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Regional News Fri, 30 Jun 2006

UNCTAD to establish think tanks on development issues

Accra, June 30, GNA - A report by a group of eminent persons tasked to assess activities of the United Nation Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) has recommended the establishment of a global network of think tanks specialized in development policy advocacy and strategy-setting.

The Eminent Panel said UNCTAD should be a think tank on development issues firmly anchored in its three working pillars of research and analysis, consensus-building and technical cooperation. A statement e-mailed to the Ghana News Agency (GNA) on Friday said within the context of the ongoing UN reforms now underway, the organisation should maintain and expand its independence and core competences.

The report titled: 93Enhancing the Development Role and Impact of UNCTAD,=94 contained 21 pragmatic proposals that reflect current thinking on development.

=93Within the context of the ongoing UN reform, UNCTAD should stand as a distinct entity, taking the lead for an integrated treatment of inter-related development issues of trade, investment, technology and finance.=94 It said UNCTAD's core competencies should be maintained and enhanced; and both the UN system and member states should make good use of the existing pool of technical excellence on economic development policy issues and ensure (UNCTAD's) contributions to the system-wide efforts of achieving the Millennium Development Goals. The Report said UNCTAD should strategically position itself based on three principal criteria: comparative advantages; differentiation and complementarity and strategic and catalytic intervention, so as to put the organization's strengths to the best use in achieving development results.

It said UNCTAD should focus on its "flagship" publications and major study series on key development issues, targeting high-level policy makers as well as come up with pragmatic solution to development problems, with outcomes formulated as interventions of best practices, checklists, guidelines, sets of criteria or principles and model frameworks.

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It recommended that the organisation's inter-governmental experts meetings should be turned into Standing Expert Groups with a possible life-span of two-to-four years. =93UNCTAD's current three commissions should be consolidated into two, focusing on trade and investment issues. The Panel also recommends a possible third commission on technology, should the UN's Commission on Science and Technology for Development be reoriented to focus on ICT issues.=94

In addition the high-level segment of UNCTAD's governing body, the Trade and Development Board, should be replaced by a multi-stakeholder dialogue or a "Global Forum for Trade, Investment and Development=94, leaving ministerial involvement to the Conference, which the Panel proposes to be biennially.

The Panel also suggested that UNCTAD set up an advisory body composed of development assistance and recipient agencies to advise the Secretary-General on institutional strategies for technical cooperation and to review the impact of this work.

It urged all heads of multilateral agencies to sign a compact committing them to stick to the core competencies of their respective organisation and to contribute to a system-wide coherent approach at the country level in pursuit of the MDGs.

The Secretary General of UNCTAD established the panel in October 2005.

Source: GNA
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