete realities on the ground and the development needs and plans of LDC’s that will guide us in years to come. Coinciding with the decade of action for the Sustainable Development Goals, the next programme of action for LDCs will provide a crucial opportunity to address the specific challenges of least developed countries and to ensure that they are not left behind.
Landlocked Developing Countries (LLDCs)
Last year marked the halfway point of the implementation of the Vienna Programme of Action for Landlocked Developing Countries (VPoA).
The first five years saw progress made in the implementation of the VPoA, notably in the areas of trade, transit facilitation and infrastructure. My Delegation also welcomes that broader advances were made, including on healthcare and education, during the quinquennium. It is also noteworthy that this progress has been supported and accompanied by the regional, sub-regional and multilateral initiatives that advance integral and sustainable development.
While progress should be welcomed, more remains to be done to implement the six priority areas of the Vienna Programme of Action, ensuring that people in LLDCs are not left behind in achieving sustainable development. In his report, the Secretary-General notes that LLDCs have “exhibited mixed progress towards their socioeconomic development and the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.” The Holy See must also draw attention to the concerning fact that at the time of the High-Level Midterm Review, one third of the LLDCs’ population is still living in poverty, the unemployment rate has increased, and the average proportion of people with access to safe drinking water and sanitation facilities remains very low, especially in rural areas.
During this second half of the decade for the implementation of the VPoA, it is vital to provide enhanced support to LLDCs to enable them to consolidate progress made and increase efforts aimed at filling gaps and ensuring further advances. Mobilizing adequate financing, increasing investments, including in disaster risk reduction and climate action, as well as strengthening partnerships at all levels are among the most needed actions to achieve more inclusive and sustainable economic growth, and thus contribute to sustainable and integral development.
In particular, balanced rules and trade facilitation measures are key to ensure the integration of LLDCs into the global economy and to improve their connectivity. Making trade truly inclusive is not only crucial for developing the full potential of LLDCs in the economy, but it is also a common responsibility towards the realization of equity and prosperity for all. In this regard, it must be recalled that ethical criteria should form the basis of international economic relations, including “the pursuit of the common good and the universal destination of goods; equity in trade relationships; and attention to the rights and needs of the poor in policies concerning trade and international cooperation.”
Small Island Developing States (SIDS)
The Holy See is pleased to note signs of progress in several priority areas of the SAMOA Pathway. They include waste management and sanitation facilities, the success of a number of pilot projects on disaster waste management, the promotion of the Global Action Programme on food security and nutrition. We also note the encouraging and tangible steps in providing educational and entrepreneurial opportunities to youth and people in vulnerable situations, enhancing youth participation in policy dialogue and policy development process, as well as increasing access for women to finance and the workforce.
Despite the progress, the latest report of the Secretary-General clearly shows that many development priority areas still require greater attention, like the fight against the multiple dimensions of poverty, the need for a more equitable and inclusive economic growth, and the creation of more solid and reliable social protection systems. These areas are interconnected and are central to the advancement of an integral human development that is truly capable of leaving no one behind. We must strengthen our efforts to work on these areas, taking into account that gaps and challenges in SIDS also include inadequate water and sanitation services, lack of sustainable transportation, inadequate development finance, as well as inequalities between men and women, including income inequality and unequal participation in the workforce and in public life.
From this perspective, we cannot forget that some of the most significant threats to SIDS are related to climate change. When we talk about rising sea levels and climate unpredictability, we are not just referring to environmental or development issues: we are dealing with an existential threat, especially considering the tiny and low-lying lands and the geographical remoteness of SIDS.
In order to continue to build upon the progress already achieved in LDCs, LLDCs and SIDS, it is essential that the international community renews its attention to the specific needs and circumstances of countries in special situations and reaffirms its full commitment to support them in their pursuit of integral and sustainable development.
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Cf. GA resolution 73/242.
Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, 364.