Permanent Mission to UN

Statement by the Permanent Representative of Cuba to the United Nations, Ambassador Orlando Requeijo Gual, at the informal consultation on the Report of the Millennium Project. New York, 10 February, 2005.

Mr. President,

Firstly, my delegation would like to join the statement made by the distinguished representation of Jamaica, on behalf of the G-77 and China. Likewise, we join the appreciation expressed to you for convening this informal consultation offering us, thereby, the opportunity to exchange on the different proposals contained in the Report submitted by the Millennium Project, a document which undoubtedly covers items of great importance for the group of developing countries.

We have before us a large document we are still reviewing. The opinions we will share here today have risen from the review of its content and from the valuable exchanges in which we have participated with those mainly responsible for the Millennium Project. Although many other things may be said about a text like this, we will focus on the main recommendations contained in the Report.

Firstly and in general terms, we shall express that although we understand the specific mandate entitled to the authors of the Report, it is important for my delegation to underline that development is a large-scope and complex process which cannot be limited to the eight Millennium Development Goals. The fulfillment of these goals shall be conceived only as a step towards the achievement of more ambitious objectives in all fields, some of which have been concretely reflected in the result of diverse UN conferences and summits. Thus, they likewise constitute unavoidable commitments of the international community and a substantial part of the North-South cooperation Agenda.

We have analyzed, from this perspective, the recommendations of this text which, though deserving special attention due to the importance of the issues they cover, only pursue partial responses within a limited spectrum of the problems our countries face.

From this train of thought, the proposal of adopting MDG-based poverty reduction strategies contained in the first three recommendations of the Report shall, thus, be understood within the broad context of national development strategies, which shall strictly respond to the necessities and priorities of each country. It is important to lay stress on this point referring to the fact that the right of each people to choose its own socio-economic development model cannot be undermined in any way.

On the other hand, we consider important that basic questions as those stated in the so-called "group of Quick Win actions" proposed in the context of Recommendation No.5, have finally deserved this acknowledgement.

Nevertheless, we are concerned about the lack of more concrete proposals on how to put into practice such actions. Its attainment undoubtedly requires a leading role of the State which has tried to be weakened too much throughout many years of dedication to indiscriminate privatization as a solution to development problems, as part of the imposition of the neoliberal model whose resounding failure is increasingly evident.

The list of elements identified here may include many other actions aimed at solving other many difficulties faced nowadays by poor countries, which in many cases lack a strong and well-structured public sector, as a result of the implementation of the aforementioned policies.

The support of regional nature initiatives, made reference to in Recommendation No. 6, is positive. As to national development strategies and their alignment to these kinds of initiatives, our previous considerations on the national ownership of such decisions are valid.

Recommendation No. 7 covers an item of prime importance for poor countries: Official Development Assistance. Throughout the years, our nations have observed, with concern and deep disappointment, the failure to comply with this ancient commitment by developed countries. Thus, it is imperative to demand its most immediate fulfillment without any kind of conditionalities. In this point, it is important to recall that ODA constitutes an essential source of resources for the financing of development priorities that are not only limited to the Millennium Development Goals.

Trade is another item particularly relevant for our countries and, in this sense, we are pleased to witness the emphasis made in the Report. However, Recommendation No. 8 seems to be quite limited in comparison with the analysis of trade issues contained in the Report. It neither seems to be an adequate reflection of the agreements achieved within the World Trade Organization. We would like to add that the debate on international trade shall not be restricted to the framework of WTO. It is indispensable to underline the main role of the United Nations in this regard, as a universal forum for the discussion of these issues.

We are also pleased that Recommendation No. 9 is in charge of the progress of science and its financing, one of the most critical areas for our countries' development. Nevertheless, we shall emphasize on the importance of adequate scientific and technological transfer to developing countries, which shall be the main recipients of the advances resulting from research in these fields. Altogether, the urgent necessity of fostering the capacity of our peoples aimed at the development of our own scientific and technological potential should be mentioned.

Recommendation No. 10 comprises the role of United Nations agencies, funds and programmes in the field, to support the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals. All in all, we favor this approach, but it is our concern that only this role is entrusted to the United Nations within this process. The most important intergovernmental spaces in the hands of this Organization to enhance progress of the international development agenda, such as ECOSOC and the General Assembly are not mentioned here. These bodies shall be strengthened in order to carry out the main role entitled to them in this regard.

Mr. President,

We have left for the end, our comment on Recommendation No. 4 as it is of great concern to our delegation. The identification of a list of countries who allegedly would be defined as MDG "fast-track" countries so that they get a rapid scale-up of ODA under the basis of controversial criteria on good governance and absorptive capacity is, for us, a distorting element of the principles of impartiality and non-selectivity which shall guide the granting of such assistance.

In any of the statements of the international commitments adopted in relation to ODA, there are elements linked to attaining conditionalities. This would just be unacceptable for the group of developing countries. It calls our attention that one of the criteria chosen to measure the so-called "good behavior" is that implemented by the most powerful Member State of this Organization, which at the same time accounts for the poorest record of Official Development Assistance.

Any attempt to legitimize donor countries' interference in our national development policies shall be categorically rejected as their formulation constitutes an essential sovereignty act of our States.

In this regard, we shall not fail to insist on the importance of promoting important changes in the global order allowing the creation of an international enabling environment for the progress of our nations, free of sanctions and unilateral coercive measures and of all kinds of conditionalities that only attempt to load on the shoulders of our peoples the historical, moral, political and economic responsibility that rich countries have as to our development.

Thank you very much.

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