Preparation for and Follow-Up to Regional and International Conferences and Programmes of Action [II]


V. Mid-term Global Review of the Implementation of the Declaration and Programme of Action for the Least Developed Countries for the 1990s

The international community will conduct a global mid-term review of progress made in the imple- mentation of the Declaration and Programme of Action for the Least Developed Countries in the 1990s which was adopted in Paris in September 1990, at a meeting to be convened at New York from 26 September to 6 October 1995. In a separate document which is before the present meeting of the Conference of Ministers (document E/ECA/CM.21/15), the secretariat has attempted an evaluation of the progress achieved by the African LDCs in the implementation of the Paris Declaration and Programme of Action. The document assesses the economic and social conditions in the African LDCs during 1990-1994 by evaluating the overall growth, policy trends and performance, including an in-depth analysis of the social situation in these countries; international support measures as they relate to the fulfillment by Africa's development partners of the targets agreed upon especially on official development assistance (ODA); debt relief and other retroactive and equivalent measures; access to the markets of industrialized countries; and in general, the extent to which partners have assisted the LDCs to attain their development aspirations under the Programme of Action. For the successful implementation of the Programme during the next half of the 1990s, the document defines a new development vision based on new approaches and measures to be adopted by the LDCs in the context of national and global realities of the 1990s.

The Conference may wish to establish a separate committee composed of representatives of the least developed countries and interested partners to examine the document in detail and recommend a common African position on the issues before the global review of the Programme of Action for adoption by the Conference.

VI. Implementation of the United Nations New Agenda for the Development of Africa in the 1990s (UN-NADAF)

A. Introduction

The United Nations New Agenda for the Development of Africa in the 1990s (UN-NADAF), adopted by the General Assembly in December 1991 as a framework for full partnership between Africa and the international community, is based on two principles. On the one hand, it reaffirmed the primary responsibility of African Governments both for economic recovery and for sustainable development. On the other hand, it indicated that Africa's development partners were to provide sustained support to Africa's development efforts, particularly in the specified priority areas.

This note comes as a follow-up to the Secretary-General's report on the preliminary review of the implementation of UN-NADAF submitted to the forty-eighth session of the General Assembly (document A/48/334). The main conclusions of this report were submitted to the twenty-ninth session of the Commis-sion (document E/ECA/CM.20/3). The essential purpose of this note is to report on the progress achieved in the implementation of UN-NADAF and to review prospects for the achievement of its objectives.

B. Overview of the implementation of UN-NADAF

Enthusiasm for Africa's economic recovery and development was maintained both by African Governments and by their development partners. Several of these Governments have made encouraging pro-gress, particularly in terms of macroeconomic policy.

African Governments have also pursued their determination to strengthen regional cooperation with a view to integrating their economies. In this regard, the Abuja Treaty establishing the African Economic Community came into force in May 1994.

On its part, the international community has also contributed to promoting the implementation of UN- NADAF. Several bilateral and multilateral partners have maintained or increased their support to ongoing reforms in the African countries. The Tokyo International Conference on African Development, organized by the Government of Japan in October 1993 and the Asia-Africa Forum held at Bandung in December 1994, were important initiatives aimed at consolidating the bases of wider international coopera-tion for the development of Africa.

As Africa's full partner in the implementation of UN-NADAF, the United Nations system has under-taken to strengthen its coordinating and harmonization role both within the framework of the United Nations Inter-Agency Task Force (UN-IATF) and within the Administrative Committee on Coordination (ACC). In its revised system-wide action plan, the United Nations system has confirmed its resolve to focus on the six priority areas of human resources development; food and agricultural sector and agro- industries develop-ment; economic diversification; growth with equity; enhancement of regional cooperation and integration; and resource mobilization.

The Administrative Committee on Coordination also devoted its September 1994 session to the economic situation of Africa. Officials of the United Nations system of agencies agreed to harmonize their programmes and coordinate their efforts in mobilizing resources for Africa. To this effect, the Secretary-General set up a mechanism under the responsibility of the Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). This mechanism is made up of a lead group which would be supported by the work of UN-IATF and an ad hoc secretariat comprising UNDP, ECA, the Department for Policy Coordination and Sustainable Development and the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF).

As a regional player, ECA continued to perform its catalytic role in the implementation of UN-NADAF and other regional programmes pursuing the same objectives. The Commission intensified its advisory services to member States and its operational activities focusing on the six priority areas of the System-wide Plan of Action.

C. Overall performance

9. Viewed against UN-NADAF objectives, more particularly in terms of GDP growth and the mobiliza-tion of official development assistance (ODA), the results achieved over the past four years have been far from satisfactory. GDP growth in the region has remained very modest (2 per cent in 1991, 0.7 per cent in 1992, 1.1 per cent in 1993 and 2.5 per cent in 1994). The external debt burden of Africa increased particularly for the middle-income countries which had the greatest potential for development. To the fragility of the production system can be added the weakness of institutions and lack of skills and basic infrastructural facilities. The social situation has hardly improved and Africa remains the only region of the world where mass poverty has continued to spread.

