Preparations for the 13th UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD XIII, 21-26 April 2012, Doha, Qatar) are well underway. As in previous years, a central feature of the civil society dimension of UNCTAD XIII will be the adoption by acclamation of a Civil Society Declaration during the UNCTAD XIII Civil Society Forum, which is then presented to Member States and adopted as an integral part of the Conference Outcome.
To begin the process an international civil society steering group, composed of organizations and networks from around the world, began soliciting inputs among their constituencies and networks to provide elements of an initial draft Declaration (“Zero Draft”) related to the theme and four subthemes of UNCTAD XIII. The draft was issued on 6 March, in time to be integrated in the discussions at the hearing with Members States and civil society that took place on 7 March in Geneva.
The "Zero Draft" is made available for comments and further inputs by civil society organizations, including those planning to attend the UNCTAD XIII Civil Society Forum. Click here to access the document.
How to send comments:
Please enter your comments and suggestions on the following webpage: www.un-ngls.org/unctadxiii/csd
The deadline for receiving comments by civil society is set for 1 April 2012.
For more information on the UNCTAD XIII Civil Society Forum (17-26 April, Doha) and the International Civil Society Steering Group, please visit: http://csfunctad13.org/index.php.
The "Zero Draft" – in support of inclusive and sustainable development
The draft text of the Declaration draws attention to the current global economic and development context, including its challenges, threats and opportunities. It shows civil society’s large concern with the ongoing financial crisis, fast rising inequalities, the global decent work deficit, continued food insecurity, growing climate and ecosystem’s crises, and the erroneous neoliberal policies that are embraced by decision-makers to address these crises, but instead have devastating effects on the lives of people and their families. The draft Declaration therefore speaks of a political and legitimacy crisis, referring to the disconnect between these multiple crises and the apparent “business as usual” attitude of political elites around the globe.
To address this unsustainable situation, civil society reiterates in the draft Declaration its demands for an overhaul in economic governance, a paradigm shift in development and a new global social contract in order to enhance an enabling economic environment at all levels in support of inclusive and sustainable development. To this end, civil society calls for democratically-accountable developmental States; national development strategies; a review of inappropriate trade and investment rules; a rethinking of macro-economic policies; and a transformation of the global financial architecture, including monetary reform, re-regulation of finance and capital movements, the introduction of global taxes, international tax cooperation, commodity market regulation, and effective debt crisis resolution mechanisms.
The draft Declaration further underscores the need for stronger forms of cooperation and partnerships for trade and development, including North-South, South-South and triangular cooperation. At all levels, this should include moving from conventional forms of cooperation based on the mainstream model of liberalization, to cooperation that uses trade and investment to support productive and decent-job generating growth. It also means the rethinking of conventional Aid-for-Trade policies.
Moreover, the draft text showcases civil society’s position in relation to sustainable development, highlighting the need to develop safeguards around the “green economy” concept to avoid that this concept could lead to reinforced economic inequalities, new forms of conditionalities, further commodification of nature, and the introduction of new technologies that do not conform with the Precautionary Principle to protect people and nature from high-risk technologies, as agreed at the Rio Earth Summit in 1992. It further urges a review of trade and investment agreements that undermine sustainable development and calls upon governments to invest in small-holder farmers and to scale up agroecology and the rights of farmers. It also requests that the private sector is made accountable to human rights.
On the role of UNCTAD, the draft Declaration stipulates that the organization should be given a much bigger role in global economic governance to address the multiple crises and in bringing about systematic reforms. It should have a vital role to play in assisting developing countries in addressing diverging agendas and international legal frameworks governing trade, investment, finance and technology. However, it should not facilitate bilateral investment treaties and their equivalent provisions in free trade agreements.
To read the full draft Declaration, click here.