MAHABIR PAUDYAL

ANTALYA, Turkey, May 30: After three days of intensive deliberations and review, the United Nations' Mid-term Review of Istanbul Program of Action for the Least Developed Countries has concluded with adoption of political declaration that contains renewed commitment, recommendations and way forward for LDCs.

The 120-point political declaration has made Istanbul Program of Action (IPoA) implementation a high priority apart from promise to make technological bank fully operational by 2017 and continued Official Development Assistance for LDCs among other things.

Reading the declaration, Gyan Chandra Acharya, Under-Secretary General and High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States told the gathering: "We reaffirm our commitment to the full, effective and timely implementation of Istanbul Program of Action. We also reaffirm our commitment to the full and timely implementation of the 2013 agenda for Sustainable Development and our support for mainstreaming it into the national development policies and programs of the least developed countries."

The Nepali diplomat had chaired the global meeting with around 2,000 delegates here in Antalya.

The United Nations has recommended integrating IPoA into national and sectorial development plans of LDCs and their development partners to continue to integrate the programs of action into the national cooperation policy frameworks. The declaration focuses on women empowerment and violence against women as well. We must work to strengthen our attention to the full and effective participation of women and girls at decision making of all levels as well as the elimination of discrimination, all forms of violence and harmful practices against women and girls, including child, early and forced marriage and female genital mutilation, the declaration reads.

The UN body has reiterated its support to LDCs in matters of financing, science and technological innovation, resilience building, infrastructure and energy, good governance and human and social development to facilitate smooth and fast graduation of LDCs. The review meeting has recommended the General Assembly to hold Fifth United Nations Conference on the Least Developed Countries in 2021.

Various UN agencies, government organizations, private sector agencies and members of civil society had offered their recommendations during the deliberation sessions that lasted until Sunday.

LDC Civil Society Forum comprising representatives from 48 Least Developed Countries (LDCs) has called for a set of time-bound, specific and result-oriented guidelines to promote sustainable post-graduation development of the world's poorest countries.

Issuing its 19-point recommendation here on Saturday, it has asked UN bodies and international community "to pay special attention to those LDCs who have been undergoing painfully protracted political transition after internal conflicts, natural disasters and severe economic crisis towards building sustainable peace and transformation of just and equitable societies." Without it, the declaration notes, the overarching goal of eradicating poverty, achieving internationally agreed development goals and enabling graduation of at least 50 percent of the LDCs by 2020 could remain a distant dream.

LDC Civil Society Forum has also demanded immediate and unconditional cancellation of all LDC debt. Gauri Pradhan, international coordinator of the LDC Watch, had handed 19-point recommendation to Gyan Chandra Acharya on behalf of LDC Civil Society Forum.

Likewise, Chandra Prasad Dhakal, Chairman of Global IME Bank, offered recommendations on behalf of LDCs' private sector. "Private sector can play a significant role in resource mobilization, building human capital, advancing technical innovation and generating mass employment," he said during round table discussion with delegates. Dhakal also elaborated on Nepal's graduation challenges. "The devastating earthquake of the last year followed by the supply disturbances severely affected the economy of Nepal," he said.

The conference on MTR, hosted by Government of Turkey and United Nations Office of High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing countries and Small Island Developing States (UNOHRLLS), has assessed the implementation status of Istanbul Pogram of Action (IPoA) for 2011-2020 adopted in 2011 in Istanbul in its 120-point declaration. The 2011 IPoA among other things had enshrined an ambitious policy agenda to overcome structural challenges faced by the LDCs in order to eradicate poverty, achieve internationally agreed development goals and enable graduation of at least 24 LDCs by 2020.

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