London, 30 March 2011: The UK government must carry through its focus on low-income countries as development partners by strengthening its commitments at the forthcoming UN Conference in Istanbul, said Dr Arjun Karki, Coordinator of LDC Watch, an international NGO based in Nepal.

“In addition, we call on the UK government and UK civil society to ensure that the principle of country ownership extends to the ownership of development. We urge our friends here to help ensure that the vast amount of funds that some governments invest in military spending, often against the wishes of their own citizens, could instead be invested in the delivery of essential services and the provision of social protection to LDC citizens”. 

Dr Karki was addressing a high-level meeting in London held by BOND and the Overseas Development Institute on Least Developed Countries in the run-up to a United Nations meeting to be held in Istanbul in May. Today’s meeting, chaired by ODI Director Alison Evans, brought together Cheick Sidi Diarra UN Under-Secretary-General and High Representative for the LDCs, Stephen O’Brien, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for International Development, and Dr Arjun Karki from LDC Watch.

Rights not charity – the new development paradigm

In describing the new paradigm for development Arjun Karki asked the UK government and civil society to help build a programme for LDC development action based on “rights not charity”, rather than continue with ‘so-called’ solutions.

Turning to climate change Arjun Karki warned that without immediate action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, LDCs would continue to bear the brunt: “Serious mitigation actions on the part of developed and developing countries are non-negotiable”, he said, and urged the UK government to defend the principle of climate justice in on-going international negotiations.

For more details about LDC Watch and the forthcoming UN conference, please contact Daphne Davies, LDC Watch media coordinator on: 0777 023 0251

Notes to editors:

Least Developed Countries are a group of the world’s 48 poorest countries, where more than half the population live on less than US$1 a day. The fourth UN LDC conference (LDC-IV) will be in Istanbul 9-13 May.

LDC Watch is an umbrella group of civil society groups from LDCs. www.ldcwatch.org

Bond is the UK membership body for non-governmental organisations (NGOs) working in international development. www.bond.org.uk