African economies are still characterized by a disjointed production structure, low productivity and excessive dependence on the outside world. The efforts of the African States to revive their economies have not always been appropriately supported by the international community. ODA has stagnated at approximately $17.4 billion - well below the level recommended in UN-NADAF. As for private investment, the figure has declined by $3 billion per year on average from 1986-1990 to $2 billion in 1992 at a time when the new flow of private capital to developing countries had reached $113 billion.

D. Conclusions

This brief overview of the economic situation of Africa, more than three years after the adoption of UN-NADAF, constitutes a challenge to the African countries and to the whole international community. It is therefore important, during the review of the implementation of UN-NADAF at the coming session of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), to work out concrete measures for attaining the set objectives.
For that session of ECOSOC, a report is being prepared by the UN-IATF under the supervision of the lead group mentioned earlier. That report will endeavour to describe the situation in African countries relative to the objectives of the programme regarding the assigned role of member States and that of the international community. It will also contain a detailed analysis of efforts made by the United Nations system and proposals for achieving revived growth and sustainable development.

VII. The Seventeenth Extraordinary Session of the OAU Council of Ministers on Economic and Social Issues in African Development

A. Introduction

The tremendous political as well as economic changes which have occurred in the world over the past few years and the persistent socio-economic crisis in Africa prompted African Ministers of Foreign Affairs to recommend the convening of an extraordinary session of the OAU Council of Ministers solely devoted to the review of Africa's economic and social issues. This recommendation was further endorsed by the thirtieth session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government held in Tunis, Tunisia in June 1994.

The main concern behind this initiative was to ensure that Africa takes the required steps to reverse its economic decline and the marked tendency towards its marginalization, in order to remain a credible partner in the world affairs. When taking this decision, the Ministers made it clear that this extraordinary session should not result in a general statement spelling out commitments which would not be implemented, as in the past. Rather the outcome should be an actionable agenda which African countries and their development partners must be able and willing to implement. The purpose of this note is to review the preparations for the session and its likely outcome.

As indicated above, the Ministers were of the view that, in order to make the expected impact, the extraordinary session should not be a mere replication of earlier gatherings on the economic situation in Africa, which achieved little in terms of concrete and implemented measures. In particular, they felt that the session should draw lessons from shortcomings which led to the inadequate implementation of similar initiatives such as the Lagos Plan of Action, Africa's Priority Programme for Economic Recovery (APPER) and the United Nations Programme of Action for African Economic Recovery and Development (UN-PAERD). The outcome of the session was foreseen as a concise and action-oriented programme addressing key issues compounding Africa's development and recommending immediately implementable measures aimed at improving the situation. To this effect, a single document would be presented to the session.

In pursuance of this clear directive, the Joint OAU/ECA/ADB Secretariat started, as early as August 1994, the preparations for the extraordinary session. The first task consisted of identifying the clusters around which the document would be prepared. Then, the Joint Secretariat drafted a preliminary document entitled "Towards relaunching the African development effort". This document was revised on several occasions before it was submitted under the title "Report of the Secretary-General to the special session of the Council of Ministers on economic and social issues in African development" to a meeting of experts of member States held in Addis Ababa in December 1994.

This report, including the amendments of the experts was presented to and reviewed by the sixty-first ordinary session of the OAU Council of Ministers in January 1995. Subsequently, the Joint Secretariat began to draft a new document which will draw from the previous one and which will conform to the initial request of the Ministers in terms of actionable agenda, and which will be considered by the extraordinary session of the Council of Ministers.

The second document was reviewed and revised at a meeting held in February 1995 in Cairo between the Joint Secretariat, Egypt (the host country of the extraordinary session) and Tunisia (Current Chairman of OAU). This draft document, entitled "Relaunching African economic and social development: The Cairo Agenda for Action" was submitted for consideration, amendments and adoption to a meeting of intergovernmental experts on 25 and 26 March 1995 and to the extraordinary session on 27 and 28 March 1995, both in Cairo. The draft document was divided into three parts, namely:

(a) What African countries can do for themselves;

(b) What they expect from their development partners; and

(c) What should be the follow-up mechanism.

In the first part, the main clusters of issues are governance, peace, stability and development; food security; human resources development and capacity building; effective mobilization and efficient utilization of domestic resources; and regional economic cooperation and integration.

With respect to the international community, three issues have been raised with practical and realistic proposals, namely the establishment of a genuine partnership which takes into account Africa's main concerns; the debt overhang; and the need to diversify Africa's commodities.

On the follow-up mechanism, although member States are entrusted with the primary responsibility for the implementation of the Agenda, on several occasions it calls upon the Joint Secretariat to provide all necessary support in the implementation process.